The Magician Who Rose from Failure: Tales of War and Magic, Vol. 6

By Hitsuji Gamei and Fushimi Saika. Released in Japan as “Shikkaku Kara Hajimeru Nariagari Madō Shidō! ~ Jumon Kaihatsu Tokidoki Senki ~” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

So many series these days are some form of “magic academy” that it actually feels like a step backwards for The Magician Who Rose From Failure to go there. I mean, Arcus has invented the magic thermometer! He’s taken part in a major war, and killed bad guys! He’s even survived his uncle’s arduous training! But of course, all of that doesn’t mean much to the population at large. Especially since the royal family wants to keep the invention a secret for now, to make the impact greater later on. And Arcus is, to the population at large, that kid with almost no aether, the disgrace of the family, a worm who does not deserve anything. Certainly his family (minus Licia) still think so. And, well, we’re going to a magic academy. So here we are, back to the beginning in some ways, with everyone bullying and belittling Arcus. Fortunately, he has his sister and his future wives. And, well, we may need to add more wives to that stack.

The first quarter of the book is taken up with a very awkward party, where the royal family greets people while Arcus has a series of encounters ranging from irritating and upsetting (his father) to irritating and discomfiting (the various foreign leaders, many of who Arcus knows, trying to lure him to their country). After this Arcus takes the entrance exam to the magical academy, where he hopes to gain some new knowledge in his quest to learn more about magic. And he does! It’s just that, well, he runs into teachers who try to “publicly execute” him (Arcus’ words) for his low aether, to the granddaughter of the school’s Headmaster, who regards Arcus’ mere presence at the academy a farce, and demands a duel so that, if she wins, he has to leave the school. She’s never lost before.

Let me get my biggest annoyance with the book out of the way first: all of the girls who started this series around the age of 10 years old have hit puberty, many of them with a bang, and it has become apparent the artist really enjoys drawing large breasts in a thoroughly awkward way. Not a fan. Aside from that, and the fact that this is a magical academy story at all, this was a decent volume in the series. Sue didn’t show up till the back third, but when she did she made her appearance count, and I enjoy the fact that she and Charlotte know they’re rivals for Arcus but also don’t hesitate to team up when there’s a threat from someone else. I also really liked the scenes of Lecia and her pet demon, who I suspect is going to make life a lot more difficult in the future, but honestly it’s just good seeing her get something to do at all. And there’s a new girl, Setsura, who seems to be written in as “the annoying one”. And, well, she is.

So on the whole, I’m pleased that we got more of this series, but I wish it was going in a different direction. And got a new artist. Oh well. I still want to read what comes next.

The Magician Who Rose from Failure: Tales of War and Magic, Vol. 5

By Hitsuji Gamei and Fushimi Saika. Released in Japan as “Shikkaku Kara Hajimeru Nariagari Madō Shidō! ~ Jumon Kaihatsu Tokidoki Senki ~” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

After a fourth volume that abandoned nearly the entire main cast in order to tell the “war” part of the subtitle, this new volume of The Magician Who Rose from Failure feels like an apology to the reader of sorts. It’s a chance to relax and take stock of where the various nations are after the giant battle that ended the previous volume, see how far Arcus’ father can continue to have his head up his own ass, and give a bit of attention to his main love interests, who were absent from the previous book. (Lecia, though she appears, gets very little attention, but I’m hoping a future volume will take care of that, as there’s certainly some family drama bubbling up.) Arcus is being forced to come to terms with the fact that he is now a Very Important Person, which means he can’t simply live his life holed up in a lab inventing fluorescent lights and pudding.

There are, as you might imagine, various problems that stem from Arcus’ antics in the last book. As least three other nations have now taken an interest in him, and want him either dead or on their side. His left arm was injured badly, and healing magic is not good enough to fix it right away – it takes most of the book for it to get mostly better. And, of course, he saved the life of the Prince, which is a very good thing but also politically difficult, so a story will have to be cooked up. That said, he does meet the king, who (of course) takes an interest in him. After this, he gets a new house, and throws a housewarming party, which ends up mostly being an excuse for his two love interests to fight over him. That said, Charlotte wins here, getting most of the back of the book to herself, as she crosses swords with Arcus.

The book has used its isekai sparingly, for the most part, with Arcus thinking of his Japanese memories as a separate person from himself. This volume shows off more of why he’s able to keep up with the sword genius Charlotte, though… as well as why she’s still ahead of him in the end. After all, if you can have a kid who has memories o a past life in another world, there’s no reason not to have characters have other inexplicable abilities. I admit, though, I do prefer Sue, who has admitted she’s the daughter of a duke, but that doesn’t quite seem right either. (She’s almost called “princess” here.) She also contrasts with Charlotte in that, due to their status and how they first met, he treats Sue like… well, like an annoying brat, whereas with Charlotte he has to force himself to not be excessively formal with her. Again, this would be a great romantic triangle if we hadn’t already heard this world has polyamory, so it doesn’t have as much impact.

This isn’t as strong a volume as the others, mostly as it’s a “breather” book with minimal major plot developments. But it was also nice to see the character interaction, and fans of the series should be perfectly happy. Unfortunately, we’re caught up with Japan, so it will be a while before the next one.

The Magician Who Rose from Failure: Tales of War and Magic, Vol. 4

By Hitsuji Gamei and Fushimi Saika. Released in Japan as “Shikkaku Kara Hajimeru Nariagari Madō Shidō! ~ Jumon Kaihatsu Tokidoki Senki ~” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

For those who were hoping to see more of Sue trying to get Arcus to take interest in her, or Lecia continuing to think she’s getting further behind Arcus even as she’s also quite powerful, or Charlotte… well, no, no one was really expecting Charlotte. But none of them are in this book at all, because it’s entirely devoted to the battlefield. Last time the author promised the “war” part of the title, and we sure get it here. We also meet the nation’s prince, who is constantly veiled, super powerful, Arcus’ age, and implied to possibly be a princess in disguise, though honestly only the afterword really makes the implication. If you like cool battles, this is an excellent book. Fortunately, it does have a bit more to dig into in terms of characterization, but honestly, you will remember the awesome magic battles. And also the huge burly guy who almost kills everyone then doesn’t because he’s just gotten lost. He’s tremendous fun.

After impressing so many people at the end of the third book, Arcus is invited to meet the Crown Prince, who will also be leading the forces to battle the traitor Count. Of course, Arcus is still quite young, so there are no shortage of offended nobles who show themselves to have no knowledge of how isekai novels work by complaining about this child being present at their planning. Also not smart to say this in front of the prince who is also a child. As for the battle, well, first one side does really well, then the other side does well, but for the most part our heroes have got this in the bag. So much so that they decide it’s OK for the prince, having inspired the troops, to head on back. Which, sadly, is what the enemy was waiting for all along.

There’s a fair bit of time dedicated to the “bad guys” here, and it shows off how in a war no one thinks of themselves as being on the wrong side, even if the person you’re helping is a dead ringer for the classic Japanese fantasy villain, aka “looks squat and froglike, acts like that too”. We see one man who has decided to fight despite the fact that his sister begs him to return home as he is now the head of their family, and you appreciate his thought process while also wincing because man, that’s a death flag if ever I saw one. We also set up a few things for future volumes, as the other side’s mages now know about Arcus and the fact that he has an imagination that can see things that this world cannot. Oh yes, and there’s Arcus’ dinner with Andre… I mean God, who gives him a quest that should keep the series going if it ever gets another volume.

Yeah, fans of The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!! know where this is going. We’ve caught up with Japan, and the author has started a shiny new light novel series that looks to be following the current cliched trends far more than his other two series. What does that mean? It means I hope we see more of this at some point before I die. Till then, this is a good military fantasy book.