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.

The Magician Who Rose from Failure: Tales of War and Magic, Vol. 3

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.

It’s time to talk about a tragic problem facing many young manga and light novel characters today. They’re young, clever, they want to be helpful. And yet… everyone seems to be suspicious of them. How sad! Is it because they never seem to show you which side they’re really on? Is it because they exude an aura of “I could be incredibly evil, if I wanted, but I choose not to be?” No, we all know the real reason. It’s because they never open their eyes. Studies have shown that nine out of ten characters who smile while constantly having their eyes shut later turn out to be villains in some way, shape or form. (Well, if they’re guys. For women, please see the “ara, ara” subclause.) As such, we identify very much with Arcus in this book as he meets a strange merchant who really wants to establish a connection with him, but cannot really get past looking and feeling incredibly shifty.

Despite the cover promising us delicious pizza, for the most part this book is all about battles and intrigue. After briefly spending a morning flirting with Sue (well, flirting on her end, not his), Arcus runs into a slight problem: he has to get silver to make more of his cool magic thermometer, but someone is buying all the silver in the kingdom. As such, he and his two bodyguards head west to a holding with lots of silver mines. There, they run into a different problem – bandits, who are busily trying to destroy a village, though it looks like their hearts aren’t really in it. Could these two problems be related? And can Arcus manage to figure this all out without a war starting between his country and the Empire? Oh yes, and in the meantime his sister is going on a magical quest and getting possessed by her ancient ancestors.

As with previous volumes, Magician Who Rose from Failure is good enough that you want to read the next book in the series, but not really good enough that you have a lot to talk about with someone else. Arcus remains cool. He gets to use his magic here, and everyone is amazed at how powerful he is. There is a bit more brutal death than the previous books, and Arcus briefly looks queasy about that, but by the end of the book he’s recovered enough to immolate one of the bad guys. We also meet the son of the local Lord, Deet, who has a minder of his own and who looks like the sort of kid who wandered into this series from the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, He’s fun, and contrasts nicely with the staid and calm Arcus.

As the author indicates in the afterword,the next volume will likely focus more on the ‘war’ part of the book rather than the ‘magic’ part. Till then, this series remains ‘solid’, for good and ill.