Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter: Illusions of History

By Riku Nanano and cura. Released in Japan as “Koujo Denka no Kateikyoushi” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by William Varteresian.

Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter is hardly the first Japanese series to feature what are, for want of a better term, “battle maids”. They’ve been around for as long as there have been anime. Generally speaking the key two aspects of battle maids are that they are ludicrously good at combat, but also incredibly proud of being maids, also to a ludicrous degree. That said, Leinster maids also have one very important aspect to them, one that can even get in the way of maid duties or combat: they like to watch Allen and Lydia be sweet together, and gush over it. In essence, they are us, because that’s exactly what I did in the last book, and in the parts of this book that feature the same thing. Oh, yes, and as if that weren’t enough, some of the maids are also orphans, kids who were discriminated against, or in one case a literal experimental child soldier. None of that matters, though, as long as you can protect Lydia and take video of her being tsundere.

When we left off, Allen and Lydia had just lost to a hideously powerful vampire woman, who fortunately had to leave before she could take care of them once and for all. Now they’re recovering their strength, trying to research vampires, protecting the boy that everyone seems to want to kidnap, and of course Lydia is also putting in the “you’re in love with me, right?” press every second of every day. (Allen’s response is ambiguous, as you can guess, but it’s clear he’s mostly lying to himself.) Unfortunately, the vampire’s reason for leaving them was to help the Church make sure this war absolutely starts, and by the end of the book they’ve pretty much almost succeeded. While back on the Southern Continent, everyone is trying to assault an impregnable castle, and they will need to combine all their “in love with Allen and badass” powers to make it happen.

Tina, once again, gets some stuff to do but is not the focus, though that should change by the next book. The main narrator here, aside from Allen, is Lynne, who has always suffered a bit from being “smaller, more sensible Lydia”, and indeed her big spell is Firebird, only this one is not backed up by an ancient hard to control spell. Lynne, like the rest of the female cast, is mostly defined by “being in love with Allen”, and you get the sense they’re all doing this not so much to save the country as to not disappoint him. Caren also gets a lot to do here, and she and Lynne have a final confrontation against a smug Church kid, and Lynne, Caren and Tina are headed off to the City of Water for the next book. Stella is still suffering from Magical Plot Device Disease, but she’s better at being a general anyway. Only Ellie suffers, as it’s frankly clear that the story has outgrown her since Book One, but the author hasn’t the heart to get rid of her, as she’s simply too nice. (And clumsy, but only around Allen. The girls know how to abuse tropes in universe.)

So yes, after a huge arc, we’re getting another huge arc, as this war (or near war) is not ending anytime soon. If you enjoy watching girls beat the shit out of people and pine for a perfect guy, keep reading, you’ll get more of it.

Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter: The Millennial Capital

By Riku Nanano and cura. Released in Japan as “Koujo Denka no Kateikyoushi” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by William Varteresian.

Imagine a horse race, with a lot of impressive participants. The race starts, everyone is going flat out… except one horse who just stands there, staring, and perhaps snorting with amusement. What’s going on? Is she just going to let the other horses win? Then, when everyone else is about 3/4 of the way into the race, the remaining horse starts to run. She ends up winning by 10 furlongs. That’s sort of how this book feels for those who are wondering who Allen will end up with in this series. It’s Lydia’s world and we just live in it. There are a few scenes dedicated to the rest of the cast, but even there, the main POV character is not the titular Duke’s Daughter, but her older sister, who is also possibly the only one of the harem herd Lydia regards as a rival. Tina? There was a character poll in Japan. Tina came in 6th. No prizes for guessing who won, and it wasn’t close.

(I want you to look at the cover to Volume 6, and then look at this volume. They’re the same character.)

After the events of the last book, Allen and Lydia (and Atra) have gone on the run to the City of Water, in the middle of the Southern Alliance that is currently at war with Lydia’s family. They check into a hotel under an an assumed name, and, Lydia ensures, as a married couple. What follows is about half a volume of the sweetest gloop you could possibly want. Sadly, the plot has to kick in sometime. The Doge is trying to broker for peace, especially after he and Allen have a secret discussion at a fantastic cafe, but one of the countries is being particularly difficult… because, of course, their reins are being held by the Church. The younger brother of the City’s Don has the Church trying to kidnap him for nefarious reasons. And there’s a mysterious woman who is, according to Atra, a “scary, sad fiend”. Which is true, especially the scary part.

I hate gushing (that’s a lie, I love gushing), but this book is a massive reward for Lydia fans who have been waiting for her to spend an extended period with Allen since the first volume. She’s at her most self-confident here, having Allen pamper her, declare that he will never hate her, and connecting their mana together, something she’s longed for for years, even if it’s just temporary. Even the climax of the book, which technically has Allen and Lydia fight against a powerful enemy and lose, is triumphant. As for the others? Well, Stella’s still having mana leakage issues, and I’m sure she’ll get a book of her own later. And, um… Felicia and Lily’s breasts are big? Yeah, I may love this series, but it’s still what it is, so of course there’s a “small-breasted girls vs. large-breasted girls” argument. All of them miss the point, as Allen is not the sort to pick a partner based on looks. Honestly, Allen is not the sort to pick a partner, period. Lydia’s working on that.

This looks like a multi-volume arc, and I’m sure the girls will intrude on Allen and Lydia’s love-love honeymoon in the next book. Till then, though, please enjoy a victory lap from the angriest redhead around. (OK,. the angriest redhead in this series, at least. Sorry, Lina.)

Private Tutor to the Duke’s Daughter: The Savior’s Day of Rest

By Riku Nanano and cura. Released in Japan as “Koujo Denka no Kateikyoushi” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by William Varteresian.

I’ve talked before about how at times I am unhappy with the story the author is telling, preferring that he tell the story of Allen and Lydia’s awesome life in the past, which we have been getting dribbled onto us in bits and babs, making us confused but also making us long to have been there. There’s more of that here, including Lily talking about her own past with Allen (and the implications of why she is super duper uber powerful and talented and yet is so determined to be a maid). But of course, the protagonist of this series is not merely Allen, though he’s certainly the primary one. The secondary protagonist is Tina Howard. And we’re seeing events as Tina would see them. She’s just as frustrated and annoyed that she isn’t able to know Allen as well as Lydia does, simply because she didn’t meet him till the first book, which Lydia has known him for years. Sadly, more bad news for Tina: Lydia starts her comeback here.

Well, OK, she doesn’t get the cover – she’ll have to wait till next time. The majority of this book is the epilogue to the arc we’ve been having for some time now, which means there’s less fighting (though we do get some awesome fights) and a lot more political finagling and wrangling. Allen is clearly the hero of the hour, and this time everyone is finally determined to give him the recognition – and title – and wife – he so richly deserves. This can be rather difficult, given that Allen seriously regards himself as powerless compared to everyone around him and deeply unworthy of most of his love interests. He even blows off a major meeting to go and stop Gil from trying to commit suicide by “it’s all my fault, please execute me but spare the others”. That said, the royal family also has its reasons they do not want Allen to get honored – and once they fail at preventing it, they try for the next best thing.

Lydia, theoretically, should be at a low ebb here. She hasn’t killed anyone, but she’s committed massive amounts of property damage, went mad when she thought for a moment that Allen might have been dead, and ended up becoming so overpowered that she has less mana than even Allen, at least temporarily. But none of that actually matters, because it’s clear that when Lydia and Allen are in the same room, she has such self-confidence and swagger that no one else matters at all. Don’t get me wrong, everyone else gets their chance to show off in front of Allen and also try to get him to pet them/snuggle them/other safe kinds of affection. But all Lydia really does is grumble mildly at these, she doesn’t regard any of them as real threats. Because she’s Allen’s partner. Even if that means helping him in the duel to prove he deserves the glory he’s being given. And even if it means fleeing the country with him. In fact, she packed in advance.

So yes, we now get what is jokingly referred to as the “honeymoon” arc, though there’s still no “he chose this girl” romance yet, and honestly the ongoing war would likely get in the way anyway. This remains one of my favorite light novel series.