Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 5

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

I am deliberately not reading prior reviews of this (which I normally do), because I know I will be typing the exact same goddamn thing again. There’s just no avoiding it. So here we go: This series only has one joke. It’s STILL a good joke. That said, the dichotomy between Reborn to Master the Blade as amusing reading about a meathead and her slightly less meathead sister and Reborn to Master the Blade as a dark fantasy with a lot of casual death is widening, and it does not always mesh together well. There’s a moment in this book where an entire city rises into the air, and Inglis notes that this is likely due to a LOT of people being executed to harvest their energy. And, as it turns out later, she is correct. However, we barely notice this as we’re listening to Inglis trying to figure out how to clone herself to solve her fighting problems.

Inglis and company are traveling in secret to Alcard, in order to try to do something about the impending war. Unfortunately, Alcard has changed a LOT since the last time Lahti, Pullum and Ian were there. The people are starving to death, their food having been taken at the behest of their heiral menace, Tiffanyer, who has the power to make anyone sing “I Think We’re Alone Now”… erm, well, I’m not sure if her power is literal brainwashing or merely incredible charisma, but she’s won over a lot of the knights of Alcard, including Lahti’s older brother. She’s also hella strong, meaning Inglish is having trouble focusing on the mission and not focusing on getting a really good fight with Tiffanyer. That said, the thing that shows up at the very end of the book makes even our favorite meathead step back and pause to reflect.

Again, the one joke is a REALLY GOOD JOKE. The running idea of Inglis thinking about cloning herself, and being told the many ways this is a bad idea, then trying to fix it by tripling herself… it’s hilarious. It will never happen, and THANK GOD, but it’s hilarious anyway. I also loved the desperate stupidity of the world’s two hungriest girls trying to get by on eating snow with sugar and salt sprinkled on top of it. Beyond that, however, things are pretty dark. There’s one point where they literally find a church full of dead children who starved to death due to the machinations of Tiffanyer. What’s more, she’s not merely evil for evil’s sake – she’s grabbing what she can because she knows the penalty for failure. It’s increasingly likely that peace is not something that’s coming anytime soon. And given what shows up at the end of the book, apocalypse is looking a bit more likely.

If you can tolerate the book turning from “this is a horrible tragedy with the corpses of children” to “dur hur Inglis love fighting!” this is still a fun series. Plus the books read fast.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 4

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

I have stated before that the main reason I enjoy this series is that it has only one joke: Inglis is a meathead who only cares about fighting, food, and Rafinha, in that order. The trouble is that the author wants to hammer home to the reader that this is not entirely amusing and something to appreciate for the lulz. I say trouble because we’re introduced halfway through to a girl who lost her entire family when her village was destroyed and therefore has… sigh… been sold and is working “in servitude”. Rafinha is appalled that this is happening, while Inglis points out the political realities of trying to shut it down everywhere. The trouble is that Inglis does not care about any of this. She’ll support Rafinha if she wants to fight against slavery, but that’s because she’ll follow her anywhere, not because of any actual moral center. Inglis’ moral center is: I want a good fight. And she will cheat and manipulate to get it.

While working to help rebuild the school (and, more importantly, the school cafeteria), Inglis is called to the throne to be offered a position as Captain of the Royal Guard. A huge honor, but far too much work and would mean she would not get to do whatever the hell she wants, so she talks her way out of that one. More importantly, the acting troupe Inglis has met before are back in town, and they want her to play one of the roles and put on a spectacular fight scene. Inglis realizes that if she cons Yua into taking the other role, then she can get to fight the half-assed but equally strong women in a real (theatrical) battle. That said, there is a problem… the winner has to kiss the male lead, and the mere idea of this causes Inglis to flip out. That said, there may be even bigger problems… like an assassination attempt. Or an invasion.

I’m glad that Yua has essentially become Inglis Mark 2, because she’s just hilarious all the time, whereas Inglis occasionally has to play the straight man. Yua’s complete apathy to nearly anything extends even to her own self, as we discover that she may have a lingering side-effect from her death battle in the previous volume, to which her response is essentially “ah”. This is why it’s even funnier seeing her thirst for the girly-faced Ian, to the point where she spends most of the epilogue of the book carrying him around under her arm like a sack of potatoes. As for Inglis, she gets to have some really good fights here, so she must be happy. We also get to see the mothers of Inglis and Rafinha pay a visit, and it turns out that huge appetites definitely run on the mothers’ side, as between the four of them they terrify everyone with the amount of food consumed.

This series is never really going to get into Big Questions and Ethical Dilemmas, and even if it does it probably is not going to be Inglis having the dilemma. She gets why things are wrong. She gets they can be hard to fix. She doesn’t care. Fight now plz.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Vol. 3

By Hayaken and Nagu. Released in Japan as “Eiyu-oh, Bu wo Kiwameru tame Tensei su. Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kisi ♀” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mike Langwiser.

It can be very difficult sometimes when you are writing a series which has exactly one joke. It gets harder the longer the series gets because, well, it’s just the one joke. But, believe it or not, sometimes that is enough, and you’re able to keep going because yes, it’s a good joke. The joke for Reborn to Master the Blade is that Inglis is a meathead who only thinks of fighting strong opponents. And throughout this book, that’s what we get, over and over. Either she’s fighting them or, more often, she’s trying to fight them and failing because of things like politics or the other party refusing or having to save lives and the like. And we also see other characters knowing this and essentially smacking their foreheads. It’s one joke. But we’re early in the series, and the joke is still funny. And also Inglis as an overpowered meathead is pretty cool. As with previous books, the fights are a highlight.

Our main cast are still trying to deal with Ripple, who is still sucking in mana and letting out monsters (and does not even have a pebble to toss or wind to blow). Unfortunately, the response of the kingdom to this seems to be “send Ripple back home and get a new heiral menace”. Which, it is implied but never outright stated, would mean Ripple’s death. What’s more, it becomes pretty clear that the reason all this is happening in the first place is that Ripple is being “punished” by one of the Highland factions in order to… well, in order to be sneeringly evil, because this is not the most subtle book in the world. Inglis and company try to work out a plan, part of which involves her and Rafinha going undercover as maids to a ceremony held by the King for a Highland ambassador. Sadly, he too is mostly cartoonishly evil. Fortunately, Inglis is there and can hit things very hard.

The other great part of this book, besides Inglis wanting to fight fight fight, is the introduction of her antimatter universe counterpart, Yua. Yua is astonishingly strong, just like Inglis, and you’d think that she’d finally found the perfect opponent. There’s just one problem: Yua doesn’t care about fighting. She’d rather take the path with the least effort where she can be lazy, and even has to be talked into fighting a bunch of potentially lethal monsters. She’s also got that ‘stoic’ Rei Ayanami-ish personality, which also balances next to Inglis’. Oh yes, and she gives everyone nicknames. Inglis is “Big Boobs”, because this is a Japanese light novel. Basically, she’s a hoot, and I am glad she was not killed off towards the end of the book, which looked like it might actually happen for a while. There’s also lots of terrorism and political maneuvering and people losing arms and then getting them sewn back on with magic, but… let’s face it, it’s not Inglis fighting.

So yes, if you like dumb meatheads who only think of one thing, this is still that thing. I do think this will work better in Vol. 3 than in Vol. 17, though…