Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke: This Time I’m Gonna Tell Her How I Feel!, Vol. 4

By Rhythm Aida and nauribon. Released in Japan as “Buta Koushaku ni Tensei shita kara, Kondo wa Kimi ni Suki to Iitai” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Zihan Gao.

As each of these books have happened, the title has been less and less accurate, because Slowe has slowly but surely been losing a lot of that weight. It’s possible the author realizes this, as in this book Slowe spends the majority of the time disguised as an orc – which means he has pig-like features. That said, everyone seems to think he’s turned the corner in terms of popular opinion – everybody but Slowe, who is not really ready to take up the mantle of the heir after blowing it off in the past. For one thing, he still needs to stop the anime plot from happening, and for another, he has a much better idea than his old friends as to just how much he torched his reputation, and how much more it will take to get that back. Especially if he blows off the Queen because another disaster is about to take place… yet, the books aren’t self-contained anymore. Cliffhanger time!

Slow is disguised as an orc, and Charlotte as a pixie, in order to infiltrate Charlotte’s old kingdom, which is now overrun with monsters. Slowe is there to try to head off the next big event of the anime, where one of the antagonists murders a pixie ambassador and helps to jumpstart a war. To do so, he makes contact with an Orc King and his village, as well as the ambassador, Elyas, passing himself off as an Orc Mage – something that is theoretically impossible, given orcs are barely above goblins on the fantasy monster hierarchy. Elyas is trying to have all the monsters unite to defeat the human who’s destroying them. Unfortunately, not only is the human stupid powerful, but Shuya and Alicia (well, just Shuya really) decide to take a shortcut through the monster-infested country and end up in the mix as well!

I’ve said before that I think this series is solid, not great, and that trend continues, though it’s still very readable. Having a “monsters are people too” volume after the previous three is an interesting way to go, and you get the sense that we’ve reached the “the series is successful, you can plan for the long future” part that most Japanese media face. That said, Shuya and Alicia are still very generic, as fits the anime that they belong to, and Slowe and Charlotte’s fight is filled with teenage angst that is more interesting to have read than to be reading. That said, the ending fight is really very well done, and the book promises more of that sort of thing in the next volume. There’s some good humor too, as Slowe is both drawn to and exasperated by his “orc brothers”, who are cliched as heck but in a good way. I hope we see them again.

If you like fantasies with this sort of cliched plot, you could do a lot worse than this.

Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke: This Time I’m Gonna Tell Her How I Feel!, Vol. 3

By Rhythm Aida and nauribon. Released in Japan as “Buta Koushaku ni Tensei shita kara, Kondo wa Kimi ni Suki to Iitai” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Zihan Gao.

One argument that I’ve gotten into a few times is whether it’s a good thing to always tell the truth 100% of the time or not. I’d say no, myself, as I’ve seen the truth used as a very cruel weapon at times. That said, I can see the opposing view, and the idea comes up a lot in this book. Charlotte has been hiding her identity as the lost Princess for years now, and the impact on her has been great. Not only is she getting somewhat crushed with worry and doubt about lying to Slowe, as well as worrying that if she does reveal herself it will start a war, but there’s also the fact that the spirits who inhabit this world are angry with her for lying and won’t help her with magic. Combine this with the PTSD she still has around monsters, and this really is not a great book for Charlotte’s psyche. Fortunately, we have a dragon.

There’s a new dungeon right near the academy, and the students are all preparing to go into it and get some loot… erm, kill some monsters. Meanwhile, Princess Carina has arrived at the academy as well, supposedly to see if the dungeon can produce a legendary dragon to protect her, much the same way Charlotte’s old country USED to have. Slowe is charged with being her guide around the campus… and comes to find that the polite and affable princess presented to the public is a front for a girl who would rather lie around in her underwear and eat snacks. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Unfortunately, that also means that he’s quite far from campus when the worst case scenario happens – a monster clears the dungeon before the humans do, gains the core, and becomes super powerful. And is the dragon of Huzak really gone?

The book balances itself almost precisely between a funny first half and a far more serious second half. Princess Carina is a lot of fun, essentially being an introvert forced by circumstance to present herself as an extrovert, and getting so much attention all the time (especially towards her chest) is exhausting. Slowe, of course, is perfect at dealing with her because, while he is not immune to her physical charms, for the most part he’s not going to be swayed by her trying to whine her way out of things. The second half, on the other hand, is far more harrowing, as the entire school essentially experiences a siege. The terror of the students is portrayed very well, including those who manage to fight anyway. Charlotte also seems to find her resolve, and she and Slowe at last are honest with each other. (I think. There’s some vagueness at the climax that makes me suspicious.)

The books have been improving with each one, and I’m definitely looking forward to the fourth one. A good read for those who like fantasy with an engaging protagonist.

Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke: This Time I’m Gonna Tell Her How I Feel!, Vol. 2

By Rhythm Aida and nauribon. Released in Japan as “Buta Koushaku ni Tensei shita kara, Kondo wa Kimi ni Suki to Iitai” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Zihan Gao.

When one is reincarnated as the villain in one’s favorite anime or manga, of course, the natural desire is to change things so that the appalling fate is avoided. This is how most villainess stories go, and it’s how Piggy Duke goes as well. Slowe knows how this ends for him, and he’s determined to try to a) lose a bit more weight, and b) confess to the girl he loves. Neither of those things really happen in this volume, though it is occasionally remarked that he is a bit slimmer. That said, Slowe seems to be just as prone as other light novel protagonists to not realizing that changing a personal timeline might mean that other things get changed as well… which makes the anime that his past self watched pretty useless. In this case, he already knows that one knight will turn traitor down the road… and is thus rather surprised when it comes early.

After the events of the last book, Slowe’s reputation is… well, mostly the same, as no one can quite believe their ears when they hear it and he’s spent a lot more time being appalling then he has being awesome. That said, the headmaster knows what’s really going on, so calls him and Alicia, his former fiancee, to his office. A bandit group that killed one of Alicia’s relatives is still at large, and Alicia, along with two royal knights, are going to try to put them down. Why is Slowe there? Well, he’s been asked to participate in the selection process of becoming a Guardian Knight… despite the fact that his family and the Church don’t get along. Still, politics being politics, Slowe accepts. Now all he has to do is try to stop Alicia taking a dangerous risk while also seemingly acting lazy and uncaring. And then there’s Charlotte…

Honestly, I’m a bit amazed that Slowe and Charlotte have been able to keep her secret for as long as they have, particularly given that she comes close to spilling it to one of the knights in a drunken conversation. (She and Alicia are likely too young to have been drinking themselves into a stupor, but at least the narrative says that.) This also leads to the change in events from the anime… fortunately, Slowe is stupid powerful, so he takes care of things anyway, but I hope he now realizes he can’t coast on what he thinks is going to happen down the road. As for Alicia, her feelings are super obvious to everyone but Slowe, no matter how much she acts like she’s voiced by Rie Kugimiya. It’s clear as day that she was deeply in love with him as a child, and has never gotten over the feelings of disappointment and betrayal she felt. Well, except now that he’s literally saved her life twice, she’s getting over it. That said, she’s now in a pack of 3, along with the girl he supposedly loves and the busty commoner. (I mention busty because the book can’t go two pages without mentioning her chest, so best work it in on my end as well.)

This continues to be the definition of a solid enjoyable light novel that doesn’t wow but, aside from still fat-shaming as a running theme, doesn’t put too many feet wrong. Fans should enjoy it.