So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 14

By Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jenny McKeon.

The subtitle of this volume could be summed up as “At Long Last”. At long last, we have finally caught up with where we left Shun, Katia and the rest of the human cast in Book 5. At long last, we get several extended flashbacks explaining to us the origins of Ariel, Potimas, and Guli-Guli… erm, Guliedistodiez. But perhaps most importantly, at long last, Potimas is dead dead dead. Yes, technically this is a spoiler and it happens at the very end of this volume, but I think most readers of the series won’t blame me too much, because every single one of us have wanted that asshole dead for almost ten books now, and it’s about damn time. Of course, there’s one slight problem with all these things happening at once, which is that none of them really land as satisfyingly as I want them to. For a book that should have been a home run, this ends up being merely “okay”.

The Imperial Army, augmented by hidden demon army members, has arrived at the Elf Village to kill every single elf there, including Potimas (but excluding Ms. Oka, who gets a pass for being nice to our spider long ago). Ariel asks White to leave Potimas all to her, which White very reluctantly does. But that’s fine, as it turns out there’s a lot more going on, including robots, giant robots, even gianter robots, massive sea urchin robots, and UFOs. All of these force White to work harder than she’s ever…. well, no, White barely breaks a sweat, but she does have to use a few tricks she’d been saving for later. As for the rest of the human cast? Erm, sorry, the title of this book is still about the spider. They barely get a look in. In the meantime, Ariel has flashbacks to her past, and the previous end of the world apocalypse, which is mostly thanks to Potimas, though the dragons helped.

There is some funny stuff here. White’s narration is always amusing, especially as Potimas keeps topping himself with more and more dakka. Her four spider daughters are also very amusing as they have to team up with Ronandt, something which pleases them a whole lot more than it does him. But for the most part I think the parts of this book set in the past don’t land as hard as they should, because they’re told from the perspectives of three people who were not present at the major events. It is interesting to see Ariel as a wheelchair-bound near death teenager, and helps to explain a lot of her actions (as well as her relationship with Potimas). That said, I’m going to be honest, the most interesting part of the book was the final line. White has always been a bit of a villain protagonist. Is she finally going to turn full evil?

So yeah, Spider fans will like this, but not a lot. The next book promises to be a banger, though.

So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 13

By Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jenny McKeon.

This volume might be frustrating for some fans, as it is in many ways a recap of what happened in Books 3-5, only from the POV of the other side. I do not have this problem. For me, the recap is greatly appreciated as I can barely remember what happened in Book 12, much less nine books ago. More importantly is the fact that this is from the other side’s POV means we get a lot of White in this book, and she’s just as funny/terrifying (don’t delete where applicable, she’s both) as ever. She doesn’t care at all about many things that we cared a lot about, but she’s also very interested in things that had appeared minor or unimportant. Here we see her and Ariel finally making their plans to kill Potimas. Yeah, I know, I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, they’re even getting help from the Church! We also get a lot more insight into exactly how she and Ariel are trying to save the world, and how it’s still a gamble.

To no one’s surprise, White turns out to be the mastermind behind most of the baffling things that happened in the previous books, such as the downfall of Shun’s kingdom and his becoming Public Enemy Number One. Her matter-of-fact reasons for doing this are cool and logical and make you a bit ill, to be honest. That said, she is not without emotion… I was particularly amused at her observance of Katia literally blowing herself up to escape the brainwashing, and then Shun bringing her back from the dead. It was a combination of “Holy shit, he can do that!?” combined with “just fuck already!” that left me laughing. We do also get a look at White from other people’s point of view, particularly the Pope, who is well aware that Ariel may be the Demon Lord but White is the one who is changing the entire world.

As for the rest of the cast, it was nice seeing the humans again, if only from a distance – because this is mostly White’s POV, we barely get to talk to them. I liked the contrast between Shun’s “this is all I can do right now, why am I not as powerful as my brother” and White’s “HE’S GOT TOO MANY CHEATS CHRIST”, and indeed a lot of the plotting and scheming that she does is to try to plan for all the extra special hero stuff he can pull out of his ass. We also finally get a good look at Sariel, the goddess currently wired into the system and giving out all those game bonus stats. Not a pretty site, but at least it leads to the one big battle in the book, as White fights what are basically security robots and is actually challenged for once… mostly as if she goes all out it would destroy the system, which is what she wants but not like this.

So, a lot of setup, but it does promise that the next volume will finally catch us up to where the two sides left off in book… 5, was it? Till then, congratulations, there’s a lot of spider in this book.

So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 12

By Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jenny McKeon.

With this volume we have almost, but not quite, caught up with Shun’s “present” that we left off in the 6th volume. This book is the huge human/demon war that led to Shun becoming the Hero, with huge casualties on both sides. The book is essentially a war diary from various points of view, showing off the various battles going on around the world. We see the demons use revenge monkeys to completely destroy one fort; another demon army wiped out by Ronandt’s long-range magic; the cute childhood friend couple from Japan being a cute childhood friend adventurer couple here; Sophia saying “well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions”; Wrath basically winning easily; and the big final battle with Julius versus several demons, including Bloe and Agner, and White trying to cut the thread (so to speak) by bringing in a Queen Taratect to ruin everything. Which it does, but not quite in the way that she’d planned…

I talked about this last time as well, but I think the author has been trying their best to make sure that the reader cares about the human side and the demon side equally, and from what I’ve seen, that’s just not happening. In fact, honestly, the readers don’t want to see the demon side EITHER. The readers want spider. Lots of spider. Sorry to say, White is still a minor character in this book. She gets cute little sidebars explaining each battlefield in her usual hyperactive way, and we see her interactions with the demon lord, Bloe, and Sophia and the 10th unit. None of them really see White as we know her, though I think the demon lord is starting to figure it out. She’s also getting far more talkative and better at actually explaining her actions. Basically, White is maturing. This will be handy when they inevitably run into the giant pile of reincarnations we left off with ages ago, but can be frustrating right now.

The battles are well handled. As you might guess, this is mostly tragedy… with one exception. The story of Sophia’s adventures at school, complete with her version of the handsome jerk and the class president, are absolutely hilarious, especially given they all end up in the same military unit anyway. I hope we see more of them being absolute bitches at each other. And as I hinted above, everything about Kunihiko and Asaka’s relationship is adorable and heartwarming, and I don’t THINK they’re dead yet… (crosses fingers). But there’s lots of depressing stuff we knew was coming here, as all but one of the hero party gets wiped out, and it also takes out several major parts of the demon party as well. What’s more the demon lord and White didn’t even achieve their main objective – the one-kill anything sword is still around, and can now be used by the new hero against the demon lord. Annoying, that.

This is an excellent book, but the overall impression I get at the end is “can we PLEASE get back to the main storyline we started in Volume 1?”. Recommended for those who like war memoirs and cute lovesick girls getting crushed to death by giant spiders.