So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 16

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.

I had heard rumors that the Spider So What fanbase (yes, there is one, though perhaps not as much now) was unhappy with the webnovel ending and hoped it might be changed a bit for the light novel. Sad to say, I don’t think it is. Also sad to say, I get their point. Even if I haven’t liked her at times, or felt that she was being too much of an evil villain, the spider is the star of the show. White is the reason everyone is reading the book. I may enjoy following the adventures of the human cast more than the rest of the fans of this series, but that doesn’t mean that I want the book to star them instead. The book’s gimmick is its spider doing really cool things while chattering endlessly in her head. As such… why the author decided to have her appear only at the start and end of this book is beyond me.

We pick up right where we left off, with White battling Black for the future of this world. One side wants to kill half the population to save the goddess who’s being tortured to keep everything going, the other half wants to kill the goddess to save the population. There is a lot of angsting, hand-holding and self-doubt among the various cast members about this… at least until about halfway through the book, when everyone realizes what the reader pretty much knew: there are no sides, we are all in this against D, who simply wants to have bad things happen for the lulz. Everyone (except Black and White, still fighting) teleports to where D is, and some are shocked to discover that she’s the real Wakaba. They’re even more shocked to discover that she’ll give them what they want… if they defeat her.

This book ends up being a string of anticlimaxes. Chief among them I’ve already mentioned, which is White being absent from most of the book. Second among them would probably be White’s actual fate in the final pages, which I suppose is meant to be punishment for her hubris but reads like thumbing a nose at the reader. The rest of the book alternates viewpoints among the rest of this ludicrously large cast,. and the only ones who remotely get closure and a happy ending are the adventurer couple, who survive and live happily ever after mostly as she clonks him on the head and runs away from the final battle. The epilogue reads like the author lost the last hundred pages of the book so decided to submit bullet points instead. Shun’s romantic resolution is absolutely a “fuck you” to me personally. I could go on.

I made it through this whole series, and it started off great. But it began to flag a few volumes back, and the climax has been a painful experience. White deserved better than this.

So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 15

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.

We now know that the series will be ending with the 16th volume. We know this because in Japan, the 15th and 16th volume came out one month apart, because the author and editor thought that the 15th book was all setup and no payoff. Unfortunately for English-speaking readers (but perhaps fortunately for the translator), Yen On decided not to do this. The final volume of Spider is currently scheduled for June 2023. As such, well, we get this book, where there’s one fight, and it’s 4/5 of the way through the book. Instead, what we get is functionally a class meeting to discuss their circumstances. That part was OK, I didn’t mind it. It was boring, but… I like the human part of this book more than most fans. With one exception. That exception is unfortunately back as well, and since Potimas is finally dead, there’s a new character riding to the “most hated” list. Hi, Sue. Please stop trying to screw your brother.

After the events of the previous couple of books, the elf village has seen better days. White and her crew now have a) a demon lord who’s used up most of her life, b) a giant pile of corpses littering the landscape, and c) a bunch of prisoners-of-war, aka the students who got reincarnated here from Japan. Explanations would be good, but unfortunately, White is terrible at speaking, and Sophia is terrible at caring about her fellow classmates, so things go badly. Then suddenly the endgame starts. White must now battle “Black”, aka Guliedistodiaz. The Demon Lord has to rush to the place where the series began, the Labyrinth, to try to save Sariel. The leader of the Church is trying to get humanity to reject Sariel so that they can be saved. And all of this is being watched over and influenced by a very amused D.

The scenes with Sue and Shun are awful, especially since they come after we’re reminded that she a) killed her father, seemingly under mind control but she doesn’t seem to care at all, and b) sided with evil so that she could get into Shun’s pants. She’s AWFUL. Things are not helped by a tug-of-war with her, Yuri (who is no longer evil but still not right in the head) and Katia (who the author, having resolved her plotline in Book 4, seems to no longer care about). This isn’t the only thing wrong with the book, of course. Hugo/Natsume’s “sorry I was evil, better now” shtick made me roll my eyes, as did everyone’s non-reaction to it. And while I like the students, hearing them argue about who had the harder life in their reincarnated world was, frankly, boring. As for White… well, she’s the bad guy. The funny parts of the book are her justifying that in the usual manic narration she has, but she’s essentially the Final Boss – as she says herself.

I wouldn’t have liked this even if Book 16 did come a month later, but as it is I’m left with very little desire to read on. I will read Book 16, as it’s the last, but this spider has worn out her welcome.

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.