Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, Vol. 9

By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Last time I mentioned that the series had an actual plot in among all the comedy, and we still see some of that here as well. But its never going to get in the way of the comedy itself, and honestly is likely never going to be the main part of the book unless the series finally comes to an end. As for the actual plot of this book… why, it’s a school festival with a maid cafe, of course. Honestly, I feel that a lot of these books can be summed up by the author flicking through TV channels, landing on some random anime, going “A ha, that’s it!” and moving back to the computer. The fact that the book even tries to justify it only makes it funnier. Add to this a master thief who has reckoned without our dumbass heroes and a king who can’t convince anyone he’s been kidnapped, and there’s no worries on the laugh front.

So yes, a maid cafe. Well, theoretically a maid/butler cafe, but the butler uniforms are stolen for no real reason other than to stick Lloyd and Allan in maid outfits. The idea is mostly Riho’s, thinking she can get some cash for once (which is true, but don’t expect it to stick). The king, meanwhile, wants to put out a huge statue that supposedly grants good fortune to couples who stand next to it. There’s just one problem: the statue’s creator really really does not want it to be shown off, and will happily steal the whole thing to prevent that happening. Oh yes, and there’s a master thief around, though whether he is connected to the missing statue is neither here nor there. What this all amounts to is a lot of school festival schtick and a lot of Lloyd going on not-dates with his two most aggressive girls.

In the two volumes before this, we saw Lloyd get actual character development that stuck, as he has started to realize, if not that he is stronger than everyone else in the world, art least that he IS strong. What’s more, he’s finally showing off that strength in front of people who are NOT the main cast, which means that credit for saving the day, for once, does not go to Allan. Who, frankly, has enough to deal with, given his wife ends up returning and working for the military. Lloyd, meanwhile, is starting to think about his future, not realizing that everyone else already has it planned out for him: military PR, military intelligence, military security, or hell, just marry into royalty. (Marie’s not in the book much at all, but still tends to be top girl by default whenever she’s around, and at least the King now knows who she’s crushing on.)

This is deeply sill, but in a good way, and I look forward to the plot of the next book, which will no doubt be inspired by a refrigerator magnet the author saw the other day.

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, Vol. 8

By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Because this series is such a broad comedy, I sometimes forget that it is actually trying to have a plot too. There’s more plot in this book than in any of the previous others, as we get a lot more information… well, OK, a little more information… about the Japanese research group that apparently kickstarted whatever this world is, and where they are now. Unsurprisingly, there’s mostly a bunch of loud awkward guys, even if here they’re powerful demon lords. On a more disturbing note, Alka continues to be the gift that keeps on giving even when we don’t want her to. The revelation of her past with the hero was fine. Even hearing that Lloyd is essentially a replacement for the man she once loved, I mean, at least that explains the obsession. But in a series filled with thirsty women, Alka remains the thirstiest, with a line here that made my jaw drop. It’s not welcome.

Despite the cliffhanger from the last book, this volume has the least amount of Lloyd to date, as until the very end he’s reduced to simply standing around and reacting to others. The volume essentially consists of two things: 1) Allan muddling his way through life despite everyone misunderstanding him, and 2) the actual competition to see which clan gets to be the leader. The first part is amusing inasmuch as Allan is a schlub – if you like schlubs trying to blurt something out but failing, you’ll enjoy it. He does gain a demon lord. And a wife. Meanwhile, the competition is where most of the volume’s broad comedy comes out, as we manage to work in swimsuits, cavalry battles, loincloths and farming. The final battle is Allan vs. Lloyd, which Allan is pretty sure he will not survive, but it’s OK, as it’s interrupted by – I’m not making this up – a GIANT CRAB BATTLE where you must hit its weak point for massive damage.

Most of the forward movement in this book happens away from our main cast, who pretty much all act as you would expect them to. The supporting cast, though, are more interesting. Half of them are still recovering their memories, or simply getting used to being impossibly powerful. Alka and Eug are still on opposite sides, though it’s now being made clear that there’s someone trying to play both sides against each other. And we also meet a new player in the game at the very end, who (as with damn near everyone in the cast) is accidentally awoken by Lloyd, who just wants to use the bathroom. Despite all this, there’s a lot going on but the book feels fairly light. The setup comes out in odd bits and bobs, and the main plot is so “wacky” that a lot of it bounced off me.

Oh well, at least this arc is over, though given Allan is married now I suspect we’ll be seeing the newly introduced cast stick around for the next arc. In the meantime, this works best if you don’t think about it.

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, Vol. 7

By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

This volume attempts to answer that dangerous question: what happens when the new person’s goal is to break the premise of the series? We met Anzu in the last volume, and here she makes good on her threat to get Lloyd to her kingdom. Unfortunately, well, Lloyd is Lloyd, as the main cast points out. So she decides to train him in such a way that he gains confidence ANYWAY, even though he’s already ludicrously strong. Unfortunately, as Maria breaks the fourth wall to point out, Anzu ends up being yet another comedy character whose goal is to scream loudly whenever Lloyd does something beyond all human ken again. What’s more, he keeps accidentally breaking her country. And even more amusingly, he keeps accidentally breaking the villain’s plans. Over and over again. It’s Lloyd’s gimmick, and thus you can’t really train him out of it. If he realized what he’s really like, the series ends… at least till the last few pages.

We begin with Anzu, in disguise, heading to the Azami Kingdom… and accidentally running into the entire cast and all of their bad character traits, including mistaking Allan for a hero, Merthopan’s dangerously flappy loincloth, Selen and Micone competing to see who can be the creepiest, and Riho trying to disguise her tragic flaw: donuts. Once we actually get the main cast (minus Micona, thank God, and also minus Alka – again, thank God) to the Ascorbic Domain, various plot-related things happen. There are two other factions trying to overthrow Anzu, each of whom is, of course, a different anime cliche; it turns out that this is where Eug is now, and she’s got a new Very Clever Scheme to cause war between all the countries; Lloyd proves impossible to train; and, most importantly, Phyllo is at a loose end after the events of the previous volume, and it’s making her fighting weak.

Aside from the last few pages mentioned above, Phyllo was the best part of this book. She’s depressed and angry with herself through most of the volume, as everyone and their brother is pointing out how she no longer has a purpose and it’s showing in her now very readable moves. The problem is that the events of the last book were good, right? Her mother isn’t dead, her family is whole again… why does this leave a big hole inside her? The resolution of this is very organic and feels very much like Phyllo, who is not really a character given over to long tormented inner monologues. Seeing her snap out of it is great – and, of course, only adds to the love polycule. As for those last few pages, let’s just say that someone actually manages to find the right way to train Lloyd and give him advice that works. It not only makes him even stronger, but he gets told the right way to build confidence. It’s honestly fantastic, I cheered.

That said, do I think it will last? No. No, I do not. But we will get at least one more volume before we have to go back to the default settings. In the meantime, this book is definitely recommended for Phyllo fans, and fans of the other characters should enjoy it as well. Well, unless you’re a Micona fan. In which case, WHY?