Unnamed Memory, Vol. 6

By Kuji Furumiya and chibi. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Sarah Tangney.

I do get into the ending of the series in this review, be warned, spoiler lovers.

Readers of the third volume of this series, where we had a happy ending for our hero and heroine yeeted away fro us at the last minute, may be a bit wary of this 6th volume of Unnamed memory. And they are absolutely right to be wary. This series has had the feeling, throughout all six books, of “what will get in the way of them getting married next?”, to the point where it’s almost felt like a short story collection as Oscar and Tinasha go around dealing with crisis after crisis. At first she was the wary one and he was the one wanting to get married. Now, in books 4-6, it’s the reverse. But it’s essentially the same vibe. And for those who enjoyed Tinasha the Witch, good news, you definitely get to see her again. That said, those who enjoyed Tinasha the Queen may be saying “uh oh” right now. This is the trouble with time travel and repeating lives.

The first half of the book, as noted above, is basically “what can get in the way of the upcoming wedding?”. This even includes plots from previous books/timelines, as the “curse song” from earlier gets dealt with a lot more swiftly and neatly. The main snag is when the king of a neighboring country ends up in a coma, and the culprit seems to be The Witch of the Forbidden Forest… who has been noticeably absent from the second arc of this series. Is she really the one trying to destroy Tinasha’s country? That said, the main antagonist here is Valt, who has been trying to find a way to save the girl he loves and not have her take on his own burden, and is coming up empty. Towards that end, he is now 100% behind “destroy everything, start over”, even if he has to get Oscar and Tinasha to do it for him.

The second half is the best part, as usual with these books. The first half isn’t really filler, but can feel like it. (A queen of one nation stabs the queen of another nation, while in her right mind, and we never hear from her again except that her son is now king. Was she executed?) Valt’s backstory hits a lot harder than I was expecting, and I enjoyed the scenes with him and Tinasha. That said, I imagine the ending can be frustrating – again. We don’t quite get the first timeline back at the expense of the second timeline – this is an all-new timeline – but there is a sense that the Tinasha who we’ve been following for the last three books, the human Queen of Tuldarr, “died”. That said, the framing of the finale is “the two of them still live on in legend”, which fits the theme of the books as well, and ties into the author’s (unlicensed) other series. I also liked the short story at the end, which was basically another Tinasha-as-witch what-if.

There is an “after story” volume out in Japan, but I’m not sure if Yen will pick it up – they’re sort of 50-50 on those kinds of books. In the meantime, while I may have found some of the plotting frustrating, Unnamed Memory is a very rewarding read, filled with luxurious prose and great characters.

Unnamed Memory, Vol. 5

By Kuji Furumiya and chibi. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Sarah Tangney.

The six books in this series are divided into three books each, and this is the middle one of the second arc. As such, it tends to mirror the middle one of the first arc, in that it’s a bunch of shorter events that happen to our two leads rather than one big storyline. Of course, there’s a lot going on in those shorter events. The author describes this book as the lighter, fluffier one before the final book, and that does make me a bit worried, because this book was not all THAT light and fluffy. That said, there are many sweet moments in here, as Oscar accepts Tinasha’s love and they get engaged. We also get to know more about Travis and his relationship with Aurelia, which is also adorable in its own twisted way and I really hope does not end badly. But there is an ominous core to this volume that definitely will continue to the next: time travel made things bad, and the world needs to reset itself to its proper place.

We start things off with Tinasha solving the curse that’s on Oscar and (presumably) making him able to have children again. She’s then able to return to her coronation… but has a big announcement to make that will upend Tuldarr. We see Tinasha solve a particularly nasty incident at a magical academy, and help to fight off an invasion by another country, who are primarily using zombies as troops, which is annoying. Unfortunately, Valt is also still around, and he explains to Tinasha what the two orbs currently locked up in the two kingdoms do. Fortunately, we won’t have to deal with that particular subplot till Book 6. Oh, yes, and we also meet the Witch who cursed Oscar in the first place, and she’s very unhappy with everyone… and a lot more familiar to some than was expected.

Probably my favorite story in this volume was the academy one, which was simple tragedy with no purpose except to show that this world still has a tendency to run on death. It even gives us a little side plot with three students talking about the disappearances, and you wonder if we’re going to take a detour into a side story, but alas no. I also really liked Aurelia, who has a touch of the Maria Campbells to her but (like Maria) also a strong cure. She also works well with Oscar, which would create a love triangle in any book which is not this one. This book is all about the OTP. As for the witch, well, it certainly opens up Oscar’s past, which we finally get to see for the first time, and explains why his late mother has never dwelt much in his thoughts. But the key takeaway from that is “Oscar should be dead”, and I expect the final book may try harder to push on that.

This is another very solid volume. If you’re sick of the usual light novel brand of fantasy, you should absolutely be reading this.

Unnamed Memory, Vol. 4

By Kuji Furumiya and chibi. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Sarah Tangney.

As I predicted, the afterword of Vol. 3 was not, in fact, telling the truth. We are still following the story of Oscar and Tinasha. Indeed, the story may start to seem a bit familiar. Oscar and his aide are still traveling to try to find a way to end his curse, and they run into Tinasha, who says she will do it in a certain amount of time. The trouble is that this is the changed timeline. In the last book Oscar changed history, and so he is not quite the Oscar we know. Tinasha is also different, though at least we’ve seen her before – the young queen who Oscar saved put herself in stasis for 400 years so that she could meet him again. As such, the main amusement with this new volume is that it’s Tinasha who’s instantly lovestruck and talking marriage, and Oscar who is the reluctant one putting her off. That said, they’re still clearly made for each other. Unfortunately, a lot of the same issues that were problems before are back, and still problems.

One thing that I find hard when I write about this series is that it really is a pure fantasy, with virtually none of the standard “Japanese light novel;” schtick we’ve gotten so used to. A lot of my reviews write themselves because I can talk about the standard tropes and how well they work, or how this character is slightly less bland than the norm. With Unnamed Memory, though, the plot and writing is so well done and the book so immersive that I can’t use that crutch. What’s more, I don’t really want to spoil the plot twists (aside from the one that, well, happens right at the very start of the book) because they’re good twists. So what am I supposed to do? Talk about how Oscar is a really good fighter and that Tinasha is cute when she’s angry? You already know that.

I could talk about the deaths. There are an awful lot of assassination attempts in this book, mostly against Oscar but also against Tinasha, and all of them involve finding the culprit and their accomplices and killing them. While Oscar and Tinasha are trying to move the world they live in into a more modern and peaceful age, this is not that age, and there are quite a few characters who are captured, forced to talk, and them killed – or kill themselves before that can happen. Indeed, one of the few surprises I will talk about is one where a villain is, in fact, NOT killed off – mostly as he was clearly trying to do this in order to help his country and their somewhat meek ruler, rather than because of evil power grabs. If you’re going to assassinate someone, you’d better have a damn good reason for it, it can’t just be “they obstruct my path to all-encompassing glory!”.

So yes, sorry to be a broken record, but this is still excellent. My one major complaint is how long each book is. This is going to be six volumes total, and there’s no reason why it could not be twelve normal-sized books.