When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Vol. 4

By Kota Nozomi and 029. Released in Japan as “Inou Battle wa Nichijoukei no Nakade” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tristan K. Hill.

As always, this series tends to run on character-based comedy that is 50% decent, 30% good with a side of heartwarming, and 20% godawful. Usually the godawful part involves Andou doing something mind-numbingly stupid, but aside from one poorly-delivered euphemism that causes dangerous searches on the internet, he’s mostly fine now. It’s Sagami that gets the bulk of being awful. That said, it’s good in this case, because it’s showing off that he really IS the villain of this piece. For the most part the overarching plot of this series has been very hit and miss, and we haven’t seen that gang that attacked Hatoko since her book. But Sagami’s preening, salacious inability to see anything except as a fictional construct does make him a good antagonist. And of course this IS a fictional construct that is also a romantic harem comedy, so he gets the added aggravation of being correct. I think most readers were thinking the same thing Sagami was: in a harem of four girls, Sayumi is a distant fourth place.

Each volume has focused on one of the girls in the Literary Club, and as the cover suggests, this is Sayumi’s book. The actual present-day dilemma is fairly easy to resolve, but it also ties back to the past, so we see flashbacks, from Sayumi’s POV, of how she first met Andou and immediately did not get on with him. Unsurprising, this is Andou. In the present, the girls all present Andou with a game that they’ve been coding and ask him to play test it, which gives us a string of great humiliating gags as well as a wonderful sweet heartwarming bit at the end. As for the conflict, Andou discovers that Sayumi was going to run for Student Council President in high school, but never did… and he thinks that he’s the reason for this.

Sayumi is the most mature of the cast, meaning that thankfully we get less of the antics that we got last volume (though they’re still there, sadly, but at least Andou is NOT involved in the stupidity this time). It makes sense that her arc is resolved by simply telling Andou he’s gotten things wrong and that she doesn’t regret what happened. Of course, that’s not really what this book is doing. This is the fourth volume, so we’ve run out of heroines. It’s setting up the next arc, and doing so pretty well. All four girls are explicitly in love with Andou by the end of the book. Chifuyu doesn’t really know what it means, Hatoko knows what it means and who the “best girl” is and is ready to go to war, and Sayumi is getting advice from the devil himself. That just leaves Tomoyo, and if Sagami was here he’d no doubt say that she’s “best girl” at this point, or at least the most likely winner, if she can stop tsunning it up.

As always, I don’t recommend this book to anyone but those who are buried so far into otaku culture that they don’t really notice the bad things. If you’re that sort of person, this is a solid volume.

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Vol. 3

By Kota Nozomi and 029. Released in Japan as “Inou Battle wa Nichijoukei no Nakade” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tristan K. Hill.

Imagine that you are an Olympic sprinter. It’s the final race. All eyes of the world are on you. You’re feeling great. Your fiancee is cheering from the stands. The starter pistol goes off, and you take off, quickly putting all the other runners in the shade. It’s smooth sailing till the end of the race. You smile, confident and proud. Then you trip on absolutely nothing and fall flat on your face. All the other runners trample over you as they fly towards victory. You have humiliated yourself and your country. The medics don’t even want to treat you. Your fiancee leaves you, sobbing. The team bus leaves without you, as does the team plane. And so there you are, broke and starving, wondering where it all went wrong. If it wasn’t for that one horrid misstep right at the finish! If you can imagine that, then you can pretty much imagine how I felt on getting to the climax of the third volume of When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace.

As has become the norm with this series, the first half is basically a bunch of fooling around, goofy gags, and Andou being incredibly irritating. The club plays tennis, and has a cosplay roulette tournament, which gets everyone into embarrassing outfits. That said, as you may have guessed by the cover art, Chifuyu is the featured girl of this volume. She seems to be having difficulty at school, which Andou drops her off at one morning, and trouble dealing with her best friend Madoka Kuki, aka “Cookie”. Well, best friend is probably the wrong word. Partly because Chifuyu is so helpless at doing anything that Kuki ends up acting more like a mom than anything else. And partly as, well, Chifuyu has the club, and talks about the club all the time. Which, naturally, makes Kuki mad.

For the most part, this was a lot of fun. Andou has become tolerable for the most part, especially when we contrast him with his loathsome “friend” Sagami. He and Tomoyo go on what is, to all intents and purposes, a date midway through this book, and it’s cute as hell. There’s some ominous foreshadowing of a character from Andou’s past (who might be trans?), but that’s for a future book. And Chifuyu’s problem thankfully has nothing whatsoever to do with the superpowers or the other evil organization – it’s just typical elementary school stuff, and reminds you that she really is ten years old. Which makes Andou’s “solution” to the problem really head-slappingly terrible. Even Hachiman would not quite be this self-sacrificing. It’s creepy. And it also reminds you that Chifuyu probably *is* a love interest for Andou despite being ten, because the whole club is – that’s the point of the book, ti’s a harem series. Which, whatever. But there’s no need to underline it with all this lolicon stuff.

So, 85% of a good book. Just stop before the final chapter and assume there was a sensible solution. …right, this is When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace, there is nothing sensible here. Never mind. Carry on.

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Vol. 2

By Kota Nozomi and 029. Released in Japan as “Inou Battle wa Nichijoukei no Nakade” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tristan K. Hill.

So this was a nice improvement on the first volume, though I will continue to say that I hate it whenever this book has a real plot that it wants is to care about. It’s at its best when it’s just shooting the shit and riffing on Japanese media cliches. Unfortunately, when we run into Chuuni and the Chuutones towards the end, I groaned and wished that Hatoko would simply vanish and reappear back at school. Fortunately, this is precisely what happened. I suppose I’ll have to deal with them more later, but I seriously do not care, whereas I do care about the main cast. Even Andou – I can’t tell if he was far less annoying in this book or if I just got used to his antics, but he worked far better in this book, especially when we get to the relationship between him and Hatoko. Because yes, THIS is the book with “that scene”, and it’s pretty damn epic. Worth the read, definitely, especially given the stress buildup we see all book.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but this is a book of two halves. In the front half we feature once again Kudou, the student council president and vague antagonist from the previous book, who has taken a letter of challenge as a love letter thanks to Andou’s over the top verbiage. Needless to say, she’s the sort to immediately go over the top herself, and Andou has to struggle to find a way to break things to her gently before he breaks her. That said, the confession comes as a shock to the rest of the club, especially two girls who we know have feelings for him. Given her presence on the cover, and the fact that most of the chapters begin with her narration before switching to Andou’s, you can assume Hatoko is especially confused by all this. But, whatever. She wouldn’t understand it anyway.

The book threatens to be drowned out by Hatoko’s rant, which is beautiful, but it also highlights the gulf between them. That said, we see in the flashbacks that this is not for want of trying from Andou – he was attempting for years to get her to understand his way of thinking. But sometimes people just don’t vibe the same way, and the best part of the book is when both of them are told that, in fact, they don’t HAVE to understand each other deeply – they can just be friends because they are friends. The other highlight of the book is the short story competition, which is absolutely hilarious – Hatoko’s grimdark romance, Chifuyu’s incoherent foreign mess, Andou’s summary and character descriptions with no actual text, and Sayumi simply dragging Andou out behind the shed and shooting him in the head. Glorious.

Again, there’s a plot here somewhere, but I plan to ignore it, just as I ignore Andou’s friend Sagami, who is the absolute worst in a way that is clearly deliberate but also I don’t care that it is. Recommended if you use the word “weeb” as a term of honor.