Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 37

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

Given the longevity of this series – at 39 volumes (counting the two .5 volumes) it’s probably the biggest light novel series to hit North America in full translation – it’s not particularly a surprise that the more recent volumes are taking the time to look back at the past. This is particularly true of this, a short story volume that follows the usual pattern we’ve seen to date – three web-only short stories and a longer story written specifically for this book. The three web stories all involve looking back at the past in some way, shape or form, and seeing how far people have come. Harumi and Clan, who are in many ways opposites, each envy the other; Theia and Ruth reflect about the fact that they can trust other now and are better people as a result; and Sanae and Shizuka think about life without Koutarou in it and decide “no thank you”, even if at the time they may have felt differently. Fortunately, the final story in the book looks toward the future… and has swimsuits.

In the first story, Clan and Harumi (and Alaia, as Harumi’s later ego) are looking back over events of two thousand years prior, where Clan is forced to admit that Koutarou basically did all the cooking and laundry. The two then use magic and technology to swap bodies, essentially, so Koutarou can roughly rub Harumi’s head and treat Clan with respect and politeness. The second story has Theia and Ruth trying to pick out photos for a news article about the Blue Knight, and thinking about their childhood together and how difficult it was for both of them. The third story sees Shizuka and Sanae spring cleaning all the apartments in the complex, and also stirring up memories – be it Shizuka’s parents before their death or Sanae’s “haunting” of Koutarou before the others arrived. Finally, Koutarou and the girls go on a private beach holiday… but also find time to sneak in some plot-based activities.

Shizuka’s story reminded me that there are other residents of the apartment complex besides her and the 106 herd, and we really haven’t ever ran into any of them, have we? Even if they don’t complain about the noise and/or property damage, you’d think the idea of one man living with so many girls would cause them to at least talk to the manager. Then again, she *does* know martial arts… As usual with these short story volumes, the longest was the best, as we see Nefilforan and her troops wanting to train against Koutarou and the other girls, as they’re all basically powerhouses. This gives us a chance to see just how powerful everyone in the group has become… and yes, for once that includes Yurika, though she thinks sleeping gas is not very cute and magical girl-ey. Unfortunately for the girls, while Koutarou is slowly getting over his past traumas and personality flaws, he’s not really ready to admire the girls’ swimsuits at all or show that he is sexually attracted to them. Perhaps it might take another 39 books.

Of course, this still leaves a cliffhanger from the last book hanging there, and the author promises that we’ll get back to the main plot in Vol. 38, which should focus on Sanae. Till then, this is a good short story volume that is a definite buy for anyone who’s read close to forty other volumes of this series.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 36

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but Rokujouma frequently has to walk a bit of a high wire, especially in the books that take place after the “ending” we saw in Vol. 29. The author still clearly wants to write more and more stories, and does not want to wrap things up quickly. At the same time, one of the joys of this series has been seeing the characters gradually grow and mature, and as such we don’t want to see them all static either. This new volume is particularly good at keeping that balance, especially for our two resident magical girls, Maki and Yurika. Maki’s past, both as an orphan sold into slavery and as a member of Darkness Rainbow, still tends to guide her actions. Meanwhile, Yurika’s self-pity sometimes verges into self-loathing, so much so that she can’t honestly see how impressed everyone is with her. The best way to resolve both of these things is to head off to Folsaria, Maki’s homeland. And who knows, maybe we can tie into the other ongoing plot while we’re at it.

We pick up where we left off, as Ralgwin has gotten away, though he does not seem to be starting anything major from somewhere else. This allows them to focus on Maki, who has been invited to join Rainbow Heart after recommendations from both Nana and Yurika. Maki certainly has the magic for it… and she’s got the “heart” as well. But can she really become one of the good magical girls after being a literal terrorist just a year or so ago? She gets a provisional task she must complete: investigate the disappearance of several men from a part of the city. This leads her not only to the home where she was born (now a ruined building), but also to a graveyard containing something that’s a lot bigger than just missing people. Can Maki rally together with all of her friends and family and save Folsaria from a hideous disaster?

I was talking about balancing character development with a certain static point, and something in the narrative really showed that off to me: when they arrive at Rainbow Heart headquarters, Yurika is given a letter explaining that all of her debt has finally been paid. Folsaria is a magical land, and Yurika should have been getting a salary, particularly given how much nof a prodigy she was. But apparently she destroyed a factory when her magic went out of control… and it was on her own time, not during work. So her wages were garnished forever to pay for it. Yurika, however, is not delighted by this at all. She fears that if she’s no longer a freeloader Koutarou will abandon her. What surprised me is that there’s no snapback at the end of the book. I was sure Yurika would end up reincurring a large debt. But no. And she’s even able to continue living frugally (so far). It’s really impressive, both for her and the author, not to fall into old habits.

Apologies to Maki, as I spent most of her book talking about Yurika. But Maki is awesome here too, gets to resolve many conflicted feelings, and becomes a real heroine at last, with a paycheck and everything. Unfortunately… the villains kinda win here. We’ll see what happens next, I guess.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 35

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

You would think, now that we are at the 37th volume of this series (counting the two .5 books), that we would be finished with introducing new characters to add to an already overloaded cast, and yet. Coming to Earth to help our heroes with their battle against Ralgwin and his troops is another Princess, Nefilforna Canon Forthorthe. Honestly, there are so many people in this cast I’d like to pretend she doesn’t exist, but unfortunately, she’s Canon. (I’m so sorry.) She arrives and promptly proceeds to kick Koutarou’s ass in a mock battle – as he readily agrees, he only won the second time thanks to all the support he gets from everyone. She’s compared to Theia in that, while Theia has a natural talent for combat, Nefi is the sort who got really good at it through hard work and grinding. Good thing, too, as the raid against Ralgwin’s base, especially now that they’re armed with spirit guns, proves to be a giant pain in the neck.

Harumi is on the cover again, and gets a fair bit to do. The most notable thing is that the troops of Forthorthe that are allied with Koutarou’s group ar4e working with her for the first time, and are… a but weirded out that she is essentially Alaia’s reincarnation/soul carrier/whatever. Even Koutarou is not quite sure how Harumi and Alaia’s relationship is, and honestly, I don’t think it’s going to matter much in the long run. They both love Koutarou, and they both kick ass. Everyone here gets some good time in the spotlight, though as always Yurika gets made fun of, this time for being their “chemical warfare expert”, as her image of being Card Captor Sakura gets further and further away. The one who suffers the worst is probably Theia, who I suspect wanted to try her cool powered suit and so rushes ahead – she’s fine, but she put those under her in danger. She’s still too hotheaded.

Unfortunately, the raid is not a complete success. Ralgwin wants to get revenge for his uncle, but also has an actual logical brain, so is a much tougher opponent. And he has the benefit of a new villain rescuing him, whose identity we don’t quite get yet (though I can hazard a guess), but who seems to have teleportation skills of some sort. Honestly, it feels more like the author using magical writing powers to make sure that the book doesn’t end that soon. Fortunately, our gang does not seem too upset about it. Also fortunately, while she certainly admires him, Princess Nefi does not seem to fall in love with Koutarou, which is good. A harem of nine or ten girls is already quite a lot even by light novel standards, and adding more would seem to be overegging the pudding a bit.

Side stories continue to take a break, as the next book continues the main Ralgwin plot. Till then, this is a decent volume in a very long running series.