By Firehead and YahaKo. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Chen.
I am a big fan of the old classic cartoons of Tex Avery, be they the early Warner Bros. years or the classic MGM masterpieces. One gag he first used with Porky Pig, in The Blow Out (1936), and then again with Droopy at MGM with Dumb Hounded (1943) and Northwest Hounded Police (1947) was that of “the pursuer is always there”. Our bad guy tries to flee the seemingly slow and ineffectual hero, but everywhere he goes, no matter what he does, there’s the hero, right there, waiting for him. It works as comedy because the hero is Porky or Droopy, and the villains are bad guys who deserve what they get. That said, if you flip it so that instead of a hero you have what is essentially a monster straight out of a horror movie… well, you get something altogether more terrifying. Despite said monster being a robot maid. Easily the best scene in the book, I sense the author was familiar with those old Tex Avery cartoons.
As for the book itself, the first chunk involves Lufas going to retrieve said killer robot maid, who is currently at the top of a huge tomb that is supposed to be Lufas’s final resting place. Needless to say, her group has very little trouble with said tomb, despite everyone else in the world getting killed off due to the many killer traps and golems within. Once that’s done, she and her crew go off to meet another one of the Heroes, who is currently king of a land that is literally divided into black and white sides. Lufas wants to just quietly investigate and maybe talk with the King. Unfortunately, almost everyone else around her, including most of her party, have other ideas. Can she stop a war between the light-winged and colored-winged residents? Can she get the king to stop hating himself? And what’s up with Dina, anyway?
Other than Libra’s Droopy impression, the highlight of the book is Dina and her attempts to be a double reverse quadruple agent, backstabbing absolutely everyone. We saw hints of this at the end of the last book, but it’s in full flower now, and the explanation as to who she really is works quite well. (Actually, the series handles the idea of “is this trapped in a game or not?” in a very interesting way, with differences between types of canon becoming extremely important to the world in general.) As for Lufas, it manages to be more intriguing than annoying that her mind constantly slides away from Dina when she tries to think about her, and it’s not particularly surprising that, when it comes to a real battle, Lufas wipes the floor with her. I’m pleased Dina is not killed off – and I’m assuming she’ll continue to be a lovable traitor in future books.
So yes, overall a definite improvement on the first book, and I’m enjoying its somewhat laid-back pace, despite the need to defeat the enemy somewhere down the line. Recommended for those who like cool overpowered beauties, backstabbing, and Droopy cartoons.