By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.
As the author indicates in the afterword, this series has gotten reasonably successful, to the point where they can now plan foreshadowing and deeper plots for future volumes. It also means that they can afford to have the cast simply hanging out on the beach for half the book as well. We get lots of swimsuit watching, everyone goes deep-sea fishing, there’s a barbecue, there’s yukatas, and everyone has lots of fun watching Chastille and Barbatos be the worst Ranma and Akane ripoff ever. Yes, it’s all fun and games till someone loses an eye… that someone being a mysterious man who has been going around killing archdemons (well, an archdemon) and has now decided he wants to go after Zagan using the strength of his mighty fists and the power of his mystical silver cursed eye giving him tons of mana. Unfortunately for him, Zagan has both of those to spare. Fortunately, there are a few additional twists and turns to help the story along its merry path.
Zagan’s past has always been given to us in dribs and drabs, but we get a lot more of it now than we did before, including mention of other kids on the streets he was living with in his pre-archdemon days (stories of which seem to reduce his entourage to tears). And I hate to spoil things, but if you’re surprised you haven’t read too many light novels; it turns out those same kids may now be getting involved with his life as adults! One is a older brother figure wearing glasses, so he has to be a Big Bad going down the road. The other is more of a spoiler I won’t give away, but I was very impressed with how the author handled it, making it obvious to the reader just before the actual revelation, in the best mystery tradition, though this isn’t much of a mystery. We also meet a new Archangel who helps us to understand that the relationship between the Church and the Archdemons is not nearly as cut and dry as some people think it is, and they also provide the best battle scene in the book.
Nephy and Zagan both mention in this volume how much they’ve changed since they first met, and it’s a good reminder that in Vol. 1 Zagan was stiff and sullen and inclined to brutally murdering bandits in front of young women just because he didn’t really think much of it, while Nephy was a death-seeking stoic who was an abuse survivor. It’s quite heartwarming to see how far they’ve come, even though they STILL have not gone on a cliched love-ydovey date the way that Zagan really wants, nor has their relationship advanced physically. Still, they’re way ahead of Chastille and Barbatos, who are trapped at the “embarrassment = love” stage of things, or Richard (assistant to Chastille) and Nephteros, in the “hopeless suitor” stage. They’re still the best couple to watch.
The final scene implies that future volumes may get darker. That said, I suspect they won’t get that dark. We know why readers want to read this series, and it can be summed up in one word: ‘D’awww!’.