By Zappon and Yasumo. Released in Japan as “Shin no Nakama ja Nai to Yuusha no Party wo Oidasaretanode, Henkyou de Slow Life Surukoto ni Shimashita” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.
The main thrust of this series is supposed to be the quiet life, but of course we also need to kickstart the next arc, which is basically “the new hero is broken”, and so this volume tries to have it both ways, with half the book being Red, Rit and Ruti on vacation doing things like making curry for the first time, or doing emergency appendectomies. The other half shows us the new hero’s party, and his arrival in Zoltan and interaction with the cast that remain in that sleepy town. Unfortunately, this created the main issue I have with this book, which is that the dissonance between the two plotlines is too great. I was unable to enjoy Red’s mountain vacation because I kept waiting for the evil things to start happening, and it put me on edge in a way I was not particularly fond of. Slow Life is there to be enjoyed, after all.
The start of the book is definitely in Slow Life mode, as Danan has recovered from his injuries and wants to celebrate by fighting Red in a spar, mostly to make sure Red hasn’t lost his edge by retiring to this backwater town. While this is happening, the Hero’s Party advances towards Zoltan, and we get a good look at Van, the new Hero. One gets the sense that The Gods were a bit annoyed with Ruti’s pesky ethics and morals, as Van does not have any of those. Hero is a job, and his only goal. Saving people is not part of that goal, nor is even being nice to them. Their job, according to him, is to battle the demon lord and die. And, in Zoltan, he finds an entire town full of people who don’t want anything to do with the battle against the demon lord. Uh-oh.
There was an interesting prologue to this book, showing the villain of the previous arc, Leonor, being shown the future that “should” have been, where she feels remorse at the end. (Said future also has Gideon being dead, and I get the sense that is what God wants more than anything else.) Leonor’s reaction is to basically say “fuck your redemption” and refuse to repent for anything. I respected that. But yes, “we have to kill God” definitely looks like it’s going to be the endgame of the series at the rate we’re going. Van is frankly terrifying and difficult to read, he makes your skin crawl. On the bright side, I continue to enjoy the author making Mister Crawly Wawly a genuine supporting character in this book, getting his own dynamic entrances and moments where he saves the day. In any other series he would be the adorable spider mascot there to show Tisse is a bit weird, here he helps humanize Tisse, who’s still probably my favorite character.
I would love to see more relaxed slow life stuff next time, but that’s not going to happen. Van vs. Ruti, coming soon. I just hope I can plow through it.