By Yuumikan and KOIN. Released in Japan as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.
I think the author knows why we’re here by now. The reader is here to see if Maple will do something crazy (yes), if she’ll get new abilities that are bizarre and yet very adaptable (yes), and if she’ll finally make out with Sally (no, though the two do go on a date where they ride a horse together). But we do have a lot of other members of Maple Tree, and at times the guild does sort of feel like “Maple, Sally, and the rest”. This book, more than any other before it, looks to fix that. Some get more attention than others (sorry, Chrome, there’s really not much we can do with your type), but for the most part everyone gets a spotlight that helps to show off one thing: they deserve to be in Maple Tree because they, too, are an eccentric powerhouse. The guild has a reputation for weirdos, and it is 100% leaning into that.
There’s a new floor, and a new goal: everyone’s getting their own companion monster. This means that Maple and Sally are sitting this one out for the most part, as they got theirs way back at the start of the series – in fact, the mods likely put this in the game to fix that. So everyone goes off to quests. Mai and Yui go hunting bears, which is difficult giving they’re living in a glass house… erm, cannon. (Sorry, Radiohead got into my head there for some reason.) Kanade finds an NPC he’s never seen before, which leads him to battle a slime with unique abilities. Kasumi takes on a night unkillable snake. Chrome goes on a long game of “this hint leads to this next hint” etc till he battles undead pirate ghosts. And Iz gets Maple and Mii to help her gather enough materials to make something to get the favor of crafting spirits. The reward for all of this is an event where they can kill monsters and/or players to advance, and Maple Tree are absolutely terrifying.
So yes, the anime has passed the books again, so in case you wondered: this is the one with the tentacles. That said, I think it’s Maple’s toxic monster swamp, as well as her hilarious actions near the end of the book, that are the highlight, and I hope we see it animated well when the series returns from COVID hiatus. Elsewhere, I enjoyed seeing Iz showing off that she’s not just support gal by effectively napalming an entire forest. Kanade… look, I know Anime News Network made this joke already, but there’s no getting around it: Kanade now has his own clone to bang. The smug smirks they each have at the end of the scene only adds to that impression. And I also liked seeing how the pets worked with the Twins, who are both Maple-ettes only with offense – a mild buff becomes a huge, huge advantage. They can now splatter most anything.
So yeah, another fun volume. If you’re wondering if the anime cut a lot from here, well, a fair amount. Anime-onlies who think the series is rushing should definitely read the books. The rest of us will enjoy Maple’s quest for octopus.