By Natsume Akimoto and Kakao Lanthanum. Released in Japan as “Sentouin, Hakenshimasu!” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Noboru Akimoto.
This is still very much your typical volume of Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, where everyone is terrible above and beyond the call of duty. But there are glimmers of the future here, a sign that perhaps the series is not simply destined to be “KonoSuba’s first, crappier draft”. A bit more attention is paid to the ongoing plot of the series itself, with a revelation that this is not simply Six and company scouting an alien planet for the lulz, it’s because Earth is genuinely going ecologically batshit and the evil organization is trying to find a new home for everyone. That said, it doesn’t have to be Six personally, and the other subplot that matters is that there are a bunch of evil overlords who want their boytoy back home with them and are fine with leaving the worldbuilding to someone else. For any other light novel protagonist this would be heaven on Earth, but Six is decidedly uninterested in a hare, content to stay on this world with Alice. Is he getting soft?
As you can see by the cover, this volume’s “Heroine” is Lilith, one of the three evil overlords Six works for. He specifically requested her because she’s the mad scientist, and that’s just what they need right now, if only to stop their bases getting blown up. Sadly, she’s just as useless as everyone else that is in this book, and she also has all the character flaws that go along with her archetype. She’s also grumpy as Six, while happy to banter with her and also happy to threaten to sexually assault her, is not all that into her. Even worse, Alice, her own creation, is going through a rebellious stage, being crankier than usual. While Lilith is there, they dig for water (triggering a slime monster), try to get the poop of a giant sparrow for fertilizer (triggering Snow’s greed at the shiny things in its next), summon an actual angel (which terrifies everyone but Alice, who insists she’s a cosplayer), and battle the Demon Lord’s armies again, just so Rose can ask him why they’re staying at her old holiday home.
As you can see, the goal of this series is still laughs first and foremost. Usually of the “dear lord” variety – there really is a lot of discussion of pee and poop here, and one scene showing how the kingdom uses orcs horrifies Six and Lilith so much that they’re almost ill (and we’re in hysterics). But as I said, the series is starting to get a hang of its characterization. Dix’s problem is that, when you get right down to it, he’;s an asshole but he isn’t evil. And what’s more, everyone around him knows it. It’s only gotten worse since he’s arrived on this planet, but that doesn’t seem to bother him much. Being separated from Alice does, though – they aren’t a romantic couple (there really aren’t any in this series, mostly as Six is uninterested and everyone is terrible) but their bond and banter is still the best reason to read the series. They sound like best friends.
As always, this series is not for everyone. Stay away if puerile stuff makes you roll your eyes. But I think it’s finally hitting its groove, and I can actually read it without seeing what the author later ripped off for KonoSuba.