By Hisaya Amagishi and Kei. Released in Japan as “Madougushi Dahlia wa Utsumukanai” by MF Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Osman Wong.
There’s a lot going on in this volume of Dahlia in Bloom, but the most important part involves a conversation that really should have happened ages ago. This series began with Dahlia’s fiance, Tobias, being SUCH trash that he gained an almost memetic reputation as a trash man, and several volumes in we’re still piling on the humiliation for him, his family, and his company. But there’s also a backstory here. One of Tobias and Dahlia growing up together and knowing exactly how the other works. One of their marriage being one of convenience rather than romance, something that even Dahlia’s father is aware of. And it also helps show exactly why Tobias did what he did, and so rapidly: he’s never remotely felt romantic love before, and certainly not with Dahlia. It was a bolt from the blue. As such, when a crisis unfolds that requires Dahlia and Tobias to work together again, they’re finally able to sit down and have a conversation about what happened, and begin to move past it.
The crisis takes up the first half of the book. What was thought to be an illness turns out to be that her friend Irma is pregnant. Unfortunately, this is one of those worlds where magic is biased against the lower classes, and Irma’s husband turns out to be a noble’s illegitimate child, so he has far more magic than she does. As such, the pregnancy might kill her. To solve this, there’s a complex enchantment of a bracelet that needs to be done, and when Oswald and Dahlia find their magic is not compatible enough, they’re forced to turn to Tobias. Who, to be fair, helps immediately, and is quite chastened the entire time. We also see Dahlia’s influence and creativity inspiring others, either to expand on her inventions or expanding into their own companies. And, rest assured, food is eaten and alcohol is consumed.
I will admit, one thing in this book really surprised me, and that was the presence of Emilia in it. Emilia was not really a character so much as a macguffin, there to jump start the plot, and I have to admit that I was expecting, after Tobias was disgraced and everyone in town started to shun him, that she’d have simply vanished. But it actually works better for the book that she and Tobias really ARE in love, and that she’s still with him even after all that’s happened. And even though the two are very bad at talking with each other – she’s mostly convinced herself that if Dahlia tried to win Tobias back from her, it wouldn’t take much. I still don’t like either character, but I respect their poor choices. I also want to note that I hate the “nobles have stronger magic” system. We also see it in Bookworm, and I hate it there too. It’s an excuse to keep the common folk where they are. Dahlia’s inventions help a bit, but she has a ways to go before she’s Princess Anisphia.
Dahlia in Bloom continues to be one of the best J-Novel Heart titles, even if those waiting for the romance to happen must be groaning at another volume where neither party get any closer to admitting their feelings.