By Hyougetsu and Nishi(E)da. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.
It has to be said, even though the whole premise of this series is that Veight is a highly successful werewolf precisely because he has his memories from his old Japanese life, there are many times I tend to forget this is a reincarnation isekai. Aside from his occasional longing for soy sauce and the like, Veight’s old life has come up surprisingly little, and even his advanced use of tactics could be put down to “he’s just smarter, OK?”. But with this book, we finally can’t get away from it, as the premise is that Veight and company go to the fantasy equivalent of Japan and find that the reason it’s that way is that it has been visited by Japanese people for centuries who change the world, and Veight is the latest of these. That said, Veight is not about to abandon the country he’s grown to call home, or Airia, who is growing increasingly more obvious in her attempts to hand Veight a clue. This doesn’t mean, however, that he can’t enjoy himself.
The woman on the cover is Fumino, who is an ambassador-cum-spy sent to Ryunheit from the Kingdom of Wa. Just the name makes Veight suspicious, and while at first I thought she was going to actually make an attempt to challenge Veight on his own level, sadly, he’s soon basically guessing everything she does. That said, Ryunheit needs to arrange more treaties anyway, so he and a few others head for Wa to negotiate – including Mao, who used to be from there but was falsely accused of smuggling and fled. As it turns out, the Kingdom of Wa is just as suspicious of Veight as he is of them, and he is finally forced to admit to someone, if not his allies, that he is in fact one of the “Divine”, which is to say those who come over from Japan. That said, Veight was also BORN here – the other Divine were more traditionally isekai’d. So Veight has to stop the artifact that’s been screwing that up, and while he’s there, also help take out a drug ring. Just another day in the life of a humble vice-commander.
I will admit, after the epic saga of the last three books or so, there are times when this seems to meander a bit. The best scenes are, oddly, when we get little hints of Veight’s past in Japan – I’m not sure if he’s meant to be a yakuza or just an unfortunate salaryman, but when the minor villain starts screaming that “I’m different from you failures” and “You all exist to serve me”, something in Veight naps, and I really, really want to see more. I don’t get it – but this is a nice taste. It’s also nice to see Airia actually back and doing things – even Veight admits he’s too much of a pushover to be good at negotiation, so she arrives to actually get down to brass tacks. The end of the book is literally her and Gomoviroa talking in Veight’s presence about how dense he is. The balance between Veight the superpowered commander and tactician and Veight the “there’s no way a girl would like me” has been fun, but is getting old.
Fortunately, the cover of Vol. 9 implies that may change soon. In the meantime, this is a bit of a letdown after the “Werewolf in Russia” arc, but only a bit. Fans of Veight will still be happy.