By Satoshi Wagahara and 029. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Kevin Gifford.
It’s never a good sign when you can start to see the author and editor’s plotting and scheming as you’re reading a book. I’m not sure which took priority here – if the author decided that he’d had enough of the Enta Isla plot and wanted to end it fast with this volume, or if an editor convinced him to do the same – but there’s no doubt about it, this volume is rushed as hell. That’s not to say there aren’t good scenes or ongoing deep characterization – Emi remains a highlight, and Maou’s use of pizza delivery scooters as a weapon may be one of the funniest bits in the series. But when you take what should have been one of the more dramatic scenes of the book and turn it into a one-page summary by the involved parties after the fact, it’s hard not to be disappointed. Someone at some point said “This isn’t working, let’s solve it quickly and get back to McRonald’s where this series belongs”.
We pick up right from where we left off last time. Emi and Ashiya are being forced to fight to the death thanks to Olba’s scheming, and Suzuno and Maou are trying to stop it. Unfortunately, Maou is still without his demonic powers, so he gets left behind to babysit Alciel. The keyword here is ‘breakneck’, as events happen very fast, allowing Maou to get to where he’s needed and solve what’s happened to him. We get a lot of discussion about what the Yesod fragments really are, and it turns out that they are not really a binary ‘good/evil’ at all – no surprise there, as part of the main plot of this series is that the humans, demons and angels are all basically very similar rather than higher or lower beings. The whole shebang is resolved by a) Maou beating everyone up once he’s back to full power, and b) a deus ex machina that’s a bit ridiculous, so I won’t spoil it here. And Crestia Bell’s righteous religious fury is always fun to see.
Again, the best part of this book was Emi, even though she ends the book at her lowest ebb. She’s reunited with her father, but after being away from work for over a month she’s pretty much fired, and thus unlikely to keep her swank apartment. Rika’s suggestion of working at McRonald’s and moving to Maou’s apartment complex may sound like the author talking instead of her, but it honestly comes as a relief. Now that Emi is no longer trying to kill Maou whenever she sees him, and in fact realizing (slowly) she has feelings for him, it makes far more sense for her to be involved in the action more. So as a setup for future books, I’m very pleased. Unfortunately, as a wrapup to this arc in particular, this book is really not that great a success. I still love the series, but I’m happy to see it moving back to Japan – as is everyone involved, I suspect.