By FUNA and Itsuki Akata. Released in Japan as “Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Diana Taylor. Adapted by Maggie Cooper.
It has to be said, our four heroines are getting just a wee bit famous, especially when they return to the area near where they went to hunter’s school. Sometimes this is good, as it means that we don’t have to have quite as many reaction shots of everyone boggling at their OP selves. And sometimes this is bad – for them, at least, as the funniest scene in the entire book as them running up against a guild master who saw their final exam battle way back in the early volumes. And bought the figures. With poses that… seemed cool at the time. Though it may not look like it, our heroines are slowly growing up, and part of that process is looking back on the dumb things you did in your youth and cringing. And nothing hammers this home quite like a figure of you in a dorky pose you thought was really cool being venerated by a creepy middle-aged man.
The book is divided into four large sections. The first has Mile and company returning to her homeland to save the kingdom. The interesting thing here is that, because of Adele’s sheltered upbringing both before and after her mother’s death, no one remembers her very well. So when Mile shows up, she’s actually assumed to be her late mother, literally returning from heaven to help them. (The best part of this is finding out that Mabel, Adele’s mother, was basically the spitting image of her daughter, and was also highly eccentric. Even without the reincarnated memories, Mile would still likely have been Mile.) The invasion is handled relatively easily, and starts up a nice running gag of Pauline and company charging everyone for food and drink that they desperately need. The second section has them returning to base… and immediately setting out again, before they can be married off or otherwise ensnared.
The third section has Mile and company, along with two other hunting parties, helping a group of soldiers battling an infestation of monsters that are sent by the neighboring enemy kingdom. This is probably the weakest section, and drives home the point that our heroes needs stronger enemies or they risk being bored… and having the reader be bored as well. The final section leads to a cliffhanger, and has the Crimson Vow go to a village of dwarves, who are unable to craft their materials anymore as the mountainside is infested with orcs and ogres. Abnormally strong orcs and ogres. This works very well as Mile is genuinely startled by this, and actually encourages everyone to fight their hardest. It promises a strong beginning next time. It also shows off something relatively rare: Mile plans ahead for the village by buying a lot of high-quality alcohol to sell to the dwarves, and… then sells it, despite the lampshading about it being the perfect plan. I was waiting for it to go wrong.
The anime adaptation of the series has now begun, and I hear adds a lot more fanservice. This volume does, like the previous ones, talk about everyone’s breasts more than anyone cares, but other than that (and Mile’s ludicrous Goddess costume) is content to let the characters and humor drive the book. A lot of fun.