By Daisuke Aizawa and Touzai. Released in Japan as “Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute!” by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.
For about half of this volume, I thought to myself “oh good, the author has finally figured it out”. The plot was solid, the action was very well done, and most importantly Cid was annoying in a funny way rather than in an annoying way. It resolves a lot of the plot points that were left open with the second volume, and hopefully means that I will never have to take the words “Perv Asshat” seriously again. It read like the end of an arc… and given that this was based on a webnovel, it may very well have been. Then we got to the second half of the book, which decided to be a completely different book. It wasn’t bad per se, and Cid once again was not too bad, but there is a monstrous sense of “was this trip really necessary?” hanging over the back half of the novel, and I kept wanting it to end the only way that it was going to – by picking up the new girl. In a duffel bag, apparently.
The first half of the book returns us to the plight of Rose, who is currently trying her best as Number 666 but is also earnest and tortured by her past deeds, so is an easy mark for a kidnapping. Now she’s being forcibly married to Perv Asshat, the man that makes you long for the naming sense of Ryohgo Narita and Jacuzzi Splot. Clearly Cid is not going to stand for this, mostly as stopping the wedding is the really cool thing to do, so he, Beta, and Epsilon set out to ruin everything, albeit sometimes accidentally, such as Cid’s stealing the wedding ring and not knowing what it actually is. Having succeeded, and destroying a monstrous demon, a black hole portal opens and Cid, who knows drama when he sees it, promptly jumps through it. He (and Beta, who leaps after him) find themselves… back in Japan! But it’s not the Japan they know.
As I write this, the fifth volume is not out in Japan yet, so it’s possible that we can get a very good reason for it, but right now I have to ask myself the question: is there any reason why Akane could not have simply been magically isekai’d to Cid’s world and spared us the entire grimdark back half? Now, I admit that part of this may be my fault, as I did say that I enjoyed the series when it was taking itself more seriously. The problem is that the second half of this book does not feel like The Eminence in Shadow, it feels like a completely different series. We’re introduced to Akane and told about her past with Minoru, which is fine, but then we get a post-apocalyptic beast invasion book that also features betrayal and backstabbing, as well as mysterious powers awakening in people (who them go on murder rampages they get convenient amnesia about). In the end, Beta stuffs a few futuretech items from Japan (as well as Akane, clearly an afterthought) in a duffel and drags it back to the main plot. And I gnash my teeth. Again.
The front half of this was quite good, and I’ll read the next one, whenever it comes out, to see what happens next. (Signs point to a back to school arc). That said… the worst thing I can say about the back half is it feels like Cid wrote it. And not in a funny way.