By Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jenny McKeon.
(There are spoilers in this review for the previous volume, so make sure you’ve read 9 first. Or are spoiled.)
I seem to be eating crow a lot in my recent reviews, usually as I read what I said at the end of the last one and realize that no, it went counter to all my expectations. And last time I said that I felt that White’s encounter with D would not likely change her all that much, and boy howdy was I wrong. It’s not perfect, and only with alone with the Demon Lord is she starting to be “herself”, but the days of “White Can’t Communicate” are coming to an end, as she now… talks in sentences! Expresses emotions! Thanks people! I’ve gotten used to her main character trait being the dissonance between her chatty inner monologue and her deadpan outside self that I was not expecting that she would finally bridge the gap. A lot of this is likely due to D, and the big revelation from last time of who her real self is.
The Demon Lord gets a lot accomplished in this book, firstly by taking out a major rebellion against her (which White actually gave her all the details on), then by meeting with the pontiff and making a deal with save Miss Oka and a group of elves that were part of the rebellion (at White’s request) in return for promising to kill off all the Elves at a later date (we do see some of this in earlier books). The Demon Lord also finally hears about what’s really happening with this world,. again thanks to White, but does not hear how much sacrifice and deaths it will take to fix things, again because White does not tell her. The Power Behind The Throne has never felt more appropriate, even as everyone continues to attribute this to the Demon Lord being just that brilliant. Oh, yes, and White can now actually cause physical pain to Ariel as well, though this is passed off as a gag.
I will admit that I do appreciate the gags, because let’s face it, this series has gotten about as dark as Overlord, which I dropped for being too dark. So White being all embarrassed is funny, as is most everything about Sophia being a massive spoiled brat. And then there’s D, a totally awful God, who is still finding the idea that the new God of this world is really a tiny spider that she swapped roles with so as to get away from being found after being reincarnated. The other reason the series is still good to read is the occasional heartwarming moment. I liked White trying to save Ms. Oka, and the flashback back to the classroom where we see why: Ms. Oka stopped the class killing the spider, and hence White herself, before they all got exploded. I also liked the ending with White taking Ariel to meet the legendary Sariel, and we see how she’s suffering for the entire world. It gives “saving the world” a face.
Still, there’s no denying this series is pretty damn dark – lots of slaughter in this book as well. That said, the best thing about this volume is White really starting to come into her own and take over as THE protagonist once more.