By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan by Overlap, Inc. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.
There is something of a cliche about light novel fans, many of whom are teenage boys and young men, that when a new light novel is announced and the plot summary appears, the first questions asked by said fans is whether there is sex in the series. (Actually, they tend to say “snusnu’, which is a Futurama reference, for added nerd appeal.) I mentioned on Twitter the other day that if I saw one more fan asking about whether a light novel has snusnu, I was going to flip tables. It therefore amused me greatly that a great deal of the plot of this fifth light novel in the Realist Hero series involves the fact that he hasn’t yet had sex with any of his fiancees, and that it’s beginning to annoy people who want an heir. This being Realist Hero, of course, we get long discussions of why heirs are important, the succession order, and the pros and cons of why Souma should or should not take Liscia to bed before he feels ready. That said, fans may relax. There is sex in this. But it’s offscreen, so they may stay frustrated.
Fortunately, there’s a lot more going on in this book than just wondering when Souma and Liscia will get it on. In fact, I’d argue it’s the strongest volume to date. There are finally hints that we’re going to be getting, if not forward plot motion, at least more just than running to stand still. The religious theocracy country has sent a representative to Souma to ask him to accept their religion as his country’s own, as well as make him a Holy King. Given they’re already angry at Maria of the Empire for daring to call herself a Saint, even though that’s a nickname not of her choosing, the reader is not inclined to hold them in high esteem. That said, the author does not appear to have it in for religion in general, unlike other light novels (hi, Smartphone), and Souma’s solution as to how to avoid the Papal State while not inciting them to foment rebellion is quite clever. We also get a setup for the next volume, showing that we will be meeting the Dragon People, who (given we’re told they can take human form and mate with Knights) I suspect will be providing another fiancee for our busy king.
There’s also some ridiculousness, as we’ve seen every volume. Souma bringing children’s television to the masses is a heck of a lot of fun, combining aspect of Sesame Street with the sentai superhero shows he recalls from Japan. And he’s also trying to think of ways to improve the nation, ranging from aircraft carriers disguised as islands to turning the wyverns into aircycles (which Kaede and Hal are in charge of, in case you were wondering about the cover). And of course the “bridal training” mentioned earlier, which is being handled by Excel Walter (you do remember Walter, right?) with the help of some truth serum spiked in Souma’s alcohol, which I was not happy with, but at least she didn’t try to bed him after that. We even have a discussion of idealism vs. realism, which I found quite amusing given that I myself sometimes tend to forget that this is not supposed to be “about an Idealist Hero”.
Essentially, a very good volume to the series. Also, feel sorry for Liscia, who even her own fiancee says is the standard, ordinary heroine. All she has going for her is her Saberface. Sad!