By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.
Given the longevity of this series – at 39 volumes (counting the two .5 volumes) it’s probably the biggest light novel series to hit North America in full translation – it’s not particularly a surprise that the more recent volumes are taking the time to look back at the past. This is particularly true of this, a short story volume that follows the usual pattern we’ve seen to date – three web-only short stories and a longer story written specifically for this book. The three web stories all involve looking back at the past in some way, shape or form, and seeing how far people have come. Harumi and Clan, who are in many ways opposites, each envy the other; Theia and Ruth reflect about the fact that they can trust other now and are better people as a result; and Sanae and Shizuka think about life without Koutarou in it and decide “no thank you”, even if at the time they may have felt differently. Fortunately, the final story in the book looks toward the future… and has swimsuits.
In the first story, Clan and Harumi (and Alaia, as Harumi’s later ego) are looking back over events of two thousand years prior, where Clan is forced to admit that Koutarou basically did all the cooking and laundry. The two then use magic and technology to swap bodies, essentially, so Koutarou can roughly rub Harumi’s head and treat Clan with respect and politeness. The second story has Theia and Ruth trying to pick out photos for a news article about the Blue Knight, and thinking about their childhood together and how difficult it was for both of them. The third story sees Shizuka and Sanae spring cleaning all the apartments in the complex, and also stirring up memories – be it Shizuka’s parents before their death or Sanae’s “haunting” of Koutarou before the others arrived. Finally, Koutarou and the girls go on a private beach holiday… but also find time to sneak in some plot-based activities.
Shizuka’s story reminded me that there are other residents of the apartment complex besides her and the 106 herd, and we really haven’t ever ran into any of them, have we? Even if they don’t complain about the noise and/or property damage, you’d think the idea of one man living with so many girls would cause them to at least talk to the manager. Then again, she *does* know martial arts… As usual with these short story volumes, the longest was the best, as we see Nefilforan and her troops wanting to train against Koutarou and the other girls, as they’re all basically powerhouses. This gives us a chance to see just how powerful everyone in the group has become… and yes, for once that includes Yurika, though she thinks sleeping gas is not very cute and magical girl-ey. Unfortunately for the girls, while Koutarou is slowly getting over his past traumas and personality flaws, he’s not really ready to admire the girls’ swimsuits at all or show that he is sexually attracted to them. Perhaps it might take another 39 books.
Of course, this still leaves a cliffhanger from the last book hanging there, and the author promises that we’ll get back to the main plot in Vol. 38, which should focus on Sanae. Till then, this is a good short story volume that is a definite buy for anyone who’s read close to forty other volumes of this series.