By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.
We’re now in the 2nd half of this long series of light novels, and the author is taking the time to wrap up the plots. Sanae was first, mostly as her plot tied into others and was fairly easily resolved. Yurika and Maki’s has honestly barely been touched beyond introducing various strata of evil magical girls, and there’s a sense there’s much more to it. Theia’s is, most like, the main plotline, and thus is not wrapping up anytime soon. And that leaves Kiriha’s, and unfortunately, it’s really not as good a climax as I’d like. I mentioned last time that Kiriha’s antagonist was a classic laughing villain type, and thus he’s pretty dull. He’s so dull that the more interesting villains assisting him just wander off when it becomes clear he’s going down. We’re also introduced to “surprise villain”, but he barely ties into the cast and no one really cares. The battle scenes are cool, though.
The plot is divided into two parts, as Kiriha and Koutarou head underground to deal with the villains trying to use a giant earthquake machine to destroy the world (the fact that I had to type that sentence out in a review that is not about MST3K says a lot about this arc), while Theia and her group head to the machine itself to try to destroy it. Everyone gets to use their powers to do something cool, and we get to see that the reason our heroes are always able to succeed so easily is their empathy and compassion. There’s a lost of discussion of justice in this book (actually, there’s a lot of lecturing about justice in this book), and the idea that justice means you are doing the right thing only works if you’re not, say, a cackling madman convinced that the right thing is to RULE THE WORLD!
Honestly, when all is said and done this feels like the ending to a sentai series or something like that. Even Kiriha is not immune to the tropes, giving Koutarou her trading card back in a blatant “I am going to sacrifice myself and die so that you can all be happy” ploy, which the reader will be unsurprised to hear gets her yelled at by EVERYONE afterwards. The addition of the sentai rangers also helps to sell this as being along the lines of a pastiche, which is fine in and of itself, but if we’re genuinely resolving the issues that make up Kiriha’s arc in the series (as we seem to here), it feels rather undercooked. There is a very nice scene at the end, despite some Yurika abuse for comedic affect again (could be a concussion… eeeeh, she’ll be fine) where Kiriha essentially proposes while admitting the status quo has to stay the way it does. The romance in this series is still well handled.
The next volume appears to be a “let’s do a lighter book” type, as it’s summer and we’re all going on a vacation. I look forward to that, but I also look forw3ard to getting back to the alien and magical girl plots, both of which seems to have more dramatic heft than the underground dwellers did.