By Tsutomu Sato and Kana Ishida. Released in Japan as “Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei” by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Prowse.
Last time I mentioned I did not want any more romantic comedy hijinks, and it’s safe to say I got my wish, though that does not necessarily translate into a better book. The focus of this book is the Thesis Competition and the terrorist attack that disrupts it, and I think the entire problem with the book can be summed up by the fact that the competition never finishes after the attack and we never find out who won. It’s irrelevant. That actually pops up pretty frequently in this book, as we see moments that seem like they’re going to lead somewhere or develop a character… except they don’t. They’re there to “look cool” and that’s about it. (Honoka gets hit particularly hard with this.) The exception to this, as always, is Tatsuya. Miyuki seems to long for people to treat her and her brother as normal people rather than superhuman monsters, but it’s getting a tad difficult as the books move on.
As noted above, we start with the Thesis Competition, with our heroes going second to last. Their presentation is awesome, and yet here comes Third High and Cardinal George. But before he can start… explosions, invaders, rampaging monster trucks crashing through the walls. (This may – may – get wrapped up in a book or two with an offhand mention, but I will assume that First High wins. Did Third High even get to present again? “Yeah, look… um, can you just mail it in? We promise we’ll give it equal attention, but everyone’s kind of moved on.”) The rest of the book is taken up with repelling the attack, and, to its credit, it’s only about half “Tatsuya solves everything by dint of superpowerful magic awesomeness.” The rest of it is the rest of the cast contributing in their own little way, from actively killing terrorists with giant swords to using the power of Daddy’s Little Girl to summon helicopters to rescue civilians.
And yes, I said killing. There is a whole lot of bloodshed in this book, as the terrorists (whose identity I will try to keep a secret, in case someone anyone hasn’t guessed) amount to a bunch of cannon fodder. The cast take to it based on their personalities and strengths – Erika and Leo are basically fine with it, some of the others less so. Fortunately, absolutely none of our heroes are hurt all that badly – two of them get mortally wounded, but fortunately Tatsuya pulls out an “I can reverse this” magic that puts them back together again. I tend not to gripe about super overpowered heroes as much as the average light novel fan – I mean, if you’re reading this genre you have to basically accept it – but I admit to rolling my eyes a bit at this. Miyuki helpfully tells us how much pain it causes him, which is all very well and good, but it might have been nice to see that from his point of view, rather than just assume “stoic endurance”.
As the book ends with Tatsuya literally being the trigger of a nuclear magic explosion, one wonders where we’re going to go from here. Not back to the thesis competition, as Book 8 is apparently a prequel taking place three years earlier. In any case, while it is filled with cool battle scenes and the like, I didn’t enjoy this volume quite as much as the previous ones. It’s OK for the other characters to treat Tatsuya like some inhuman God, but don’t let the author do it as well.