By Taro Hitsuji and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jan Cash.
I have to admit a certain sense of relief. I kept telling myself that eventually the novels would HAVE to get to Sir Kay and make them more than a simply butt monkey fanservice generator, but so far the author had not lived up to my expectations. Even the start of this book, which has Sir Kay and Emma dressed up in flashy fetish outfits as part of Luna’s plan to make her potential voters too horny to vote for anyone but her in the student elections, there was a temptation to sigh. But no, Kay actually gets a thing to do here, and it fits in quite well with her character, which, let’s face it, has been “loyal but weak’, as the subtitle says. That said, it’s a good thing Sir Kay was around for this battle, as Luna and Rintarou are faced with one of their biggest challenges… one that comes after one of Rintarou’s greatest losses. Will he be able to keep his head and not get tempted? (Signs point to no.)
As our story opens, as most of these books do, with Luna being doing her best “Haruhi Suzumiya in Book 2” impersonation, Nayuki is still trying to fess up to Rintarou about who she really is – he knows she’s a Dame du Lac, but has not really figured out she’s actually Nimue, or at least not consciously. Unfortunately, Nayuki’s own cowardice plus Luna being obnoxious means that instead of a confession, we get a brutal execution by Vivian, who would appear to be, if not the final boss, at least the second to last one. Despite Rintarou’s Roaring Rampage of Revenge, there’s not really much he can do about that… well, unless he convinces Luna to go completely off the map of the test for the next King Arthur and instead go on a Quest foe the Holy Grail… a test that everyone admits is impossible. Can he, Luna and Kay survive what appears to be a trip to the underworld? Why is Rintarou so manic? And why is Luna so depressed?
Despite the way that I phrased that last sentence, this is not a bodyswap sort of problem, but instead a very good example of Rintarou completely 100% screwing up. For once, you want to strangle HIM instead of Luna, who as always improves throughout the book, especially once she starts dwelling on her not-very-tragic backstory, something she clearly remembers better than the other person in it. As it turns out, capturing the Holy Grail is REALLY HARD to do, and only Galahad had ever successfully done it before, and they immediately took it to Heaven, which is definitely not where this Grail search takes place. Fortunately, even with Rintarou essentially being stupid, Luna has two big weapons at her disposal: a) her ludicrous determination, and b) the only Knight of the Round Table who’s as pure as Galahad was. Sir Kay finally steps up, and it’s very satisfying.
The next volume is the last one, and that seems about right, to be honest. Certainly the cliffhanger does not bode well. But now that Rintarou is back to normal, and with Luna’s bullheaded pure courage and kindness, they should be OK. If you like stories about blonde King Arthurs seeking a Holy Grail, this is at least the third best.