By Gamei Hitsuji and Yuunagi. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.
This was, for the most part (I’ll get to the one really annoying bit at the end) a solid volume that gave fans what they wanted: Suimei back on Earth and reconnecting with everyone, and the three main heroines marveling at life in a science-based world and eating lots of delicious sweets. I will admit that those who like the battle scenes in Too Far Behind might find it wanting – the only battle here is about 3/4 of the way through, and it’s a one-way curbstomping. But honestly this is meant to be a pure fanservicey break before we go back to confront the Big Bad, and as such it functions fine. It also introduces us to a new heroine, though it doesn’t appear as if she’s going to be a love interest. Hydemary, Suimei’s disciple, is the girl on the cover art (with the series’ third artist, by the way, which may be why it was so late in coming), and she’s both more and less complex than I was expecting.
I mentioned three main heroines – Hatsumi does return with the rest of them, but spends the entire book essentially recuperating with her family, so is not participating. Her family being a set of terrifying swordsmen who work with Suimei’s family, the whole “we went to a parallel world” explanation is accepted very rapidly. (Reiji and Mizuki stayed behind, and we briefly hear about Suimei mind controlling their parents and the school to smooth things over, which ergh.) As for the other three, Liliana gets her cursed eye fixed at last, though given that it’s fixed by a mad scientist otaku it apparently got a few bells and whistles added to it. Also, she’s still wearing the eyepatch, because of course she is. Lefille learns that the best thing for her swordplay right now is to take a break and not obsess over winning, two very good pieces of advice. And Felmenia basically gets to immerse herself in books and sweets, but that’s good enough for her.
The main plotline involves Suimei, after telling the Magician’s Society sending Suimei (after he briefly explains where he was – they don’t really care) to stop a group who are trying to revive a God somewhere in Germany. Suimei keeps putting this off, much to the irritation of Hydemary, who has had to deal with a) him being gone for 6 months or so, b) him returning with a bunch of other girls; and c) her own self-worth issues, as she’s a homunculus, and thus while she has all the knowledge of the world her experience is minimal. Honestly, I was expecting this to be bigger than it was – I expected her to turn evil for a bit, whereas a pep talk was all it took to cheer her up. It helps that she’s about seven years old in actual years, and thus not a romantic partner – at least not that we can tell. Suimei treats her like a wayward but loved child.
The book ends with a side story showing how Suimei and Hydemary first meet, which was fine except when it turns out her creator was once pals with Hitler before he went bad. Keerist. The whole “Hitler was under the control of other magical forces” plot is very hard to do without being offensive, and it’s impossible when it’s done as a brief dash of backstory before it’s dropped. I really didn’t need to know Hyudemary’s creator was an ex-Nazi. That aside, though, we nearly wrap up the Earth arc and are set to return to Felmenia and company’s home – this time with Hydemary, as well as someone else who is evil and appears to be hitching a ride. When will we see it? Will it have a 4th artist? Who knows? But this was a pretty good entry in the series.