By Kei Sazane and Ao Nekonabe. Released in Japan as “Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jan Cash.
Some authors are really good at plotting and worldbuilding. Some succeed at depth of characterization. Some write amazing dialogue. And then there’s Kei Sazane, who does none of those things, but that’s OK, as they have one thing that they do better than most anyone else: crafting cliffhangers that make a reader want to get the next book. I spent most of the second volume of this series thinking I would drop it after I finished, only for a last-minute plot twist that made me want to read more. Unfortunately, little is made of the plot twist here, mostly as the characters are two-dimensional. And once again I got to the end thinking, “yeah, OK, interesting did not happen, dropping this” only to get an epilogue which made me say, “Hrngh, now I want to know what happens next.” It’s a praiseworthy skill, and very well done. Of course, I wish that the skills had been used on a better light novel series.
Last volume ended with the revelation that Iska’s captain and designated dojikko Mismis now had an astral crest after basically falling in a pit of magic. So they have to figure out a way to keep it hidden so that she’s not imprisoned for life at best and executed at worst. I suspect skin-colored bandages, tried here, are not going to work well. It doesn’t help that, aside from one or two flashes of actually being a commander, Mismis is a fluffhead of the first order. (The author loves to write those types – more on this later.) Fortunately, they have a reason for her to be away from the Empire and using an Astral Crest – they have to infiltrate the enemy territory. Unfortunately, everything goes south when, for once, it’s Iska who gets to be the designated idiot, sipping a drugged drink provided by Alice’s maid and now taken prisoner in the hideous… honeymoon suite of a first-class hotel.
Last time Alice and Iska never met up, this time they’re together most of the book. It’s not really a great thing for Alice, as, like Mismis, the author loves to write her as a fluffhead, in this case a girl in love who doesn’t actually realize it. The ‘kidnapping’ wasn’t her idea, and she prefers to settle things on the battlefield in a one-on-one fight, of course. Unfortunately, the Empire is also trying to break out a top security prisoner (who is basically Gilgamesh from Fate/Stay Night only with magic instead of swords), and so everyone needs to rush off and stop everything ending in fire. Including Iska, who is, of course, also slowly falling for Alice in his own stoic lunkhead sort of way. Both Iska and Alice excel at combat scenes, where they’re both allowed to be ridiculously overpowered and cool, rather than enacting A Child’s Garden of Romeo and Juliet Scenes.
There’s no actual bad scenes or writing here – everything is very competent but empty, and reminds me a lot of Strike the Blood or Asterisk War in that it feels like it was written as a novelization of an anime. The main cast are all pretty likeable, and as I said, there’s a great cliffhanger that will probably make me read the 4th book in the series. I’ll be grumbling as I do, though.