By Rhythm Aida and nauribon. Released in Japan as “Buta Koushaku ni Tensei shita kara, Kondo wa Kimi ni Suki to Iitai” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Zihan Gao.
As each of these books have happened, the title has been less and less accurate, because Slowe has slowly but surely been losing a lot of that weight. It’s possible the author realizes this, as in this book Slowe spends the majority of the time disguised as an orc – which means he has pig-like features. That said, everyone seems to think he’s turned the corner in terms of popular opinion – everybody but Slowe, who is not really ready to take up the mantle of the heir after blowing it off in the past. For one thing, he still needs to stop the anime plot from happening, and for another, he has a much better idea than his old friends as to just how much he torched his reputation, and how much more it will take to get that back. Especially if he blows off the Queen because another disaster is about to take place… yet, the books aren’t self-contained anymore. Cliffhanger time!
Slow is disguised as an orc, and Charlotte as a pixie, in order to infiltrate Charlotte’s old kingdom, which is now overrun with monsters. Slowe is there to try to head off the next big event of the anime, where one of the antagonists murders a pixie ambassador and helps to jumpstart a war. To do so, he makes contact with an Orc King and his village, as well as the ambassador, Elyas, passing himself off as an Orc Mage – something that is theoretically impossible, given orcs are barely above goblins on the fantasy monster hierarchy. Elyas is trying to have all the monsters unite to defeat the human who’s destroying them. Unfortunately, not only is the human stupid powerful, but Shuya and Alicia (well, just Shuya really) decide to take a shortcut through the monster-infested country and end up in the mix as well!
I’ve said before that I think this series is solid, not great, and that trend continues, though it’s still very readable. Having a “monsters are people too” volume after the previous three is an interesting way to go, and you get the sense that we’ve reached the “the series is successful, you can plan for the long future” part that most Japanese media face. That said, Shuya and Alicia are still very generic, as fits the anime that they belong to, and Slowe and Charlotte’s fight is filled with teenage angst that is more interesting to have read than to be reading. That said, the ending fight is really very well done, and the book promises more of that sort of thing in the next volume. There’s some good humor too, as Slowe is both drawn to and exasperated by his “orc brothers”, who are cliched as heck but in a good way. I hope we see them again.
If you like fantasies with this sort of cliched plot, you could do a lot worse than this.