By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.
This is not the final volume of this series – not even remotely, as Vol. 12 just came out in Japan last month – but you might be forgiven for thinking this after reading the volume itself, which has the feel of an “and the adventure continues” sort of ending. Our heroes go to visit the Last Dungeon Boonies themselves, Lloyd’s hometown, and find it’s just as ridiculous as you’d expect. We not only get the return of the minor villain of the 4th book, still brainwashes, but also the return of the minor villain of the second book, who is recovering nicely from being evil. Our two major villains show up, joined by a third, and we get all their backstories and reasons for what they’re doing. And we get hints of the real background of Alka, and it’s… surprising. There’s also a big ol’ melee battle at the end, with Lloyd arriving in the Nick of Time. But again, not the last volume.
As noted above, the main cast all decide to go back to Kunlun, mostly to do something about fixing Vritra, still in cursed belt form. Of course, some folks may have alternate reasons to go there, be it to get valuable materials and sell them for cash (Riho), meet Lloyd’s family, get their blessing, marry him, have children, and have more children (Selen), or finding new and exciting ways to GET STRONGER! (Phyllo). After making their way there via the magic portal of Alka’s friend Eug, a dwarf who’s been around as long as Alka has. Once there, they find their old military instructor and the minor villain of the FIRST book, who was exiled there as punishment and is now very strong and also very weird. It’s all pretty muuch fun and games, with lots of laughs. Then we get to the second half of the book…
I’ve always been somewhat suspicious of Lloyd’s “at home, I’m the weakest” claim, and despite the townsfolk showing off such things as being shot out of a cannon to go to the nearby mountaintop, I’m even more suspicious after this book. Both the good guys and the bad guys see Lloyd has a destiny, though how they want to shape that destiny is another story. Fortunately, Lloyd is as innocent as a lamb, and thus unlikely to really be seriously manipulated by bad guys. I’m also impressed with Riho, who honestly should get a spinoff series where she’s the detective, and Selen, who shows that when she drops her yandere act she too can be quite clever and courageous. Phyllo doesn’t get quite as much, mostly as she’s the stoic type, but I was amused at her finding out exactly how much she needs to train… and then discovering that the Kunlun folks use that training for morning calisthenics. Oh yes, and Allan gets to be the butt monkey of the series AND also get everyone thinking – again – that he’s the real hero here. Honestly, he sort of is. We can’t all be Lloyd.
This was probably the strongest volume in the series to date, tying together a bunch of storylines and also leaving room for more to be developed. That said, there’s still one main reason to follow this series – everyone is a wacky parody. For those who love laffs, spelled exactly that way.