By Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jenny McKeon.
This volume might be frustrating for some fans, as it is in many ways a recap of what happened in Books 3-5, only from the POV of the other side. I do not have this problem. For me, the recap is greatly appreciated as I can barely remember what happened in Book 12, much less nine books ago. More importantly is the fact that this is from the other side’s POV means we get a lot of White in this book, and she’s just as funny/terrifying (don’t delete where applicable, she’s both) as ever. She doesn’t care at all about many things that we cared a lot about, but she’s also very interested in things that had appeared minor or unimportant. Here we see her and Ariel finally making their plans to kill Potimas. Yeah, I know, I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, they’re even getting help from the Church! We also get a lot more insight into exactly how she and Ariel are trying to save the world, and how it’s still a gamble.
To no one’s surprise, White turns out to be the mastermind behind most of the baffling things that happened in the previous books, such as the downfall of Shun’s kingdom and his becoming Public Enemy Number One. Her matter-of-fact reasons for doing this are cool and logical and make you a bit ill, to be honest. That said, she is not without emotion… I was particularly amused at her observance of Katia literally blowing herself up to escape the brainwashing, and then Shun bringing her back from the dead. It was a combination of “Holy shit, he can do that!?” combined with “just fuck already!” that left me laughing. We do also get a look at White from other people’s point of view, particularly the Pope, who is well aware that Ariel may be the Demon Lord but White is the one who is changing the entire world.
As for the rest of the cast, it was nice seeing the humans again, if only from a distance – because this is mostly White’s POV, we barely get to talk to them. I liked the contrast between Shun’s “this is all I can do right now, why am I not as powerful as my brother” and White’s “HE’S GOT TOO MANY CHEATS CHRIST”, and indeed a lot of the plotting and scheming that she does is to try to plan for all the extra special hero stuff he can pull out of his ass. We also finally get a good look at Sariel, the goddess currently wired into the system and giving out all those game bonus stats. Not a pretty site, but at least it leads to the one big battle in the book, as White fights what are basically security robots and is actually challenged for once… mostly as if she goes all out it would destroy the system, which is what she wants but not like this.
So, a lot of setup, but it does promise that the next volume will finally catch us up to where the two sides left off in book… 5, was it? Till then, congratulations, there’s a lot of spider in this book.