By Miri Mikawa and Kasumi Nagi. Released in Japan as “Ikka Kōkyū Ryōrichō” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by afm.
Last time I talked about the similarities between this series and The Apothecary Diaries, but hey, at least Rimi does no go around solving crimes… oh wait, yes, she does. In this volume, there’s a large chunk in the middle with a precious treasure being stolen, and Rimi, being the foreign girl who made food out of “wood”, is suspected of having magicked it away. So, um, yeah. Fortunately, the two books do have one major thing separating them, and that’s the heroine’s personality. Rimi and Maomao could not be more different, with Rimi being a more Usagi Tsukino sort of character, who may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer (though her emotional maturity is developing by leaps and bounds), but who knows just the right things to say to people to earn their trust. Of course, the delicious food helps as well. In fact, Rimi’s biggest problem may be that she’s so lovable that there may be civil war in the future, if the two men who’ve fallen for her don’t work things out…
Rimi is temporarily working with Shusei in the culinary department, and there’s an important assignment. The four consorts have to stand with the emperor soon for an important ceremony, and one must stand next to him and hold the Scattering Lotus, a highly valuable treasure. Needless to say, the competition to be that consort is high, and previous consort battles have even led to death. Shusei and Rimi have to work to pacify the consorts and get them to make a decision about what order to stand in without it coming to blows – even though everyone fears it will. And then, as I noted above, the Scattering Lotus is stolen and Rimi is the prime suspect. Is every book doomed to have her fighting to not be executed? Oh yes, and also the Emperor is far more interested in sleeping with her than any of the Four Consorts. That’s probably going to be a thing.
Rimi remains funny in this story, continuing to speak the language of the country she now lives in slightly off-center, so that things she says sound slightly to very rude. (The Emperor suggests she’s doing it on purpose, which I do not think she is… yet.) But she’s also the nicest person in the book, her life not really damaged by political schemes because she’s been raised entirely apart from everyone else. Sometimes this works against her, but it also allows her to see past the fronts that the other four consorts throw up and see what they truly have in common. I also love the concept of the treasure itself and what the solution was. That said, there’s more concerning things here as well. Someone high up seems to have it in for her, and while she escapes his grasp here I will not be surprised if he’s back in the next book, especially as he seems to regard her as some sort of sorceress.
This isn’t a great light novel, but it’s solidly good, and Rimi is a fun protagonist who I think is not as airheaded as she seems… though admittedly, that’s a low bar to clear. I’m happy to read more.