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 Hunter Prigg.
This is one of those volumes where the audience knows the answer that the rest of the cast are searching for, but even by the end of the book they still have not quite figured it out. So much of this volume is about sacrificing personal hopes, dreams and happiness for the sake of the country, and the assumption that, deep down, everyone else will also be doing the same thing. Unfortunately for them, we’re able to peer inside Shusei’s head, and we’ve already read the previous eight books, so we know why he’s so determined to burn the entire country down to get what he wants. His birth father was able to throw it all away for the sake of love, but Shusei cannot do that, given Rimi’s position. He has to throw away everything else so he can have Rimi. And even Rimi still doesn’t quite get that, mostly as she still has the self-worth of a bent blade of grass at the side of the road.
After the events of the previous book, Kojin and Renka are being politely held at the palace so that it can be determined what happened to Rimi. The only trouble is that Rimi refuses to point any figures. That said, the answer is obvious, and Shohi has his first massive temper tantrum in some time. This results in Kojin resigning and going back to his seaside estate, and Renka saying she’d like to take up the position being offered, but won’t do it without the Chancellor agreeing to it. And the Chancellor just resigned. So someone has to go to Kojin’s estate and play peacemaker, trying to persuade him to give Shohi another chance so that the country can remain peaceful and stable. The perfect choice to do this, obviously, is the woman Kojin recently tried to murder.
Fear not, those who worry about such things, there is plenty of food in this volume, and it plays the major role in reconciliation here.l Not between Kojin and Shohi, though that happens as well, but between Kojin and Shusei, as we learn that sometimes when you think the only answer is “tough love” but you’re also terrible at real human emotions, it can come off as hatred. I always love how these mysteries are filtered through Rimi, who is actually trying to understand why they’re stubborn and unyielding but can only do so in terms of imagining what foods would and wouldn’t work on them. Kojin’s breakdown is very well handled, and I also enjoyed reading about how yes, his wife really DOES love him, surprise! That said, all this is drowned out by the cliffhanger ending, as Shusei makes war inevitable.
I am assuming that the next volume will be that war. I am also hoping that we finally get a reveal as to Mars’ identity, if only so they can be killed off. (There was an attempt at a tragic backstory here, which didn’t work well because it was too similar to the main tragic backstory.) In any case, this remains an addictive shoujo thriller.