By Natsume Akimoto and Kakao Lanthanum. Released in Japan as “Sentouin, Hakenshimasu!” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Noboru Akimoto.
For some time now, the “evil” in this series’ evil organization has been somewhat questionable. At first it looked like it was just Six, who clearly was content with being a creepy asshole but drew the like at, know, actual evil things like rape and murder. As we’ve gone on, and found that the evil organization is in fact trying to save the planet Earth, more motives have been questioned. And now we find that the organization actually has a real HR policy – we’re told that the Combat agents can sexually harass to their heart’s content (it gets them evil points, after all) but that actual sexual assault is a punishable offense. You get the sense the author realized that they were going a bit too far. KonoSuba, by the same author, will also try to walk this very thin line. In the meantime, the organization is going to have to deal with the biggest threat it’s ever seen to date. The demon lord is dead and his daughter has taken over… and she’s a total sweetie pie.
Rose gets the cover, and is the “heroine of this volume”, but actually gets very little to do besides eat. The Demon Lord’s Domain wants to negotiate, so the group heads over there, and as noted above, finds they accidentally killed the demon lord in their last attack, leaving his daughter Viper in charge. The demon lord was a stubborn middle aged cuss. Viper is kind, gentle, and very apologetic. As such, the demons are actually surrendering – and asking for Six and company to find them a new place to live, as their territory is basically uninhabitable. There’s just one problem with this – the Kingdom of Grace is not content to let the demons simply go “our bad, sorry” and then move in next door. They want reparations. Can Alice negotiate their way to a settlement? Can Heine come to terms with her new job as a magical boiler room? And can six and Viper team up to take out those pesky Puzzle x Dragon games once and for all?
So yes, Viper’s presence in the cast really shakes things up, mostly as, unlike Princess Tillis, Grimm, Snow, or the other characters whose suffering is hilarious (and in Grimm and Snow’s case, brought upon themselves), being mean to Viper is like kicking a puppy. Indeed, the main worry is that she’s too naive and willing to do whatever anyone else wants – hence the mention of the HR guidelines. Honestly, she’s probably the first major character in this that I can’t think of an equivalent to in KonoSuba, the way that you can see Snow as Aqua + Darkness or Grimm as Wiz + Yunyun. Her friendship with Six is actually, dare I say it, rather sweet. Of course, this does not mean the author has suddenly forgotten that this is the Japanese equivalent of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is lots of terrible stuff here. But when said stuff hits too close to Viper, it just sort of drifts to a halt.
We’ve almost caught up with Japan, and the anime based on the series is out next month. So it’s a good time to read a new volume of the worst evil organization, and see how they deal with good.