By FUNA and Itsuki Akata. Released in Japan as “Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Diana Taylor. Adapted by Maggie Cooper.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the overuse of slavery in isekai books, and it’s a good discussion to have, but I also think we need to look at the “plucky orphans” trope as well. Our hero/heroine comes across either children starving on the street or an orphanage where they barely get enough food to survive. And over the course of the next few pages, what happens for the most part is “sweet, free workforce!”. The general feeling is that they are amazingly fortunate to have our isekai’d person come along and teach them skills and trades, and what’s more, their bellies are finally full, so they’ll do anything they’re asked. Sometimes there is at least a vague attempt to show that this is bad (Bookworm). Sometimes it’s abused horribly, but at least the kids are paid actual wages (Kuma Bear). And sometimes it’s “they’re getting food from me, so let’s turn them all into little 6-year-old waitresses”. Welcome to FUNAtown.
Mile and the rest of the Crimson Vow finally get to see the Demon Village, which is mostly an anticlimax, though she does meet the “Holy Maiden”, a demon girl with the same ability as Mile to talk to the nanos. (The girl is clearly being used and mistreated by the village, a fact that Mile mostly ignores except to give her and her family a pile of food). Elsewhere, Mile ends up getting led to an ancient artifact, buried deep (very, very deep) beneath the ground, and communicates with it, learning a lot of backstory about this world’s past. Unfortunately, it turns out that there was some time dilation involved, and when she and the Vow emerge from the Earth the invasion that Mile has been worried about for the last couple of books is about to go full blast. Will Mile be able to stop it? And can she get Reina to cosplay as Kuroko from A Certain Magical Index?
As always with FUNA, any attempts at a serious examination of the world or actual danger and angst is offset by the fact that her heroines are massive overpowered goofs. This is especially true of Mile. She gains the ability to show the entire world a projection of herself in order to warn them that the real danger from another world is going to emerge from a different place… and the first thing she does is imitate the MGM lion. I did appreciate that she finally started to tell her friends SOME of the reason why she is what she is. Not the reincarnated from Japan thing, but that God had given her special abilities, and that she needs to use them to save the world. Mile is making a lot of inferences that I’m not sure hold up, but as long as she’s trying to do good and doesn’t just farm it out to the orphans instead, that’s fine.
We’re mostly caught up with Japan, so expect a new volume in 6 months or so. It also seems like the series might be getting near an ending, and the cover of Vol. 17 looks like a “final volume” cover… but there’s an 18 already, so I doubt it. Recommended for fans of this author.