By Dachima Inaka and Iida Pochi. Released in Japan as “Tsujo Kogeki ga Zentai Kogeki de Ni-kai Kogeki no Okasan wa Suki desu ka?” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.
For some reason, I had it in my head that most of the last five books were short-story volumes. This isn’t actually the case, it just seems like it, but even the other short story volumes added a plot that coheres more than this one, a volume that is the very definition of “we need you to end with Vol 11 instead of 10, so can you just busk for 200 pages?”. There is a plotline introduced here, one that seems to promise that the final volume will at least not consist of stories from Dragon Magazine, but unfortunately we only see that plot in a brief prologue and in the final story. For most of this, it’s generic adventures. And, because they’re meant to slot in anywhere for readers as they’re magazine stories, that means Masato is more annoying than usual, and also more put-upon than usual, a dangerous double combination. Basically, this was hard to push through.
We open with a prologue where Shirase (in the real world, so without extra letters) is explaining to the government that they’re ready to actually launch the game – but the identity of the beta testers comes as a surprise to one of the people in the room. After this, our heroes try to stop a restaurant feud between mother and daughter, which mostly involves paying high bills and a lot of curry; the appearance of a MOD that allows a body modification leads to one of the few cliches the series had not done yet, a bodyswap between mother and son; the monsters are all getting a holiday, leaving our heroes at loose ends… well, just Masato really; our heroes team up with an overly florid grocer to try to stop a shoplifter; and our heroes film a commercial for the game, and all try to show their best sides. We know how that works out.
The final story is the best… OK, let’s be honest, the only one that did not make me want to skim the book, though the shoplifting story has its clever moments. A new beta tester, named “Hawk” arrives, led by Shiraaase. He looks 15, but his real identity is obvious to… well, Mamako and the reader, and even Masato is coming up with a good guess. Yes, it’s his dad, and he seems to be just as much of a dad stereotype as Mamako is the mom stereotype. Despite the cliffhanger, he does not actually seem to be evil or misguided here, and clearly loves his family. He’s also impressed with the growth Masato has shown, which I’d likely have appreciated more if I hadn’t just plowed through those short stories where he was more generic dipshit guy. It does serve to remind you that the game it meant to serve a purpose beyond “make Mamako an OP goddess”.
So yes, the next volume is the final one, and I’m hoping that it will not have more short stories. It will also probably bring back the rest of the cast like Hahako and the 3 evil minion kids, etc. Heck, we might even see Wise and Mehdi’s mothers again. Till then, though, the best part of the book was seeing that dad is just as big of a dork as his wife and child.