By Daisuke Aizawa and Touzai. Released in Japan as “Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute!” by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.
I think I am going to have to accept the fact that this is one of those series where I love everyone except the main character. This is not uncommon in Japanese anime and manga, of course. There are large numbers of people who can’t stand Naruto or Ichigo as characters, but love the series around them. Sword Art Online may be the best example of all. But at least all of those characters are actual heroes. A bit overpowered, a bit narrative-breaking, a bit dense, but heroes. Cid from The Eminence in Shadow is certainly overpowered, narrative-breaking, and dense. Though I think he’d get annoyed if called narrative-breaking, as he’s actually trying to create cool narratives for him to lurk in and be badass. There’s just one problem. He’s TOO annoying, even for a comedy. We’re meant to laugh at the dissonance between what he’s thinking/doing and what everyone else thinks of him, but I just sort of want him to go away, because honestly I quite enjoy this series otherwise.
This book is divided into two halves. In the first, Cid is led by his sister to the Lawless Sector, which has a lot of bad guys and three major powers. She’s there to try to get Cid a place in the Knights, but he quickly wanders off to go be cool and shadowey. Unfortunately, as always, his chuuni declarations designed to sound ominous are actually coming true: in this case, they’re trying to resurrect a vampire queen and turn the town into corpses. In the second half of the book, he teams up with one of the major powers from the first part, a fox woman with a tragic past, in order to destroy the economy of two major companies… one of which is the company literally run by his own minions. To do this, he has to invent another identity so he can be his own bad guy, because honestly, the idea of doing this appeals to him far more than the impact it might have on anyone who cares for him. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
I suppose I should be grateful for small blessings: I hear that in the original webnovel, Cid was actually far more consciously evil about doing all this, whereas in this book most of the actions he takes in the second half of the book are just him not thinking things through or genuinely being a dumbass. But anyway, let me stop talking about Cid, as the rest of the cast are a lot of fun, and the book can be quite funny when it wants to be. Delta, who Cid thinks of as a giant Golden Retriever in the form of a woman, is possibly the only character denser than he is, and yet she’s a delight, because it’s innocent denseness. There are some strong dramatic turns here as well, believe it or not, both from Alpha and from Yukime, the fox woman Cid teams up with. And OK, the final gag with Cid digging a giant hole because he thinks he’s discovered some Mysterious Last Words is pretty funny.
So yes, I’ll definitely be reading more, but I just gotta prepare myself: Cid’s probably always going to be like this.