By Mizuumi Amakawa and Mai Okuma. Released in Japan as “Fushi no Kami: Henkyou kara Hajimeru Bunmei Saiseiki” by Overlap. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Maurice Alesch.
By and large fushi no Kami has been a worldbuilding novel. We’re here to see Ash and company drag the kingdom into the modern era, and we do get a bit of that here, particularly with the development of anesthetic. That said, there has also been an undercurrent of romance to the whole series. Ash has several girls in love with him, and up until this point has pretty much deliberately ignored it. Good news for fans who were hoping for resolution of this plotline, we definitely get it here, as Maika, with the help of almost everyone else in the cast, makes her move. Of course, Ash is unlikely to simply say “sure”, so stronger measures might be needed. And what of Arthur, who is the romantic runner-up in this scenario? Well, she remains a romantic runner-up, I’m afraid. Fushi no Kami does not seem all that interested in polyamory. Fortunately, Maika is awesome enough for five wives.
There is a certain amount of predictability in this volume, to be fair. Once we learn the story of how Maika’s parents got married, the rest of the book writes itself. That said, there is one big surprise, which is Ash casually admitting his feelings for Maika. Ash is a great protagonist, but he also has a tendency to default to ‘blank slate’, both when he talks to others and in his own narrative voice. As such, hearing him casually state that he loves Maika out loud is startling. That said, if you look at most of his actions in the past it makes sense, and his biggest reason to avoid it (they were both kids) is no longer an issue, as both are of marrying age in this fantasy world. That said, his response of “but I’ll never get married because I’d always put my dream over any spouse” is also very Ash. He wants his beloved to be happy.
As for Maika, we know enough about her to know she is not going to mope around after Ash rejects her. Especially not when she learns how her parents got married, and figures she can simply repeat history. Especially if it involves being a cool sword fighter! We’ve seen Maika’s training in the blade throughout the series, and no one has ever really been able to even come close to defeating her. Unfortunately, that applies here as well – despite a couple of attempts to insert drama into the story, with one opponent stating that he’ll be using lethal blows – there is a general lack of tension in her fights the entire way through. That said, it leads up to the best part of the book, where, after Ash says he can’t marry her because his dreams come first, she explains she’ll simply insert herself in between them, as long as it takes. Plus it’s not as if his dreams aren’t hers as well, she just doesn’t have the pat life to draw upon.
There is a decided lack of romantic fallout with Arthur, though that could simply be because she and Maika are best friends. Or it could carry over into Book 6. Which is not out in Japan, so for now we are left with a very nice love confession.