By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.
Churchill once said “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”. Leaving aside his own legacy for the moment, there was sort of a minor fandom kerfuffle at the idea of the prodigies coming into this world and introducing the people to the wonders of free elections. It felt a bit condescending, to be honest, and the cynicism that some of them seem to wear around them at all times did not help. This volume serves to try to balance that out a bit. Democracy is happening, but what actually comes of it is anyone’s guess. We see the formation of two factions, one isolationist and one interventionist, and they both have good points. Certainly the interventionist one would be better for our heroes of their won. Sadly, they’re already corrupt from within and loaded with people who want perks and bribes… which is, let’s face it, another part of democracy.
There’s actually an extra story taking up most of the first third of the book, where some “bandits” have taken over a stronghold and are wiping out the military trying to stop them, mostly as the military still isn’t used to fighting against modern weapons. Ringo could fix things immediately, but instead Tsukasa leaves it up to a child genius girl, who is very much the classic princess curled OHOHOHOHOHOHO! sort, and also sadly has invented one of history’s most infamous weapons. The book proper is devoted to a plea from one of the Yamato princesses to save her country. Tsukasa is not interested in that, but might be interested in saving her people… if she’s telling the truth. And for once the prodigies are not united – the fellowship is broken as Masato and Tsukasa disagree on their next step, and he heads off to a port as part of his own agenda.
Unlike previous books in the series, this one does not have any glaring horrible bits in it, it’s very readable. Though I wish that all the talk about saving Roo’s dream had been done with Roo in the room… or even in the book, which she isn’t. There’s a sense throughout the book that we’re setting things up for the back half of the series (we’ve halfway done by the end of this book), and indeed the Yamato problem is not remotely resolved by the end of it. Everything else seems to be simmering but not boiling over as well, including Tsukasa’s love triangle, which is a very awkward one indeed giving he’s ignoring both love interests… well, the love part, at least. There is a crisis of conscience from Prince, who feels weak and feeble compared to the others, but I gotta be honest, I find Prince dull so it didn’t really resonate with me. And the illustrations are laden with service, though I was amused at Shinobu literally calling attention to her own shower picture in the novel text.
This feels like the sort of book that will feel better after the next book is out. Till that, I’m giving it a B minus.