By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.
Anyone who has consumed any amount of Japanese anime/manga/light novel material will be familiar with the concept of the “bland hero”. He is there to be the reader, essentially. He is nice. He is usually smart, at least in these sorts of books. He is sensible. He tends to get flustered easily, usually. Sometimes this can even be done well. Realist Hero’s Souma is a fairly good example of the type without having most of the negative points that people complain about. Unfortunately, this can become a problem when the situation requires the character to have a reaction that is NOT “bland hero”. Near the start of this book, Souma takes offense to the rather wet (no pun intended) island princess comparing her situation to his wife Roroa’s, and gets mad. Which is fine, except I do not for one minute buy his anger at all. I had thought it was a calculated move, like virtually everything else he does. But no, it was meant to be rage. And wow, nope. Fortunately, the book improves greatly after that.
We pick up where we left off last time, with Princess Shabon and her bodyguard Kishun begging Souma to stop the upcoming war with the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago Union. This proves to be quite a wrench in the works, not only because Shabon’s desperation and poor self-image leads her to piss Souma off, but also as, well, he’s already got a plan in place, no worries. That said, there’s a bigger issue here, as the reason that all this seems to be happening is a giant monster that is prowling the seas and taking away all the fish – and sometimes the fishermen. Souma has to find a way to not go to war, avoid having the Empire called in, and deal with what is, let’s face it, Gamera. Fortunately, he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, including a Navy that is powerful and does things other navies can’t, a monster expert who’s still a kid (I mean, when I say it’s Gamera I’m not making things up) and also find time to deal with the fact that another of his wives is pregnant.
The action parts of this book are quite well done, as is the “clever plan”, especially when we realize who Souma’s contact inside the Archipelago Union is. As noted above, this is very deliberately an homage to old kaiju movies (Souma uses the word to refer to the creature), and like most of those movies, you feel sad when it is finally brought down. There’s also some good politicking for those who read the series for that. I’m especially interested in what’s going on 3with Empress Marie, who pretty blatantly says here that she’s fine with simply letting Souma rule over everything. (I’m still betting she’ll be a final wife.) In terms of the ongoing plot, however, it’s still simmering, with Souma and Fuuga knowing they’re going to have to fight to the death and not really wanting to do it.
The next volume isn’t out in Japan yet (late April, I think), so we’ll be waiting a while to see what’s next. Till then, Gamera is really neat, he is filled with turtle meat, and please try not to let Souma show actual emotions.