By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but Rokujouma frequently has to walk a bit of a high wire, especially in the books that take place after the “ending” we saw in Vol. 29. The author still clearly wants to write more and more stories, and does not want to wrap things up quickly. At the same time, one of the joys of this series has been seeing the characters gradually grow and mature, and as such we don’t want to see them all static either. This new volume is particularly good at keeping that balance, especially for our two resident magical girls, Maki and Yurika. Maki’s past, both as an orphan sold into slavery and as a member of Darkness Rainbow, still tends to guide her actions. Meanwhile, Yurika’s self-pity sometimes verges into self-loathing, so much so that she can’t honestly see how impressed everyone is with her. The best way to resolve both of these things is to head off to Folsaria, Maki’s homeland. And who knows, maybe we can tie into the other ongoing plot while we’re at it.
We pick up where we left off, as Ralgwin has gotten away, though he does not seem to be starting anything major from somewhere else. This allows them to focus on Maki, who has been invited to join Rainbow Heart after recommendations from both Nana and Yurika. Maki certainly has the magic for it… and she’s got the “heart” as well. But can she really become one of the good magical girls after being a literal terrorist just a year or so ago? She gets a provisional task she must complete: investigate the disappearance of several men from a part of the city. This leads her not only to the home where she was born (now a ruined building), but also to a graveyard containing something that’s a lot bigger than just missing people. Can Maki rally together with all of her friends and family and save Folsaria from a hideous disaster?
I was talking about balancing character development with a certain static point, and something in the narrative really showed that off to me: when they arrive at Rainbow Heart headquarters, Yurika is given a letter explaining that all of her debt has finally been paid. Folsaria is a magical land, and Yurika should have been getting a salary, particularly given how much nof a prodigy she was. But apparently she destroyed a factory when her magic went out of control… and it was on her own time, not during work. So her wages were garnished forever to pay for it. Yurika, however, is not delighted by this at all. She fears that if she’s no longer a freeloader Koutarou will abandon her. What surprised me is that there’s no snapback at the end of the book. I was sure Yurika would end up reincurring a large debt. But no. And she’s even able to continue living frugally (so far). It’s really impressive, both for her and the author, not to fall into old habits.
Apologies to Maki, as I spent most of her book talking about Yurika. But Maki is awesome here too, gets to resolve many conflicted feelings, and becomes a real heroine at last, with a paycheck and everything. Unfortunately… the villains kinda win here. We’ll see what happens next, I guess.