By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.
The first of a two-part side story devoted to Koutarou and Clan’s adventures during the climax of Book Seven, Rokujouma 7.5 is solid but does suffer from the fact that throughout the book, the reader knows far more about what’s going on than the main characters. From the moment that Koutarou, dressed in his Blue Knight armor, rescued the princess it was clear that he was going to be making history rather than changing it, adnd that he was the Blue Knight. But Clan doesn’t see it that way (understandably, perhaps, as this is such a touchstone) and they spend a frustrating amount of time searching for the “real” Blue Knight. Of course, another major goal of this book is to get us to like Clan, who I suspect may end up part of the harem; she’s still not as likeable as the rest of the cast, but she’s getting there.
There’s a bit less humor in this volume than prior ones, mostly due to the main plotline, but there are moments that made me smile. The princess’ female companions on her journey all seem to remind Koutarou of his companions from the future… and they tend to act like said companions as well, with Charl, Alaia’s younger sister, behaving exactly as you’d expect a younger Theia to do. As for the Yurika analogue… I don’t want to spoil, but it may be the best joke in the book (unless it’s the food torture, which also involves the Yurika analogue). Koutarou and Clan discuss how much of this is just coincidence. The Rokujouma reader knows that not all of it is, and that Harumi certainly seems to be Alaia’s reincarnation, but it’s not clear how much this applies to the others.
The main plot is more serious, with the Kingdom already being ruled by the enemy Grand Viziers (so to speak) and Alaia fleeing for her life through the countryside. This serves to show off what a good Princess she is, as well as show the brutality of those currently in power – she actually debates just giving in and letting them rule if it means the people are safe and happy, but it rapidly becomes clear that no, the people are sacrifices they will use to destroy Alaia. And of course you see Koutarou and Alaia growing closer, but as the play says (Koutarou is trying to do things as the play laid out, but it didn’t cover everything). Their flirting is top notch, and while time and distance are likely going to ensure they can’t be together, I suspect Harumi will get more and more of Alaia’s memories as time goes on.
So this isn’t the best Rokujouma out there, but it’s decent, and reads very quickly. Fans who haven’t already read all 20-odd volumes should pick it up. Next time we’ll be back in the present for Book 8, but after that 8.5 should conclude this side story.