By Sou Hazuki and Mizutametori. Released in Japan as “Tsuki Hana no Shōjo Asura: Gokuaku Hidō no Yōhei, Tensei Shite Saikyō no Yōheidan o Tsukuru” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Stephanie Liu.
Every once in a while I like to look at a book that otherwise has no appeal to me whatsoever. Sometimes it turns out I’m wrong, and I end up pleasantly surprised. Sometimes the book is so bad that I can’t even bring myself to finish it. And then there are those unfortunate books where I recognize the craft, and know that they will have an audience here, but that audience is not me. As you may have guessed, Moon Blossom Asura falls under the last category. It has fun, enjoyable characters, some good mysterious backstory, some exciting fights, and a determination to show us that war is hell. But the goal of this series seems to be to take idealists and show their faces into the dirt until they learn better, and I like my fiction just a bit shinier than that. It’s a rare series that makes me long for the happy times of The Saga of Tanya the Evil.
Moon Blossom is one of the most infamous mercenary groups in all the world. Currently working for the downtrodden kingdom of Arnia, they consists of our “heroine”, Asura, a reincarnated merc who is trying to recreate her old job in this new world of swords and magic; Lumia, a warrior with a past; Jyrki and Iina, two teen bandits turned into Asura’s soldiers, and Marx, a former soldier who now works on the side of … well, the devil? Asura is bad, but she gets the job done, and given how badly Arnia is losing their current war, that’s a good thing. Still, they may be in trouble with this new request from the young King: assassinate the Hero working for the opposing side. Despite the fact that killing a hero will earn the ire of everyone in the world.
So yes, obviously, reminded a lot of Tanya the Evil with this one. Unlike Tanya’s world-weary cynicism and desperation for the fighting to end, though, Asura LOVES this sort of thing, and the only reason that she hasn’t just decided to become a mass murderer is that she has Lumia around as her conscience. Though that goes both ways, as we find out towards the end of the book. This book contains a lot of the basic isekai tropes, such as magic, heroes, etc., along with our reincarnated protagonist. but its goal seems to be to show everyone that war ids a dirty, awful business and you cannot possibly win it by sticking to your ideals and morals. Iris, a hero that the group meets near the end of the book, wants to save Asura, who she thinks has snapped due to her past tragedies. Which, well, is KIND OF true, but honestly, Asura simply doesn’t want to be saved. Her goal is instead to show Iris how to live on a battlefield – which does not involve being an idealist and trying to save everyone.
This is well-written, and fans of bleak military isekai might like it. I just want to read something with more puppies and rainbows next, please.