By Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka. Released in Japan as “Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shite Shimatta…” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Marco Godano.
This was a strong volume of Bakarina, despite doing absolutely nothing that I thought it would do. I thought it would be action-filled, instead it’s merely the last quarter or so. I thought it would be more serious, but it’s no more serious than any other volume of the series. But that’s a good thing, as really, who wants to see these characters suffer? Unless they’re suffering because the woman they love is as dense as lead, in which case, yes please. The book also benefits from most of the cast being absent – Katarina is on a secret mission in another part of the country, and so for the most part it’s just her, Maria and Sora. Which is bad news for fans of the other love interests, but very good news for those who love KataMari or KataSora, as both of those pairings get some good attention. As for the actual plot, it goes pretty much as you’d expect, with Katarina walking into the solution.
Katarina, along with Larna, Maria and Sora, are following up on the “kidnapped citizens” plot from last time, heading to the tow “Ocean Harbor” to try to get to the bottom of things. (I love that the name of the town sounds exactly like what you’d name a plot-point town in an otome game.) They end up at a restaurant owned by Larna’s friend… well, frenemy Regina, who uses the restaurant as a front for ferreting out stuff for the Ministry. However, since they have Maria (who can cook) and Katarina (who is not only an excellent waitress but also knows how to market), they can now run it like an actual restaurant, and maybe turn a profit! Was there something else? Oh right, the kids being kidnapped, along with the noble girl. But that’s OK, I’m sure there can be someone for Katarina to befriend who will lead them to the bad guys.
Probably my favorite thing about this book was seeing Katarina as a waitress. Everyone is blown out of the water by how good she is at it, because she’s supposedly the daughter of a duke, but honestly I was surprised as well, as even though we know she has her past life from Japan and probably part-timed as a waitress before, the temptation would be to make her bad at the job for a laugh. Instead, she turns out to be fantastic at the job for a great character moment. I also really enjoyed Katarina’s “dates” with Maria and Sora, which are basically catnip to us readers, and also features Maria once again literally confessing to Katarina and having her say “You lost me” in the best Shirou tradition. Props to Sora, too, for realizing that, rather than Keith or himself, Jeord’s biggest competition in the Katarina Sweepstakes is Maria. As for the plot itself, it proved to be resolved fairly easily, but we got to see Katarina in peril, Katarina biting someone to try to get herself out of peril, Maria being a light magic badass, and so all is well.
It’s still pretty clear that someone is trying to destabilize the countries in some way, and while the reader likely knows who’s behind it, the characters do not as of yet, so expect more investigation in the next book. Till then, enjoy Katarina Claes, waitress extraordinaire!