By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.
This volume attempts to answer that dangerous question: what happens when the new person’s goal is to break the premise of the series? We met Anzu in the last volume, and here she makes good on her threat to get Lloyd to her kingdom. Unfortunately, well, Lloyd is Lloyd, as the main cast points out. So she decides to train him in such a way that he gains confidence ANYWAY, even though he’s already ludicrously strong. Unfortunately, as Maria breaks the fourth wall to point out, Anzu ends up being yet another comedy character whose goal is to scream loudly whenever Lloyd does something beyond all human ken again. What’s more, he keeps accidentally breaking her country. And even more amusingly, he keeps accidentally breaking the villain’s plans. Over and over again. It’s Lloyd’s gimmick, and thus you can’t really train him out of it. If he realized what he’s really like, the series ends… at least till the last few pages.
We begin with Anzu, in disguise, heading to the Azami Kingdom… and accidentally running into the entire cast and all of their bad character traits, including mistaking Allan for a hero, Merthopan’s dangerously flappy loincloth, Selen and Micone competing to see who can be the creepiest, and Riho trying to disguise her tragic flaw: donuts. Once we actually get the main cast (minus Micona, thank God, and also minus Alka – again, thank God) to the Ascorbic Domain, various plot-related things happen. There are two other factions trying to overthrow Anzu, each of whom is, of course, a different anime cliche; it turns out that this is where Eug is now, and she’s got a new Very Clever Scheme to cause war between all the countries; Lloyd proves impossible to train; and, most importantly, Phyllo is at a loose end after the events of the previous volume, and it’s making her fighting weak.
Aside from the last few pages mentioned above, Phyllo was the best part of this book. She’s depressed and angry with herself through most of the volume, as everyone and their brother is pointing out how she no longer has a purpose and it’s showing in her now very readable moves. The problem is that the events of the last book were good, right? Her mother isn’t dead, her family is whole again… why does this leave a big hole inside her? The resolution of this is very organic and feels very much like Phyllo, who is not really a character given over to long tormented inner monologues. Seeing her snap out of it is great – and, of course, only adds to the love polycule. As for those last few pages, let’s just say that someone actually manages to find the right way to train Lloyd and give him advice that works. It not only makes him even stronger, but he gets told the right way to build confidence. It’s honestly fantastic, I cheered.
That said, do I think it will last? No. No, I do not. But we will get at least one more volume before we have to go back to the default settings. In the meantime, this book is definitely recommended for Phyllo fans, and fans of the other characters should enjoy it as well. Well, unless you’re a Micona fan. In which case, WHY?