Omae wo Onii-chan ni Shiteyarouka!?

Omae wo Oniichan ni Shiteyarouka

Yoichi was raised by his grandfather and grandmother, so while it was never explicitly confirmed to him, he thought that his parents must have died. It turned out that this was a false assumption and that his father was actually the head of a major corporation, but just recently had died due to an unfortunate accident. As a result, as Taishido Jinya’s only son, he is in line to receive half of a major inheritance. However, in addition to him, Jinya had 5 other illegitimate children, of which all of them are girls. Jinya’s will specifies that only one of them is to be acknowledged and given the other half, and that Yoichi is the one that must choose which of them, with the rest losing any support from the Taishido family and being scattered to the winds. Under such circumstances, Yoichi and his 5 sisters moves to a new apartment arranged by the caretaker of Jinya’s will, Shinonome Murasaki. There, due to a system that requires him to visit all of them, he begins learning about all of them. There’s Tamiya Selene, an incredibly lazy girl with most things that has a very strong interesting in creating clothes but has great difficulty going outside due to a mental block. There’s Himura Tomomi, a girl that loves games and has an overtly strong competitive streak, but also wants to do her best as the eldest daughter. There’s Mishima Sayuri, who is very good at preparing things and is even good at modifying her behavior to appeal to others with that preparation, but derails entirely when those preparations come undone. There’s Tachibana Yuuki, who due to various reasons has not just become guy like in her mannerisms and clothing, but has also become deathly afraid of girls in general, but despite that all still wants to do her best to become more feminine. And lastly there’s Ookuma Mika, a very young girl still in elementary school that behaves as such innocent children do. Yoichi gets to know and gets closer to the 5 girls, doing his best to guide them as their big brother, but that makes the impending deadline of having to choose only one of them to be acknowledged as his sister all the more difficult.

***

This novel series is focused around the relationships between a guy and five girls that he discovers are his half-sisters. There’s the issue of an overarching story revolving around an impending deadline, but that largely just serves as a forcing function that requires them to interact and the actual interactions and resulting relationships are what actually matter. The heroines are interesting with a diverse set of personalities that work well together. The structure of the series is that in the first two books, Yoichi helps the heroines with various problems they have and in doing so gets closer to them. There’s some strong moments and a good amount of character development here in the heroines and decent relationship development. While this occurs, Yoichi is a pretty blank character and mostly only serves as a vehicle to interact and show off the heroines really, as is often the case with works like this. However, the third book actually acknowledges this fact, that the protagonist is a blank character that doesn’t seem to have any personality of his own beyond interacting with the heroines, and the story flips around to the sisters actually pushing Yoichi to grow, all of which was told surprisingly well getting a lot more intense than I expected and ultimately having a pretty strong impact. There’s also an interesting concept where there’s a character that’s there but isn’t emphasized in the text properly due to Yoichi being the narrator and him brushing her off though it’s clear that she should be given a larger focus, that ends up gaining that larger focus at the end as a part of Yoichi’s growth. All of this combined with the actual overarching plot line regarding the deadlines which was just sort of there but felt like something that needed to be resolved eventually also having a pretty solid conclusion overall makes the ending pretty satisfying. Throughout all this, there’s a lot of just nice and light hearted moments with Yoichi and his sisters interacting and a decent amount of light comedy, that overall make this work feel like a pretty comfy read. The art is also generally quite nice.

A harem type work with solid heroines and a blank protagonist that surprisingly ends up serving as a decent deconstruction.

8/10

Intellectual Village no Zashiki Warashi (The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village)

zashikiwarashi

Jinnai Shinobu is a high school student that lives in an Intellectual Village, a village that was designed taking the concept of natural to a ridiculous degree by trying to emulate the villages of old, at least in terms of appearance, in order to create a brand name from where produce and other goods could be sold for ridiculous prices. However, a side effect of creating such old feeling villages, is that Youkai who had seemed to mostly disappear during urbanization returned in full force to these villages. One such Youkai is Yukari, a Zashiki-Warashi that has lived with Shinobu before he was even born and had developed an incredibly strong bond with him, but seemed to have recently become somewhat of a good for nothing, simply lazing around all day playing games and such. Yukari is essentially harmless, but there are other Youkai that are quite dangerous even if they don’t want to be. Some create what are known as Packages, integrated Youkai in complex schemes that often involve intricate mechanisms or cutting-edge technology, in order to achieve various effects, often for the purposes of committing crimes. Since Youkai seem to have a natural affinity for them, Shinobu gets caught up in these Packages quite often.

Another that often gets involved in these packages is Uchimaku Hayabusa, Shinobu’s uncle. He moved from the Intellectual Village to the city of Tokyo to run away from Youkai because opposite to Shinobu they all seem to naturally dislike him and cause him problems. However, this problem doesn’t go away because he seems to keep getting caught up in Youkai related crimes, but as a dedicated police detective he does his best to continue upholding justice while resolving them. This is often both helped and made problematic due to a girl named Hishigami Enbi, a middle school girl that’s somewhat of a prodigy at solving murders, but she’s also in love with Uchimaku and has no qualms about shamelessly pursuing him causing him quite a number of issues.

Enbi’s sister, Mai also deals with Packages, but at a whole other level. She’s a contractor that often takes work for an organization known as Hyakki Yakou, which is composed of people involved with the supernatural operate at an incredible scale, one where destroying a town or two is nothing too unexpected for them, with the goal of combating Youkai that more normal organizations are unable to. Mai is someone who’s modified her body to be ridiculously powerful and has developed experience in dealing with all sorts of problems in a quick an effective manner. This quick and effective manner often makes her partner, a Sunekkosuri that’s quite innocent and naïve, tremble in fear. This cast of characters in various ways and due to various motivations tackles a number of issues, sometimes apart and sometimes together, sometimes with small consequences and sometimes with consequences affecting all of Japan and even the world.

***

This was a series with a very interesting set of characters and what essentially felt like three different overlapping worlds that the three pairs of main characters, (Shinobu/Yukari, Uchimaku/Enbi, and Mai/Sunekkosuri) lived in.

Shinobu for the most part, at least at first, seems to be a pretty standard high school student. A highly competent one sure, but still pretty average. His stories start with things around that level, and have an especial focus on him and his relationships with various Youkai, particularly the Zashiki-Warashi Yukari. Things escalate quite a bit, ultimately making him the central protagonist of the entire series, and it turns out he’s more competent than he seems at first, but in the end it very much is the story of a high school student, and good one at that. He has a really good personality, one that has enough of the standard shounen protagonist commitment to justice, but also enough quirks and issues to make him amusing. His relationship with Yukari is especially amazing in how it gets built up slowly, both in current stories, flashbacks, etc. with lots of cute moments due to the fact that it has Shinobu at various ages but Yukari doesn’t age, and ultimately this relationship comes to a beautiful conclusion that I was overall very satisfied with.

Uchimaku’s stories were heavily centered around the police, and hence had the elements of crime dramas in them. His personality is very different from Shinobu, in that he also has a very strong commitment to justice, but one that’s more realistic and based on faith in institutions than the more simplistic and hotblooded justice that Shinobu possesses. He’s also more straight laced and has fewer quirks than Shinobu. However, that makes his interactions with Enbi, who is absolute ridiculous more amusing and allows both of them to stand out. The relationship between the two ultimately didn’t progress much and wasn’t really much of a focus in the end, but where things end up in the end for Uchimaku and Enbi is pretty much perfect and a very satisfying ending for them in an amusing way.

Mai was strange in that she felt the least developed in a sense, in part due to how in her portions the side characters related to her ended up getting focused on quite a bit and ended up the most developed of the side characters. Opposite to Shinobu who seemed to appear a lot more competent as the series went on, it felt like Mai started out feeling like some immortal entity that no one could match but ended feeling much more approachable.

These three protagonists were at very different levels and had very different personalities so they each looked at the same fictional world quite differently. The core essence of this series is mysteries related to Youkai, where they need to determine what Youkai is the issue, determine how to prevent it from causing said issue, and then implement a scheme to break down the package. However, due to the difference in protagonists this would happen in very different ways. Each volume was often focused on a single set of Youkai across the three characters, either with each facing them together as one long problem or it being a set of shorter stories with them each facing the same or similar Youkai separately. But each faced it from a very different angle, which felt like it added a lot of depth and breadth to the fictional world the author created, and ultimately resulted in the world building and related mysteries being incredibly solid.

The overarching story felt kind of weak at times though, especially towards the end, wherein the author even admitted in an afterward that they were somewhat coming up with things on the fly so it shouldn’t be too unexpected for it to feel like things were contradictory or being retconned, but there were some pacing issues too in that considering the first major villain took so long to build up to, the next one arriving immediately after from a completely new direction felt too abrupt. Still, the ending itself was handled amazingly well in how it pulled together things from all over the series with its various stories that often felt unrelated to each other to combine them in one very satisfying, albeit messy, conclusion.

I also want to note that the writing style was really good. Not just in terms of the fan translation being solid, but it felt like the core writing that the translation was based on was shining through very well such as in terms of how the author was choosing what to describe in a scene, the moment to moment pacing in terms of having random events that didn’t add much to the story but were amusing and helped with atmosphere, the various symbolism, etc. The description of the Youkai and their involvement also felt very researched and gave them a lot of depth. Lastly, I would also like to note that the art is amazing, and the focus on small things that seemingly don’t matter but showed off the characters really well was appreciated.

A series with the same world being looked at from the perspective of several very different characters with strong mysteries and good romance.

9/10

I was confused about how to title this but decided to go with what seemed to be the accepted names. I would think it should be more Intellivillage no Zashiki Warashi and The Zashiki Warashi of the Intellectual Village, but whatever.

Campione!

campione

Godou was a seemingly average high school student, until he was caught up in random events and ended up killing the God Verethragna. As a godslayer, or Campione, he ended up evolving into something more than human, wielding powers known as Authorities obtained from Verethragna that are more powerful than any abilities or magic normal humans possess. Being one of only seven in the world with that title, he naturally attracted a lot of attention to himself from everyone all over the world knowing of magic and gods, this attention coming primarily in some combination of respect and fear. However, he also seems to have attracted a core group of dedicated followers. This group is led by Erica, a sly and fiery woman that is a great knight and especially adept at metal manipulation magic. It also includes Mariya, a mostly kind and mellow woman, though one that can get very fearsome when she’s angry, who possesses spirit vision powers. There’s also Lilliana, strict but naïve woman that is a knight like Erica and also her childhood friend, but is also a witch able to use a variety of magic. Lastly, there’s Ena, Mariya’s childhood friend and a yamato nadeshiko, though an incredibly free spirited one, who has the ability to induce divine possession. With these four talented helpers, Godou ends up going up against divine beasts, various gods, and other godslayers, performing absolutely ridiculous acts in the process, all the while insisting he is a completely normal person.

***

Campione is a light novel that starts off with a lot of great concepts, but it doesn’t really add much beyond them over its 22 books. Hence, it very much feels like the series is dragging on towards the last third or so of the series, in both its core elements, combat and relationships.

In terms of combat, the system was quite novel, with each major enemy being given a very unique set of powers. These powers are based on mythology and usually have interesting explanations behind them, but beyond that are also well thought out in terms of how they’ll play into combat. How these various powers end up being used and the way the battles flow was pretty well done, and some of the battles were tremendously exciting. However, it didn’t feel like there were enough powers or enemies using them. Godou starts off with 10 authorities and over the course of the entire series only gains 4 more. The abilities he has at the beginning are the ones he mainly relies on up until the end, and while the individual abilities do exhibit growth, it’s not all that much. The same applies to Godou’s partners, who definitely do grow, but only up to about half-way through the series. Furthermore, most of the enemies are heavily repeated. The 6 other god slayers, as well as a set of 6 core gods get many fights, and the amount of growth in them is minimal. Hence, while the context is different and the way the battles flow does go pretty differently, despite the battles being great in and of themselves, start feeling repetitive. This is especially true of the final arc, which dragged on really long and introduced very little new in terms of combat. The EX volume is a nice change of pace in that regard as it changes things up a bit, but it still felt too similar to prior volumes considering the context of when it was happening.

In terms of relationships, it also starts out interesting enough. The set up with the various main characters getting introduced and establishing relationships with Godou is well done. Their various connections to each other as well as to other side characters also creates an interesting web. This is especially true for the various heroines, who are a pretty diverse set of likable characters that work well together and end up bringing out a lot of interesting situations out of Godou. However, the issue is that this too hits a wall about half way through and there’s absolutely no progress until the end of the last volume. This is mainly due to Godou being someone that insists on pretending to be normal, even though he behaves completely ridiculously whenever he feels it’s necessary, and it’s very clear that he’s not just another dense protagonist despite him doing his best to act as so. His character being so contradictory is amusing at first, and is fine for the setup, but when it ends up becoming a roadblock to further character and relationship development, it really begins to grind on the reader, and hence though there are some great moments, this aspect slowly loses its charm as the series goes through the second half. Still, it is important to note that things progress tremendously in the ending, and the ending was really satisfying in this regard, to the point that the series has a great ending overall. The EX volume takes that even further and serves as a really good epilogue, though I think it also spends a good amount of time connecting characters to the sequel series that already had volumes out when the EX volume was released but I haven’t read yet, so I think I ended up missing the significance of that and found a lot of aspects kind of strange.

As for general comments, the art starts out pretty weak but gets much better, to the point I felt that there must have been a change in illustrators but from what I’ve read that doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s also an issue in that there are random short story volumes with stories pulled from random parts chronologically that really break the flow and don’t really add much at all. I say that despite really feeling that more slice of life elements could have really helped with pacing and flow. Also, the mythology, while interesting, did get kind of annoying as it heavily relied on info dumping.

A series with good combat and well-done relationships between characters, but that doesn’t have enough progress in either of these aspects considering the series length. 

8/10

Very interested in reading Campiones of Sanctuary eventually.

Ultimate Antihero

ultiamteantihero

Honmura is known as the Evil God User, as he is the only human capable of summoning the Old Gods. This makes him the only one that can take on Demon King level demons that invade Earth from another dimension. Hence, he is crucial to humanities continued existence. This doesn’t change the fact however, that humanity seems to be deathly afraid of him. Some level of apprehension is understandable, considering how much of a power gap exists between him and the rest of humanity and also how the abilities he uses are quite terrifying, more terrifying than the invading demons even. But the fear and loathing that it seems that humanity has for him that ultimately drive him into isolation are entirely manufactured by the United World Government, a new government that came into being following an exceptionally damaging Demon King attack, a government that is completely in the control of the Holy Path Church. The Holy Path Church has plans for the world, ones that foremost involve greater centralization of power, and hence consider Honmura a threat. However, even with the rest of humanity opposing him, he continues doing his best in fighting demons for humanities sake. To that end, when he is called to Japan by an old friend, he answers the call. There he is given the position where he joins up with Platoon 101, composed of the prodigious sharpshooter Sumika, the hardworking and straightforward brawler Chikori, and the clever battlefield coordinator Shiori, the last of which treats him coldly due to a shared past. Together, they deal with both demons, and the schemes of the United World Government.

***

This light novel series had a lot of good base concepts. I liked the general premise of Angels and Demons coming from different worlds, with old heroes and myths being the power that truly belongs to Earth, with the Old Gods, especially the Lovecraftian ones, being the most powerful. I also liked how that played into a pretty interesting combat system, with different types of abilities as well as special skills unique to characters. I also liked the specific premise of a guy being magnitudes more powerful than the rest of humanity and being isolated due to that, but persevering for the sake of humanity anyway, and the effect that has on the special relationships that are developed that are the exception to that. Ultimately though, I don’t think the narrative made very good use of those, which I very much suspect is due to the story getting cut off way too early. It feels like the series enters its finale just as it begins, with the third book of four. As a result, it feels like what was meant to be a much larger plot that used these concepts more effectively never came to be. This is bad in terms of the overarching plot, in that it feels like it didn’t do enough and the story isn’t really over yet, but is especially bad in terms of character development and relationships, wherein it feels like they got off to a good start, there isn’t any time for them to go anywhere so in the end they’re pretty much exactly where they were at the start. Hence, the ending wasn’t all that satisfying.

The character designs were good and the art was solid. In terms of writing quality, I can’t speak for the original, but as for the fan translation that’s floating around, while it is understandable mostly, more sentences than not are plagued by improper grammar, strange sentence structure, and awkward word choice. So while it’s better than nothing, it’s not very good.

A number of interesting concepts that aren’t given enough time to use and develop effectively.

7/10 

Psycho Love Comedy (Psycome)

psycome

Kamiya Kyousuke’s parents were always off on business, so as would be expected he was quite close to the only member of his family that he lived with, his younger sister Ayaka, a girl very mature for her age. Kyousuke was very much of a delinquent, constantly getting into fights and making a name for himself on the streets. However, he very much was not a murdered, despite him ultimately being framed for the murder of twelve other delinquents in a warehouse and being forced to enter the Purgatorium School of Rehabilitation, a high school specifically for juvenile murderers. Furthermore, his 12-kill count is especially high for the school, instantly gaining him popularity and respect among the other murderers. Hence he is stuck in the situation where he can’t just come out and claim that he was framed, as its not like that would help in getting him out, but would instead simply paint him as a weakling which would make him a target for the others. So he decides to try to live up to his title of Warehouse Butcher. As a result, he ends up getting close to a number of other students. There’s Eiri, a very sharp-tongued and elegant girl that comes from a long line of assassins, though seems to have some issues in joining the profession herself. There’s Maina, a girl that seems to be terribly afraid of violence and is a complete pushover, but seems to have a level of clumsiness fatal to those around her. But most importantly, there’s Renko, a girl that’s almost always wearing a gas mask but beneath that is a beautiful and alluring girl, who falls in love with Kyousuke and pursues him with all her might. And though she is generally quite fun to be around, she has the issue of a murderous melody playing in her head when she takes her mask off, resulting in her wanting to murder everyone around her, especially the guy she falls head over heels for, Kyousuke.

***

Note: Spoilers that aren’t related to specific plot events but related to themes and how a character grows are included in this review.

This is a really interesting novel series in that it’s a mish mash of a lot of things that kind of don’t work but also work pretty well. For the most part, it feels a lot like a high school slice of life novel series where the focus is on character relationships and development, even with the extreme violence and craziness throughout. For the most part, there’s not much of an overarching plot, but rather smaller plots per novel that focus on introducing new characters or further developing old ones in regards to their effect on the overarching narrative. These plots are pretty interesting, in that the twist on the slice of life aspect makes it quite unique and allows for a lot of interesting elements, such as a good amount of suspense and crazy twists, as well as the large amount of action. I should note though, that the action was somewhat disappointing a lot of the time, due to the MC not being all that great in terms of this. The series is tagged as “protagonist strong from the start” but that’s not entirely true. His ‘strength’ comes mostly in the form of heavy endurance which allows him to survive taking heavy punishment, but in terms of actual combat ability compared to the other major characters he’s pretty low. That results in him being able to easily take on dozens of small fry, but when he’s put up against the major players, he’s actually pretty weak, and in such situations he doesn’t usually do much, and strength wise he never grows, which was kind of disappointing. He and the other characters do go through a lot of character growth though, and ultimately the character development overall felt really solid. Ayaka comes to have a better view of other people. Maina gains confidence in herself and a will to continue moving forward. Eiri becomes more honest with herself. Renko becomes more human and in tune with her emotions. But most importantly is of course the protagonist Kyousuke. His development is interesting and I quite liked it, though I can see why it may miff some people because I can see why it would be controversial and in the end it’s tied pretty heavily into the whole narrative and is a running theme throughout. When he starts out, he is incredibly wary of the other students, seeing as they’re murderers and all. He begins to make friends with murders that aren’t really murderers and begins to settle in. The tone throughout the first five books is pretty lighthearted, wherein even though the style is pretty dark, in terms of tone and atmosphere it doesn’t feel oppressive at all and though lots of terrible things are described as having been done by characters outside the narrative, nothing truly bad happens during the narrative itself. Hence, while most all the characters are killers there’s nothing to truly make them seem like bad people. As a result, over the course of these books he begins to make friends with the true murderers, the cannibal, the serial killer, the necrophiliac, etc. That they’re killers just gets pushed aside. However, ultimately it very much is brought to the forefront, and Kyousuke has to question himself, as a normal person is it really okay for him to have friendly relations with murderers? And in the end he decides, yes, it is fine even if he doesn’t understand their desire to kill, nor does he want to, for him to respect, be friends with, like, or love them anyway, which is a tremendous shift in world view from how he started in the first book that was slowly built up until it finally clicked near the end. This shift is of course incredibly important to the main relationship in the book, the love triangle between Kyousuke, Renko, and Eiri, wherein though other characters also seem to be in love with Kyousuke they don’t seem as prominent. This relationship is what serves as the core of the ending, and probably what everyone reading up to that point truly cared about. To some degree, the ending was disappointing in that it was an open ending, but at the same time, it did everything really well, and though it was open, it wrote around that incredibly well, so ultimately I was very satisfied with the ending, and look back on the series overall quite fondly.

The art for the illustrations was really good, and I also liked the interesting character designs. I can’t judge the original writing style, but the translation by Yen Press wasn’t very good. It had a pretty stiff writing style, and a number of obvious mistakes regarding sentence subjects, and probably others that I couldn’t tell.

A series with a really unique and darkly comedic premise that has some core tonal and thematic issues but ultimately manages to resolve them in an incredibly interesting fashion.

9/10 

Silver Cross & Draculea

It starts off simple enough. A vampire is in search of someone to suck blood from and pounces upon what seems like the first suitable target. According to the rules of the world, this target should become their slave and obey their every whim… but that doesn’t happen. It turns out that the victim, Hisui, is immune to the effects of being bitten by a vampire, or any of their other powers. The vampire, Rushella, unwilling to give up on this however, follows Hisui home to continue trying to make him her slave. This is motivated in part by stubbornness, though also combined with the fact that she had no idea who she was and where she came from, and thus no where else to go. She had undergone a complete loss of memories other than basic knowledge about the world around her, and that she stood at the pinnacle of vampires as a True Ancestor. Thus she stuck with Hisui, and thus the story of Hisui and Rushella begins.

Starting off with the goal of discovering who Rushella is and where she came from, they encounter a number of other characters along the way. Mei, an artificial human that wants to prove herself to be fully human in a very… unique manner. Eruru, a girl from the Supernatural Investigation Squad who seems to despise vampires with a passion, but has secrets of her own. Kirika, a witch who is knowledgeable and dedicated, but still compassionate. Touka, a ghost that wants to live life to fullest despite being dead. Rangetsu, another inspector of the supernatural investigation squad, who is somewhat lame. And for that matter, the reader discovers that Hisui has secrets of his own. He’s not new to the supernatural world, and is quite knowledgeable of it, especially when it comes to vampires, due to him being raised by one, Miraluka.

I really liked this series. It was short, essentially being composed of 5 single volume arcs, though the term stories may be a better fit. Each of these stories had a solid mystery to it, that slowly got revealed as the story went on. There was a good amount of suspense to all of them, and they came to solid endings. By solid I mean endings that fit very well into the the set up that the stories had created. The world is fleshed out pretty well. It takes a lot of the standard tropes of western monster fiction and takes them in interesting directions. By this I absolutely do not mean parody, but rather in a well developed but unique direction. The background on vampires I especially thought was interesting, especially the story of their original origin, which I had never heard anything close to before but fits very well with my preconceived concept of ‘vampire’. Each story developed the world further, and each conclusion makes strong use of the development within the story to give an ending to the story that is consistent with the plot and world well enough to be incredibly satisfying. That is one of this series strongest points.

Another strong point is the characters in general. Almost all of them are pretty awesome, except Rangetsu (I kid, I kid). The author describes Hisui as a character that is generally pathetic, or at least appears to be, but is dependable when it counts. That is a very apt explanation for him, and one that the author managed to stay true to and utilize very well. For the most part, every other character is stronger than him, and they make that quite clear constantly. Its an interesting dynamic that keeps the plot suspenseful in that the main character isn’t invincible and is prone to failure as well as being beaten constantly, but he still has epic moments when it counts because in the finales he always manages to come through, usually due to his wit rather than his brawn. Furthermore, he just has a style and attitude towards life that’s somewhat sarcastic, but still caring at important points was very appealing. Ultimately, Hisui is essentially one of my favorite types of characters done very well, and thus I liked him a great deal.

And of course, I also liked the other main characters. Each of them have their own characteristics that are unique and reasonably well developed, and I grew to like pretty much all of them (except Rangetsu… lol). Rushella is arrogant but insecure. Mei acts incredibly straightforward, but has depth that she rarely shows. Eruru is cold, but caring. Kirika is dedicated, but innocent. Touka is unbelievably positive despite having no reason to be. The relationships they have between each other and Hisui, and how they develop was very enjoyable. To be specific, the relationships with Hisui were enjoyably sweet, especially Kirika’s. But that’s not to say they didn’t develop in other ways as well. Eruru especially seemed to have gone through the most character development, after Hisui of course, considering he’s the main character. All of them were likable and important characters with a sense of continuous weight in the story throughout every story after they were introduced.

This brings me to my biggest issue with the series, it ended too soon. Rushella got her time in the spotlight. But there was a whole lot more that could have been done with the backstory of the other characters. To be clear, issues or plot lines weren’t left unresolved. Everything came together well into a conclusion that was highly satisfying, albeit a bit generic, though still very good. But there was subject matter that was touched upon to small degrees that clearly could have been given more depth through more stories. Who’s Mei’s creator and what are his goals? Who’s Eruru’s father and how did their family dynamics come about? Are there other witches? What about the rest of vampire society? There was a lot of potential that wasn’t utilized, and that just seems sad and unfortunate to me.

On that note, I would like to reiterate that it was still an amazing story that just hit all the right notes with me when I was reading it. And I would also like to note that that art was AMAZING!

9/10

Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou

I watched the anime for this a long time ago. I recently went back and read the light novels. To be honest, I liked the style of the anime more, though there were some issues with trying to fit too much into too few episodes. However, the anime only adapted a small part of the entire story. In my mind, the novels essentially have three major arcs. These involve a lighthearted build up that eventually leads to the main plot that comes to a climax, at which point it falls into a lighthearted build up for the next arc.

The first arc, which is the only part that the anime adapts, is mostly an introduction arc. It provides background on the world and introduces most of the major characters. The plot revolves around Akuto, an orphan who wishes to help society, being deemed as destined to become the demon king, and the the various adventures and trials he has as a result of this. This starts off lightly with a number of small stories that introduces him and the reader to a number of characters: Keena, another orphan that he met long ago; Junko, the daughter of essentially the head of defense of the nation; Korone, a Liladan, meaning essentially an artificial life form, sent to watch over him by the government; Fujiko, a black magician that wants him to embrace his inner Demon King and take over the world; Hiroshi, someone that seems destined to be a hero, but lacks confidence that he will be. It also introduces a world far into the future where magic exists granted by gods, where the magic itself is advances use of nanotechnology, and the gods are super advances AI. This premise actually leads of a bunch of inconsistencies, as can be expected from something that sounds pretty convoluted, but for the purposes of the first two arcs this isn’t a major issue. It also introduces the main villain organization, CIMO 8, who’s members are slowly introduces throughout all three arcs. During the first arc Akuto originally tries to get away from being a Demon King, but ultimately has to embrace it to protect someone close to him. In doing so, he makes an enemy out of the world, discovers that the world is far more complex than he originally thought, ends up killing a god, but ultimately things go back to normal due to Keena’s powers as the ‘Law of Identity’.

The second arc begins with another more lighthearted opening where they encounter a copy of Keena, who eventually disappears, but inadvertently also reveals a means creating and controlling virtual alternate dimensions. This is originally done by a member of CIMO 8 named V2 with help of Yoshihiko, an extremely intelligent and somewhat geeky but very cheerful girl. However, V2 attempts to use this to kill the demon king, upon which Yoshihiko turns the alternative virtual dimension into essentially an MMORPG that the Demon King and friends get trapped in.  Yoshihiko at this point becomes one of the main characters, and assists the other main characters. They manage to escape, but in doing so release the original Demon King named ZERO, who V2 uses to take over the world. This further leads Akuto going on a journey to discover the roots of what it means to be a demon king and his origins, a meeting with the true empress, a major power up, betrayals, but ultimately a victory and things mostly going back to normal. Personally, I enjoyed this arc the most. It seemed the best blend of being serious and having depth, but at the same time feeling true to what the characters should be and creating a world that felt interesting and complex but also consistent. I would have loved it if it became adapted to an anime, though I doubt that that’ll happen at this point.

The third arc was where it jumped the shark. The plot originally begins with a fight over who would become the next ruler of the Empire. This leads to a war between a nation that had split off from the Empire, the Republic, as they also stated they held a claim on the throne, though the disagreement only escalated to war due to interference by members of CIMO 8. This also leads to a number of interesting situations and points. I especially found interesting how it was conveyed that a Demon King who had been ridiculed and hated from within the empire for no particular so far in the plot could suddenly became beloved when he was on their side versus an outside threat. However, the plot eventually got incredibly convoluted, with the characters themselves discovering that they are part of a story and that Akuto had the power to control everything in it. Akuto remakes the world an infinite number of times with the same characters having different backgrounds and personalities in each. I found this part especially annoying, because as a reader, I don’t want to be reminded that this is all just a story and that the author is free to meld anything to their will, and that all the characters are ultimately fake. For me enjoying stories such as these relies heavily on a suspension of disbelief and immersion into the story as if it is real, which is very difficult to do when the author tries to hammer into you that it is not. All the world building and characterization that had happened up to that point felt to be for naught. Furthermore, the plot got incredibly complex and used overly extravagant plot elements arbitrarily and gave explanations that calling convoluted would be an understatement. The ending itself was reasonably satisfying due to a reasonably good use of minimal story telling, but the path to it was ridiculous, and ultimately while I can’t say I hated it I can’t say I liked it either. Don’t get me wrong, this arc, even at its craziest points, also had a lot of good moments, especially in terms of the relationships between characters finally reaching their climax (*wink wink*), but overall the attempt at trying to make the story transcendent was more than I was expecting and I felt it didn’t really fit into the rest of the plot and ultimately hurt the entirety of the work.

In spite of the last arc not being to my tastes, I still liked the series overall . I liked most of the characters, and a few in particular. Akuto was amazing in that he tried that he had hopes and dreams that involved him not using his power, but was willing to abandon them and use his power when it became necessary without hesitation. He also held very strong views about the world around him, but was willing to change them as he gained experience and knowledge and ultimately he progressed a great deal over the course of the series. Hiroshi lacked the confidence to ever become a hero, but eventually became one in a sense, but then had conflicts over the use of borrowed power, but eventually came to a solid conclusion about what being a hero truly meant. Fujiko was incredibly sly and devilish, but was still kind when it matters, and incredibly dedicated. Yoshie had a very fun personality but also managed to very capable. The cast of characters was colorful and incredibly fun, though that somewhat makes the ending even more annoying. The world itself also got convoluted later on, but the world system that existed was very interesting and fleshed out, and the parallels to the real world and how they were explored was done pretty well most of the time, though that too also makes the ending somewhat more annoying.

So overall a pretty good series, despite the train-wreck at the end.

7/10