Monday, November 16, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/14

Here we go, one more time: below is an annotated list of the books that came in my mail last week, in the increasingly-anachronistic ways of traditional publishing, with some notes designed to make them sound appealing and intriguing to you, the home viewer.

(Possibly not very well designed, but that's still my intent: if any of these books sound lousy to you, that's clearly my fault.)

This week I have four light novels in ongoing series, all from Yen Press and all in the throes of final publication right now. I'm slightly hampered by not having read any of these series -- I usually prefer my novels heavy, with extra cholesterol and bad fats -- but here's what I can tell you:

Black Bullet, Vol. 2: Against a Perfect Sniper is by Shiden Kanzaki, with illustrations by Saki Ukai. (One of the nice things about light novels is that they always have illustrations, unlike serious, dull, heavy novels.) I believe this is a post-magical-apocalypse story, with a few survivors living in a small enclave in Toyko (where else?) while the monsters outside destroy everything else. But the back-cover copy of this book alludes to the "defeat of the Stage Five Gastrea" and seems to be about politics among different Japanese enclaves. Also note that this is one of those very, very Japanese books in which all of the rulers of the world, heroes, champions, and everyone else important are about sixteen and go to high school together.

Speaking of unlikely people in high school, how about a Dark Lord? Satoshi Wagahara is back with The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 3(illustrated by an entity known as 029 (Oniku)), in which the extradimensional ruler of Hell (or a Hell, at least) was defeated and sent to Earth, along with the hero who beat him. And, of course, the Satan figure is a mischievous regular guy and the world-savior is a too-serious high-achieving girl. In this volume, they have a daughter, though the little girl shows up through a portal rather than appearing through the usual channels for new babies. This seems to make all of the character very confused, and amp up the levels of wackiness that ensue.

And then there's Fujino Omori, who brings us Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 4, with illustrations by Suzuhito Yasuda. It's set in a fantasy world dedicated to dungeon-crawling, and this book sees our hero finally reach Level Two. (Of the dungeon, not his personal level. I have no idea if this series is that game-like that the characters have levels.) I suspect this may run for a long, long time if the audience stays interested.

And last is another book related to gaming: Sword Art Online 6: Phantom Bullet, the latest book by Reki Kawahara in a series where the first book saw tens of thousands of people trapped in an online game that killed a large percentage of them. For some bizarre reason, this world still has a game industry, which would not likely be the case in the real world. In this volume, Kirito and Sinon (the main series characters) are in a Bullet of Bullets tournament in the game Gun Gale Online, all of which presumably means something to fans of the series. Art is by the vast and enigmatic abec.

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