Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Men of the Kingdom Part I (Overlord #5)

Title: The Men of the Kingdom Part I

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Series: Overlord #5

Brain Ungulus is a shattered man after his encounter with Shalltear Bloodfallen. But Gazef Stronoff, his old rival, might be what he needs to get on his feet again. In the castle, Princess Renner is mostly useless, but she has a very devoted servant in Climb, who will do anything for her. Sebas and Solution are in the country simply to gather information, but Sebas’s kind nature soon gets him in trouble with the local criminals. When Climb’s path intersects with Sebas, Climb gets a glimpse of ultimate power . . .

This novel has fun moments, but by and large it’s mostly setting the stage for what happens in part 2. I like seeing some of the fallout from things like Brain’s fight with an enemy he absolutely couldn’t beat. Similarly, it’s interesting to compare Brain and Climb’s reactions to Sebas. Brain can’t help but compare Sebas to Shalltear, but Climb’s one-track mind allows him a different perspective.

Of course the best moments by far are watching Sebas take down a tiny corner of a corrupt organization. When the butler gets mad, the butler proves he’s just as capable of smashing in heads as anyone in Nazarick (and he’ll continue to look classy while doing it). My only regret is that there’s nothing even approaching a threat big enough to cause him to reveal his alternate dragon form (mentioned in book 3, but so far has yet to make an appearance even through book 11).

Sebas is also easy to feel sorry for because he’s the one person at Nazarick with something approaching basic human decency. He was the creation of Touch Me, who besides being the strongest person in the original game, was also the one who brought the guild together because of his compassion towards players who were having a hard time. Sebas inherited that desire to help the suffering (although he does have a condition I like: they have to be willing to struggle themselves. If they’re just not strong enough, that’s something he’ll help with, but if they’re not even going to try, he’s not going to bother). But he’s surrounded at Nazarick with a host of beings who don’t think like he does, and after Shalltear’s betrayal, aren’t willing to trust anything that looks like disloyalty . . .

Overall this novel drags on a bit. It’s unfortunate that even the bits about Sebas and Brain don’t really carry the long passages about Climb and Renner. Hopefully this will be part of what’s animated for season 2, which is due to start airing in January. That should help significantly by cutting out all the description in favor of visuals, therefore truncating the more boring parts for the actual fun. At any rate, though, since this does set up the next book, it’s not really skippable in order to understand some of what goes on there. I rate this book Recommended.

My Hero Academia (anime)

Title: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 14-38

Izuku Midoriya has inherited the superpowers of the mightiest hero of all—but can he live up to those lofty expectations during the annual UA Sports Festival? Then, when the festival is barely over, the students get some on-the-job training from pro heros. Then again, some internships turn out to be a little more than anyone bargained for. Finally, with the end of the semester comes exams! And UA’s exams consist of both a written and a practical.

This season covers several major arcs, as detailed above. I like the tail end of the Sports Festival arc, but I’m not as keen on the beginning. Doubly so when the anime tries to cover the fact that these chapters don’t QUITE make a full episode and slap in 4 minutes of recap at the front of the first several episodes. However, once the arc gets in full swing, the physical challenges of the actual event start to mingle with the more interesting emotional and psychological challenges various characters face.

The festival also highlights several of the characters around Izuku, most notably Todoroki and Bakugou. Todoroki and Izuku make an interesting contrast: the scions of the first and second ranked heros, both expected to carry on and surpass their forebearers, but urged onward for opposite reasons. Endeavor is consumed with defeating All Might and becoming the number one hero. And if he can’t do it, his son will. All Might may not even notice that rivalry—but as a teacher, he knows he’s falling short.

The internship arc introduces a villain who challenges the “hero society” and has his own lethal way of dealing with what he considers fake heros. And the exam arc is another place where some of the non-core cast members finally get a chance to step up.

Manga readers will appreciate how the anime does flesh out several short or offhand mentions into actual fights (or in Tsuyu’s case, almost a whole episode). The pacing does suffer most at the beginning, when the recaps feel like they take up a huge part of the episode, but as the series rolls on, it settles into a more comfortable groove.

Overall, if you liked the first season, there’s plenty more to like here. The story is beginning to show bits of the world beyond the school, the world these young heros will one day inherit, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be (just look at Bakugou’s internship). I rate this show Recommended.