Story: Gakuto Mikumo
Translation: Jeremiah Bourque
What They Say
When all the students depart for a school field trip to the mainland, Koujou is delighted to hear that he’ll finally get a chance to be free of observation for at least a little while, while Yukina has mixed feelings about the whole situation. But events move quickly when an alchemist by the name Kou Amatsuka appears, with the goal of reviving the holy grail of alchemy the liquid metal lifeform known as “Wiseman’s Blood.” As the crisis deepens, even Asagi becomes involved as this relic of alchemy grows more and more uncontrollable. What can the world’s strongest vampire do?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This time around, the focus is on two core plot points: the school trip for Yukina, Nagisa, and the other middle-schoolers, and the attack by an alchemist known as Kou Amatsuka. In theory, the link tying these two together is Kanon’s ties to the man, but… honestly, she somehow doesn’t play much of a role at all in the book. Like, it’s linked into her “backstory” and is supposed to be fleshing out her past, and the whole trip thing is as good an excuse as any to drag her back into the spotlight, so realistically, she should take center stage this time around. But instead, she’s just kind of there, and does pretty much nothing except get threatened a bit. Oh, and her dad gets beat up as the intro to Amatsuka, but that’s about it.
One of the “major” plot points this time around for the course of the book is that Yukina has to temporarily give up Snowdrift Wolf for a few days while she’s on her trip. In addition to being an excuse for a halfhearted introduction of Yukina’s master, this mainly just kind of seems to be a way of putting her under a bit more pressure when she’s attacked at the end of the book and isn’t properly equipped. But when that moment finally comes, it’s not even pushed especially hard, and she doesn’t even really get to do much before Kojou of course swoops in to save (and reequip) her, anyway. So it’s really just a big waste of time to be honest.
We also get the introduction of a character known as Nina Adelard, a “great alchemist” who for various reasons ended up in an immortal body against her will. This is used to make a so-so parallel to Kojou, which is something at least. Oh, and also she ends up sharing a body with Asagi for most of the book, which makes for some antics that aren’t terrible, but aren’t especially good either. I guess it’s at least slightly removed from the general cliché scenes that litter the series, if nothing else, changing things up a tad.
The real trick, though, is that most of the book is spent setting up Kou Amatsuka as the main villain, a man desperate to get his real body back… only to reveal midway through that he’s been manipulated by a “manmade god” known as the Wiseman, and then later on that he wasn’t a real human being to start with, but a creation of that aforementioned mastermind. Now, that whole thing could work, but Amatsuka just doesn’t get the development to make this feel like a bombshell or even something worth caring about (presumably because so much of the book is spent on other antics and crap). And far more importantly, the Wiseman is just a big blob of nothing, almost literally. It doesn’t even get lines until the time comes for the final battle with it, and even then it’s just super generic “I am perfection, and must wipe out all imperfection” crap that’s just so incredibly shallow that he may as well be saying “I’m the villain because I am evil”. It’s just so empty and it has no impact whatsoever as the “mastermind” character behind the book that it kind of ruins things. Doesn’t really help either that it’s just beaten by a now incredibly routine sequence of Kojou failing to win, getting a new Beast Vassal through some sexualized blood-sucking, and then instantly using its powers to win.
Oh, and the whole trip setup was pretty much just an excuse to set the final fight on a boat, it would seem.
Put frankly, this volume is just plain empty and devoid of much of anything really worthwhile. At its core, this is seemingly because it throws out a ton of elements that it hardly does anything of note with, which makes them feel like little more than a waste of pages. The setup in particular seems to just be a long, drawn-out, and mostly pointless means of setting up parts of the final action sequence, despite stretching over the whole book. And even then, not much of note is done with them even then. The new characters aren’t great, and Kanon in particular is setup to be a key character this time around, only to get pretty much nothing to do. But the real killing blow is that, despite being kind of the lynchpin of the events of the book… the villain is just an absolute dud, devoid of pretty much anything of note, and it just completely crushes anything the book could’ve built up. It honestly is a shame, as I think that with greater focus in the right places and some tightening overall, this could’ve absolutely been a solid read. But instead, we’re just left with a big old bland blob of nothing, which does little but fill up space until it’s time for the next volume to come out.
Content Grade: C+
Art Grade: N/A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 23rd, 2017