Back at the start of the year, I reviewed the first volume of new light novel series The World’s Strongest Rearguard from Yen Press. Today I’m here to check out the second instalment and find out if it’s still a worthwhile read.
After a few successful adventures in Volume 1, Arihito and his party are quickly soaring up the ranks in the Labyrinth Country’s eighth district. At this rate, it won’t be long before they’re able to move to the bigger seventh district! However, before that, our group face a crisis as a deadly monster stampede attacks the town.
Arihito’s party might still be new, but they’re not about to turn their backs on the friends they’ve made in the town. They prepare to fend off the dangerous foes while protecting all those in need, a quality that most Seekers lack, as Arihito later finds out…
The guild officer in charge of Arihito informs him that most Seekers work only for themselves, hoping to earn fame and glory. It’s because of other Seekers not exploring certain dungeons that the monster stampedes have happened in the first place. This news drives the group to do better than the parties around them, striving to rise in the ranks and protect the balance of the labyrinths.
This volume of The World’s Strongest Rearguard feels slower than Volume 1. There is a lot more focus on character interactions than adventuring and I think it has the potential to bog the reader down. This is especially true when Arihito is helping to pick skills for his allies to learn, which leads to page after page of information dumps as the party has grown so big (we’re at seven people as of the start of this book, with more added by the end).
The problem with Arihito’s party is that, well, it’s full of female characters. Worse still – most of them have a crush on him. I’m not against the harem, but it does bother me there isn’t a better balance of male/female characters. Arihito has no intentions of making a move on anyone, but that almost makes it worse because it feels like there will never be any progress either. This isn’t the biggest problem right now, but it will become one if things continue at the rate they’re going.
Having said that, I still like the cast a great deal. Because these books have so far run for 400 pages each, we’ve gotten to know the characters well and grow attached to them. They all have vastly different roles in the party and differing personalities so that it’s easy to keep track of them all, despite how quickly the cast has grown.
If you’re someone who enjoys role-playing games or the nitty-gritty information breakdowns of an MMO, then the writing of The World’s Strongest Rearguard will hook you. It’s also easy to skim through, which is important for the readers who aren’t as interested in it. Like with the first volume, author Towa has found a comfortable balance in how he portrays all the information.
Volume 2 of The World’s Strongest Rearguard comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Jordan Taylor. The translation reads well with no problems to note. Illustrations for this volume continue to be handled by Huuka Kazabana and this release includes various colour pages. One of these colour images shows us all of Arihito’s party members, which is certainly useful given how many there are!
The World’s Strongest Rearguard Volume 2 isn’t going to win you over if you weren’t a fan of the first entry. Given the fact that this instalment is just as long as the last, only the most dedicated readers are going to have the drive to keep up with it. If you are one of those people, you’ll certainly enjoy your time with the series.