Perhaps at long last, the trend of every new fantasy light novel being an isekai is coming to an end. Series are beginning to move back to a pure fantasy base and one such example of this is the new series The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy from Yen Press. Today I’m here to find out if it’s worth your time.
The story follows the Dark Lord Leonis, who sealed himself up for 1,000 years in preparation for a final battle against his enemies. Leonis is woken from his slumber by Riselia, a girl attending Excalibur Academy and who fights against the Voids (more on those soon). However, there is a catch: instead of being in his all-powerful final form, Leonis is in the body of a ten-year-old! Now he must come to terms with not only how the world has changed while he’s been asleep but also the effect his new form has on his magical abilities.
After being woken up by Riselia our hero is suddenly thrown into a fight against the Voids, who are mysterious creatures looking to wipe out humanity (and have almost accomplished this!). At the Excalibur Academy, students train to fight back against these monsters by learning to wield their Holy Sword, which is a manifestation of their spirit. Everyone’s Holy Sword is different and specialised in a different kind of magic.
Unfortunately, despite coming from a powerful bloodline Riselia has so far been unable to summon her Holy Sword. When she and Leonis are attacked shortly after he wakes up, our hero ends up jumping in to save the day. After seeing his powers firsthand, Riselia invites him to take the exam for Excalibur Academy and help in the fight to save humanity.
With nowhere else to go Leonis agrees to try out for the academy, but he thinks he’ll struggle to pass the test with his mediocre powers, but in reality, he’s considered incredibly powerful by those around him! In the time Leonis has been asleep the world has changed greatly, as has the quality of magic making him extremely skilled within this new era. We don’t even know if only 1,000 years have passed since Leonis can’t seem to find any records from his time, so he could be much further along in time.
Of course one of the biggest questions for our protagonist is what exactly the Voids are. They didn’t exist before Leonis sealed himself away to sleep and humanity thinks they’re aliens, but Leonis has a suspicion they could be connected to his history somehow… Although we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out how, as the series doesn’t seem particularly interested in giving us all the answers right now.
On the whole, The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy has a fun but fairly stereotypical set-up. A great mage/demon lord/hero being reborn in the far future is a trend in fantasy anime/manga/light novels at the moment as is the attending an academy aspect of the series.
Although the series doesn’t have a unique selling point, author Yu Shimizu (Blade Dance of Elementalers, After School Bitchcraft) certainly hasn’t done badly with what is on offer. The characters are likeable (even if generic) and the world-building does what it needs to in order to convey this mash of futuristic and medieval setting. In some ways, I appreciate the simplicity of the series and the idea of having this Dark Lord facing off against the Voids.
I’m not convinced I’ll read any future volumes, but if you are looking for a more light-hearted series then this ticks the boxes. It also seems like the kind of story that will be picked up for an anime eventually, especially with a fairly prolific author behind it. It’s not that I disliked the book for any particular reason, it’s simply just too similar to other light novels I read and like more.
As previously mentioned The Demon sword Master of Excalibur Academy Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Roman Lempert. The translation reads well with no issues to speak of. As always for a Yen Press release, there are some colour pages at the beginning, which have been illustrated by Asagi Tosaka (The Dirty Way to Destroy the Goddess’s Heroes).
Tosaka’s illustrations capture the cast well and I appreciated that some of the inner illustrations were of action scenes rather than just the girls. My only minor criticism is that Leonis looks like he’s stuck between having a 10-year-old’s face and a teenager’s body, which causes a bit of visual disconnect.
Overall, The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy is a fun but unremarkable read. If you’re not reading anything similar to it then you’ll enjoy the story on offer, but if you’re already knee-deep in fantasy stories centred around an academy you might want to give it a miss.