Warning: Contains spoilers to Volume 1.
The second volume of this multi-genre mash-up light novel from Daigo Murasaki continues to entertaining, with our leads going undercover to find their missing allies in this edition.
Veltol Velvet Velsvalt, the Demon Lord from the magical world of Alneath, who woke up from a 500-year slumber to find that his world had merged with the industrial one of Earth, has been able to gain some of his power back as he adjusts to life in our year 2099, where magic is infused with technology. He has been able to gain followers by becoming a video game streamer, and is still assisted by his loyal ally Machina, a fire-magic user and one of his Six Dark Peers; and Takahashi, a magical computer hacker.
Veltol decides that in order to continue his old ambition of taking over the world, he needs to find the rest of the Six Dark Peers. He knows some of them have died, and he himself was involved in one death as those who have read Volume 1 will know, but he’s aware that he can find the information he needs by looking up the Dark Peers Records. However, it turns out that these are located in a locked treasury at the School of Magic in the city state of Akihabara, and one of the three components to unlock it has gone missing. Nevertheless, Veltol, Machina and Takahashi decide to enrol in the school to find the missing component and access the record.
Akihabara is split into two halves: Magic Town harks back to the old days, and embraces the use of magic in a traditional way. The de facto ruler is the principal of the School of Magic, Tratte Götel, leader of one of the city’s Three Great Houses, and an elf in a “full borg” body. The other half is Electric Town, which uses magic to develop new technology and is constantly seeking progress. Its de facto ruler is Korneah Seburd, the leader of the second of the Great Houses, and a goblin. Veltol and his friends meet the third leader in their class, as she is one of their classmates: Hizuki Reynard-Yamada is the leader of the Reynard house, orphaned following the murder of her parents, but because it is her component of the treasury lock that is missing, meaning she has little power, and the fact that she is mixed race being half-elf and half-human, as indicated by having heterochromic eyes, most of her fellow classmates dislike her and she is bullied.
Veltol and his gang decide to become friends with Hizuki (although Veltol is constantly mispronouncing her name) in the hope of finding the missing component, then seizing the other two in order to access the treasury. This will be difficult, not least because Magic Town and Electric Town are so antagonistic towards each other that it feels that the entire city state might end up at war – something that becomes more of a reality when the lives of those in power are also in danger.
In the first volume, part of the strength of the novel was the world building, and creating a new setting which combines elements of cyberpunk with fantasy. This is still evident, although obviously slightly less so as those who have read the first volume will already be familiar with the general setting, with generally little difference between Shinjuku from Volume 1 and Akihabara in this book. As such, the main strength from the first edition feels slightly weaker.
However, the second volume does help to make up for this with better storytelling than the first. The plot is harder to predict, with characters vanishing and then reappearing thanks to the way technology has developed. It also leads to some good battle scenes. It should be said though that the fights are more magical than technological in feel, so if you are more into the cyberpunk side of things, it might disappoint. The reverse isekai element of the story also feels somewhat distant in the background, with the story being more about Veltol’s attempts to make himself more powerful rather than dealing with his new environment.
In terms of production, nothing about Sergio Avila’s translation feels wrong in this volume, and also there appears to be no errors in the spelling unlike the first volume. Kureta’s illustrations once more grab your attention, although again I would rather see more landscapes of this new futuristic magical world rather than just the characters. It should be said that if you want to see the landscapes, you can do so if you look up the current manga adaptation of the story by doing a quick Google Search for the story’s Japanese title.
As far as I’m concerned, the main problem is that I cannot find any detail about any third volume in the series coming up. Given that this series is already an award-winning one, I hope it will come about soon, but we shall have to wait to see where Veltol will visit next.