Since I last reviewed Spy Classroom in mid-2022, the series has been treated to an anime adaptation and is now broadcasting its second cour. So what better time to return to the original light novel series with Volume 4, which is said to end ‘Season 1’ of the series? Let’s find out what’s in store!
Volume 3 of Spy Classroom saw Annette, Monika, Erna and Thea taking a much-needed vacation after completing a dangerous mission. While enjoying their relaxation time, the group ran into Annette’s mother who turned out to be an enemy spy. At the time Thea was acting as a leader of the group and due to her feelings for Annette, decided to let her mother get away rather than be captured. Since then Thea has been riddled with guilt, worried that she’s too compassionate to be a spy and that she should never have let an enemy go.
And that’s how we find Thea at the start of this book, depressed and lacking in confidence. Everyone else in the group is busy training and preparing for a mission that will take them overseas to The United States of Mouzaia, to a city that readers will instantly recognise as an alternate universe take on New York. In the city a huge economic conference is being held, an event that attracts spies from all around the world looking to either stop or influence the proceedings in some way.
For team Lamplight, their goal is to get closer to their enemy Serpent. However, it’s not long before they find themselves in all kinds of trouble when their presence is noticed by Purple Ant – a powerful enemy spy who captures and brainwashes civilians to do his dirty work for him. Because of this ability, he has an army-sized amount of people he can call upon, certainly enough to bring the small team of Lamplight to its knees!
So it goes without saying that this mission is the absolute worst time for anyone to be off their game. And despite everyone having finally gotten a passing grade from Klaus and becoming real spies rather than trainees, Thea just can’t shake off the funk she’s fallen into. Spy Classroom routinely follows one of the team per book and this one is undoubtedly Thea’s arc, which works well to build on the events of Volume 3 while also getting us involved in a much bigger mission than we’ve seen before.
Depending on your feelings toward Thea, you may get frustrated with her part in the story. There were definitely moments where I wanted her to listen to her teammates and sort herself out rather than sympathising with her situation. It got repetitive at times, but at least by the end, the situation was resolved. And if you aren’t a fan of Thea, then there’s still plenty to enjoy here as we watch the rest of the cast face off against Purple Ant and his group.
Since the series began, author Takemachi has proved that they’ve got what it takes to juggle such a big cast of characters, either by splitting them up into smaller groups or having some of the cast take a backseat. And that’s the author’s approach here too. Lamplight gets split into several groups working individually around the city and the chapters in the book rotate around them and occasionally cross over while giving the most focus to Thea’s story. It does mean some of the group get more time in the spotlight than others, but we do at least get to see everyone this way, meaning no matter who you’re a fan of, you can enjoy seeing their time in the big city.
At the end of the volume, Takemachi talks about how this is the end of Season 1 of the series. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but perhaps it’s due to the fact the girls are no longer trainees but instead full-fledged spies. Certainly, it doesn’t feel like anything major has been achieved in the story otherwise, there’s no climactic showdown with Serpent for example. Either way, between here and Volume 5 there’s a short story collection so we won’t be diving straight into Season 2.
As previously mentioned Spy Classroom Volume 4 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Nathaniel Thrasher, who is doing an excellent job! Notably, he is also translating the anime, ensuring that all the names and terminology stay the same across the various mediums.
The first short story collection and Volume 5 & 6 are available in English now with the next release for the series being short story collection #2 in December. In Japan, the series is currently up to 10 volumes and a further two short story collections, so there is certainly still a lot of this title to come!
Overall, Spy Classroom Volume 4 brings the cast together for a mission overseas. Your enjoyment will vary, based on how much you care about Thea’s problems, but despite that, this proves an enjoyable way to bring an end to the group’s lives as trainee spies.
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.