The Other World’s Books Depend on the Bean Counter (manga) Volume 4 Review

Accountant Seiichirou Kondou has gone to the Demon Forest on the expedition to clear the deadly miasma, as support to the Holy Maiden Yua as she fulfils the task she was summoned to the Romany Kingdom to perform. Constantly at Sei’s side is Knight Captain Aresh Indolark, who does his best to protect Sei from the magicules in the other world’s atmosphere that constantly threaten the salaryman’s life.

Workaholic Sei is constantly obsessed with carrying out his work to the best of his ability, so he tolerates Aresh’s unusual healing magic (transmitted by them having bodily contact/sex) but is unwilling, it seems, to allow himself to develop feelings for him. Acting in such a way is a necessity… even if… I have no intention of being his romantic partner. Is Sei protesting too much? Or is he, at some very deep level, unwilling or even scared of committing himself to a relationship? He’s so very far from home, as is Yua who turns to him in deep distress (to Prince Yurius’s fury and consternation) when she learns that, although she’s stopped the miasma, she can’t ever go back to Japan to see her family. And even when Aresh decides to buy a nice little mansion for the two of them (with a maid, a butler, a gardener, and a cook, of course) Sei can’t relax and enjoy the comforts of this new life à deux. When our accountant keeps complaining about the grand scale and luxury of the accommodation, this leads to one of the first real conversations between the two as Aresh asks him what his home was like in Japan and he tries to explain about what he’s been accustomed to up till now. “My country was a small one, so compared to others in the world, our homes were tinier.”

But when Sei is called before the king and court to explain about his key role in devising the new plan to contain the miasma, he becomes aware of the antagonism felt toward him and his ideas radiating from the powerful members of the church. They feel threatened – and when Yua breaks down, sobbing, at the prospect of having to stay there forever as the Holy Maiden, this only reinforces their animosity and his quiet determination to find a way for Yua and him to return. He’s determined to prove to the court and church that his carefully costed scheme will save much more money for the impoverished kingdom than maintaining the current regime with the Holy Maiden.

Prime Minister Camile Karvada, Sei’s ally, arranges for the accountant to go and investigate the Church’s accounts. Aresh is vehemently against such a plan – but Sei is keen to go. And the more Aresh protests, the more Sei is determined to see the assignment through, even though it will be for a whole month. But, given the hostility openly shown to Sei’s plan by the senior members of the Church, is Sei walking into the lion’s den? And what really motivates the young priest Father Siegvold who goes out of his way to approach Sei?

Returning to Kazuki Irodori’s manga version of The Bean Counter (ten long months since Yen Press brought us Volume 3) it was a relief to discover that it’s still a well-drawn, convincing and exciting read – so much so, that when recalling some of the scenes, it felt almost as if they’d been animated! It’s still very talky (there’s a lot to put across in adapting the original light novel) but in a good way; the mangaka’s portrayal of the characters really brings them to vivid life with a wonderful variety of expressions as they argue, negotiate, share confidences.

Two strong plot threads are explored in this volume. The first explores the machinations between the royal family and the Church which Sei manages to get caught up in. This also involves his daring to question the sacrosanct role of the Holy Maiden; a dangerous move for an outsider to embark on. On a much more personal level, the volume delves deeper into Sei’s relationships, most of all with Aresh, as neither seems to be on the same page and both are probably deluding themselves as to what they mean to each other. However, there’s a little ray of light at the end of this volume, as Sei suddenly bestows a heartfelt and genuine smile on Aresh which lights up his solemn face in a way we’ve never seen before. Is he beginning to develop feelings for Aresh, in spite of all his protestations to the contrary?

Astute fans of Boys’ Love will have noticed that this volume is yet again (unlike the light novel) given a Teen rating. However, Irodori is skilled at conveying the growing feelings between Aresh and Sei in some of their more intimate scenes together – and sometimes that can be just as effective and more meaningful than in some more explicit 18-rated manga.

Having just read the first light novel of the series the manga of The Bean Counter is based on, I realized that the manga is only now coming to the end of the plot material furnished by the first volume. There’s no getting away from the fact that the manga’s focus on seeing the story almost solely from Sei’s viewpoint is a major factor in making this overall a much better and more tightly focused read. Others may prefer the more leisurely exploration of the characters and plot in the original source material; it’s great that Yen Press have given us both options!

The excellent translation is once again by Emma Schumacker with lettering by DK. Volume 5 is available in Japan but not yet showing on Yen Press’s release schedule.

Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.

9 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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