Isekai Quartet

Spoiler Alert!

It’s just one more day of your adventures on another world when you suddenly find a curious object: a small, square piece of light blue metal with a big, red button on top. Dare you push it?

And you thought only a complete idiot would press it!

When you do, you find yourself on the sports field of what looks like a typical Japanese high school. It all feels familiar, yet strange at the same time. Is this what they call déjà vu?

From across the field, a strange, mustached man in a military uniform tells you it’s time for class to begin.

“Class…? What’s going on?”

Arriving at the classroom, you find others already sitting inside. It’s as motley a collection of characters as you’ve ever seen, as though they’re all from completely different worlds. They all return your curious gaze.

Just how many different worlds are out there?

You quietly sit at a desk.

Moments later, a suspicious man with a white face dressed in a garish purple suit comes into the room.

“Good mooorning, claaaaass”, he yodels. “Let’s begiiiiiin.”

Isekai Quartet (異世界かるてっと, Isekai Karutetto) is a slice-of-life anime serving as a humorous crossover for the characters of four isekai light novel franchises published by subsidiaries of Kadokawa Future Publishing: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!, Overlord, Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World and Youjo Senki: The Saga of Tanya the Evil. In the anime’s second season, the cast is joined by the heroes of two more franchises: The Rising of the Shield Hero and Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious.

Mr. Roswaal lays out the school rules.

The story mostly takes place at what appears to be a high school in the suburbs of a modern-day Japanese city. Characters from various isekai franchises are placed in the roles of students, teachers and other school staff. While everyone retains their experiences and abilities from their native storylines, no harm or violence of any sort is permitted in this strange new world.

The otherwise ordinary school life takes a fantastical turn with the wide, colorful cast. Across franchises, the characters learn about and befriend each other in their own ways.

The main characters of KonoSuba, Overlord, Re:Zero and Youjo Senki make up Class 2 of the school and more about them can be found on other posts of my blog. Below are more characters from each of the four main isekai franchises who also appear in Isekai Quartet.

Characters from KonoSuba

Eris, a goddess of fortune (luck and wealth). Kind, gentle and responsible, she cares deeply about the welfare of others, particularly her worshippers, the Eris Order (Darkness is a member). In the heavenly hierarchy, Eris is Aqua’s subordinate. She is deeply insecure about her small bust size, which Aqua often picks on her for. Eris sometimes visits the Fantasy World in secret as Chris, an adventurer and a thief who taught Kazuma the Steal skill. In this mortal form, she has no access to her divine abilities, unlike Aqua. In Isekai Quartet, Chris is a student in Class 1.

Vanir, an arch-devil, a duke of Hell and a former general of the Demon King’s army. A shameless, boastful egotist, he enjoys (and feeds on) the embarrassment and disappointment of others. He also enjoys chaos and destruction. Despite this, Vanir always keeps his promises and never causes any lasting harm. He is believed to be even more powerful than the Demon King himself. Vanir’s true form is actually the domino mask he wears and, through this, he can either create his own body out of dirt or possess anyone who wears it. The mask is capable of reconstructing itself if it is destroyed. After he was defeated by Kazuma’s party, Vanir abandons the Demon King, hides in the city of Axel and sets himself up as an entrepreneur of sorts. In Isekai Quartet, he is a teacher.

Characters from Overlord

Sebas Tian, the dragonoid head butler of Nazarick and the leader of the Pleiades, a team of six maids highly skilled in combat. Steadfast and dignified, Sebas is a strong believer in justice and, unlike many of the Nazarick denizens, does not despise humans. He believes that humans are capable of both good and evil, but he won’t hesitate to kill any he deems irredeemably evil. He is a master of unarmed combat, able to defeat his opponents in the blink of an eye. In Isekai Quartet, Sebas is a school groundskeeper while the Pleiades are students in Class 1.

Hamsuke, a sentient, giant hamster. Ditzy and somewhat simple-minded, she was once known as the “Wise King of the Forest” in the Great Forest of Tob until she was subdued by Ainz, to whom she has sworn her loyalty. She has a long, scaly tail that she can use like a whip and has learned a few combat skills. In Isekai Quartet, Hamsuke is one of the school’s pets.

Characters from Re:Zero

Felt, a 15-year old professional thief and a candidate to become the 42nd ruler of the Kingdom of Lugnica. Feisty, street-smart and fiercely independent, she has lived almost all her life in Lugnica’s slums. Felt was the thief who stole Emilia’s insignia at the story’s beginning. After she was somehow chosen as a royal candidate, Felt loudly declared her hatred of nobles and vowed to dismantle them. In Isekai Quartet, she is a student in Class 1.

Roswaal L. Mathers, a mysterious Lugnican nobleman, Emilia’s patron and the employer of Rem, Ram and Beatrice. Eccentric, courteous and reserved, he is a cunning politician able to read others’ intentions well. Unlike most nobles, Roswaal has no prejudice against demi-humans. He is also a powerful mage proficient in the use of all six elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Yang, Yin). Roswaal has an odd habit of yodeling when speaking. In reality, he is secretly Roswaal A. Mathers, an ancestor of the Mathers family who has possessed his descendants for generations in order to survive to the present day. In Isekai Quartet, Roswaal is the homeroom teacher of Class 2.

Characters from Youjo Senki

Erich von Rerugen, an Imperial Army Colonel and an officer in Strategic Operations, a division of the Imperial General Staff Office. Considerate, dutiful and observant, Rerugen is a talented military officer with intricate knowledge about the Imperial military and its logistics. He first met Tanya at the Officer Candidate School, where he stopped her from viciously beating a young trainee who had willfully disobeyed her. Since that incident, and after observing her career since then, he has come to see Tanya as a monster in a little girl’s body. Despite this, he has grown to trust and respect Tanya as a soldier, believing that only a monster like her can succeed and survive in the madness of war. In Isekai Quartet, Rerugen is a teacher.

Kurt von Rudersdorf, an Imperial Army Major General and Deputy Chief of Operations. Calm and decisive, he is a clever officer who is unafraid to take high risks if the rewards are worth it. He and Zettour have been close friends since their days together at the War College and he sees Tanya as a reliable, yet visionary leader. In Isekai Quartet, Rudersdorf is the school’s principal.

Hans von Zettour, an Imperial Army Major General and Deputy Chief of Logistics. Serious and thoughtful, he is a loyal officer who uses his thorough understanding about the Imperial military to assess the risks of military operations. Like Tanya, Zettour believes in rationalism and dislikes idealism. He is completely fascinated with Tanya’s revolutionary (modern-day) theories about war and how they could benefit the Empire. In Isekai Quartet, Zettour is the school’s vice-principal.

Personal Thoughts

For those familiar with the original four isekai franchises, Isekai Quartet can be fun and exciting to watch. In fact, it’s one of my personal favorites.

It’s fun and heartening to see the various characters relate to each other, revealing more about themselves as people in casual situations their own stories do not have. A noteworthy example of this is Ainz and Tanya’s bonding over their common pasts as salarymen. It’s the first time both of them reveal their pasts to anyone. Without the stress of war and being watched over by a selfish deity, Tanya becomes considerably gentler and makes the friends she could never have in her old life. She also finally gets to have modern-day food and coffee again. Distanced from the poisonous influence of the Nazarick NPCs, Ainz gradually rediscovers the human within him by making friends with others.

Having a long talk at the park

While normally cold and abrasive, Beatrice has grown comfortable with Mare over their shared interest in reading. The devil Demiurge has found a kindred soul in Tanya, who shares his belief in control and order. For the first time, Emilia needs not worry about discrimination since there is no Witch of Envy in the world of Isekai Quartet. In many ways, the world of Isekai Quartet gives its inhabitants a happiness they could never have on their previous worlds.

The school’s Class 1

Another heartening issue is the fact that two former shut-ins, Kazuma and Subaru, now have the opportunity to complete their high school educations. Surprisingly, this also applies to Ainz, who never graduated from middle school due to education being prohibitively expensive on his original world. While there would likely be no public recognition for this education, these people could gain new confidence through their learning.

Isekai Quartet is one of the most innovative ideas I’ve seen in Japanese anime. Not only is it fun to watch a good crossover, but it is also a way to keep viewers aware of the original isekai anime so that future seasons could be produced by Kadokawa.

Moral

Who makes the world interesting? We do!

Youjo Senki: The Saga of Tanya the Evil

Spoiler Alert!

“Please…please don’t do this!”

You firmly say, “You’ve missed work several times without permission and you have not improved your performance as the company requested.”

“What am I going to do about my daughter’s tuition? What about the loan on my house?!”

“What reason does the company have to keep you here?”

The good-for-nothing in front of you is close to tears. Pathetic.

“Wait…don’t…please…”

“Good day.”

Once again, you’re waiting for the train to take you home.

Ah, here it comes.

What you do for the company isn’t easy or pleasant, but you’ll do the job as required. Prosperity and order for the company come first after all. At this rate, you’ll make department chief in no ti…!

You feel a sudden force from behind, making you fall forward and down…onto the tracks…

Thinking back, perhaps it’s not such a surprise. People with poor work performances tend to put their feelings before reason after all…

“Humanity has truly lost its way.”

Hmm?

“You have no faith.”

Ah, the supposed Creator, God or whatever…

“Sorry, but I reject your existence.”

“What?”

“If you really are the Creator, you would never have allowed this absurdity to happen in the first place. From a rational viewpoint, only beings such as “God” or “The Devil” can exist beyond human reason. Until I have further proof, you shall be known to me as Being X.”

“Do you not desire salvation? Seven billion people on the planet, yet so few want it.”

Was that a twinge of anger?

“We now live in a world where science has advanced to the point where it provides humanity’s needs quite nicely. An orderly society provides us peace so we may prosper. Faith in the obscure is just the last resort for the desperate.”

“Then if you were to live a life without science and peace, perhaps your faith will awaken?”

Uh…

“So be it! I grant you a new life where you will have neither science nor peace! Should you be killed once more, you will be condemned for eternity unless you pledge yourself to me!”

You slowly open your eyes.

In front of you, you see a pair of baby hands.

Are those YOUR hands?!

Looking left, you see the face of an old woman wearing a nun’s habit.

Why is she so close?

“Okay, now open up, little Tanya.”

Tanya? Is that…you?

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, known in Japan as Youjo Senki (幼女戦記, lit. “The Military Chronicles of a Little Girl”), is a web novel, light novel series, manga and anime (including one movie) written by Carlo Zen (カルロ・ゼン). Each version of the story is slightly different.

While waiting for a train after work, an unnamed Japanese salaryman is pushed onto the tracks by a disgruntled subordinate he had fired earlier that day. At the moment of his death, he is confronted by an entity claiming to be “God”, who denounces his, and humanity’s, modern-day lack of faith. An atheist and a ruthless rationalist at heart, the salaryman refuses to acknowledge the entity, dubbing it Being X, and argues that science and social order have provided humanity’s needs, making faith the last resort of the desperate. Enraged, the entity decides to reincarnate the salaryman in a world of constant danger to coerce him into embracing Being X as his savior. It also promises eternal condemnation for the salaryman’s soul after his second life should he be killed while rejecting faith.

The national flag of the Empire

In the Unified Year 1914, the salaryman is reborn as an orphaned baby girl, Tanya Degurechaff, in another world’s equivalent of Imperial Germany known simply as the Empire. Several years later, Tanya learns two things: the Empire will soon engage in all-out war with its neighbors and all Imperial citizens with the potential for magic, including herself, face conscription in the Imperial Army. Determined to escape the fate promised to her by Being X, she decides to join the Army as an aerial mage officer in order to eventually receive a posting far from the war’s front lines, thereby avoiding the risk of getting killed.

At age 9, Tanya commences a military career on the fast track. During her first assignment, she fights off a company of enemy aerial mages alone and earns the Silver Wings Assault Medal, the highest honor an Imperial soldier could earn. After this, she tests out, and acquires, the experimental Elenium Type-95 operation orb. Later, she becomes a platoon leader assigned to the Rhine Front (French-German border equivalent), where she is eventually nicknamed “The Devil of the Rhine” by her enemies.

After six months of exemplary study at the Charloburg War College, Tanya earns non-hereditary, minor noble status and becomes a “von”. At the direction of the Imperial General Staff, she forms the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, a rapid deployment force that quickly becomes the vanguard of the Empire’s most important war operations. Throughout all this, Tanya remains certain that Being X is trying to break her will, even if it has to turn the entire world against her.

Youjo Senki Restaurant (幼女戦記食堂, Yōjo Senki Shokudō), a short manga drawn by Kyoichi (京一), features Tanya and others eating Imperial (German) cuisine on their off-duty time.

Members of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, left to right: Neumann, Koenig, Weiss, Visha, Tanya, Grantz

Main Characters

Tanya von Degurechaff, a 12-year old Imperial Army Major, commander of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, commander of its 1st company and former Japanese human resources manager. A truly complex person, Tanya is a calculating, pragmatic and ruthless sociopath who nonetheless constantly assesses how her actions would affect her career. While she believes in an orderly society, she also believes strongly in self-determination and hates war as a waste of lives and resources. For this reason, she is frustrated with superiors who disregard the risk to soldiers’ lives and resents Being X deeply for its persistent attempts to either kill her (through empowered proxies) or bend her to its will (through exacerbating the war).

Using the Elenium Type-95, Tanya prepares a magic spell to destroy a target with one shot.

A highly experienced aerial mage, Tanya can use the Elenium Type-95 operation orb to gain power far greater than what most mages can use. She must pray to “God” in order to use the orb’s full capabilities, so she only uses it sparingly. In addition to this, Tanya retains the memories of her first life, allowing her to use her management skills to become a highly competent officer. She also uses her modern-day experiences and historical knowledge to propose ideas never considered before in the Empire, such the concept of total war and legal circumvention of laws that prohibit soldiers from attacking civilians. While she doesn’t have much of a private life, Tanya enjoys drinking coffee and eating sweets when off-duty.

A rare moment of rest.

Viktoriya “Visha” Ivanovna Serebryakov, an Imperial Army First Lieutenant, Tanya’s adjutant and second-in-command of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s 1st company. Friendly and optimistic, she is rarely troubled by daily hardships she faces, having experienced the horrors of the front lines firsthand. Born to an aristocratic family in Rus (Russia equivalent), Visha fled to the Empire with her family during the Rus Revolution. She was later conscripted into the Imperial Army as an aerial mage soldier and assigned to the Rhine Front, where she was placed under then-Second Lieutenant Degurechaff’s command. Visha understands Tanya better than anyone else and is utterly devoted to her commander. She enjoys eating almost anything, even low-quality wartime rations.

Glory to the Empire!

Matheus Johann Weiss, an Imperial Army Captain, vice-commander of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion and commander of its 2nd company. Prudent, disciplined and responsible, Weiss is a competent, reliable officer. He had a by-the-book approach for war that he gradually grew out of with experience and his commander’s guidance. Tanya comes to rely on Weiss to help manage the battalion while he, in turn, develops profound respect for his commander. He has a sweet tooth and a low alcohol tolerance which often results in him hitting on women in a crass manner while drunk.

Warren Grantz, an Imperial Army First Lieutenant and second-in-command of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s 2nd company. Capable and principled, he once questioned Tanya over the prospect of shooting defenseless enemy civilians. Grantz has a slight, unreciprocated crush on Visha.

Even with magical defensive shields, no aerial mage is invulnerable

Wilibald Koenig, an Imperial Army First Lieutenant and commander of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s 3rd company. He is a taciturn man who trusts his comrades completely in battle and vice versa.

Rhiner Neumann, an Imperial Army First Lieutenant and commander of the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion’s 4th company. He is a fun-loving man who sometimes picks on his comrades’ flaws.

Personal Thoughts

This story gives several examples of how the world of war is far more complex than the peaceful times many of us now live in.

In an example of wartime bias, Tanya is known as a brave, self-sacrificing, national hero within the Empire while the opposing armies know her as “The Devil of the Rhine”, an evil monster that has almost single-handedly killed countless noble soldiers. In truth, she would rather not be a soldier in the first place. Like many of us, Tanya is neither a hero nor a villain, but a person who does whatever she can to prosper and survive in the situation she was thrown in.

The last sight of many who cross paths with the Devil of the Rhine

At the city of Arene, local partisans rose against the Imperial occupation. Although hindered by international laws forbidding harm against non-combatants, the Empire refused to give up the city, which was an important railway hub that supplied many soldiers on the Rhine Front. Tanya proposes the idea of giving the city a day’s warning about an imminent attack, after which anyone staying in the city would be considered enemy combatants. In response to the warning, the partisans executed several captive Imperial soldiers in an indignant show of self-righteous fury. After this, the Imperial Army launched a devastating attack that killed half of the city’s population, ensuring the Empire’s continued occupation. In war, there are very few clear-cut decisions in which no one suffers or dies. The moralities of war are entirely dependent on who you fight for.

Knowing humanity’s history and having gained firsthand experience, Tanya realized that humans are ultimately emotional creatures who can reject logic if it works against them. Even if they have literally nothing to gain through fighting, humans can keep fighting and struggling if they are driven by hatred and vengeance. For this reason, the Empire’s enemies will not quit until the Empire is destroyed or they are. This was also the reason why her first life ended.

Moral

We tend to follow our selfish emotions more often than not. It is best to balance our emotions and our logic.

Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World

Spoiler Alert!

Where are you?

Looking around, you find yourself standing in the middle of a wide, paved city square, surrounded by vibrantly colored buildings. Some of the people walking around seem to have the heads of dogs or cats!

Huh? Where’s the convenience store? Wasn’t it nighttime?

You wander around a bit and eventually come to what looks like a stall selling fruit. The shopkeeper holds out what looks like a bright, red apple to you and says, “Hello! Care for an appa?”

Appa? Is that what they’re called here?

I sure do!

You take several hundred yen from your pocket and give them to him.

“What’s this? This isn’t any kind of money I’ve seen before!”

What?!

“If you’re broke, go away! No browsing at my stall!”

You run off into a nearby alley and sit down.

Seriously, where are you?!

You take out your cell phone and see that there’s no signal!

A threatening voice suddenly interrupts your train of thought.

“Hey! Drop everything ya got now if ya wanna live!”

Looking up, you see three scruffy, unsavory men in front of you. It’s obvious that their intentions are less than noble.

You punch the large, fat brute to your right and give the little punk to your left a roundhouse kick.

Oww! Does hitting people really hurt this much?

You start running at the thug in front of you when he suddenly brandishes a pair of nasty-looking knives! At the sight of this, you feel a blinding rush of panic and quickly get on your knees.

Looks nastier than it does in a video game!

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! PLEASE forgive me…”

Something hits you across the face and you are thrust onto the floor.

“Think yerself so smart, huh?! Take this!”

You feel a foot on your face and several kicks to your ribs. Ugh! Stop it…!…stop…

“That’s enough!”

Huh? A girl’s voice…?…

Squinting from the corner of your eye, you see a shadow against the mouth of the alley.

As it walks closer, you see a glint from her hair… silver hair…?

Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活, Ri:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, lit. “Re: Starting life in a different world from zero”) is a web novel, light novel series, manga and anime written by Tappei Nagatsuki (長月達平, Nagatsuki Tappei). Based on the story is the visual novel video game, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- Death or Kiss (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活 -DEATH OR KISS-, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu -Death or Kiss-), released on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

Without warning, the young shut-in Subaru Natsuki suddenly finds himself in a completely unfamiliar city. At a fruit stall, he learns that he’s in the capital city of the Kingdom of Lugnica. While trying to figure out his predicament in an alley, Subaru is rescued from thugs by a silver-haired, half-elf girl and he falls in love with her at first sight. After recovering, he learns that the girl was looking for a small insignia stolen from her a while ago and he offers to help her. Eventually, the two are directed to a house on the city outskirts. Upon discovering a grisly murder there, the assassin (who is still there) disembowels both of them…

Didn’t I…die…just now? Am I going mad?!

Immediately finding himself in front of a familiar fruit stall, Subaru soon realizes that he has somehow acquired the ability to return to a certain point in time after he is killed, which he names “Return by Death”. Subaru gradually learns to use this ability to gain knowledge of future events and change them to his advantage. He is eventually able to retrieve the insignia and fight off the assassin with the help of a knight. In doing this, he gains the trust of the half-elf girl, who reveals her name to be Emilia.

Subaru is later invited to the mansion of Margrave Roswaal L. Mathers, where he offers himself as a retainer to stay close to Emilia. He continues to protect Emilia and his friends, often doing so after getting killed in a disaster and then averting it when he “returns”. Subaru soon learns about Lugnica’s royal succession crisis, encounters the mysterious Witch Cult, fights against the Three Great Demon Beasts and learns that his Return by Death had been granted to him by Satella, the Witch of Envy who once brought devastation to the world centuries ago.

Left to right: Ram, Rem, Beatrice, Subaru, Emilia, Puck

Main Characters

Subaru Natsuki (菜月 昴, Natsuki Subaru), an 18-year old retainer (and later, knight) of Emilia and a former Japanese high school student. Formerly a naïve, self-centered NEET, Subaru has become much more observant, mature and determined after dying several times. To conceal his inner trauma, he adapts a more boisterous attitude. Despite its benefits, Return by Death has two major drawbacks: Subaru must never reveal this ability to anyone (doing so causes him intense pain and could kill anyone who hears him) and trying to reveal it heightens the Witch’s aura within him, attracting nearby demon beasts like moths to a flame (he sometimes uses this to act as monster bait). The son of a popular, talented man, Subaru often felt inadequate and eventually gave up on life, which resulted in him not attending school for months. After befriending Emilia and others, Subaru discovered a new meaning for his own life and has vowed to start over from “zero” (hence the story title).

There’s nothing like exercise and a victory cry to start the day!

Emilia, a 115-year old half-elf spirit art user and a candidate to become the 42nd ruler of the Kingdom of Lugnica. Although kind and compassionate, she is also somewhat insecure and her choice of words is slightly outdated. Emilia can form contracts with spirits (most notably Puck) and call upon spirits to cast magic including healing and ice spells. Over a century ago, she was the only survivor of an attack by the Witch Cult on her home village deep in the Elior Forest. She froze the entire forest, including herself, upon seeing the corpse of her beloved aunt. Unfrozen by Puck several years ago, Emilia has faced constant, severe discrimination because the legendary Witch of Envy, Satella, is said to have been a silver-haired half-elf herself. After being chosen as a royal candidate with Roswaal’s patronage, she has vowed to create a kingdom where all are equals.

With Lugnica’s royal family now missing, who will rule the kingdom next?

Puck, Emilia’s kitten-like artificial spirit companion. Carefree and mischievous, he is extremely protective of Emilia, whom he treats like a daughter. Puck can use empathy to read the surface thoughts of others and he can use several kinds of magic including Water and Fire. One of the conditions of his contract with Emilia is that he can be active only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Puck’s true form is a gigantic, cat-like monster known as “The Beast of the End”.

Subaru learns first hand that Puck will destroy the world if Emilia dies…

Rem, a 19-year old oni maid and the younger twin sister of Ram. Polite, dedicated and lacking self-esteem, she is very skilled in using her flail in combat and is a competent user of water and healing magic. Through her oni horn, Rem can channel mana to enhance herself, but she is gradually overtaken by rage when she does so. She is also a hardworking maid who handles most of the housework in the Mathers Mansion. Because they are twins, Rem and Ram were each born with a single horn. Since childhood, Rem had an inferiority complex with her sister, who had demonstrated extraordinary magical talents. Seven years ago, their home village was attacked by the Witch Cult and Ram’s horn was cut off by a cultist. Because of this, Rem feels that it’s her duty to accomplish what her sister could no longer do. She fell in love with Subaru after he saved her from being mauled by a pack of wolgarms.

The gentle Rem can be rather ferocious when fighting

Ram, a 19-year old oni maid and the older twin sister of Rem. Haughty, distant and conceited, she rarely misses an opportunity to give a scathing remark to Subaru, whom she nicknames “Barusu”. Since losing her single oni horn, Ram has lost much of her magical strength and tires easily whenever she uses her wind magic. After the Witch Cult’s attack on their home village, Ram and Rem were taken in by Roswaal to work at his mansion. Despite having some apprehensions, Ram is in love with Roswaal.

Beatrice, an artificial spirit, caretaker of Roswaal’s forbidden library and, later, Subaru’s spirit companion. Abrasive and stubborn, her harsh behavior masks a deep loneliness. A knowledgeable magician, Beatrice is highly skilled in Yin magic (teleportation, stopping time, creating spatial loops, sending targets to another dimension, etc.), magical healing and undoing curses. By contract, she is unable to leave Roswaal’s mansion unless the library is destroyed. She enjoys playing with Puck whenever he’s not with Emilia. Although initially unfriendly to Subaru when they first met, Beatrice has gradually opened up to him since then, but remains outwardly annoyed with him.

Tea time for the girls!

Personal Thoughts

For starters, this story is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The main character Subaru is killed several times through either tragic circumstance or his own poor choices, only to “return” to a point in time before that occurs. He feels all the pain, terror and trauma of each disaster/violent death and remembers it all clearly when he is alive once again. Among other things, he has experienced disembowelment, getting his limbs torn off, dying from extreme frostbite (he was decapitated once from that!) and watching both Emilia and Rem die horribly. On top of this, he unable to tell anyone the truth about his death experiences, forcing him to stew in his own suffering. In time, he develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even briefly goes insane.

His life and death held in a witch’s caress…a blessing or a curse?

Subaru is later reminded by both Emilia and Rem that he saved their lives and is thus a real hero. Despite having no notable skills or talents, Subaru gradually develops incredible willpower, becoming brave, determined and unnaturally calm in the face of death. Return by Death also allows him to learn from his mistakes and literally do-over his actions to get better results, allowing him to anticipate and understand people better. As a result, he eventually becomes the most effective hero on his world.

Pursued by the White Whale, one of the legendary Three Great Demon Beasts

Subaru is an example of how important persistence and learning are. Having skills, talent or unique abilities won’t do any good if one is lazy, unmotivated or demoralized. Living through severe loss and tragedy is never easy, but if one can persist and find strength within themselves and those they care for, one can learn how to cope and live strong. It’s similar to how soldiers have to endure constant near-death experiences and deal with fallen comrades and loved ones.

Moral

Persistence and learning from mistakes are two of the best things we can have.

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!

Spoiler Alert!

You get off the bus and start walking back home.

It had been a harrowing five hours but the round trip was worth it. The premium edition of Myriad Swords 2 was released at the store today and now you have it!

Your eyes feel heavy and your mind starts to drift…

Despite the sun shining in your eyes, you see a huge shadow barreling down on a passing girl.

A truck?!

Summoning every ounce of strength your exhausted body could muster, you push the girl out of the truck’s path…

Opening your eyes, you find yourself sitting inside a room that seems to be made of the universe itself. On the opposite side is an empty, white, high-backed chair.

“Welcome to the afterlife.”

Turning around, you see a beautiful, young girl with long blue hair. She sits in the white chair in front of you.

“Your life was a short one but you’re dead.”

Oh.

“What happened to the girl I pushed out of the way?”

“She’s alive.”

Well, that’s a relief!

“Actually, she wouldn’t have died. The tractor would have stopped before it hit her.”

Wait…tractor?

“Then, did I die from getting hit by the tractor?”

“No, you died from shock, thinking a truck ran over you.”

WHAAAAAAT?!

“Pfft! Hahahahahahahaha! In all my years as a goddess, you’re the first one to die such a pathetic death! You wet yourself and the doctors laughed at you as you had a heart attack…”

No, no, no, no! You don’t want to hear it!

“I have an offer for you. You like games, don’t you? You’ve read about the stories where a hero gets reincarnated on another world? Well, here’s your chance!”

Your ears perk up.

“There is a world being threatened by the Demon King. The people live fearing for their lives every day, facing slaughter at the hands of his army!”

It all sounds cliché to you, but no matter!

“If you take this up, I’ll grant you one ability or item second to none!” With a wave of her hand, a stack of papers appears on the floor.

Ah, the classic cheat ability you’ve heard so much about!

You look through the stack. All the abilities and equipment shown are completely broken!

“Could you hurry this up? I’ve got a quota to fill. Besides, there’s not much to expect from a shut-in NEET like you.”

Grrr! Just because she’s cute she thinks she can push you around!

Wait, that’s it!

You point at the goddess and say, “Okay then, I choose you.”

“Alright, now just stay inside the magic circle and…WHAT?!”

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!, lit. “A blessing to this wonderful world!”) is a light novel series, manga and anime (including one movie) written by Natsume Akatsuki (暁 なつめ, Akatsuki Natsume). This story is also featured in several video games, including the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita game, KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Judgment on this Greedy Game! (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を! -この欲深いゲームに審判を!-, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! -Kono Yokubukai Game ni Shinpan o!-). There are also three spin-off light novel series.

During his third year in middle school, the young Kazuma Sato witnessed his childhood crush going out with a delinquent biker. Heartbroken, he has stubbornly refused to attend school since then and spent almost all of his time playing online video games, effectively isolating himself from the world. While returning home one day after buying yet another game CD, Kazuma saw a girl about to be run over by a truck and pushed her out of its path…

Moments later, Kazuma is face-to-face with a blue-haired woman, the goddess Aqua, who tells him that he died. Unable to stifle her laughter, Aqua tells him that what he thought was truck was actually a slow-moving tractor and that he actually died from sheer shock! She then offers Kazuma the chance to reincarnate on a Fantasy World and go on a quest to defeat a Demon King. He would also have his choice of a single powerful item or ability to help him. Much to Aqua’s shocked surprise, Kazuma chose her as his “item” to take with him. The other gods curiously approve this and send Kazuma and Aqua to the Fantasy World, promising to allow Aqua to return to Heaven if Kazuma defeats the Demon King.

Someone’s not happy about it though…

Arriving in Axel, the town for beginning adventurers, Kazuma soon learns about the tough reality of his predicament. Lacking funds, Kazuma and Aqua work as laborers for several days before paying their registration fees at the local Adventurer’s Guild and purchasing equipment. After putting up a request for other adventurers, they are soon joined by the young wizard Megumin and the crusader Darkness.

Despite the hardships he faces, Kazuma becomes a capable adventurer in his own right and learns various useful skills along the way. In the course of his adventures, he fights against several of the Demon King’s monstrous generals. Exasperated by the Fantasy World and its people at times, Kazuma learns to find true friendship with his companions and enjoy his new life.

Left to right: Aqua, Megumin, Darkness, Kazuma

Main Characters

Kazuma Sato (佐藤 和真, Satō Kazuma), a 17-year old Japanese adventurer and former NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). Disillusioned by the dangers of adventuring, Kazuma is cynical, cunning, perverted and somewhat lazy. Despite this, he is loyal and courageous, having literally sacrificed himself to defeat two of the Demon King’s generals. Kazuma has learned a diverse variety of skills to aid him when adventuring, such as Steal, Lurk, Snipe and Drain Touch. He also possesses astronomical good luck, resulting in him experiencing fortuitous events such as near-constant critical hits in battle and people forgiving his generally thoughtless behavior. As leader of his adventuring team, Kazuma directs his companions with unusual tactics, making best use of their limited abilities while targeting enemies’ weaknesses.

Relaxing after a hard day of catching flying cabbages…yes, flying cabbages!

Aqua, a goddess of water and an archpriest. Carefree, cheerful and conceited, Aqua enjoys being the center of attention and gets easily depressed and whiny whenever she feels unwanted. She believes in living only for the moment, which has resulted in her lacking foresight in her actions. An example of this is her habit of racking up huge debts due to her desire for alcohol and other luxuries. Aqua also unequivocally hates demons and the undead. As both a goddess and a powerful archpriest, she can cast spells such as Heal, Turn Undead, Exorcism, Purification, Resurrection and Create Water, all enhanced by her own divine power. Having no fighting skills whatsoever, Aqua is usually helpless against monsters that are not undead or demons. She also possesses extremely bad luck, which can usually be offset by Kazuma’s good luck. In the past, Aqua sent countless reincarnated people to the Fantasy World to fight the Demon King, with various degrees of success. On the Fantasy World, she is fanatically worshipped as the goddess of the cult-like Axis Order.

Purifying a polluted lake is more dangerous than it sounds.

Megumin, a 14-year old archwizard. While generally cheerful, smart and sincere, Megumin can get provoked easily and is obsessed with Explosion magic. In fact, Explosion is the only spell she can cast and she becomes completely drained for a day after she uses it once. Despite this, she will take (or waste) every opportunity she can to cast it, enjoying every moment with unhinged glee. As a member of the infamous Crimson Demon Clan, Megumin shares their common traits of talent for arcane magic and chuunibyou (中二病) tendencies such as overly dramatic behavior. She provides the magical firepower for her team, but her limited choice of magic has severely hampered her capabilities, usually resulting in her using Explosion only to deal a final blow of some sort. Megumin is the main character of the spin-off story Give Explosions to This Wonderful World! (この素晴らしい世界に爆焔を!, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Bakuen o!), which takes place a year before she meets Kazuma.

Behold the light within me that extinguishes all!

Lalatina Ford Dustiness (a.k.a.  Darkness), a 19-year old crusader, aristocrat and heir of the distinguished House Dustiness. Brave, caring and serious, Darkness carries the air of graceful nobility. This barely hides the fact that she is a complete masochist who gets sexually aroused by almost any conceivable pain, suffering or humiliation she experiences. In fact, her not-so secret fantasy is to be tortured by the Demon King himself! Curiously, one of the few humiliations she truly doesn’t like is being made fun of by her real name, Lalatina. Because of her utter willingness to endure pain, Darkness is often mistaken by other adventurers as a paragon of selflessness. While she possesses great strength and stamina, she has extremely poor aiming skills, often completely missing her targets in close combat! As a result, Darkness often serves in defense, keeping opponents busy in order to give Kazuma and others the opportunity to strike.

Personal Thoughts

In many ways, Konosuba is a parody of the isekai genre itself. Instead of being a noble, selfless warrior, the main character Kazuma is a sneaky pragmatist who does whatever he can to win, fair or foul. While his companions might seem like an ideal, traditional harem of beautiful adventurers, all of them have serious flaws that result in them being nearly useless in actual adventuring, forcing Kazuma to learn how to pick up their slack. Despite his heroic deeds, Kazuma is dogged by a reputation as a sneak and a pervert, exacerbated by his friends’ habit of speaking of their woes with him out loud in the crowded hall of the Adventurer’s Guild! Despite all this, Kazuma is heroic and selfless in his own way, often pulling through where other adventurers more capable than him have failed. While they give each other much grief, Kazuma and his friends stick together through thick and thin.

Any work of art that Aqua makes is a masterpiece!

The satire also extends into the world itself. The Crimson Demon Clan encourages both magical talent and chuunibyou behavior, which has resulted in a village of powerful, yet delusional, mages. While the followers of the Axis Order are generally well-meaning and harmless, they are also a cult of semi-crazed zealots. The arch-devil Vanir, one of the Demon King’s generals, is an egotistical manipulator who never kills people and always keeps his word.

In the world of Konosuba, there is something bad for every good thing, often in the same package. To me, this is an extreme example of how there is both good and bad in our world. There are things out there that we like or dislike, love or hate. It’s a fact of life that there’s both good and bad in the world. In any case, how we deal with the world around us is our choice, whether we choose to fight, improve ourselves, go with the flow, stay safe in our shells, etc.

Moral

Part of living life is learning how to accept the world around us and finding ways to cope and prosper.

Overlord

Spoiler Alert!

“Hi, Momonga. It’s been a while”, said the runny blob-like creature sitting across the table from you.

“Ah, Herohero!”, you say. “I didn’t expect to see you here today. It’s been about two years now.”

“It’s been that long? I’ve been working overtime a lot lately and my body’s a wreck. I’m surprised that Nazarick is still up. You must have done a lot of work as guild leader to keep it up and running.”

“Nazarick is something that we’ve all built together.”

“Well, thanks for all your hard work. Maybe we can meet up again sometime.”

One last farewell…

With that, Herohero disappears, having logged out of the game.

Today is the day that the servers of the online game YGGDRASIL are to be shut down at midnight.

Many of the best times of your life were done while playing YGGDRASIL: going on quests with your friends, collecting ultra-rare items, defending your guild headquarters from Player Killers and so forth.

And yet, you now find yourself all alone at the guild’s headquarters, the Great Tomb of Nazarick, with only the NPCs for company.

The other guild members have lives in the real world to get back to, you suppose.

You spend the final hours of the game wandering the tomb’s halls, reminiscing of good times while carrying the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown, a legendary item that the guild members have spent much of their overtime pay and holidays to construct!

Sitting at the throne one last time….

Finally, you go to the Throne Room on the 10th Floor and sit on the throne. Next to you, the succubus Albedo awaits your commands.

Hmm, what are her settings?

You use your administrator privileges to access Albedo’s NPC settings and skim through them.

…demoness…Guardian Overseer…uh huh…twisted, being merciless and cruel…perfect beauty…a bitch?!

Well, the game’s almost over so why not?

You delete the words “Incidentally, she is a bitch” from the settings and replace them with “She is in love with Momonga.”

You see the game’s clock tick closer by the second to midnight and close your eyes.

It’s been fun.

Hmm?

You open your eyes and find yourself still sitting in the throne room.

Isn’t it past midnight now? Did they push back the server shutdown?

You try to access your player console but couldn’t. Maybe you should call a GM…

What’s happening?!

“What’s wrong, Lord Momonga?”

A female voice? Where did it come from??

Albedo?! But NPCs don’t talk…

Overlord (オーバーロード, Ōbārōdo) is a light novel series, manga and anime written by Kugane Maruyama (丸山 くがね, Maruyama Kugane).

In the year 2126, a Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (DMMO-RPG), YGGDRASIL, was released to the public. The game quickly became extremely popular for allowing its players to fully immerse themselves in a highly detailed, interactive, virtual game environment. After an eventful twelve years, the game’s servers are to be shut down. Within this game, there is a guild called Ainz Ooal Gown, which once consisted of 41 members but now only four remained including its leader, the lich Momonga. Saddened by news of the shutdown and reminiscing all the good times he shared with his fellow players on YGGDRASIL, Momonga finds himself alone at the guild’s headquarters and underground dungeon, the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and decides to stay logged in within the game until the shutdown.

Satoru Suzuki staying with the game to the end.

When the shutdown occurs at midnight, Momonga still finds himself within Nazarick. He quickly realizes that he is trapped in his game avatar and that the Tomb’s NPCs (Non-Player Characters) have all somehow become sentient, living creatures completely loyal to him. Taking stock of the situation, Momonga discovers that Nazarick has become a fully realistic location in a world completely different from Earth. Deciding to search for other YGGDRASIL players and uncover the reasons why he and Nazarick were transported to the New World, Momonga takes the name Ainz Ooal Gown as his own in order to attract those familiar with the game. He also resolves to protect Nazarick and its inhabitants, as the legacy of his YGGDRASIL exploits, from any and all threats.

Carne Village, the nearest settlement to Nazarick

Ainz’s exploits on the New World include the rescue of the nearby Carne Village from a band of marauding soldiers, the conquest of the local lizardmen tribes, and an alliance with the Baharuth Empire to have Nazarick recognized as the capital of the newly-founded Sorcerer Kingdom, with Ainz himself as King. In addition, one of the Nazarick Floor Guardians, Demiurge, has independently subverted the Eight Fingers crime syndicate, turning it into a secret ally of Nazarick.

As a result of being far, far more powerful than most of the inhabitants of the New World, Ainz gradually finds himself having fewer and fewer qualms with killing people and committing unspeakable atrocities. Since many of the Nazarick denizens are inhuman and evil, they have interpreted Ainz’s actions as steps towards world domination and will help him achieve that at any cost.

The Nazarick Floor Guardians, left to right: Demiurge, Mare, Aura, Albedo, Cocytus, Shalltear

Main Characters

Ainz Ooal Gown, a lich (a powerful undead magician) and the master of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. In YGGDRASIL, he was known as Momonga, the game avatar of Satoru Suzuki (鈴木悟, Suzuki Satoru), an ordinary Japanese salaryman. Cautious and somewhat unconfident, Ainz now finds himself having to play the role of a confident, charismatic leader, benevolent to his charges and ruthless to his enemies. Whenever he feels strong emotion, something within him suppresses it, allowing him to remain logical and unfeeling most of the time. As a former guildmaster from an online game, Ainz retains the ability to cast hundreds of magic spells and has access to the many resources within Nazarick, including YGGDRASIL items that could be considered legendary, magical artifacts in the New World. He sees the inhabitants of Nazarick as his children, the treasured legacy of the only things he valued in life – his friends in the YGGDRASIL game.

In the New World, Ainz has established a second identity as Momon, an adamantite-ranked adventurer, in order to travel incognito, build his reputation and indulge in occasional classic adventuring.

Momon, the Dark Hero

Albedo, a succubus and the overseer of the Nazarick Floor Guardians. Cruel, remorseless and generally level-headed, she manages the internal affairs of Nazarick and serves as Ainz’s second-in-command. As a result of Ainz changing her NPC settings just before arriving on the New World, Albedo is now deeply in love with Ainz and prone to extreme fits of jealousy whenever he appears to spend time with other women. Unknown to Ainz, Albedo secretly considers the other members of the Ainz Ooal Gown guild to be traitors and has vowed to murder any YGGDRASIL players found before they become rivals to her love’s power.

Shalltear Bloodfallen, a vampire and the Guardian of the first, second and third floors of Nazarick. Flirtatious and sadistic, she possesses a wide variety of combat and magic skills, giving her a diverse set of abilities on top of her natural abilities as a vampire. Shalltear is also a sexual deviant, having a taste for necrophilia and sadomasochism. Completely loyal to and in love with Ainz, she dedicates her best efforts to his goals and his terrified of failing him. She is a rival of Albedo for their master’s love and they bicker quite often as a result. After being mind-controlled into attacking Ainz at one point, Shalltear fell into a depression until she was “punished” by Ainz by using her as a chair!

Mesmerized by a powerful artifact, Shalltear attacks Ainz

Demiurge, an arch-devil and the Guardian of the seventh floor of Nazarick. Intelligent, polite, devious and utterly without conscience, he is extremely dangerous in his capacity as Nazarick’s strategist. It was Demiurge who first had the idea that Ainz wanted to conquer the world based on an off-hand comment that Ainz himself later forgot. While completely loyal to his master, Demiurge doesn’t realize that Ainz isn’t as smart or as ruthless as he believes, often taking the lich’s more innocuous actions and interpreting them as steps of a far grander plan. An example of this is Ainz’s rescue of Carne Village in a rare act of pure altruism. Demiurge has assumed this to be the first step in building a kingdom through benevolent rule. Unknown to Ainz, Demiurge is using humans as “natural resources”, from using their flayed skin for crafting magic scrolls to using them as subjects for horrific breeding experiments.

Cocytus, a hulking vermin lord and the Guardian of the fifth floor of Nazarick. Straight-forward and disciplined, he is a veteran warrior with some abilities in ice magic. An expert in all weapons, Cocytus follows a strict code of honor in battle and has a deep respect for those he considers fellow warriors. When Ainz targets the local lizardmen for conquest, Cocytus is impressed by their courage in the face of impossible odds and argues for their integration into Nazarick’s burgeoning holdings. Because of this, he is given leadership over the lizardmen tribes as part of Ainz’s experiment in the governance of a kingdom.

Cocytus vs. the lizardmen

Aura Bella Fiora, a female 76-year old dark elf (around 14 by human age) and co-Guardian of the sixth floor of Nazarick with her twin brother Mare. A cheerful, energetic tomboy, Aura cares for the non-sentient beasts that dwell within Nazarick and is keen on finding more exotic specimens. Despite this, she is terrified of insects. Aura tends to be dominant in her relationship with her brother, often telling him what to do yet trying to encourage him to be more assertive.

Mare Bello Fiore, a male (yes, male!) 76-year old dark elf and co-Guardian of the sixth floor of Nazarick with his twin sister Aura. Shy, insecure and mild-mannered, Mare is his sister’s polar opposite, with their precocious crush on Ainz being one of the few traits they do share. Mare’s appearance belies a terrifying degree of superhuman strength and her personality does not hinder her ability to carry out Ainz’s commands, no matter how ruthless. Unlike his sister, Mare is interested in reading and collecting plants and is skilled in nature-based magic, capable of making plants grow quickly and causing earthquakes.

The capital of the Re-Estize Kingdom, the first kingdom explored by Ainz

Personal Thoughts

Leaving behind an unfulfilling, mundane life in the real world and having invested his life’s accomplishments in an online game, Ainz has devoted himself to protecting the legacy left behind by his friends. Unfortunately, he has willfully blinded himself to the cruelty and evil committed by his cohorts in the New World. He also finds himself continually acting the role of a ruthless overlord in order to maintain their loyalty to him and they, in turn, believe him to be more devious and ruthless than he really his.

With no one to rein him in, Ainz gradually commits ever more heinous atrocities such as murder, torture and feeding humans to monsters, with some small part of his mind believing he should feel shame and disgust but he literally couldn’t. This creates a vicious cycle that threatens to destroy the human within him.

The entrance of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, a massive dungeon consisting of ten cavernous, underground floors

The utter loyalty of the Nazarick denizens, while noble in itself, actually encourages Ainz’s more reprehensible actions, since most of them are contemptuous of humans in general. Believing their leader to be the embodiment of power itself, the inhabitants are unknowingly helping to create the very overlord of evil they look up to. This is an example of how blind loyalty can encourage the worst traits in people.

Moral

Having too much power can eventually lead to corruption, especially if enabled by the blind loyalty of others.