Zagan has his first world problem. He fell in love with a beautiful elf slave he just bought. Yet, he is a sorcerer, the villains of this fantasy world, and has trouble to talk to her. [Updated: Erratum, there is no WN]
This is one series I read first in manga, then 1 volume of the
WN fan-translation, then switched to the licensed LN. There was a pause around volume 4, then I marathoned recently, up to the last published volume which is 7. I was surprised at how engrossed I was. The English volume 8 will be published soon and the Japanese volume 9 was released in August meaning we are soon caught up.
Archdemon dilemma is a fantasy with, a church, archangels, in conflict with sorcerers and archdemons. Throw in some high fantasy races like elves and therianthropes, a good dose of magic and you have the world. Nothing exceptionally new but everything built upon that base is solid.
Zagan is one of these sorcerers, and among the most powerful. He is so powerful that he is a candidate to replace Marchosias, an archdemon who recently died. Yet he has no care for such title. Like other sorcerers, he is interested in magic research for his own benefits, to gain strength. But unlike them, he is not a needless murderer, which is a fact quickly established since he saved Chastille, an angelic knight from the church.
Due to Marchosias‘ death, an auction is held for the merchandise the late archdemon bought, the beautiful elven girl, Nephelia “Nephy”. Zagan was just charmed by her appearance, but the girl has given hope in the world. Still he bought her, everyone thinking she was going to be an ingredient, and thus begin their life together.
This is very slow romance story centred around these two characters who slowly open themselve to each other and develop. Zagan at first was only able to speak in devilish way, making everyone misunderstand his feeling. And it’s great fun. He wants Nephy to be untouched when he buys her to hear her “cute chirp”, everyone thinking of her future suffering when he meant just hearing her sweet voice. When he offers a room up a tower to Nephy, she thinks that she is going to be hang. Now at volume 7, his growth in social skill is tremendous, as he discovers each step of a relationship. He is so in love with Nephy that a lot of his actions are justified by her well being, like not killing someone to avoid scaring her with a corpse. Is there a classification like evildere?
Nephy also grows a lot. She is that one cursed child who has been hidden and imprisoned in the elf village. Never had anyone care about her. She was a “tool”. And being the slave of a sorcerer was in her mind, just an extension of her life as a tool. Yet the awkward romantic development between the two gave her back some emotions, and Nephy grows as a character, getting stronger and stronger with time. Each volumes feature very sweet and lovely moments of the two together.
But not everything is rosy in a life of Zagan. He has enemies, and stranger friends. There are a number of long plot thread linking each volume, dans despite being at volume 7, it feels like we are not even halfway. Long plot can often end up as convoluted, or totally derailed by piling on elements. The good thing is that Archdilemma doesn’t suffer from this. It might be an effect of having short volume with carefully controlled amount of content by the author/editor. But the plotlines remain clear. It’s also on the original side for a LN. Over the course of these 7 volumes, Zagan will become an archdemon, face the church yet forge alliance with some of them, fight other archdemons, unravel some of the backstory of the other characters, and extend his influence.
Conflicts are numerous, and Zagan is the overpowered kind of protagonist. Yet, the battle remains interesting because the others are as strong as him and he has some originality in his way of dealing with enemies. It’s not a simple list of things which he has defeated, nor a one liner fight.
The side characters are high in colours and given time to shine depending on the volume. They also all have some connections to one another. There is Zagan’s sorcerer friend, Barbaros, who reminds the reader what a sorcerer is. Chastille, the angelic knight Zagan saved and as result ends up grateful to him. My favourites would be Fol, because she is a cute dragon girl, and Gremory, a sorceress who also drive quite a bit of the story with humour. And there are others and the list keep growing with each volume as they befriend more and more people.
The narration is from Zagan’s point of view, in third person, with his own thought, which is perfect to express the gap between Zagan’s intention and what he says. While not the most flowery, it’s flavourful and easy to read and understand. Change of point of views occurs for events outside of Zagan’s sight. There are also bonus short stories in J-Novel’s premium ebook which add some very funny touches.
The art by Comta is really pretty. The covers illustrations are all about Zagan and Nephy with the exception of volume 5 and 8. B&W is featured for the cute moment. As if I didn’t melt enough from the writing. Granted, some illustrations are for the battle part.
So, Archdemon dilemma is a rather fresh and original take on fantasy as it’s not an isekai, or an adventure LN. It’s a good blend of fantasy, romance and cuteness, with lots of attaching characters. It’s carefully crafted to hold the readers’ attention by slowly revealing its main plot, and it certainly did for me when I resumed volume 4. I guess it takes some time to hit it stride, but I liked this from volume 1.
The manga, also published by J-Novel is extremely cute and is a faithful to the LN. You can definitely read it for an extra dose of sugar.
Illustrator: Comta Twitter