Last round Arthurs – Scum Arthur and Heretic Merlin volume 1

Luna Artur is an high school girl from the lineage of king Arthur of the legend. She is fighting to succeed the King against 10 other candidates, each with their own Excalibur and one knight of the Round table. But Luna sold her sword and her knight happen to be the weakest! Enter Rintarou Magami, a bored boy who wants to join her.

Freshly released from Yen Press, I picked it randomly to fill my e-reader as I was going on vacation. There are currently 4 volumes in Japan since it started publication last year.

The first thing which stroke me when I read is the quality of the narration. It’s well written with nice imaging and flowery style. The narrator also bring spice with its opinionated point of view about what is unfolding. Quite a nice change from some other works which have a simplistic storytelling.

Last Round Arthurs features 2 main characters. Luna Artur is, you guessed it, a scummy king… I do find the word to be stronger than needed, but I’m not a native English speaker so I may have issues at figuring this. Luna is one of these character who goes at their own pace, seemingly goofing around. Befitting of a king, isn’t it? She just do everything as she will, yet she earns the support of others. It just happens that what she will, also help them contrary to what one may think about her egocentric actions. In a way, she is worthless in appearance, but she does care for people. Hints of her softer side are given at times. Her whimsical behaviour will also bring some rather strange and unforeseen situations for comical moment.

Rintarou on the other is a narcissist, bored of being good at everything and superior to others. First world problem. He is seeking thrills, and think he might find it in the battle of the succession. Most of the story is from his point of view, giving it a more on the cynical side, and often in conflict with Luna’s playful behaviour. This grant the opportunity to include some tsukomi humour. He does grow a tiny bit out of his narcissism in this volume, just as needed for the progression of the overall story.

In the story, Rintarou is portrayed as the Joker. The lore not only borrow from the legend of king Arthur, but also use the motif of playing card, with 11 kings, 4 queens, and the jacks being knights of the round table. Where the joker fit in the legend isn’t too hard to guess. Now, I’m not all familiar with the legend of king Arthur, but it seems like the author did a lot of research on the topic to grasp a facet yet unseen of the brave and ideal king and his knights.

This gives us a battle LN in the modern day, on a fictive island called Avalonia, with people fighting at night. Battles are rather long and tense. The author knows how to pace them correctly. The world also has a good share of mysticism thanks to different races and a magic system which is lightly explained. Honestly, the world building is good.

Not much to be said about the art. It’s slightly grungy, denoting perfectly the spunky side of Luna and narcissistic nature of Rintarou. And they are inserted at the key moments, either for fan service or the battles.

So, all good so far. But there is one thing I was disappointed with this first volume. It was predictable, rehashed, déjà vu, especially after having been immersed in LN, manga, anime, for years. Under the nice paint coat of narration, lore and Arthurian legend, is one of these modern secret war between people of legend. Luckily, no Holy Grail. The story of the first volume was such classic introduction, I figured who would be the friends and who would be the boss of the volume, and foresaw some of the cliché developments. In the afterword, the author admitted to having mainstream appeal and cliché in mind as he wrote, and indeed, I can attest of it.

So, Last Round Arthurs is a solid read. Narration, lore, characters, all of these are well fleshed and staged. But it’s so secure. It lacks a little something, something which would make it stand out in a sea of average LN. So far it feels like the author’s spin on the legend of king Arthur is supposed to bring that spark of originality. Sadly it’s not enough to me, and probably won’t either for those familiar with the media. I’m hopeful that volume 2 will bring that cherry on top of the cake. We are done with introductions, we may as well be done with formulaic secret war.

Adaptations

There is a manga, but I haven’t checked it.

Informations

Taro Hitsuji

Kiyotaka Kaimura: Pixiv

Shops

Kobo

Amazon

Bookwalker

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