Chtholly’s bitten the dust, and Willem and Nephren are trapped in a dreamworld of Willem’s hometown before the world went kaput, so things aren’t off to a great start. What’s more, the pair get embroiled with the organization which thought the world would look better as an endless desert wasteland.
The Protagonist Is How Old?
Here’s a detail which went over my head: Willem is only 18. This comes as a shock to nobody but myself, since light novels almost universally feature teenage protagonists, but I had pegged him as being in his mid-twenties. He looks older, talks older, thinks older, and has the entire female cast pestering him on why he hasn’t gotten married yet, so it didn’t occur to me he couldn’t hit up the pub.
It’s occurred to me by this point in the series that for every one thing it adds which I fawn over, it adds another I recoil at with a hiss. Willem’s hometown had an adventurer’s guild, and to mitigate job fatalities, they developed a level system based on an individual’s skills. Y’know, level 1, level 2, ad infinitum. For all its subversion and aversion of traditional fantasy tropes, I was appalled to see WorldEnd embrace the most rudimentary of RPG elements. Its existence is justified, but I wish it had gone with something like Golblin Slayer’s mineral-based ranking system.
The True World:
Up till now, the exact nature of the end of the world had been shrouded in mystique. We knew the Beasts were summoned, but why or how was an exact unknown, and I liked this enigma. It gave way for the imagination to fill in the blanks on whether it was intentional or a pure accident. It’s not the end of the world knowing how the world ended, but it’s kinda underwhelming when you find out the answer was a bunch of nutcase zealots.
For what’s the penultimate release in a five-volume series, it’s the weakest entry. Things are a bit out of focus as Willem just ruminates about how to break out of the dreamworld. He reunites, sorta, with his sorta stepdaughter, so you’d think there’d be one or two moments, touching or not, between them, especially since the climax resolves his last regret in their relationship, but it’s stoic business as usual with him. But with the inclusion of a mysterious girl and her flying fish friend and another beloved WTF ending, it gears things up for one hell of a final act.