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Volume 5, Afterword

And that’s the 5th volume.

This is Kamachi Kazuma.

The Boo Boo series focuses on video game fantasy, so in the previous volume, I displayed the difficulty level just for fun. The Underworld this time is even more difficult than that, so I decided to make it even crueler and have the slightest mistake mean death. As mentioned in the novel, the distinction between the living and the dead was quite vague, so the concept of death was treated quite lightly and that might have created a similar atmosphere to my previous series (is that what I should call it?) The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village.

When I first decided to include the Underworld, I got worked up and brought in all of the characters that I couldn’t give appearances to because they had died. Once I knew I would be able to use them again like that, I showed no mercy. Even though the setting is a lot like a children’s picture book, this series has an awful lot of dead people in it (I mean, I have the entire population of the earth wiped out in the distant future), so I brought in the veterans of Elkiad who had destroyed Boo Boo’s village, Tselika’s husband, the Fairies eaten by the Thousand Dragon, the ancient humans, etc.

It starts with the veteran apocalypse-lovers celebrating, then the Shrine Maiden Princess uses the RPG standard of zombies and ghosts being super weak to recovery and resurrection magic while she calls one of them Alpha Rice, and it ends with a confrontation with the Underworld Lord who desecrates life by repeatedly “changing into” different flesh vessels. ...The heroes put together a tricky party formation to match the cruel boss they were up against, but then the boss’s second form took things in the opposite direction and their party was obliterated. That was the kind of “unfair strength” I was picturing it as. Abyss had hacking and jamming to break apart the cooperation between the Underworld and the Underworld Lord and she was also an all-purpose fighter who could take on all thirteen forms herself (by leveling up on site if necessary).

Depending on how I flavored the Underworld Lord, he might have ended up a lot like Abyss in the previous volume, so I had to be careful I didn’t give that impression. That was why I gave him an organic theme and made him a thoroughly arrogant evil king. And I feel like he might have been able to go down a different path if he had learned to feel lonely. It might be interesting to compare him and his demise to Abyss, the doll who committed suicide.

One tricky thing is how things elevate in stages if you only think about the given parameters, but the actual tension of the story shoots up at the beginning and then gradually lowers as you grow accustomed to it. This too matches the atmosphere of a game’s hardest difficulty level. Even as the enemies grow more and more brutal, things go more smoothly and you conquer your fears as you master the controls and figure out how to defeat the enemies. I think I demonstrated that feeling here, but what did you think?

Just for fun, I showed what it would be like to include the Sage and Sibyl in your party. In a way, those two bring about the most obvious “invincible mode”, but I hope you were able to compare their differences to Beatrice and the others. The relationship between the Sage and Boo Boo is obvious, but make sure you also focus on the one between Sibyl and Boo Boo as the forest ruler and the target of protection.

As for the Underworld, once you start dealing with life and death, things tend to start getting more mythological or religious. Looking at creation myths in fiction is really more of a Blood-Sign sort of thing, but I thought it would be fun to add that element here since I already had a fantasy world to work with.

If something like the Underworld appeared for a long span of time, how would people talk about it and how much would they fear it? What justifications did the humans use to resist the decision of a higher power and fight back against predetermined destruction? That might make for a fun thought experiment.

On that note, I see the Next Generation Embryo as something like a random challenge like those things were you stick a 100-yen coin in, pull the lever, and get a capsule. Before you try it, the infinite possibilities are superimposed like in quantum cryptography and the person pulling the lever will keep pulling it over and over in the assumption that what they want will come out eventually. But if you think about it, the mantis babies that swarm out of the egg sac that looks like hardened foam or the sea of roe decorating a bowl work under the same logic. All the others might get eaten, but if just one wins the ultra-rare prize of growing to adulthood, they win. What matters is to view it statistically and think about the number of plays (or number of eggs/embryos) needed to ensure that one win. It takes all that for just one life, so creating an entire generation requires a thick barrage of more and more insurance.

This volume revealed the answer concerning Boo Boo’s unfair treatment ever since Volume 1. That is not to say any of that was right or logical and I think it would be entirely reasonable to say it was doing those things that sent the humans of earth down the path to ruin. After so much struggling, a powerful enemy has appeared even though no one is really at fault, but even if they had not appeared, another form of ruin would have reached this series’ earth, just as the Sage had seen. I hope they can learn some kindness and make their world a better place. Kindness is not necessarily rewarded, but that kindness might become a replacement for the lottery of life.

I give my thanks to my illustrator Mahaya-san and my editors Miki-san, Onodera-san, and Anan-san. A new field and a new enemy. This followed the atmosphere of the overall series but still depicted some never-before-seen things, so it could not have been easy. Thank you very much.

And I give my thanks to the readers. This volume was a constant battle against the ultimate in unreasonable ideas: death becoming almost meaningless. But what did you think? If you look at it in a different light, your view of resurrection and recovery in video game fantasies will change entirely. I hope you were able to enjoy it like that.

And I will end this here.

The undead have their charm, but they’re hard to turn into a main pillar...

-Kamachi Kazuma

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