In a genre that is overloaded with stories that are just okay, Little Hero continues to be great.

Little Hero Volume 2Title: Little Hero (Shougakusei Yuusha)
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Cross Infinite World
Creator: Wakasa
Serialized On: Manga Hack
Translation: Charis Messier
Original Release Date: January 31, 2018
Review copy provided by Cross Infinite World

Little Hero Volume 1 was just so excellent that I had been waiting anxiously for Cross Infinite World to release its follow-up. But did I love it too much that it would be impossible for Little Hero Volume 2 to match the high bar its predecessor set?

Well, no worries. This second volume of Little Hero, as it is just as good as its predecessor.

It’s been over a year since we’ve last seen Sawa — now known as Hero — and her entourage. She, Servant, and Dagger set out to climb a tower so that she can gain powers to face the Witch.

Considering Sawa is so young, this sounds like a way for her to circumvent years of sword and magic practice or at least provide an excuse for her to test her skills. But this is something all Heroes must face, and it’s pretty short for a training arc. The manga doesn’t spend pages and pages on showing the group reading the runes on the wall, figuring out puzzles, and fighting enemies. We see enough visuals to get an idea and characters talk about how they need to keep teleporting out to rest. Instead of dragging out the tower climb for volumes, Little Hero fast forwards through the parts that aren’t critical.

Instead, the story focuses heavily on the connection between Sawa and Servant. It’s easy to understand why Sawa clings to Servant; she’s a little girl in a strange land after all. Servant, meanwhile, has a borderline sister complex and an almost abnormal dedication to her. We not only learn why he is so emotionally dependent on the Hero but also the reason he has a rune in his eye. These revelations show why this is very much Sawa and Servant’s journey. The two get teased a couple of times about their relationship, but considering the age gap, I don’t think this will go anywhere unless there’s a time skip. An older version of Sawa is seen as an illusion, but the way the plot is going, I can’t imagine this will happen for quite a while, if at all.

Little Hero continues to have some serious moments despite its deceptively cute art. (The art, I might add, is even better than last time and looks even more like a polished, serialized work. There were a couple of pages left purposely blank for artistic reasons, and it did throw me off a bit.) The most gruesome scene is shown off-screen, but it’s a stark reminder that Sawa and her friends are literally risking their lives. It’s a huge burden for her little shoulders, but she continues to grow mentally and physically stronger. She’s seriously amazing for a 10-year-old. Her optimism and determination might be considered naïve in an older protagonist, but as she points out when nagging a certain guardian, she is a child. A new character also adds to the mystery of this other world, and even though Servant’s background is revealed, I still have plenty of questions waiting to be answered.

If there’s any downside, it’s that the dungeon tower crawl doesn’t show much of the outside world. Sawa and company can escape, and characters do take some side trips and breaks after badly failing a trial. But it’s not quite as much of an adventure tale as last time when the titular little hero had to travel to another kingdom and set the king free. The next volume appears to be returning to main goal of tracking down the Witch, but it’s on hold here as Sawa, Servant, and, to a lesser extent, Dagger reaffirm their dedication to each other and their mission.

They say good things come to those who wait, and Little Hero Volume 2 proves it to be true. In a genre that is overloaded with stories that are just okay, Little Hero continues to be great.