Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 - Requiem for a Goodbye | Featured
Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 - Requiem for a Goodbye | Cover
Title Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 – Requiem for a Goodbye
Author Yuri Kitayama
Publisher JP: Hobby Japan
EN: J-Novel Club
Original Release Dates JP: Mar 2016
EN: Feb 2019
Genre Medieval Fantasy, Isekai, Tragedy, Light Novel

In this review, I discuss plot points and details of storylines and character arcs which could be considered minor spoilers. No major spoilers will be revealed.

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles, by author Yuri Kitayama, tells the tale of Haruto Amakawa, a college student who dies and is reborn into a world of magic and monarchies. His consciousness is merged with that of an orphan, named Rio, and the two personalities are now one. Through myriad circumstances and opportunities, this new Rio gains enrollment at the Royal Academy and uses the chance to prepare himself for a journey of self-discovery. Then, leaving the academy and the Beltrum Kingdom, meeting a young Spirit Folk were-fox named Latifa, and traveling with her to the Spirit Folk Village, Rio learns from and is guided by the Spirit Folk. Now, Rio is ready to depart, taking his next steps which lead into the Yagumo Region, an isolated land with its own circumstances, adventures, and revelations.

In Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 – Requiem for a Goodbye, after having made new friends, learning much from the Spirit Folk, and leaving Latifa in the best of care, Rio departs the Spirit Folk Village. He soon enters the isolated, vast lands of the Yagumo Region, where he hopes to find clues pertaining to his parents and the reasons for why they previously left their home. He will soon discover that although this region is cut off from the Strahl Region and its kingdoms, Yagumo is similarly developed, and perhaps possesses its own similar matters too. Rio will meet an assortment of new characters, many who hold memories of his parents, as well as revelations pertaining to their story and Rio’s identity. He will spend much of his time in a small farming village within the Karasuki Kingdom, where he receives the first of many of these revelations. He will also travel between this tranquil village and the capital of Karasuki, where more will be revealed and new connections will be forged. When not traveling to and from, Rio lends his vast knowledge to the villagers; from his past self, his time in Beltrum, and from the Spirit Folk; to improve the quality of life of those who have welcomed him. And even though time spent in this rural village is mostly tranquil and calm, hostility and wickedness will yet appear, triggering Rio and testing his morality. From there, Rio will need to take a deeper look within to decide how he wishes to mold himself and where he lays his moral lines.

Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 – Requiem for a Goodbye takes a different direction than the previous two volumes, in that this volume concentrates on specific aspects relating to Rio, mainly his past and the relationships he didn’t know he has. Where the first two volumes establish and develop background and character details within the framework of a grander tale of realms, social conflicts, and the like, Volume 3 essentially places all of those arching storylines and individuals on the back burner. And although this series follows Rio and his point of view, I still found it a peculiar approach to so outright sideline nearly everyone and everything else previously introduced to tell this particular, personal chapter.

Beginning with the strengths of its story, Volume 3’s storylines contribute substantially to Rio’s backstory, specifically the side of Rio native to this world. A want of Rio’s since Volume 1, he, at last, finds success in learning much more, and must now figure out what to do with his new knowledge and the resultant circumstances. We also see Rio placed in situations that further test his character, this time in ways that expose shortcomings that Rio cannot easily overcome nor dismiss. Many a self-realization and acceptance will be made, showing us that Rio does indeed have more room to grow, which I always appreciate, especially when a main character starts to feel too powerful or too capable. Lastly, I like how the details of his backstory and the particular trial he faces this volume manage to work into, and relate to, his original goals of becoming the person he wishes to be, as well as his now lesser mentioned, yet unforgotten desire for vengeance.

Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 - Requiem for a Goodbye - Insert7

Aside from Rio specifically, I appreciate the world building this volume offers, and the many various aspects and elements introduced. The numerous glimpses of Yagumo, resembling historic Japan, paint a vivid picture of a land waiting for Rio to discover. I also enjoyed the fragments of history we see throughout the story pertaining to the Karasuki kingdom, where the majority of this volume takes place. I likewise enjoyed the many aspects of life depicted, such as the views into societal workings, and the differences in lifestyles between city versus rural, or commoner versus noble. Lastly, I can see how many of these more intriguing aspects, like the details of the region’s inner workings, could lend themselves as the threads for future storylines. They may yet serve as connections to the overarching storylines set up in the previous volumes, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they may connect. Overall, Volume 3 accomplishes much in developing Rio’s backstory and adding to his character, while also substantially world building with its details of the Yagumo Region, tidbits of its history, and specifics of the Karasuki Kingdom.

Although there’s much to praise within Requiem for a Goodbye, this volume’s story has its shortcomings as well. First, as I said earlier, this volume’s approach is peculiar, in that it nearly ignores everyone and everything not pertaining to Rio’s background. The overarching main story, with its many threads and characters, has been a fascinating one up to this point. So to set all of that progress aside left me feeling both a bit distracted and wanting to get back to those previous story threads. Another significant issue I had is the mundanity of many scenes. While there are some that feature memorable intensity and action, and although all of the scenes weave together for a cohesive story, a few too many of them are monotonous and dry. I found them falling short of adding any meaningful development to Rio, as well as failing to add a lasting impression on me as a reader. The story does have its moments of brilliance, such as a poignant conflict which occurs before the midpoint of the read. The stress, fear, and intensity of its climax are palpable, as are the extreme emotions throughout and soon after. However, such deep, fierce storytelling only makes the fervor-less dryness of other scenes felt all the more sharply. Even if scenes are meant to depict peace and tranquility, they lack detail and significance, and I found myself simply moving on from them. Overall, monotony in just a few too many of the scenes paired with the decision to set aside previous buildup both lessened the experience and left me wanting.

Moving on to character development, Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 – Requiem for a Goodbye progresses Rio’s depth while introducing many new characters, however the overall effort, I believe, is mixed in its execution. Rio’s mental development is, again, the highlight, mainly through the one particularly intense scene I mentioned above, as this scene triggers a breakdown of the cool, capable personality of his we are familiar with. The resultant clash of his usual personality with these once repressed, now surfaced darker feelings forces Rio to confront and accept the harsher parts of himself.  We get to see Rio again struggle internally, as he has throughout the three volumes, yet this time it involves determination, facing his naivety, and confronting his moral limits. All of this to make peace with what he will eventually need to do and how he needs to act moving forward in this cruel, imperfect world. A more pragmatic Rio is something I’m looking forward to, however the latter half of this volume sees Rio return to his cool, collected self rather quickly, and I can only hope the progress isn’t lost in later installments.

It’s not all great for Rio’s character, however, as I see two arising issues, one minor, the other rather significant. The minor issue is his charisma with nearly every female character around his age. Too often and too speedily, women are developing romantic feelings for Rio and, of course, Rio is either numb or dumb to them. This quickly developing harem cliché is a decision by the author I don’t understand, as it does nothing whatsoever for Rio’s character. It’s a tired gimmick that I wish to see moved away from in later volumes.

The more significant problem I see regarding Rio’s character is his rapidly rising power and capabilities. At this point in the series, Rio is demonstrating a strength and level of magical ability at or above the level of veterans and those considered to be masters. It reads like Rio has crossed a threshold from exceptionally capable to plain, old overpowered. For example, in this volume he spars with a veteran warrior and matches his performance until nonchalantly overwhelming him. And we the readers are supposed to readily accept the fact that Rio handily defeats this veteran samurai who, as we’re told, can apparently defeat a thousand men himself. Similarly, the narrative states, “…Rio was adept at everything.” I certainly hope not. Quick learning and mastery aside, it would be regrettable if he becomes so overpowered that he breezes through any future threat or conflict. Therefore, I will reiterate my acclaim for Rio’s challenges this volume, though limited to emotional tests, as they give the character opportunities to grow. A character shines through their overcoming of faults, conflicts, and challenges, so while I’m happy Rio was indeed challenged, there absolutely needs to be more to come, in every aspect, in the future.

As for the supporting cast, unfortunately there is little to compliment. Although there are a plethora of new characters introduced, they receive limited development. They fail to grow beyond common generalized personalities like the outgoing teen, the shy, quiet friend, or the reasonable elder. Thus, they never garner any empathy from me, save for those few more intense scenes. This is in stark contrast to the previous volumes, especially Volume 2 and Latifa’s arc. In my review of Volume 2, I deservedly praise Latifa’s development, whom I thought would continue to play a major role, given her brilliance from start to finish. It only reinforces my belief that leaving all previous characters behind was a gaffe by the author, as the shortcomings of these new characters are made more obvious. At this point, I can only say that the sooner Latifa, Cecila, and others make their return, the better.

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Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 – Requiem for a Goodbye has its strong points and poignant moments, however this volume is not quite the effort I would have hoped for. I praise the challenges Rio faces, his backstory and revelations, and the sheer amount of world building this volume offers, however, I cannot overlook several of the shortcomings and decisions author Kitayama has made. The exclusion of previous characters, a new set of characters lacking genuine depth, and Rio’s rapidly increasing power and prowess are the outstanding missteps, all of which are difficult to forgive. I can only hope for Rio to face a greater range and number of challenges soon, and alongside those familiar characters I missed this time around.

Review Score

English translation of Spirit Chronicles Volume 3 – Requiem for a Goodbye and all volumes of Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles by J-Novel Club. Digital versions of Spirit Chronicles Volume 3, and all volumes, made available through affiliate shops like Amazon.

Drew D.
Drew has been an avid gamer most of his life, favoring single-player campaigns. For him, a worthwhile game is one that immerses you; it envelops you and draws out an array of emotions that produce those memorable moments we live for as gamers.