The Reincarnated Prince and the Kingdom in Woe

By Nobiru Kusunoki and Arico. Released in Japan as “Herscherik” by M Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Seacord.

It has to be said, after a year that seems to have been filled with nothing but Japanese office ladies dying and being reincarnated in various games, it was somewhat startling to realize that’s not what’s going on here, and that The Epic Tale of the Reincarnated Prince Herscherik (the series name overall) is simply a normal reincarnation isekai – albeit one where our hero is reincarnated as our hero. If I was to ask what the ‘gimmick’ is with this series, that would be one of the three points. The second would be that the hero’s adventures in this book take place from age 3 to age 5 years old. There may be a timeskip in later books (the series is a total of five volumes), but certainly not here, where the prince needs to learn to get things done while being an even smoller bean than Myne. Possibly most importantly, there is very little to no humor in this book. The kingdom is in danger from its corrupt officials, the king is powerless, and good people die. Herscherik is going to need all his OL skills.

Unlike a lot of these sorts of ‘otaku lady in another world’ stories, the life in Japan plays a large role in the story, with Ryoko’s past life sometimes making Herscherik function almost the way Tanya von Degurechaff does, with Ryoko’s own thoughts sometimes seeming separate from Herscherik. Ryoko is a relatively successful office worker who specializes in oversight and checking to make sure everything balances. She is the eldest child, but isn’t married despite her younger sisters both having partners. But she’s reasonably happy, and has a love of games which makes her rush through the rain to get a preorder… which leads to the inevitably car accident that causes her death. There are flashbacks that show her interactions with her family, and we see what her funeral may have been like. It’s quite touching, and it’s also nice to see someone in a reincarnation isekai who got on well with their loved ones.

There is a LITTLE bit of humor in the book – I was amused at Herscherik noting how handsome he is, and then seeing the rest of the royal family, each of whom are far, far more gorgeous. That said, for the most part the book runs on intrigue and thriller, as our little prince rapidly realizes that his kingdom is going to be destroyed and that his father the King is too beaten down and cowed to do anything about it. (We get some scenes with the king, and he’s nice enough, but yeah, Herscherik is needed.) The prince may be only a few years old, but thanks to Ryoko’s knowledge he’s able to figure out who the bad guy is and who the bad guy’s minions are. We don’t take out the big bad here – this feels like a series that was entirely plotted out before it was started – but at least we get a minion humiliated and blackmailed. Oh yes, and Herscherik gets a butler-cum-assassin, who is exactly what you would expect an assassin-turned-butler to be like.

If watching Full House made your eyes roll at the precociousness of the Tanner kids, this may do the same. That said, Herscherik at least has Ryoko’s memories and life experience as an excuse. Other than that, though… this is simply well-written and gripping. Epic Tale fits it nicely.

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  1. How does the book handle the fact that the Prince used to be a woman?

    • Sean Gaffney says

      In terms of Herscherik, it really doesn’t come up after the gender reveal. Herscherik uses he/him pronouns. Ryoko, however, is something of a separate set of memories, and in the past memories we see of her she thinks of herself as female. But in terms of the young prince, it doesn’t really affect him much.

  2. Unfortunately the Herscherik series has been discontinued by the Japanese publishers back in July.
    So there will only be 5 volumes, and the 6th book the author was working on will never be published.

    Author confirmed this via their webnovel account; and says they are also retiring from being an author.
    She says it started when they pressed the publisher for details on when they’d release Vol 6, and they said they were discontinuing it due to “a too-wide time gap between now and Vol 5’s original release in Feb 2018”.

    Author was on bad terms with the publishers, esp. on how they handled a 1st manga adaptation of Herscherik.
    In addition, she was also suffering creative burnout (hence the slow pace of writing out Vol 6) and the novels were not very popular with Japanese buyers.

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