My Next Life As a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 7

By Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka. Released in Japan as “Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shite Shimatta…” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Marco Godano.

It may be a bit late, to be honest – the reader’s patience after Vol. 2 has been sorely tested – but we finally have a volume of Bakarina that I would call excellent. The characterization works with the plot, there is actual forward motion in regards to Fortune Lover 2, and perhaps most importantly (and I know this may change), there is a love interest who does not fall for Katarina. This is important for keeping the series going, as if you are a black hole vortex of ‘everybody loves me’, eventually disbelief gets stretched a bit thin – as we’ve seen in Books 3 and 4 of this series. But yes, now people can like Katarina and not fall for her, which is a relief. Unfortunately for fans of the main cast aside from our heroine, only Maria and Jeord fans will really be happy – as I expected when I reviewed Vol. 6, Keith, Mary, Alan, Sophia and Nicol are reduced to small roles, if not cameos.

Katarina and Sora start their working days at the Magical Ministry, and she is absolutely DELIGHTED to find that it’s mostly running errands and lifting boxes – she was afraid that it would involve paperwork. Given Rafael’s current position, I don’t blame her. When not working, she’s trying to figure out who planted the note about Fortune Lover 2 on her, which leads to her meeting Jeord’s relatives and the reader learning about the recent past of the Sorcier kingdom, which is a lot bloodier and filled with concubines than I would have expected. She is also trying to sort out New Love Interest #3, Cyrus, which (try to contain your surprise) turns out to be a lot easier than she expected, because she is who she is. All of these plots converge when she and Maria come across a magic stone that offers Maria increased power in her light magic… and, Katarina is stunned to discover later on, more power for her dark magic – whether she wants it or not.

There is the usual “Katarina narrative voice, than another character goes over the same events” literary device we’ve seen throughout the series, but it’s not entirely “let me tell you how awesome she is” this time, which is a bit of a relief. Indeed, the book loves its running gag of how bad Katarina is at intellectual pursuits. She can’t read ancient script, which was taught to them in school, meaning when everyone else is deep in research she’s off to the side feeling useless. She does pull off classic Katarina empathy with Cyrus, as they bond over a surprising shared hobby, but Cyrus ends up with a crush on Maria – just like the game, in fact. This may be the ongoing worry – Katarina is sensing evil presences following her around, and her learning stronger dark magic against her will has her fearing that she really is headed towards the FL2 bad end – where OG Katarina returns with same.

Fortunately, she has the main cast to remind her that she is not, in fact, a bad person. That said, it’s a sad ending for Katarina, who is forced to do actual homework to satisfy Lady Larna’s curiosity. As for my own curiosity, I wasn’t wild about “Fortune Lover II” being the next plot point, but it’s going surprisingly well, and has enough of my preferred ship (Maria) to make me eager to read the next one. (Yes, I know it’s gonna be Jeord, shush.)

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