Tearmoon Empire, Vol. 3

By Nozomu Mochitsuki and Gilse. Released in Japan as “Tearmoon Teikoku Monogatari” by TO Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by David Teng.

When we last left Mia, it appeared that she had managed to avoid her dreadful fate – indeed, the author says what we all guessed in the afterword of this book – it was supposed to be two volumes originally. But the series grew to be quite popular (there’s even a live-action stage musical coming out in Japan), and so Mia’s story lives on! Because Mia may have avoided the guillotine as a young bratty princess, but that doesn’t mean she can’t later be killed off as an adult! And so we now get Mia’s granddaughter Bel, who has traveled back in time to avoid her own horrific fate, because 50 years on or so, the whole of Tearmoon Empire has gone to hell again. There’s only one way to fix this and keep Mia from a horrible fate… she has to defeat the Saint, Rafina, and become Student Council President!… wait, what?

Most of the book has what made the first two books so much fun. Mia trying to act selfishly and failing; Mia’s actions being completely misinterpreted by everyone around her. The snarky narrator is there but does not seem quite as mean or nasty to Mia this time around. That said, Mia is not magically a good and noble-hearted person; she’s still growing up and trying to mature, and it’s a slow process because she doesn’t want to. When it’s suggested that she can use negative campaigning to win the election against Rafina, she’s thrilled, as the idea had never occurred to her! Of course, this is then balanced out by her realization that this sort of thing was also done against her in his first life, and she absolutely hated it. As a result, she refuses. She also has an excellent memory for names… we see her groping to recall someone’s name a few times in this book, but unlike other heroines of this type, she always gets it right. Her instincts usually steer her correct.

As for the rest of the cast, I was rather surprised at how little an effect Bel had on the plot. As Mia’s granddaughter, you’d expect her to be taking over having to replace the timeline, but she is there mostly as she ran away rather than to fix things, and she’s also four years younger than Mia. As a result, she’s there to be cute, occasionally tell Mia what life was like in the future, and be cute. (Yes, I said cute twice.) The other major character here is Rafina, and the reader gradually realizes, before Mia, why Mia’s winning the election is so important – Rafina is stretched too thin and has no one she can trust as a friend. In the future, this leads to tragedy and hardens her heart. Here (again via misunderstanding Mia… stay on brand, Tearmoon) she realizes what Mia is trying to do and acquiesces. There’s also a sneering villain sort of character (no, the book really describes him as this) who gets taken down by Mia, almost accidentally, immediately. Both he and Rafina benefit from having “please forgive me for my own mistakes” be thought of as “please forgive OTHERS for their own bad choices”.

Another thing I really enjoy about this series its its forays into the ‘Bad End’ pasts (or rather futures) of the characters. Anne visiting Mia in prison is a short story that is truly sweet and tearjerking. And Dion gets most of the last fifth of the book – first in the second bad future, showing him fighting to the death so Bel can escape to allies, and then in the present, as he delivers a missive to Mia and also has her show him around the city. It’s a good reminder that, while Mia is usually pretty good at covering up her airheadedness, not everyone is 100% under her spell – Dion does misinterpret her actions, but he also thinks that her face is that of someone “not thinking anything at all”. This also leads to the other tearjerking moment in the book, when Bel hugs Dion and thanks him for saving her, something which he is rather nonplussed by (as he hasn’t done it yet). Tearmoon Empire can be hilarious, but I also love the sweet heartfelt bits.

This is not quite as top-tier as the second book in the series, but it’s definitely a solid read, with well written and translated prose. The fourth book suggests Mia’s school she set up in Book 2 is not going as well as hoped. The good news is that we only have to wait three months rather than 5 for the next volume. Highly recommended.

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