Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I’m Not the Demon Lord, Vol. 1

By Satori Tanabata and Tea. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijō Level 99: Watashi wa Ura Boss Desu ga Maō dewa Arimasen” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by sachi salehi.

One of the frequent complaints about fantasy light novels that I’ve seen is that everything tends to be dependent on stats and levels, even when the novel in question is not depicting a world based on a game or people trapped inside a game. Because of Japanese RPGs being the default fantasy for everyone rather than, say, Lord of the Rings or Narnia, everything is about level grinding and raising your stats to the point where you can do things. It’s fine if you’re the reincarnated from Japan person – like our heroine in this book. But to the rest of the cast, this is just their world, and it just… has levels, for some reason that no one quite knows. Even the king thinks it’s baffling. Unfortunately, that’s also the plot of this series, as our heroine is all powerful and ALSO has the stereotypical hair color that makes her clearly EVIL. Fortunately, she’s not evil. Well, mostly. She wavers a bit.

Yumiella Dolkness remembers fairly quickly her past life from Japan (which we get no details about except that she was killed by a car) and knows she’s in a game she played – as the villainess, who also turns out, once you’ve beaten the game, to be a hidden super-strong final boss. Yumiella wants nothing to do with this, at first… but then realizes that if she wants to actually survive, she’d better be strong enough to stand up to the heroine and her love interests. Plus, she loves grinding levels. And, helpfully, her parents have essentially abandoned her in the countryside with only a servant or two, so it’s easy to go out and find monsters and dungeons. Now she’s arrived at the Academy, ordered to do so by her parents (who she’s still never met), and just wants to quietly get through school… despite being 99 times more powerful than most of the student body.

The strength of this book is Yumiella, though she’s also one of the weaknesses, as her personality can vary highly depending on what the writer wants to do. At the start, she’s relatively stoic and blase about everything. As the book goes on, though, she starts to get a lot more “eccentric” in a Katarina Claes sort of way, especially when she ends up raising a dragon as her pet, not understanding why anyone wouldn’t think it was anything but adorable. Then at the end, when things have to turn serious, she’s mostly back to the first, with an added helping of “why aren’t you trying to destroy the country?” from the demon lord. He has a point, given how the very shallowly written heroine treats her. The answer might be Patrick, Yumiella’s love interest, and the only one who really treats her as a person – though he has to work at it. Frankly, given when we meet Yumiella she really DOES think about blowing up the school once or twice, it’s not hard to see where the “hidden boss” thing came from.

Still, overall this was more good than bad, and everything wrapped up nicely in one book. Except, of course, there’s five books and counting, plus an anime on the way. Guess we’ll see you back here in a couple months.

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