Fake Saint of the Year: You Wanted the Perfect Saint? Too Bad!, Vol. 1

By kabedondaikou and Yunohito. Released in Japan as “Risō no Seijo? Zannen, Nise Seijo Deshita! Kuso of the Year to Yobareta Akuyaku ni Tensei Shitanda ga” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Rymane Tsouria.

One of the struggles in reviewing a giant pile of light novels is that there is not a lot of binary to it. While it would be much easier if every series was either magical and something you need to read immediately, or else a terrible dumpster fire of a series that you never want to read another volume of, the sad fact is that most series are various types of OK. They do some things well, but they also do some things badly. And figuring out if the badly outweighs the well is something I have never really been that good at, as you can likely guess given how much I’m trying to read. Fake Saint of the Year is another book like that. There’s some interesting stuff going on here, with a twist I quite enjoyed. That said, there’s a lot of “let’s throw that cliche in as it’s popular”, and the lead character’s narrative voice… is awful.

A loser NEET guy enjoys playing visual novels, and then one day he wakes up to find he’s in the 5-year-old body of Ellize, who is… brace yourself… the villainess of the game he was playing! Supposedly the “saint” of this world ,she had a ton of power, but didn’t cultivate it, and was abusive and awful to everyone. As it turned out, she wasn’t the true saint, so ended up being shamed, exiled, and eventually ripped apart. You would think, now that he is trapped in this villainess body, our hero is going to change Ellize’s fate so that she lives, but, having spoilery knowledge of the way the game works, he has no intention of doing that. Instead, he’s going to manipulate things so that his OTP avoids the unhappy ending it got in canon!

Let’s start with the bad: Ellize’s narrative voice is that of a skeezy 20-ish young man, who enjoys leering at, and (on occasion) groping the women around him. It makes the book very hard to recommend. The reason that Ellize gets away with it is that this is also one of those “whatever the heroine does, everyone will misinterpret it in the best way possible” sort of books, a la Tearmoon Empire. This is not helped by Ellize herself (there is little to no gender dysphoria in this book, the author just wanted to write a girl with a horndog inner voice, so I’ll use her), who keeps trying to do things that will drive people away from her but ends up saying wonderful, heroic speeches and being utterly kind to people. I’m not even sure she’s aware of that. There’s also the big twist in the game, which is a twist that works very well in the book as well, and leads to some genuinely good drama.

Sadly, this is another one of those “this book does not end, it just stops” novels, so we’ll need to wait for Vol. 2 to find out what happens next. In the meantime, if you can overlook a heroine who enjoys ogling large-breasted woman and saying “no homo!” whenever it’s implied a guy might like her, there are things to enjoy here.

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  1. I wish one of these would go the route of the person being reincarnated having been a trans woman, and maybe not knowing it until she got reincarnated and it felt right, or something like that. Not just ‘oh well’ or not thinking about it, but enthusiastic acceptance.

    • Sean Gaffney says

      Believe it or not, that’s actually a subplot for one of the supporting characters in So I’m a Spider, So What?

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