Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I’m Not the Demon Lord, Vol. 5

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.

The anime has now finished, and it ended up being a fantastic advertisement… for the manga. Great news for that, but as for the light novel, I think anyone who enjoyed the anime and reads it is not going to be anything other than pissed off. That said, I think the author, now that they are aware that this won’t be a short series, is trying to do something beyond “Yumiella is wacky and dumb” over and over again. For the first, oh, 4/5 of this book, we get a deeper Yumiella, who actually thinks and makes realizations that are actually correct. Admittedly a lot of this is because she spends a great deal of the book depressed, but it’s still a positive development. She’s dragged into politics that have been simmering since the first book, and does OK… well, till the last fifth of the book, where Yumiella reminds us who she is. Sigh. It was nice while it lasted.

Yumiella is supervising (well, not really) the building of several new structures in her territory in preparation for her upcoming wedding when she is lured to the capitol, supposedly to build cool sentai armor, but in reality to be fitted for her wedding dress. The one-two punch of having to endure the fitting and discovering that anime giant robot physics don’t apply in this world sends her into a funk, which is not helped by Eleanora – spotted in the capitol – being dragged into a dispute between the radicals and the moderates… which she only just now realizes was framed to her by those who support the moderate side. Now both sides are grappling for power, and are trying to use Yumiella’s position to get it, reasoning she is sensible enough not to punch people to death. Which is true. That is the end of the sensibility.

Let’s get the terrible out of the way first. Everything about the final bit with Yumiella and her parents is pathetic and awful and unfunny, and it does not help that everyone in the story agrees with me. Ugh. Leaving that aside, I did enjoy this. Yumiella is more sensible until the denouement, something she even notices herself. She also is starting to examine her own habits and thought processes and find them wanting, especially when it comes to observing others. That said, Eleanora is easily the reason to read this. The running gag in the book is that Eleanora, the duke’s daughter, is not the same person as Eleanora, the girl everyone knows is living with Yumiella. But that’s also very true – Eleanora has grown up. She is using her own special talents to help businesses. She’s mature enough to criticize Prince Edwin and even say that his own morose moping makes her hate him now (though she later melts down after realizing what she did). She’s terrific. Yumiella… ends up backsliding, alas.

It was nice to see the book wade back into the politics of the first two again, and it’s still fun to read, provided you completely separate it from its adaptations.

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