Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to Be an Adventurer!, Vol. 3

By Hiro Oda and Tobi. Released in Japan as “Tensei Reijou wa Boukensha wo Kokorozasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Kim Louise Davis.

One of the gimmicks in My Next Life As a Villainess is that every reader laughs at Katarina continuing to prepare for her own doom, as they know that if she’d just relax and enjoy life with her harem, everything would be fine. Of course, later volumes show that’s not actually true. One of the things we’ve seen about villainess novels is that the narrative does not like being flouted, and will do its very best to make sure our villainess dies as she’s supposed to do. And few series have quite gone as hard about it as Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to Be an Adventurer!. Even though last book ended with Serephione safely ensconced in another kingdom, and with a fiance who adores her, there’s still the “heroine” to deal with. And this heroine may be the nastiest, most evil one we’ve seen to date. actually, that may be the book’s one big flaw: Maribelle gets no tragic backstory she’s just The Adversary.

As Serephione settles into her new kingdom, various parties try to bring her back to the old one. Her family is OK with her being there as long as she’s safe, though they want to actually see her again. But when the first prince comes himself to beg her to side with him, and her grandmother is cursed and nearly dies, it becomes apparent that there’s no real way of getting out of this throne war. Especialyl when the king is a drugged puppet, the queen is getting revenge on everyone, Schneider is still trying to destroy the book series he hated when he was back in Japan, and Maribelle… well, Maribelle remains a bit of an evil in the shadows until she’s finally forced to come out. When she does, it’s time for a magical duel, which normally Serephione would have no problems with, but Maribelle has the power of a different god on her side.

I get the sense that the writer of this book wanted to go for the tragic ending but the publisher made them stop. The ending, with Serephione resolving to be reincarnated as a warm breeze to always follow her beloved (and woe, that’s an absolutely wonderful moment) feels a lot more valid than what we actually get, which is “remember that scene where you wished on a star? No? Well, we’re cashing it in.” I was also annoyed that Erza came back, as I wanted her to, only to essentially be written out of the book due to Maribelle’s curse. That said, as I mentioned above, the biggest flaw in this book is that Maribelle is a one-note antagonist, whining and screaming when things don’t go her way. She gets the “love interests” on her side due to the power of the narrative, but I would have appreciated at least a little better idea as to what drove her to this.

So, in the end, a flaws series, but I was happy to read it. Three volumes seems just about right. Recommended for villainess fans.

Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to Be an Adventurer!, Vol. 2

By Hiro Oda and Tobi. Released in Japan as “Tensei Reijou wa Boukensha wo Kokorozasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Kim Louise Davis.

Well. That escalated quickly. After all the setup from the first book, I was expecting more adventuring, more knight training, and most importantly more school. Sadly, that went off the rails pretty quickly the moment General Avenger says “hey, I’ve found this guy who can give you a good fight!”. Accurate, BUT… now the rest of the book is anything but that. I did enjoy everything that was going on, it was just a bit of a surprise direction. That said, the other thing that happened in this book also surprised me, and that’s on me, I was being dumb. Because most of these villainess stories are, at their core, romance novels. Yes, our heroine may say that she has no desire to get married after being betrayed in the game, etc., but there’s still a guy who is going to be “the one”. After meeting him last time, I assumed it would simmer in the background for several books till Serephione grew up. Then this book covered several years of her life…

As noted, we do start off the same as last time. Serephione is attending the Knight School while also doing adventuring work on the side, including such things as protecting a royal as she travels to the magic academy. You know, the one that Serephione has been avoiding with great avoid. Then Prince Schneider arrives, and he now knows all about Serephione… and tries to kill her. This turns out to be for slightly better reasons than “I am evil just because”, but only slightly – both have their agendas that they can’t let go of. Now Sere is far from home, and she doesn’t even have Leo for company. She does have Miyu, the cute little snake girl she met last volume, and together they slowly make their way to a country where she can hide from her enemies… mainly =because she accidentally helped along this country’s revolution.

This book is mostly fairly light and adventurey, but when it gets serious it gets pretty damn serious. The fight between Sere and Schneider felt like it belonged to a different book, and this happens a couple of other times in the book. There’s no blending of genres, just a straight tonal shift, and it can be jarring. The other interesting thing is how this world appears to be a port authority for dead Japanese people. We already know about Serephione and her nemesis, the heroine Maribelle (who doesn’t technically appear in this book, but you can tell she’ll be the final confrontation). Now we hear that Schneider is also a reincarnate, and that he hated the Wild Rose novel. So he’s a bit bitter that he’s now in it. We’ve seen this sort of thing in other villainess stories, but usually it’s between people who actually knew each other in Japan. This book just sucks up anyone and everyone.

Despite some hiccups, this was still a fun read, and I’m happy there’s at least one more volume of it. Let’s hope it has more of the badass grandma, who barely appeared in this volume.

Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to Be an Adventurer!, Vol. 1

By Hiro Oda and Tobi. Released in Japan as “Tensei Reijou wa Boukensha wo Kokorozasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kim Louise Davis.

A lot of these Reincarnated Villainess titles are deconstructions of romance novels and games. It’s baked into the premise, really. That said, some are more deconstructing than others, and it’s usually when we see the sharp edges of the original plot poking out that we get the most rewarding reading. Our heroine here is not as eccentric as other villainesses we’ve seen, and she has even revealed her secret to a few people. She’s doing all the right things. But there’s still something that’s really trying hard to have events go the way that they did in the book she read back in Japan. And if that involves breaking reality to “fix” things, well, that’s life. It ups the stakes a great deal. Especially when you realize that there’s a heroine here as well… and she’s not going to be falling in love with the villainess anytime soon. This heroine is going to get her happy ending if it kills her. Or, more accurately, if it kills our protagonist.

Serephione is a young noble girl who has memories of her past life in Japan, where she read a fantasy novel set at a magic academy. In this novel, the commoner girl heroine wins the hearts of everyone around her despite the best efforts of the powerful mage … Seraphione. Yeah. To prevent this, our girl decides she’s going to avoid the magic academy altogether. This is not as easy as it sounds. She’s loaded with powerful magic. She’s bonded with the Heavenly Beast of the West, a powerful familiar. All signs point to her following the book’s plot. But Seraphione is stubborn, and is not above asking her guardian beast to cheat the system. Now the “magicless” Seraphione is at the knight school instead, making friends and breaking all sorts of records because trust me, she’s hella strong too. But has she REALLY avoided her fate?

The other really good part of the book is Seraphione’s grandmother Erza. The Author mentions in the afterword that they had been taken to task in their last book for not giving the heroine a powerful female role model, and that’s certainly what Erza is. Indeed, the entire family seems to be known for being ludicrously OP, so one one is going to think twice about Seraphione being able to do things like one-shot knock out princes from another country with her mad combat skills. I also liked how the grandmother also starts training her other friends up, not wanting to see any knights who are unable to use both their combat power and their feminine wiles to get what they want. Though perhaps training everyone in poison resistance – by poisoning them ALL THE TIME – is a bit much.

I’m sure by now everyone who reads my reviews of Villainess books is rolling their eyes, but it really is a genre that I love. This one especially caught my eye because of the way that the narrative is trying to bend back… which may or may not be the fault of the seemingly naive and selfish “heroine” (who is named Maribella, which is not Maria but close). I’m adding this series to the stack.