I Refuse to Be Your Enemy!, Vol. 6

By Kanata Satsuki and Mitsuya Fuji. Released in Japan as “Watashi wa Teki ni Narimasen!” by PASH! Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tara Quinn.

It’s the final volume of this series, and I am pleased that it’s ending pretty much the way that it began: with lots of strategy and battles. There is some romance here, as the cover art will no doubt clue you in on, but for the most part this is still a military fantasy first and a romance second. e get to see the remaining bad guys be really bad, but also (well, in one case) see how they got to be that way, and witness Kiara say that if Reggie had died she’d totally have done something very similar, which is… chilling, but very on brand. There’s a character reveal that’s well-handled and an actual surprise, which pleased me. And, of course, our heroes very nearly lose several times, as we are shown that just because you may know about the past in a game… or even via other means… does not mean that there is not still danger of death lurking everywhere. This ISN’T a game.

Having confessed to each other, all that’s left for Kiara and Reggie’s happy ending is… well, a lot, to be honest. Lord Patriciel is still around, as is Queen Marianne. And they both seem far more confident than they should, really. It would help to have a few more allies, which means getting the Thorn Princess completely on their side, but to do so they’ll have to discover who she really is. The enemy is brutal, enslaving people and using them as meat shields, then using the slaves and its own soldiers as defective spellcasters in order to kill the troops. And oh yes, they also have a monster, a huge flying beast that obeys the Queen’s command. Even when they’ve won and all that’s left is for the Queen to surrender, there’s still one nasty trick up her sleeve, which Kiara may have to pay for with her life.

As I mentioned earlier, I appreciated that it’s very hard to change fate, but not impossible. Every time Kiara or the Thorn Princess feel that they’ve managed to alter the past so that Reggie is not brutally killed, he ends up in a different kind of danger. It’s not easy trying to find the right butterfly to step on. Fortunately, they have the ability to plan and strategize on the fly, but it’s a touch-and-go thing, especially towards the end, where various characters compete to see who can sacrifice their life to save 3everyone else first. That said, it’s not a big spoiler to say that most everyone lives happily ever after, even some people that I was pretty sure were going to die. And, for those who DO like romance, there’s some nice stuff here – Reggie is very affectionate, and spends most of the book trying to get a very reserved Kiara to accept him touching her. A lot.

At six volumes, this turned out to be exactly the right length. If you like villainess stories done almost completely straight, with few cliches and a heaping helping of battle, this is a terrific series to read.

I Refuse to Be Your Enemy!, Vol. 5

By Kanata Satsuki and Mitsuya Fuji. Released in Japan as “Watashi wa Teki ni Narimasen!” by PASH! Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tara Quinn.

It will come as no particular surprise to learn that, in this volume, Kiara is captured by the enemy for a section. That is going to happen with this type of romantic heroine in this type of book. It’s handled pretty well, though there is a sexual assault warning fro the book, as Credias pretty much attempts to molest Kiara the moment she’s in his grasp. We also get not one, not two, but THREE times where I thought “ah, this is it, that character is gonna die” and then turned out to be wrong, which again is mostly related to the fact that Kiara, when it comes right down to it, does not like killing anyone she’s gotten to know – though she’s perfectly OK with killing faceless mooks she doesn’t know, as we see here. That said, more important than all of these things, Kiara finally clues in to her own feelings and realizes that she’s in love with Reggie. It may not shock the reader, but it shocks her.

As noted above, despite the best efforts of Cain and the other soldiers, Kiara is captured by Isaac. And unfortunately that also means Credias, who is perfectly happy to kill everyone in the way of his raping, torturing, and killing Kiara, possibly not in that order. Fortunately, Isaac is wise enough to realize that, in order to get what he needs, he cannot have Kiara be taken by Credias at all. Also fortunately, Reggie and company are coming to the rescue, which is cool and involves several giant mice. After this, there’s still a lot of war to be fought, trust me. The enemy seem to have endless piles of reinforcements, and are very happy to convert anyone who comes near them into a defective spellcaster. Fortunately our side has Kiara, who is strong, Reggie, who is learning how to use magic at last, and the Thorn Princess, who is… ???

I said last time that the series did not really lean too hard on the reincarnated from Japan into an otome game part of this plot, but that starts to change here, in several interesting ways. Some I won’t spoil, but I did find it very telling that Reggie and others worry that Kiara’s utter disregard for her own life and tendency to take daring risks stems from a fact that she thinks this is not a “real” world and that she might just wake up back there after she dies. That proves to… not quite be the case? Indeed, there’s a certain sentence in the book that made me say “Oh my GOD”, as we might actually be smooshing reincarnation isekai and otome game villainesses together with another stock plot. That said, for those who are reading this romance title for the romance, be assured there are love confessions, cute possessiveness, and a heck of a lot of attention paid to Kiara’s legs and feet in this book as well.

The next volume is the last, and the cover art has a wedding dress for Kiara, so no prizes guessing how it ends. Still, there’s a war to end, and one last pesky (or should I say thorny) plotline to wrap up. Another enjoyable volume of this military romance isekai villainess redemption fantasy.

I Refuse to Be Your Enemy!, Vol. 4

By Kanata Satsuki and Mitsuya Fuji. Released in Japan as “Watashi wa Teki ni Narimasen!” by PASH! Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tara Quinn.

I’ve mentioned before that, aside from the basic “villainess otome game” plot, there’s very little here that could not simply be imported as is to a Western romantic fantasy, albeit one with a very military strategy sort of bent. No one is trying to make miso, and the references to Kiara’s past life in Japan are kept to longing for family and nothing specifically cultural. So, for the most part, I had this down as a book you could happily recommend to casual, non-anime fans… at least until the catgirl Festival showed up. See, one city has a legend of being saved from certain death by a cat goblin, and so every year girls put on kitty ears and wear angel wings. And then go out and look for men they might be attracted to. It’s not particularly handled in a bad way, and it doesn’t detract from the rest of the book. It just made me go “really? cat ears?” when I got to it.

We pick up immediately where we left off, and continue to slowly wage war against the enemy army. Several things happen here that are of note, though. First, after a second encounter with him disguised as a merchant, Kiara finally clues in that the helpful guy giving her advice is actually the opposing king. That said, the king has an “I am not evil” backstory, so I suspect we may be able to work things out. Secondly, Lady Emmeline, who was the savviest of the hostages we met in the last book, becomes a major supporting character, and another person for the perpetually baffled Kiara to turn to when it comes to emotions. She also makes a great general. Lastly, and most importantly, Lord Credias, Ada’s husband and the one who turned Kiara into a spellcaster, is on the battlefield, and his presence makes Kiara unable to use her magic.

I have, of course, left out Ada, who has the most interesting plotline in the volume. We get several short chapters from her point of view, as she struggles with trying to win Reggie over, her intense hatred for Kiara, and the fact that Kiara turns out to be a fairly decent person. I had briefly wondered if they might try to redeem her, especially as the book seemed to be shipping her with Reggie’s guard, Felix. Unfortunately, after the events in this book, I suspect if there is a redemption it’s going to be one ending in death. Ada is, as has been lampshaded, in the same position that Kiara was in in the original game. And, unlike Kiara’s game self, Ada actually has someone to blame for all of this. It is understandable that she does not decide to turn herself in. (There’s also a very interesting side scene from the POV of game Kiara, a few years before the game events, where she attempts to drown herself and is saved by Reggie.)

We’re now 2/3 of the way through this, and an ending is in sight, but until then there’s going to be pitched battles. At least Reggie has tried to make his feelings relatively clear… but Kiara’s romance aversion and low self-esteem are a wall that is still too high to climb. Definitely recommended for J-Novel Heart fans, though. Despite the cat ears.