I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again!, Vol. 4

By Reina Soratani and Haru Harukawa. Released in Japan as “Kondo wa Zettai ni Jama Shimasen!” by Gentosha Comics. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Molly Lee. Adapted by Lorin Christie.

As I was reading the previous two volumes of this series, I was starting to get very disturbed by Yulan’s obsession with Violette, mostly as he’s clearly also meant to be the main love interest. That doesn’t really change all that much in this volume, at least on his end. That said, after reading this volume, I think I’ve changed my mind. Yes, Yulan and Violette are totally codependent, and, amazingly, they also have a maid who is also codependent to Violette along for the ride. But if it gets Violette out of this house, away from her abusers, and away from this family forever, then I honestly am OK with it. Be as codependent as you like. It’s better than the alternative. That said, there’s still another volume coming, so there’s surely some fresh new awfulness that can happen. I said in an earlier review I read light novels to have fun. This is not “fun” per se. But it’s spellbinding.

Yulan has finally arranged everything he needs to get Violette away. All he needs to do is to tell her. Unfortunately, Maryjune intercedes as he’s trying to do this and asks if she can speak with him first. What follows is Yulan ripping his mask off completely and destroying a young women in front of us all. He reduces her to ashes. Unfortunately, that also means he’s forced to wait till tomorrow to talk with Violette… and there may not be a tomorrow for Violette, as that evening she’s also visited by a devastated Maryjune, who begs her to say it ain’t so, say that they’re a real loving family and Violette is a wonderful sister… right? Violette makes a choice that I think was necessary, telling Maryjune exactly what she thinks about her and her family. Unfortunately, this also brings her father to the room.

I’ve left out a good 2/3 of the book, which reads like a thriller a lot of the time, because I don’t want to give it all away. I spent a lot of the time, as with the 3rd book, worried that Marin was going to die. She’s one of my favorites, essentially being in a non-romantic relationship with Violette that nevertheless is even more codependent than Yulan’s. He straight up says he wants Marin to come with as he’s pretty sure they cannot live without each other. The other fascinating character in this is Maryjune, who remains very NICE, in a derogatory way. She basically spends the book having her entire life torn to shreds in front of her, and if the last scene in the book suggests what I think it does, she may end up having an ending that I’d worried would happen to the rest of the cast. She’s done nothing wrong except be unaware of the reality of everyone around her since the day she was born. But that’s enough.

So yes, one time I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again! punched me in the face! It was awesome!

I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again!, Vol. 3

By Reina Soratani and Haru Harukawa. Released in Japan as “Kondo wa Zettai ni Jama Shimasen!” by Gentosha Comics. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Molly Lee. Adapted by T. Anne.

I remember when I read the first volume of this series, I was impressed at its ability to take a stock plot, “villainess goes back in time to try to avoid her fate”, and seriously examine what traumas they might actually carry back by doing so. In the second volume, I was impressed (but also a bit wary, as it’s clearly the end pairing) at showing how disturbing and obsessive Yulan’s love for Violette is, and also at how the series shows that even if you do have a “safe haven” at school, and make new friends, there’s still the abusive family at home. And now we have the third volume, and by the end of it I am reduced to begging the author to please make it stop. This is still an excellent, compelling read, provided you can get past, well, the entire plot. But let’s face it, at this point we’ve switched genres. It’s not a villainess book. It’s a horror novel.

In the first two-thirds of this book, things are looking relatively good for Violette. She manages to apologize to Claudia for her previous behavior, closing the book on that chapter in her life. She’s managed to make a good friend in Rosette, another noble who hides her true self behind a facade. Sure, Yulan tells her that he can’t study with her this round of exams because he has to study with Maryjune, but that’s… she can deal with that. She may not like it, but she can deal with it. Heck, she’s even having Marin come up with new hairstyles for her, which is a big, big change, because her hair is one of her triggers from her childhood abuse by her mother. Then even more good news: her abusive father is called away to her grandfather’s place for the week! Now mealtime will be peaceful… OR WILL IT?

There’s no sugarcoating this, the last third of this volume is straight up terrifying. We haven’t really seen much at all of Lady Elfa, Violette’s stepmother, in this book, and given how absolutely terrible Violette’s father was, and how innocently terrible her sister is, I wasn’t sure we needed another terrible person. Sadly, I proved to be incorrect. (Indeed, the author states that the head chef, named in this volume, is literally the only non-terrible adult in the series.) Elfa feels like a horror parody of all the smiling, “ara ara” moms that you see in anime, and her words and actions towards Violette come uncomfortably close to a line I really really do not want this series to cross. That said, the most terrifying parts of the book involve Marin, Violette’s maid. She’s not the heroine, so does not have plot immunity, and I am very, very worried that she will not live to the end of the series.

I can’t recommend this series for everyone anymore, as it’s just become far too harrowing. If you don’t care for emotional torment as a plot device, Tearmoon Empire would be a better “villainess goes back in time” book. But for those who love a good soap opera that’s not afraid to get dark as pitch, this is a nightmarish yet thrilling ride.

I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again!, Vol. 2

By Reina Soratani and Haru Harukawa. Released in Japan as “Kondo wa Zettai ni Jama Shimasen!” by Gentosha Comics. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Kimberly Chan. Adapted by T. Anne.

It’s been about a year and a half since the first volume of this came out (there were apparently behind-the-scenes difficulties), and I was worried, given that I’ve read 578 Villainess books in the interim, that I would have lost whatever made me really, really love the first volume. Having now read the second volume, I can state my worries were entirely unfounded. This is not a fun book to read. It may take you a while to crawl through it. But it’s an intensely powerful book. Most of the Villainess books either have the main character entirely unaware of how much everyone loves her, or they resolve the “bad end” part straight away and move on to happier, fluffier things. Not here. At the end of this second volume, I can’t think of a single thing that Violette can do to make this a happier, more joyous series. And that’s even including the epiphany she has at the end of the volume!

Most of this volume deals with exams. In her previous go around, Violette did all right, but maryjune got first place for her year, meaning her father yelled at her endlessly. She knows she can’t avoid that, but she wants to at least do well, but lacks any core friends that will help her study beyond Yulan. Fortunately, Yulan would do anything for her, and takes care of this. Then the exams come out, and she does quite well… but she accidentally triggers something new, and now has even more new, terrifying ways to worry about what Maryjune is going to do. On the bright side, she does gain a new friend in Rosette, a princess from a neighboring country who also tends to hide her real self. On the not-so-bright side… the entire rest of the book.

I worry I may be talking this book down by saying how goddamn depressing it is, and I want to reassure readers: this is really good. The author knows how to convey abuse and depression, the day to day grinding down that can happen to anyone forced to live with a family that belittles and hates them. At one point Violette has a panic attack, and it too is perfectly portrayed. The end of the book has her realize just how she feels about Yulan, and we also get several POV chapters showing how he feels about her. That said… I’m not a fan of them getting together. I think it would be bad for both of them. Yulan is not in love so much as obsessed, and that can easily turn out badly, especially with someone like Violette, who already has to deal with Daddy Dearest (you’ll really wish him dead by the end of this book). At least she has her maid Marin, who does not slaughter the entire family in a rage at the way they treat Violette, but certainly imagines doing it.

I’d wait till you’re in the right mood to experience this book. It’s heavy, and downbeat, and somewhat hopeless. But man, it is NOT the same old Villainess story we normally get. Can’t wait to suffer more.