The Reincarnated Princess Spends Another Day Skipping Story Routes, Vol. 5

By Bisu and Yukiko. Released in Japan as “Tensei Oujo wa Kyou mo Hata o Tatakioru” by Arian Rose. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Tom Harris.

Again, how much you like this series is going to very much depend on how much you can tolerate most of the cast being in love with a girl who is not yet “of age”. It’s been around since the start, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Leaving aside her main love interest Leonhart, who at least has the decency not to moon over her in an obvious way (i.e. the way that she’s mooning over him). there’s her brother, her two adopted mages, her bodyguard… the list goes on and on. Even when she goes to an outpost that consists of nothing but soldiers, the fact that she’s able to cook makes them all get starry-eyed. At its best it’s kind of exhausting, at its worst it’s pretty creepy. Fortunately, her father does not fall under this list, and he sets Rosemary out on a new quest directly related to the otome game she’s in: find the stone that seals the demon king. Alas, easier said than done…

Of course, first we have to wrap up the previous plotline. Rosemary has succeeded in stopping (well, at least for now) the plague that’s hit their neighboring country. After returning home and meeting all of her bright young boys (who all get scenes showing how over the moon they are by merely being near her), she is assigned, as I said above, to investigate temples where the stone from her “dreams” may be. The trouble is, those “dreams” are her memories of the otome game… and she’s already thrown it off the rails! Can she really rely on what she remembers? And does it really matter as long as she gets to spend some time with her beloved Leonhart?

Again, this is a “savior” sort of book, and if you are the sort who likes your fiction a bit more gritty and realistic it must be like drinking poison. Not only is Rosemary awesome (though, of course, when we’re in her head all she can do is think of the ways that she’s screwed up), but she also inspires everyone around her to be the best people they can be. Even the “grumpy prince” is forced to admit that he really does want to rule after all (which is good, as I’m pretty sure his people would not have anyone else). Of course, not EVERYONE immediately falls in love with our princess. Some people are married. Some people are assassins. And some people are restauranteurs… OR ARE THEY? That said, a good deal of this book is “Rosemary investigates and things happen around her”. Unfortunately, the ending of this volume reads very much like “the book is going to press, just finish the last page you’re on and we’ll call it the final chapter.” An epilogue would be nice.

I enjoy this series. I like Rosemary, and want to see her succeed. I frankly am 100% not invested in who she ends up with, mostly as she’s still in her early teens. If you can get past the fact that the book is very invested in that, it’s a good read.

The Reincarnated Princess Spends Another Day Skipping Story Routes, Vol. 4

By Bisu and Yukiko. Released in Japan as “Tensei Oujo wa Kyou mo Hata o Tatakioru” by Arian Rose. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Tom Harris.

It could just be that I’ve grown so used to it that I’m actually starting not to notice it, but this volume seemed a bit less creepy about most of the cast being in love with Rosemary. And that’s despite the fact that a chunk of the book revolves around one of the cast kidnapping her to be his bride. (It turns out to be a lot more complicated than that.) But for the most part there’s less leering and more worshipping, as we get another of the classic reincarnated villainess tropes in force here, that of the villainess as messiah. Rosemary’s can-do attitude, combined with her knowledge from Japan and minimalist knowledge of the plot of the game (which is getting increasingly unreliable) has led to her winning over everyone around her (shades of Katarina Claes) and inspiring them to also be the best person they can possibly be (also shades of Katarina Claes). She’s savvy, too. (Sorry, Katarina.)

We pick up where we left off last time, with Rosemary being kidnapped. The book is about 60% her narration as we follow her… and she ends up in the village that she’s been looking or anyway, which is having trouble surviving (fewer children are living past infancy) for unknown reasons (Rosemary figures out pretty fast that it’s inbreeding). Now she has to win over the village, explain why she’s there, and get them to help her. And she has a time limit, as the other half of the plot involves her brother Johan, as well as Princes Nacht and Licht of Vint, discovering that the disease Rosemary has been trying to head off at the past has already ravaged this area of the kingdom… and is being covered up by a desperate noble. Will Rosemary make it in time to save everyone?

The best scene in the book is the one where the village chief convinces Rosemary to act the part of the Goddess from their past, using some stuff she has that can pass as “magic”… and she simply cannot do it, admitting she’s just a princess and winning them over with her earnest pleading instead. Over and over again we see that what matters most about Rosemary is not her past knowledge, but her ability to plead her case and get across how much she cares. She struggles at the daily physical tasks of the village, but she does them anyway, rather than complaining or half-assing it like a princess normally would. To be fair, this is not unique to her, and a lot of villainess books are like this, but it works quite well. It works for other characters as well – Nacht is beloved by his people, even though he’s a pessimistic grouch, because he clearly cares a great deal about everyone and everything. Deception does not win anyone’s heart here.

Fortunately, we don’t get a cliffhanger of “will the doctors arrive in the nick of time”, as Rosemary manages to gather everyone around her and get to where Johan is… even if that requires fudging how time works in a very Shakespearean way. That said, I won’t complain. I like Rosemary as well, and want to read more about her.

The Reincarnated Princess Spends Another Day Skipping Story Routes, Vol. 3

By Bisu and Yukiko. Released in Japan as “Tensei Oujo wa Kyou mo Hata o Tatakioru” by Arian Rose. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tom Harris.

We’ve seen a lot of reincarnated as a villainess stories in the last few years, and one thing has become pretty clear: it’s much easier to be reincarnated as a duke’s daughter than as a princess. First of all, it’s easier in that there aren’t major political consequences in the game when said villainess is eventually shamed and exiled/killed. But secondly, there’s far more freedom to actually do things, such as not marry the future evil dude, or not go to the academy of bullying, etc. You can’t do this if you’re a reincarnated princess. Going anywhere means permission and a retinue. And sometimes you really do have to marry the dude to unite the kingdoms. This is why Rosemary is finding it a lot harder than she expected to prove her worth to the King. George goes off to look for the plague cure without her. She can disguise herself and sneak away, but even then she can’t take her crush because he is the Knight Captain of the Guard. Things are hard.

Thwarted in her attempts to go with George and Michael (who’s been avoiding her) to search for the medicine that can help them, she decides to disguise herself and board a ship to get where she needs to go. That said, first she has to figure out why there’s a sudden illness among the sailors that’s attributed to ghosts – if you guessed “here’s where she cures scurvy”, you’ve read your light novels before. Then she has to deal with the fact that she can’t take Leonhart with her, it has to be Klaus… who remains a pain in the ass and just a bit creepy. Speaking of which, she also meets Michael’s sister Bianca, who was a main character in Michael’s route and is the one where readers are upset there isn’t a yuri option. Sadly, she too really likes Rosemary more than is appropriate. And then they board the ship and things really get bad…

Fist of all, the book’s main flaw remains in place, which is not just all the characters seemingly obsessed with a 13-year-old girl, but the fact that Rosemary knows it’s creepy and so points it out to us as often as possible. I suppose it’s meta commentary, but you know, why not just have them not be creepers? The easy scurvy cure also made me roll my eyes a bit. That said, the second half of the book, once we actually board the ship, was excellent, showing Rosemary really suffering and panicking quite a few times, but always digging deep down into reserves of courage and managing to help save the day. Klaus also gets some much needed character development, as multiple people have told him that “just kill the enemy” is not a good way to protect his charge, but it’s only here when battling pirates that it manages to sink in, and he’s rewarded for that by almost losing his life.

And of course the book ends with a cliffhanger, where we find that letting the royal family 3wander around in disguise looking for the plot sometimes results in them finding it, and sometimes results in them being forcibly brought to it. Despite its flaws, this is good “villainess” stuff.