Though I Am an Inept Villainess: Tale of the Butterfly-Rat Body Swap in the Maiden Court, Vol. 3

By Satsuki Nakamura and Kana Yuki. Released in Japan as “Futsutsuka na Akujo dewa Gozaimasu ga: Suuguu Chouso Torikae Den” by Ichijinsha Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Tara Quinn.

In my review of the first volume, I simply didn’t like her, so didn’t talk much about Keigetsu. In the second review I liked her far more, but Reirin basically bulldozed my talking about anything else. But now it’s finally time for me to talk about Keigetsu, now that she’s finally getting a separate plotline of her own. To be fair, the book holds the reader’s hand near the end in case they missed it, pointing out that for all that Keigetsu spends her time whining, complaining, and fretting, she doesn’t run away from anything for more than a few minutes. More importantly for her future in the Court, though, Reirin notices that the amount of magical talent she has to not only bodyswap them without any complications, but do also potentially bodyswap, say, just a hand or an eye, means she has probably more power than anyone else around. She’ll need it, because there’s a new villainess in town, and I don’t mean Reirin.

Reirin and Keigetsu have bodyswapped a few minor times since the end of the second book, and nothing seems to have come of it. But things are a bit too dangerous now for any swapping to take place: the Harvest Festival will be held in the Shu lands, with Keigetsu in charge of hospitality ad also a performance to the Gods. Which is a problem being that everyone in the Shu palace is quitting. Things get worse when you go to the Shu lands themselves – a group of villagers are being riled up to kidnap and torture Keigetsu, in hopes that, because rumor has it her terribleness is the reason for recent bad weather, her murder will mean everything will improve again. All this stress, unfortunately, combined with a double dose of bullying, means Reirin and Keigetsu do bodyswap at the worst possible time. Now Reirin has to fight for her life.

This third book may also run on “who’s in what body?”, but everything has changed now that folks are aware of the possibility – in fact, it leads to many of the funniest moments in the book, as Reirin thinks that her impersonation of Keigetsu is perfect, when in fact it’s utter garbage. She also has stronger allies this time, as one of her brothers comes along for the kidnapping ride, and the Captain of the Eagle Eyes also shows up relatively quickly. Unfortunately, this is not just a matter of Reirin winning over her enemies by “doing it with a bang” – someone really wants the Shu destroyed, and they’re using people who are using other people who are using other people to do it. The cliffhanger is a double one, but for once the threat of half the cast dying of the plague is not as chilling as realizing who the new bad girl in town is.

The author again apologizes for this needing to run to two books to complete the arc. Honestly, I’m glad – this book is already very long, any longer and we’d be getting into Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere territory. Till then, please enjoy Reirin learning what it feels like to live, and Keigetsu learning what one must do to survive. Or vice versa.

Though I Am an Inept Villainess: Tale of the Butterfly-Rat Body Swap in the Maiden Court, Vol. 2

By Satsuki Nakamura and Kana Yuki. Released in Japan as “Futsutsuka na Akujo dewa Gozaimasu ga: Suuguu Chouso Torikae Den” by Ichijinsha Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Tara Quinn.

I want to be able to talk about the rest of the cast when I review these books. After all, it can’t ALL be about Reirin. I could talk about Keigetsu, and how my opinion of her went way, way up with this book, when we finally get to delve deeply into how she’s being used as a tool. I could discuss the wonderful flashback showing us Kenshuu and Gabi, which takes a mystery with a rather obvious culprit and turns it into a sad tragedy. I could mention Leelee, who goes from reluctant servant and straight man to … well, less reluctant servant and straight man, to be fair, but she does it beautifully. Hell, even the prince, who is literally said to be most appealing to Rinrin when he’s weak and pathetic, manages to carry off some really good moments. That said, all of this is going to have to get around the insurmountable wall that is Reirin, because OH MY GOD, Reirin.

We pick up immediately where we left off at the end of the first volume. Someone else may have figured out that Reirin is in Keigetsu’s body, but that does not really help things because there’s far more to it than just that. Even if Keigetsu was willing to undo the bodyswap and blithely go off to get tortured and executed, it rapidly becomes clear that, as with Leelee, someone is manipulating things behind the scenes to make sure that, somehow, Reirin dies. And when that doesn’t happen, we actually get a worse outcome, as the next in line for vengeance is the Empress herself. Can Reirin manage to fix things so that no one dies – not her, not the Empress, not Keigetsu, not even the actual culprit? And can she do this despite almost everyone now realizing that she’s in the wrong body?

Last time I wondered how on earth this was going to be spun out into an entire volume given that the secret was out, and kudos to the author for managing to do it. It helps that we would honestly read 89 volumes of this if it meant to got to experience the tornado that is Reirin some more. Her attempts to pretend to be Keigetsu are laughable, especially as she is describing herself as a villainess, but by the end of the book it’s pointed out that she really *is* one – in that she has everyone wrapped around her finger with no idea that that’s what she’s doing. Including the two hottest men in the palace. She may be most attracted to Gyoumei when he’s pathetic, but we love Reirin most when she’s being strong, righteous, and kickass. You get the sense that the reason she’s so desperately ill all the time is that without that handicap, she’d have taken over the world by now. And filled it with potatoes.

The original story ended with this volume, but apparently it was such a success that the author is continuing it with more, and I’m glad, even as I know that this will likely mean more bad things happening to our heroine. Oh well, at least she has a friend now, in addition to her cadre of family and attendants who would absolutely die for her if she asked them. The friend is more important.

Though I Am an Inept Villainess: Tale of the Butterfly-Rat Body Swap in the Maiden Court, Vol. 1

By Satsuki Nakamura and Kana Yuki. Released in Japan as “Futsutsuka na Akujo dewa Gozaimasu ga: Suuguu Chouso Torikae Den” by Ichijinsha Novels. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Tara Quinn.

As I think I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest fan of bodyswap stories. It’s just a personal squick, and always makes for uncomfortable reading, particularly when one of the people swapped is responsible for it. And also a terrible person. So, as you can imagine, the premise of Though I Am an Inept Villainess did not fill me with glee. That said: villainess book, one of my big genres. Also recommended by the authors of Bookworm AND Apothecary Diaries AND Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent. This book had a huge amount of expectations for me. As always with my reading, it would probably depend on the lead character. How does she react to this? How does she fight back? Also, unique to bodyswap stories: how does the rest of the cast not immediately sense something is off? Especially in a world where bodyswapping IS possible? Well, good news all round: the book passes both tests with flying colors. In fact, the book is amazing.

Reirin is a beautiful court lady beloved and doted on by everyone, though also suffering from illness frequently. A butterfly. Keigetsu is a gangly, freckled, bitchy court lady that everyone hates, mostly as she’s terrible to anyone she doesn’t have to suck up to. A sewer rat. Then one day Keigetsu pushes Reirin over a balustrade… and Reirin wakes up in Keigetsu’s body. Which is now in prison, awaiting execution. She’s been bodyswapped! Worse, thanks to the nature of the swap, she’s physically and mentally unable to explain this to anyone. So, now she’s got to somehow avoid execution – which involves being eaten by a starving lion – and then somehow make a life where everyone hates her and she’s in this… wonderful, healthy, robust body? Meanwhile, Keigetsu discovers that Reirin isn’t just sick a lot, she’s at death’s door most of the time. Whoops.

Reirin is astonishingly good. Her combination of joy and guilt over being able to suddenly do ordinary things like eat fried potatoes all the time is hilarious, of course, but she also gets to unleash the tempered blade that is her personality, honed under years of training to not die from fever at any given moment, and use it to do things like show righteous fury, or spend an entire night sewing a new robe for her attendant (the old robe was damaged when the attendant tried to murder her). We also get the sense that she’s not fully formed yet – there’s a realization towards the end of the book that she always tried to keep everyone at arm’s length and made every conversation as if it would be her last, and she’s just realizing now how sad that is. As for the swap itself, I appreciate how everyone IMMEDIATELY realizes that there’s something up, as Keigetsu’s personality has done a complete 180, but it takes till the end of the book to actually figure out HOW. This means there’s less annoying bodyswap humor, which I always dislike. I will admit I wasn’t as fond of Keigetsu in Reirin’s body, but that’s because her character journey is “oh fuck (slowly begins to die)”.

There is a particularly vicious cliffhanger at the end of this volume, not helped by the extended short story that follows (though the short story is excellent, giving much needed backstory to several characters.) It is going to make waiting rfor the next volume a chore, though, especially as I’m not sure how they’ll keep the bodyswap up. Regardless, I found this book a wonderful read.