Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I’m Not the Demon Lord, Vol. 4

By Satori Tanabata and Tea. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijō Level 99: Watashi wa Ura Boss Desu ga Maō dewa Arimasen” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by sachi salehi.

The anime is currently airing as I type this up, and it’s quite enjoyable, if very low budget. It’s also doing something very sensible, which a lot of series are doing lately: it’s adapting the manga, not the light novel. This is obvious if you watch any scene with Alicia, who is simply far more sympathetic and nice in the manga than she ever was in the LN. I’m not sure how the manga resolves the Alicia plotline, if it’s even gotten to that point yet, But I remember how the light novel did, with Alicia essentially under house arrest, and still traumatized by the finale of the first book. And, as it turns out, the author was rather jealous of how Alicia was handled in the manga. And so, after taking a couple of books off, Alicia returns for this new book. Unfortunately, this is still the light novel version of Alicia, which means that the reunion is more pathetic than anything else.

After resolving issues with her alternate universe self, there’s not really much standing between Yumiella and Patrick’s wedding… except for Yumiella, who suddenly realizes that a large wedding is exactly the sort of thing she doesn’t want. Given this, she naturally decides to fly to the moon. This doesn’t work out, so instead she plummets into the neighboring country of Lemlaesta… which you may recall is the country that Patrick’s mother despises. There she meets a man named Gilbert, who looks a lot like Patrick. And he has the same name as Patrick’s brother, something which Patrick just told Yumiella before all of this insanity happened. Naturally, she doesn’t recognize him. Incredibly, she also manages to fool (?) him into thinking she’s not Yumiella. Can the two densest people alive possibly manage to stop a war?

How much you enjoy this book may depend on how much you can tolerate Yumiella being even more of an airhead than usual. The anime reminds me just how far off the rails she’s gotten since the first volume, and she now rarely if ever manages to descend to anything resembling reality. There are a few times when I just wanted to throttle her, particularly when she tried to jump to the moon to run away from her problems. On the bright side, sometimes Yumiella being this dense really is very funny, and once you get behind the idea that she and Gilbert don’t know who the other one is, despite the 87 billion clues each one has, you just roll with it and laugh. And yes, Alicia comes back. More interesting than her actions in this book (which are predictable as hell) is the fact that she’s being trained to be a weapon that will be deployed in case the country’s bomb (Yumiella) goes off. I’d feel bad for her if it weren’t for, well… (waves hand at everything Alicia does in this book).

I didn’t even mention Yumiella measuring her new level, which leads to some of the best jokes but also sets up the final confrontation. Oh yes, and Yumiella sprouting wings like an Evangelion shout out. In any case, despite Yumiella starting to get a bit *too* dense, this is still a series I enjoy.

Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I’m Not the Demon Lord, Vol. 3

By Satori Tanabata and Tea. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijō Level 99: Watashi wa Ura Boss Desu ga Maō dewa Arimasen” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Satori Tanabata.

I’ve said this before, but I will say it here again: these books are just too long. Normally I don’t carp too much about the length of a book, but it’s relevant in this vase because Villainess Level 99 is a comedy. The bulk of the humor comes from Yumiella being ridiculous, and everyone’s reaction to this. And she’s very funny here, but the trouble is, about 50-60% into the book, you just flag a bit, and want it to be over faster. Luckily, by around 80% or so complete, the actual serious plot kicks in, so it ends strong. But there’s no reason this had to be 300 pages, dangit. Especially since, as the author says in the afterword, this is no longer a villainess series ad there’s no longer a demon lord. Well, mostly. Covers always spoil, and maybe the reason that this book was so long is because the presence of two Yumiellas means that there needs to be twice the pages to contain them.

After the events of the last book, things have settled down mostly, and all Yumiella really has to worry about is Eleanora being around her far more often and a sinking suspicious that she’s dead weight even though she’s running her territory. But then the God of Darkness shows up, and through him Yumiella finally learns the way to get past that Level 99 cap and get even stronger – she has to kill a version of herself from another parallel world. Believe it or not, Yumiella is not as gung-ho about this as you’d expect, especially since there’s only one other Yumiella left – all the other parallel Yumiellas have been killed by virtue of the otome game plot that our Yumiella subverted. Unfortunately, the remaining Yumiella is still alive as she’s destroyed her world… and is heading for our Yumiella next!

The core of this series remains Yumiella’s combination of deadpan humor, oblivious ditziness, and meathead tendencies, and all three of those are in full effect. You’d think that the alt-Yumiella would be quite a different person give that she destroyed the world, but remember even our Yumiella, with her “isekai” personality, had those feelings a few times in Book 1. Honestly, and this is part of the gag, the alternate Yumiella is a heck of a lot more sympathetic than the one we know. Things do turn serious in the end – alt-Yumiella’s trip to this world was not just for evil kicks, and there is a higher power behind all of this. I had sort of guessed how things were going to have to turn out, but the book did enough hoop jumping that I was able to accept a lot of the hand-waving near the end that kept everything from getting too depressing – this IS a comedy, after all. And the epilogue is the best joke in the book. Maybe our Yumiella should be #2 after all.

This volume is well-timed, as the anime starts in January and will likely get through 2-3 books at most. It should be fun to watch. Especially as the episodes won’t all be 75 minutes long. Also, Patrick is just Kyon, right? He’s even doing the Kyon pose! Yare yare.

Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I’m Not the Demon Lord, Vol. 2

By Satori Tanabata and Tea. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijō Level 99: Watashi wa Ura Boss Desu ga Maō dewa Arimasen” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by sachi salehi.

Sometimes I am surprised when a book is not QUITE as cliched as I expected. This is a Villainess book, and the first novel had the supposed heroine of the game as the antagonist, so I was naturally expecting her to break out of prison and be an antagonist again. But no, she’s still there, still not recovered from mental trauma, and isn’t in this book at all. (As it turns out, the webnovel version of this book simply killed her off, but I assume the Kadokawa editors asked the author not to do that.) Instead, the “heroine” role is filled by Yumiella’s “friend” Eleanora, a girl so naive that you can sometimes hear the wind whistling through her head, and that works fine. Plus it’s not like we don’t have other cliches waiting in the wings. Eleanora’s father is trying to topple the kingdom, and he’s gathered all the evil nobles together to do so. What a bad guy… OR IS HE?

Yumiella and Patrick have graduated, and she is now returning to her county in order to run it now that her evil parents have been exiled. Patrick, of course, comes along, and seems to be trying to tell her something about the nature of their relationship – what, she can’t possibly guess. Unfortunately, the county is a mess, with poor roads, high taxes, and unhappy people. Fortunately, Yumiella may have very little common sense but she is quite compassionate and also ludicrously powerful, so she sets about fixing things immediately. Minus a few eccentricities. Like selling wooden swords. Unfortunately, she also happens to come across the evil plan I mentioned above, and has to tell the King about it and deal with the fallout – the fallout mostly being that, as the one behind all of this, Eleanora’s father is probably going to be executed. Which would make Eleanora sad.

The core of this book is the classic “two characters think they are having one conversation, but they are really having two conversations that do not interact”. Yumiella can be surprisingly obtuse, and it takes the entire book – during which she walks around with an engagement ring on her finger and also during which invitations to her wedding are being mailed out – to realize that Patrick is in love with her. We get a bit more of her past in Japan this time around – namely, that she was a massive chuuni, and in middle school she used to wave around wooden swords and also wore an eyepatch. If you think of Yumiella as Megumin from KonoSuba, you won’t be too far off. Thankfully, Patrick is NOT Kazuma, and therefore can be there to stop her worst ideas, like regarding the barrier stopping the church from dark magic attacks as a rival she has to destroy. Though, um, later she does indeed destroy it.

This remains fun if you like this sort of character, with the only real issue being that it was far too long. Hopefully the next volume will be a bit snappier.