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.

Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I’m Not the Demon Lord, Vol. 1

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.

One of the frequent complaints about fantasy light novels that I’ve seen is that everything tends to be dependent on stats and levels, even when the novel in question is not depicting a world based on a game or people trapped inside a game. Because of Japanese RPGs being the default fantasy for everyone rather than, say, Lord of the Rings or Narnia, everything is about level grinding and raising your stats to the point where you can do things. It’s fine if you’re the reincarnated from Japan person – like our heroine in this book. But to the rest of the cast, this is just their world, and it just… has levels, for some reason that no one quite knows. Even the king thinks it’s baffling. Unfortunately, that’s also the plot of this series, as our heroine is all powerful and ALSO has the stereotypical hair color that makes her clearly EVIL. Fortunately, she’s not evil. Well, mostly. She wavers a bit.

Yumiella Dolkness remembers fairly quickly her past life from Japan (which we get no details about except that she was killed by a car) and knows she’s in a game she played – as the villainess, who also turns out, once you’ve beaten the game, to be a hidden super-strong final boss. Yumiella wants nothing to do with this, at first… but then realizes that if she wants to actually survive, she’d better be strong enough to stand up to the heroine and her love interests. Plus, she loves grinding levels. And, helpfully, her parents have essentially abandoned her in the countryside with only a servant or two, so it’s easy to go out and find monsters and dungeons. Now she’s arrived at the Academy, ordered to do so by her parents (who she’s still never met), and just wants to quietly get through school… despite being 99 times more powerful than most of the student body.

The strength of this book is Yumiella, though she’s also one of the weaknesses, as her personality can vary highly depending on what the writer wants to do. At the start, she’s relatively stoic and blase about everything. As the book goes on, though, she starts to get a lot more “eccentric” in a Katarina Claes sort of way, especially when she ends up raising a dragon as her pet, not understanding why anyone wouldn’t think it was anything but adorable. Then at the end, when things have to turn serious, she’s mostly back to the first, with an added helping of “why aren’t you trying to destroy the country?” from the demon lord. He has a point, given how the very shallowly written heroine treats her. The answer might be Patrick, Yumiella’s love interest, and the only one who really treats her as a person – though he has to work at it. Frankly, given when we meet Yumiella she really DOES think about blowing up the school once or twice, it’s not hard to see where the “hidden boss” thing came from.

Still, overall this was more good than bad, and everything wrapped up nicely in one book. Except, of course, there’s five books and counting, plus an anime on the way. Guess we’ll see you back here in a couple months.