By Yuji Yuji and Nami Hidaka. Released in Japan as “99-kai Danzaisareta Loop Reijō Desu ga Konse wa “Chōzetsu Aisare Mode” Desutte!?: Shinno Chikara ni Mezamete Hajimaru 100-kaime no Jinsei” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Stephanie Liu.
This is a book which tries, and mostly succeeds, in striking a balance between what the reader is expecting to have happen and what would make more sense for the characters. I’ll be honest, I was expecting this to be a lot more cliched. For one thing, I assumed, like most other “yarinaoshi loop” titles, that we’d be going back a few years to try again – nope, there’s almost no time to do anything. But the way this ties into the multiple deaths is clever. Then I assumed that everyone involved was simply being a massive tsundere – which *is* true, but is not remotely the reason that she was executed 99 times. The one thing that was exactly as expected – and the weakest part of the book – is the antagonist, who like most light novel antagonists is not allowed to have shades of grey but has to be 100% evil and awful. Complete with pig noises. But… mostly good.
Princess Alphina has had a bad time of it lately. Accused of crimes she did not commit by the Saint of the country, and condemned to death by her fiancee, friends, family, and the emperor, she is summarily executed… and then has it happen again. And again. What’s worse, she usually rewinds back to right when she’s arrested, so there’s not even time to change the storyline. She attempts to prove her innocence. She attempts to escape. She attempts comedy. By now she is thoroughly sick of this. However, as she starts her 100th time reliving these same events, she now finds she can hear the inner thoughts of everyone around her! Will this allow her to finally escape the time loop and show who the real guilty party is? And does she even want to go back to being a princess?
This has both a well-known writer (the creator of OreShura, aka My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much) and illustrator (the artist of My Next Life As a Villainess), so I shouldn’t be surprised that it reads well and the author knows how to land a gag. It’s predominately a funny series, for good and ill. The best part of it is Alphina, or Arle as she comes to call herself. Deciding to use her newly discovered magic powers to simply nope out of all of this drama is an excellent choice, and frankly I wish it had stuck. The various love interests she has all have inner monologues that verge on the ridiculous, which is the point, but always manage to stay on the funny rather than the annoying side. The exception, as I noted, is Debonaire, the saint, who is a boy-crazy egomaniac who doesn’t even have the decent excuse of being isekai’d from Japan, and whose theme is “pig squealing” for a laugh. It’s no surprise that, rather than surviving to be annoying another day like most good “heroine” villains, she’s butchered here.
This is getting a 2nd volume, though given that cover is “wedding” themed that may be it. I’ll read it. Fans of the genre might want to just ignore the “heroine” and enjoy the antics of the “villainess”, who’s a spunky tomboy princess who kicks ass.