By Touko Amekawa and Wan*Hachipisu. Released in Japan as “Loop 7-kaime no Akuyaku Reijou wa, Moto Tekikoku de Jiyuukimama na Hanayome (Hitojichi) Seikatsu wo Mankitsusuru” by Overlap Novels f. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Amy Osteraas. Adapted by Vida Cruz-Borja.
Sometimes, particularly when it’s a villainess book, all of which take place in “vaguely Europe in the days before cars”, I struggle to remember how supernatural the series is meant to be. Now, obviously there’s SOME supernatural content going on, namely the fact that Rishe keeps looping around to try to not be horribly killed, and this particular book has talk of a girl who can supposedly “curse” those close to her, but for the most part it is content to otherwise be vaguely realistic. That said, I do wonder if the author is having fun with our expectations a bit, as two of the book’s emotional climax rely on the fact that Rishe and Arnold are vampires. They’re NOT vampires, of course. But neck biting is such a thing here that it even gets a color page. That said, there’s a rational reason for it. But still. Vampire Arnold. Mmm-mmm.
Rishe comes to Arnold with some news: it turns out that running away does not actually break an engagement when it involves religion and royalty, so she’s still engaged to Dietrich. Fortunately, Dietrich’s new partner is fine with them breaking it, so that just leaves the Church. She’ll have to go to the Grand Basilica and have a long, involved ceremony designed to make sure this is OK in the eyes of God. Of course, all this is part of Rishe’s next plan in “find out why Arnold keeps turning evil”, as she’s there to see why Arnold was so dedicated in her past lives to wiping out the entire Church and most of its believers so thoroughly. And along the way, she also runs into a spoiled duke’s daughter… one who she’s very familiar with from her fourth life.
Gotta say, the more we hear about Arnold’s father the more we can probably explain the reasons behind Arnold’s actions as “I just snapped”. Not to get too gory here, but the actions taken on newborn children who don’t “pass the test” that Arnold is forced to watch are are the stuff of nightmares. Which, as it turns out, Arnold has frequently – his only respite in this volume is when he’s sleeping next to Rishe, who is sleeping off a poison. As for Rishe, it’s interesting seeing how the memories of her past lives still drive her present circumstances. She’s not Millia’s maid and minder in this world, but she still very much feels the same way about her, and is thus puzzled at the changes in this universe compared to her past one. Fortunately, those changes end up being a big clue, and lead up to an exciting ending that once again revolves around talking Arnold down from committing murder.
I’m not sure how many volumes this will run – 7, for the 7 lives? – but there’s a 4th one out in Japan, so definitely one more. I enjoy this series mostly for Rishe, who’s a lot smarter and savvier than many of her villainess counterparts.