By Ameko Kaeruda and Shio Sakura. Released in Japan as “Isekai ni Saku wa Yuri no Hana” by GL Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tom Harris.
We have been getting rather glutted with this genre over the last couple of months, but I have to say I’m still not really that tired of ‘otome game villainesses’, if only as we have a long way to go before it catches up to ‘nebbish guy in fantasy dungeon crawl’ or even ‘grumpy cynical high school guy gains a heart (and a harem)’. It helps that, Bakarina aside, most of the genre tends to be one-shots or short series, so doesn’t wear out its welcome quite as much. This has a similar premise to another title I reviewed recently, I’m in Love with the Villainess, and it’s not hard to see why – Japanese otome games rarely if ever give you a chance to go that route, and frequently the villainess has a lot more character than the love interests. Why wouldn’t anyone be drawn to them? Especially someone looking for romance between young women.
Our heroine is another in a long line of office workers who give and give and give till they have a heart attack and die young. She is reborn as Miyako Florence, the star of her favorite otome game, and is engaged to one of the nobles. There’s just one problem. She has no interest in Klaus, the noble in question. Instead, her attention is drawn to Fuuka Hamilton, the “stereotypical villainess” character who tries, seemingly, to belittle her at every turn. Miyako, though, sees through Fuuka’s facade and knows there’s a serious-minded and kind woman underneath the arrogant exterior. So… she kidnaps her, Retreating to her own family’s cottage, Miyako promises Fuuka that within 14 days she will get her to admit that she is happy living there with her. Fuuka, suffering from the effects of the first good night’s sleep she’s had in ages, agrees to this plan. That said, this world runs on “young women are only as important as who they marry”. Will Miyako be allowed to get away with this?
This is by the author of Sexiled, but aside from a brief mention of Laplace as a figure in the land’s past history, they aren’t connected. Except, of course they are, because this is a world where a woman’s value is in who she marries and those who fail or otherwise embarrass their families are completely destroyed. The first half of the book softens us up, being very much watching two women have a honeymoon together at a lovely guest cottage in the country. It’s cute, but it’s also slight. The second half, when Fuuka decides to return home to accept what she knows will be a horrific punishment, is where things really get good, particularly in regards to our heroine, Miyako. I’d written her off as the weak part of the book, but seeing her character development, particularly when the penny drops as she meets another couple who let her know that no, you do NOT have to accept that this world is sexist and just run away – is excellent, and leads to an action-packed and satisfying ending, giving Miyako and Fuuka’s love the depth it needed.
It’s possible I’m playing this up a bit too much – it is pretty fluffy and slight at the end of the day. But I had a lot of fun reading it, and am absolutely not tired of the genre. Or the author, who I’d love to see more of. Fans of Sexiled and otome villainesses will find this a must-buy.