By Sasara Nagase and Mitsuya Fuji. Released in Japan as “Yarinaoshi Reijō wa Ryūtei Heika o Kōryaku-chū” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Jenny Murphy.
This has really become the year of Sarasa Nagase. Last month J-Novel Club released one of her earlier one-shots, The Disowned Queen’s Consulting Detective Agency. One of her two biggest hits, I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss, just had a semi-successful anime, and is being released by Yen Press. And now we get her other big hit, whose webnovel is just as long as Final Boss. The two series are somewhat similar. While the first one is a take on the basic Villainess book, where our heroine has knowledge of a game and discovers she’s the antagonist, this one is what’s called in Japan a “Yarinaoshi” genre, which we in the West call a “Peggy Sue”, after the 1980s movie Peggy Sue Got Married. Our heroine is killed and finds herself going back in time to try to get things right this time. That said, both Final Boss and Do-Over Damsel have one big thing that’s exactly the same: their heroines are both completely bananas.
Jill Cervel is fleeing for her life, having been betrayed and wrongfully accused by her fiance. (Try to contain your shock.) Cornered, she leaps off a tall castle wall to her certain death… and wakes up back at the age of ten years old, right when she’s about to get engaged to the fiance that murders her. And said fiance really, really wants to get engaged to her. To avoid this, she grabs the guy behind her without looking and says that she’s already pledged herself to this guy. Of course, this guy happens to be Hadis Teos Race, emperor of the Rave empire, a gorgeous young man who IMMEDIATELY accepts Jill’s proposal and whisks her away to his country. Has she gone from the frying pan into the fire?
I mostly loved this, so let’s start with a few caveats. Jill is ten here, regardless of her mental age, and spends a great deal of the book worrying that her new lover is into little girls. This is not helped by the plot, which requires him to take someone under 14 as a bride (not for sex reasons, I promise). The other caveat is the reason that her fiancee is out to murder her, which is that he is sleeping with his younger sister and she just discovered this. Frankly, Gerald is one of those “so evil it’s laughable” guys we often find in light novels, and so it’s no surprise that he’s the worst. Hadis is the biggest surprise, as I expected him to be similar to Claude from Final Boss and he is very much not. He’s kind of a mess. As for Jill, she is a hoot, she’s overpowered as hell, and she’s trying her best to not die even when the universe really, really wants her to die. The author’s heroines are always the main reason to get the book, and this is no exception.
Cross Infinite World is fast-tracking this one a bit more than their usual schedule (possibly as it’s more than 2 volumes long), so we’ll get the 2nd book in about 3 months. If you like reset novels, or strong heroines, or “eccentric” lead characters, this is a great choice.