By Suzu Enoshima and Eihi. Released in Japan as “Tsundere Akuyaku Reijou Liselotte to Jikkyou no Endo-kun to Kaisetsu no Kobayashi-san” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mikey N.
One complaint a lot of people have about villainess novels it that it seems highly unlikely that the heroine would really be so oblivious not to realize that the original premise of the series went off the rails the moment she started making everyone fall for her/becoming an adventurer or world leader instead/sipped tea in a prison cell while bulling her ex, etc. But let’s face it, when you know the script, it can be hard to improvise. It may be a bad end, but dammit, at least it’s a straight line. So I don’t blame Endo and Kobayashi for thinking that, even though they’ve improved Lieselotte’s life vastly, they still have to deal with the whole evil witch possessing her. Indeed, the first half of the book sets us up for just that. But what follows is… well, it’s a lot less satisfying from the perspective of a game fan, but it’s a heck of a lot funnier for us, the reader.
As I said, the start of the book makes it seem as if the Witch possessing Lieselotte and forcing a bad end is still very much in platy. Toward that end, not only does Sieg have to keep his fiancee happy, but they also have to recruit the other two love interests… only this time without them falling for Fiene, who already has a boyfriend. What’s more, they suddenly realize that if this isn’t a game and they aren’t limit4ed to the school grounds, they can ask actual adults to help! Meanwhile, Endo and Kobayashi are also getting ready for the culture festival, and fending off the idea that literally everyone thinks they’re already a couple. Unfortunately, when Kobayashi’s older sister arrives we get one of those classic “I came in halfway through the conversation and completely misunderstood everything” moments. Can they save Lieselotte AND manage to confess to each other?
I’m trying not to spoil, but I have to admit, possibly the best part of the book is the appearance of the witch, and who she really is. As a climax to an otome game plotline, or a major supernatural battle, it’s abysmally awful, but I was laughing my ass off. This also helps, though, as it makes the final part of the book, back in Japan, be far more about Endo and Kobayashi’s misunderstood feelings rather than about the possessed Kuon trying to forcibly take back his long lost love even if it means destroying the world. I also appreciated the fact that in the end they get to have Lieselotte in THEIR heads explaining exactly what they’re missing… as well as the “witch”, who does sort of help. I guess. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a book that was always meant to be more fun than dramatic.
This is the final volume, which feels about right. Dragging this out would lose the impact. At two volumes, it’s a great read, especially if you’re looking for a villainess novel but also love Twitch streamers.