By Nozomu Mochitsuki and Gilse. Released in Japan as “Tearmoon Teikoku Monogatari” by TO Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by David Teng.
A majority of the fun in Tearmoon Empire 1 was the dissonance between Mia’s actions, Mia’s reasons for those actions, and the narrator caustically calling her out for the reasons for those actions. That’s still very much present in the second volume – in fact, if anything the narrator’s malice is even more prominent. But something strange happened, because suddenly I ended up being less interested in Mia’s headspace and the silly misconceptions of the people around her and more interested in the world that’s been created here and what’s going on with it. And with good reason, too: here we find that Mia may have jumped back in time to try to make it so she isn’t executed, but that doesn’t mean that the forces behind the scenes are not still gunning for her, or that they don’t still need revolution to happen. Mia, after all, was not the Big Bad in the old world, just a selfish Royal. So can she not only save herself, but the future of multiple countries?
Mia has a lot to do here. It may be summer vacation, but she has to stop arrogant counts from destroying the forest of the tribe that ends up fighting against her in the future; deal with the man who personally executed her; and worst of all, her not-quite-boyfriend Abel’s country is undergoing a very familiar revolution. Fortunately, she still has the magic ability to have her every word and deed misunderstood in the best possible way, and it’s still just as funny. That said, as with the first book, sometimes the misunderstandings have a serious core, as we see her avert a genocide and, yes, stop a revolution, but also force the future rulers of these kingdoms to change the way that they think, and not be so quick to turn to execution and unforgivable actions. That said, don’t worry, the narrator is here to remind us that Mia is shallow and only thinks of herself.
(My pet theory is that these are books commissioned by a future Mia to counteract the slavish hagiographies that are being written about her.)
The narrator, as ever, is sometimes correct but also sometimes full of it, and even they have to occasionally stop and say “OK, Mia was being genuinely good here”. (For a great analysis of the narrator in this book, see this Beneath the Tangles article.) Actually, my favorite scene in the entire book shows us the bad future that Mia originally came from, where a desperate Ludwig is trying in vain to stop her execution, and he points out that Mia, once actually taken in hand and shown she’s being vain or arrogant, is taking pains to actually learn from her mistakes. (It also contrasts with King Sion, who in this bad future did not have Mia’s words to misunderstand and take as well-meant advice.) That said, as I indicated, the plot is the best part herre, with a lot of tension, some good action scenes, and a terrific denouement where Mia takes out the villain as only Mia can.
As with My Next Life As a Villainess, this book feels complete at two volumes, with the main future having definitely been changed and everyone being quite happy. Also as with My Next Life As a Villainess, there’s more books to come, and next volume may see Mia having to face an even more startling future. Till then, this remains an absolutely terrific series. The author recommends in the afterword it be used for book reports. Sounds good to me.