By Umikaze Minamino and Kochimo. Released in Japan as “Kyōran Reijō Nia Liston: Byōjaku Reijō ni Tenseishita Kami-goroshi no Bujin no Kareinaru Musō Roku” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by okaykei.
I appreciate a book that can subvert expectations right off the bat. The cover of this book features the titular heroine sitting on a throne, with blood spilled at her feet. The subtitle is “The Merciless Maiden”. The narrative explicitly says she’ll grow up to be absolutely terrifying. And the start of the book shows us her origin: in order to save his own skin, a disreputable mage, hired to save the life of a sickly young noble girl (who has, in fact, already died), transplants the soul of a fierce warrior who lives only for battle and desires a glorious death. Throughout the start of this book you get Nia Liston casually mentioning how strong she really is. But we very, very rarely see this. This book is, until near the end, the definition of a slow burn. Instead, what we get are Nia Liston’s adventures in livestreaming. And honestly, if it were “Nia Liston: The Impassive Presenter of a TV Show”, I might not have picked it up.
After being reincarnated into Nia’s 5-year-old body, the nameless warrior (who cannot remember much of anything about their past life aside from battle lust) has to spend much of her time making it so that the body does not immediately die. Fortunately, there’s chi and cultivation and all that stuff that I am thankful we don’t go into too much detail about, and eventually Nia gets healthy again, to the delight of her parents and older brother. She then proceeds to try to learn about the world she’s living in, as subtly as possible (i.e., not very) asking her maid about who the Liston family are and what they control. The answer, for the most part, is “magivision”, which is, of course, magic television. In order to show off their daughter’s miraculous recovery, they decide to have her host a show of her own. But… will she ever get to be merciless?
Yes, it does eventually happen, though I was going to wonder if it would be subverted. Nia goes on so much at the start about how much damage she could do to people with just her pinky finger that I thought the gag would be that she was a mere 5-year-old girl in reality. But no, when she spots her co-star (she ends up acting in a teleplay near the end) being accosted by thugs, we see her gleefully getting in a bit of the old ultraviolence. Nia is not training to do anything but make her body healthier – the martial arts skills are all innate, advanced, and extremely powerful. So, of course, the main reason to get this is to see other people’s reactions to a 5-year-old girl beating up over a hundred mafia goons, which range from terrified (the goons) to intrigued (the co-star, who asks “can I watch?”), to over the moon (her maid, a former adventurer, who basically says “PLEASE TRAIN ME”).
The next volume has Nia head off to boarding school, and I assume will focus more on the fighting than the livestreaming, though I could be wrong. In any case, if you want to know how to do slow burn plotting properly, this is a good example.