By Yuji Yuji and Nami Hidaka. Released in Japan as “99-kai Danzaisareta Loop Reijō Desu ga Konse wa “Chōzetsu Aisare Mode” Desutte!?: Shinno Chikara ni Mezamete Hajimaru 100-kaime no Jinsei” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Stephanie Liu.
Despite what a lot of writers will tell you, it’s pretty easy to write some more of what you’ve already written. When you’ve done a volume, introduced the character, the situation, etc. you can think of some ways to extend it out, add another subplot, new villain, etc. This is especially true if your publisher is brand new to the light novel market and does not want to have a bunch of single-volume series lest people think they’re failing. But honestly, sometimes the author has to take a step back, look at what they’ve already wrapped up in a satisfying manner, and say “I could write more. But do I *need* to write more? If I write another volume in the series, will it actively damage everything that I’ve created to date?” Unfortunately, we have a textbook example of that here, in a second volume of a series that really should have been a one-shot.
This is a book of two halves. The first half is fine. Alphina, who has mostly succeeded in running away from her suitors, infiltrates the school her brother Carl is attending to make sure he’s doing all right. She disguises herself as an assistant teacher, and the biggest problem she has is a classmate of Carl’s, Hipper, who seems to hate Carl for reasons that go beyond simple “jealousy” or the like. Alphina ends up uncovering a plot by religious cultists, which she is fortunately able to stop. Unfortunately, in doing so she reveals her identity, and has now been captured by the royal family and will be marrying the prince, someone that absolutely delights everyone except Alphina. This leads to the second half of the book, which is not fine.
I have complaints. The first volume found a good balance between “funny” and “annoying”, this second one tips it too far towards the latter. The comedy is so broad in places as to beggar belief. The use of the time loop, which frankly I thought was a gimmick we were done with after the first 10 pages of the first book, could actually have been clever were it not attached to the aforementioned annoying comedy, so it seems like a wasted opportunity. Most importantly, though, isn’t this supposed to be a romance? It’s a J-Novel Heart title, am I right? Why is it then, after two volumes, that every single love interest remains shallow at best and creepily possessive at worst? The book thankfully ends with a marriage averted for the moment, but the reader can’t help but agree with Alphina – marrying any of these zeebs would be a nightmare. Even the cover art has that “this is the final volume of a romance, let’s end on a wedding shot” art, except Alphina’s sweatdrop shows us she really, really doesn’t want to be here.
All this plus the return of a character I never wanted to see again. There’s room left for a third book in the series, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see one, but man, if you want to give Alphina a happy ending, try making the guys more than cardboard cutouts for the sake of the comedy.