By Nora Kohigashi and Wasabi. Released in Japan as “Watashi wa Succubus Ja Arimasen” by Hero Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.
Sure, it’s always nice when a book that you have high expectations for manages to justify them, but I’ve always been even more fond of books I expected to be utter trash being… well, slightly better than utter trash. I’m not about to say that I Could Never Be a Succubus! should take its place alongside Ascendance of a Bookworm or The Apothecary Diaries. It has consent issues and sometimes suspends disbelief more than I’d like. But I mean, the premise of this series, so I’d heard, was that a noble girl, on seeing the hero who is supposed to defeat the demon lord, arrive at her academy, asks if she can have his underpants. My expectations were THROUGH THE FLOOR. I only read this as I thought it would be amusingly bad. Instead I found it amusing but very readable, and it even has a bit of depth to it. And a great deal of this is due to my completely misreading how this premise was going to go.
A year before the main events in this book, the hero’s party battled the demon lord, and only survived due to the sacrifice of one of their members. A year later, Lisalinde is a student at the national academy. Gorgeous, polite, with great academics and strong magical powers, she’s loved by (almost) all of the student body. Then the hero’s party arrives. They’re still recovering from the battle, so are temporarily enrolling as students. And yes, as I stated above, Lisalinde, on seeing the hero, impulsively asks for his underpants. She’s appalled at herself. She has no idea why it happened. And what’s more, the more she gets to know the hero and his party members, the more perverse thoughts she starts to have. Has she REALLY not met them before? What’s going on?
So, sorry to spoil (it’s on Page 3), but Liselinde, aka Liz, is the party member who sacrificed herself to save the hero and the others. As a result, she’s lost her last two years of memories. Which means she has no idea that she is, in fact, a succubus. Who has already seduced the hero. And the lady knight who is his fiancee. And the adorable cleric who is his other fiance. This book goes back and forth between the present and the past, and that’s why it’s so funny, because Liz in the present is a seemingly normal girl struggling with terrifying impulses, while the Liz of the past, well aware she’s a succubus, will seduce anything that moves, and does so. (There’s no explicit sex in this, but there is a giant pile of IMPLICIT sex.) Liz can be a lot – she’s been known to drug food and drink with aphrodisiacs – but she clearly loves her fellow party members, and it’s obvious that they all miss her and want to get her memories back. I am assuming that there is a very good reason they can’t just tell her – but we don’t get it in this book.
There are six volumes of this to date in Japan, and I’m not sure how long it can sustain its premise. But if you enjoy ecchi comedies with a lovable sex maniac girl doing the cast… or if you love ecchi comedies with a pure young maiden horrified at her dirty mind… well, Liz gives you both.