By Inori and Hanagata. Released in Japan as “Watashi no Oshi wa Akuyaku Reijou” by GL Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Kevin Ishizaka. Adapted by Nibedita Sen.
If a lot of this third volume feels a bit like Chekhov restocking his armory, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The second volume of this series ended at a very satisfactory place, to the point where I was very surprised to see a third volume. This is not uncommon in the light novel or manga genre, with a lot of “short” series becoming very popular and the author trying to extend things a bit. That said, this book is clearly written knowing that there will be a fourth volume coming later (it’s already out in Japan). As such, we get a lot of events here that… don’t really go much of anywhere at all. We know they will eventually, but for the moment they’re just sitting there, on the mantelpiece. Of course, that’s not to say there’s nothing going on in this book. We go to an “enemy” country, fight off demons, and try to prevent assassinating the Pope. There’s something for everyone.
As you can see by the cover art, which feels like a culmination of 100 years of yuri, Rae and Claire are happily together now with their adopted children, May and Aleah. It’s about a year after events in the second book, and they’re both teaching at the academy and being very lovey-dovey. Even setbacks like one of their daughters turning out to have zero magic power is dealt with sensibly and with love. Then… they’re asked to join a political “exchange” with the Nur Empire. Rae is familiar with this plot from the side story sequel to the Revolution game, which, much like its predecessor, has somewhat unimpressive romantic routes and a fantastic non-romance route. The empress, Dorothea, is not here for decorum or political gamesmanship. Its imperial princess is currently too meek to really start any sort of revolution. Oh yes, and the Pope has just shown up, and she looks… exactly like Rae.
The intrigue is quite good throughout, as are the few tragic moments. What I enjoyed most about this book, though, is seeing that the relationship between Rae and Claire is just as fun to read now as it was when Claire was a “villainess”. Rae, honestly, feels like the more immature of the two most of the time. They also both manage to wear the “oblivious to love” hat at different times, as Rae can’t seem to figure out (or at least is deliberately ignoring) a student’s crush on her, while the third princess ends up falling for Claire after Claire essentially enacts a classic otome game “route start” scene in front of her. That said, these two are crazy about each other. I especially loved Claire attempting to act like a bully again, to try to excite Rae, only for Rae to completely fail to pick up on it. The book also has several short stories after the main action, which involves weddings, holidays, and nightmares that involve Claire realizing how lucky she is that Rae is… well, the sort of person she is.
This definitely feels like “Part One of Two”, and I expect most of the dangling plotlines will come up there. But there’s still so much here to love. This is a very hard book to put down, even when you want to, and fans of Rae and Claire will be very happy with it.