By Mamecyoro and Mitsuya Fuji. Released in Japan as “Watashi wa Gotsugou Shugi na Kaiketsu Tantou no Oujo de aru” by B’s-LOG Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Sarah Henshaw.
When you’re talking about a genre, it’s never quite just the same thing. No, not even isekai series starring Potato-kun protagonists. There’s mix and match, there’s variations, there’s ways to make this different enough that we don’t get sued. And some genres cross over with others. For example, one genre I quite like is “everyone thinks that the protagonist is being ridiculously clever and crafty, when they’re really just improvising and winging it”. Tearmoon Empire is probably the best current example, but we’ve seen a few others. And, of course, there are BL fantasy novels, where true love is found even if you have to rewrite reality so that the kingdom is predominately gay. And, of course, there are villainess books, where our heroine ends up being accused of things she either never did, or only did in the source material. Put them all together and you’ve got this series, which asks: how would a kingdom run on BL really work out?
Maki was a girl who loved BL novels, particularly a series called The Noble King. It features a kingdom where the king is married to another man, and his son the prince is also in love with a man. In the novels, the prince’s younger sister, Octavia, was a big supporter of theirs, a perfect side character for a BL series. But now Mari has died and is reincarnated *as* Octavia, and has to deal with how the writer manages to have a working dynasty with all the nobility being gay: she will be married off (possibly to a not-gay man, possibly as a beard), produce a child, and then give him to her older brother and have him raise the child as his own. Needless to say, this does not delight Octavia AT ALL. She’s going to find a man of her own! There’s just one slight problem… everyone else thinks she has designs to take over the throne. And is possibly evil.
Octavia, in this first volume, is not an airhead like Katarina Claes. She sees her problem and takes actions to solve it. But she’s also not a clever genius like a lot of other Villainess heroines. Most of her action taking is spur of the moment and improvised, and sometimes quickly regretted. She is, in other words, a normal person reacting the way a normal person would to being in a novel that she’s very familiar with… to a point. (She died after Book 5, so has missed some later stuff.) Unfortunately, to a noble family who are used to everyone acting like they were born into nobility and set in very defined roles… she’s incredibly hard to read, and her actions frequently make no sense. Such as hiring as her new bodyguard a man who is likely an assassin. Or being ambivalent about her older brother’s relationship. Or… in political terms, she’s a bomb that hasn’t gone off yet. This provides terrific tension, which is offset by her narrative voice, which is very “chatty teen girl”.
Basically, this is excellent. It also moves a lot slower than I expected, as we only cover about three days in this first book. We don’t even get a ball where Octavia can be publicly shamed! Possibly next time?