By Punichan and Canarinu. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijō wa Camping Car de Tabi ni Deru: Aibyō to Mankitsu Suru Self Kokugai Tsuihō ” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by sachi salehi.
Sometimes you can tell that a story is not written by a first-time writer. One of the best ways is when a story has a totally ridiculous premise (such as this one), but knows that it cannot merely coast on just that premise for the entire book. There’s some good thought given to the world building. There’s ‘level ups’, but they’re minimal, and mostly just serve to show us where things are in the vehicle. There’s bad people, but they’re just selfish idiots, not puppy-kickers. Sure enough, this author has a few (unlicensed) series under their belt, and seems to specialize in Villainess titles. That said, the villainess part is not really the reason to read this – our heroine’s exile happens in record time. No, this is for fans of Slow Life books, because our heroine loves outdoor camping, and now that she is freed from this awful otome game, she is going to CAMP SO HARD.
Mizarie Kraphtia, who has the best Obvious Villainess name since Yumiella Dolkness, is publicly shamed and has her engagement broken by her fiance the Prince within the first two paragraphs. This comes as a complete relief to her – her entire life she’s been abused for having a “dark” magic element and black hair, and even getting her family to feed her has been tough. She avoided the heroine of the game she was isekai’d into, but ended up getting railroaded into the plot regardless. So now that she has the opportunity to flee, she does so, using the secret skill she’s been hiding from everyone since she first discovered it. She summons… a camper van, which allows her to drive the hell out of the country and away from the startled Prince (who was already preparing to reduce her exile to “do all my work for me”) and finally live a real life. It’s time to start fires, cook chicken, and discover new kingdoms that won’t abuse her.
This book revels in its genre, but also revels in pointing out the flaws inherent in it. Mizarie is hated and abused for her dark magic and hair… but is still engaged to the Prince, for some reason. But as I said, the book drives away from its villainess origins at 200 MPH, preferring to dig into the nitty gritty of what it would be like to explore a fantasy world with what amounts to an all-terrain vehicle that’s also a camper van. (The title says “RV” in English and “Camping Car” in Japanese, but I call the series “Camper Van Villainess” in honor of the classic alternative band Camper Van Beethoven, author of Take the Skinheads Bowling and other light classics.) Eventually we do get to more traditional isekai tropes, like the guy left for dead by his selfish party, the adventurer’s guild handing out F-ranked missions, and a monster that prove almost too much for our heroine… at least until she uses the camper van to hit it off a cliff.
This isn’t deep, nor should it be. It’s fun, and relaxing, and its heroine is also fun and relaxing. The second volume is due out in Japan this month, so I hope we’ll see it before too long.