By Ameko Kaeruda and Kazutomo Miya. Released in Japan as “Onna dakara, to Party wo Tsuihou Sareta no de Densetsu no Majo to Saikyou Tag wo Kumimashita” by Overlap Novels. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Molly Lee.
As we start the second volume of Sexiled, things are looking good for Tanya and company. They’re celebrities now, heralded by the women in the city for what they did. They’re now guiding other parties to grow and learn. But, of course, there’s still the inherent sexism of everyday life. Some of the parties they’re guiding just want to show off in front of them. Sexual assault is framed as “she was asking for it by wearing that outfit.” Promises of marriage are extorted by drugging a girl. Even fashion is against them, as Tanya is told that only men can wear swords at the palace ball… even though Tanya is there as a bodyguard. And then of course there is Laplace’s behavior, as lately she’s seem distracted or even depressed at times. Why was she sealed up in the first place? And is is possible for her to also get revenge?
As with the first book, the writing here reminds you of the sort of thing that women deal with every day. The first half is filled with frustrating assumptions and casual misogyny that makes our heroine’s brains burn. Katherine, the fox-sorceress who was a minor antagonist in the first book, has joined Lilium, and she proves to be an excellent addition to the party, gaining confidence, inventing popcorn chicken, and also helping save the day so that things don’t have to end with a lot more deaths. Because the back half of this book is a lot more serious than the first one. Many of the relationships in this book are abusive, including the princess of the realm, as well as Laplace, whose determination to stand up against her abuser is very well done. I also liked how the kissing was reframed as plot-relevant (and Tanya noting that it was non-consensual at first, even if she ended up not minding it), and this leads to an excellent callback at the climax of the book.
The book is still a light novel fantasy, of course. We briefly see Tanya and Laplace fighting goblins, and there is much discussion of mana and its ability in helping to attain immortality. The fight scenes are relatively simply but breezy, never getting too bogged down in spell creation or other pitfalls. There’s also a healthy dose of humor – I quite liked Nadine yelling “POW POW” in Tanya’s ear, and the smarmy tone of one of the jerks dealt with in the book is mocked by criticizing the very typography of his lines. There’s also a nice scene at the very end of the book which shows a young palace guard who was also inspired by Tanya’s party to chase after his own dreams, and his genuine gratitude and admiration of her feels like a “not all men” that’s actually earned for once. I will admit I think the art that comes with the book is merely adequate – there are some nice scenes of Tanya and Laplace in the middle of the book where the illustrations feel very flat. I wonder if we’ll get some fanart from others.
I’m not sure where the series goes from here – we’re caught up with the Japanese release – but I will definitely be devouring the next book in the series. Still an excellent takedown of misogyny as well as a good light novel fantasy.