By Riia Ai and Mucha. Released in Japan as “Scenario Nante Iranai! Rival Chara no Kitsunekko” on the Shousetsuka ni Narou website. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Miki “Zombie” Zuckerman.
It’s always tough when a word ends up being shorthand for a genre. There’s no “villainess” in this book. Indeed, the Japanese romanji uses “Rival Chara”, which is far more accurate. But, as with “isekai” books that aren’t really isekai, “villainess” has become shorthand for a genre of books that this series falls under, so here we are. That said, it’s also intriguing for other reasons. First of all, as the blurb suggests, we have two different “reincarnated into a game” characters butting heads in order to save the game from a bad end, which honestly is mostly used for comedy here. Secondly, the “villainess” is NOT one of the reincarnated Japanese people, and she’s the narrator. Just having a reincarnation book from the POV of someone else is refreshing, but it turns out that the villainess is sweet as pie, and makes everyone around her want to protect and love her. Honestly, it’s no surprise that the actual “heroine” doesn’t even show up in this volume.
Miku and Claire are sisters, and both are Fox Girls, one of many demi-human races in this world. That said, Miku was rather startled when Claire, back when she was 4 years old or so, fell over, hit her head, and then started talking about her past life from Japan! Miku doesn’t really get all this talk about otome games and airplanes, but she loves her sister, so if her sister wants her to train her magic so that they can fight monsters and save the village from a theoretical attack, then that’s what they’ll do. Things get complicated when the love interest from the game arrives, and he too also appears to be attempting to change the narrative to suit his tastes. Both Ektor and Claire have Miku’s best interests at heart… even if they want to solve things in different ways. After all, if they don’t do anything, Miku will die!
I will be honest, this is a book that lives and dies on its ideas, because its writing style and characters are somewhat basic and bland. I had to look at the cover to remind myself that Claire did not have red hair, simply because she fills the “red-headed anime girl” slot so well. As with many books in this genre, Claire and Ektor both don’t really seem to realize that by changing things so much, they’ve probably already achieved their goal. That said, the “gimmick” behind Miku’s powerful light magic is a dangerous one, and while I get that they wanted to wait till she was mature enough to handle it, I appreciate it that they told her immediately once the truth came out. Mostly, though, this is a story of Miku walking around charming everyone in her wake by being adorable, naïve, kind, and earnest. The reader wants to protect her as well.
As noted above, the cliffhanger ending of this volume implies that the “heroine” of the games (there’s more than one genre, something that comes as a surprise to Claire, who only played the original) will show up and make things difficult, though given that Ektor is firmly on Team Miku, it’s hard to see how.Till then, this is a standard webnovel with a decent gimmick of having the narrative come from the non-isekai character.