Sunday, December 19, 2021

REVIEW: I'm the Villainess So I'm Taming the Final Boss, Vol. 1 (book) by Sarasa Nagase, illustrated by Mai Murasaki, translated by Taylor Engel

I'm the Villainess So I'm Taming the Final Boss is yet another "reborn as the villainess in an otome game" fantasy romance light novel series. It's published by Yen On. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes mild spoilers.


At the worst possible moment, when Aileen's fiance, Prince Cedric, is publicly ending their betrothal so he can be with Lilia Reinoise, Aileen remembers her past life as a sickly Japanese girl who loved otome games. Specifically, the otome game that she now realizes she's in. Unfortunately, Aileen is the villainess, doomed to die as Claude, the demon prince and the game's final boss, transforms into a dragon and awakens into his true demonic powers.

Aileen decides that the best way to deal with this situation is to find Claude and make him her husband before his and Lilia's storyline even starts. Her memories of the game are a little fuzzy, so she doesn't immediately remember all of her possible death flags, but she figures that as long as she concentrates on Claude, she can deal with the rest as needed.

As someone who plays and enjoys otome games, the whole "final boss" thing was a little weird. It'd probably be more accurate to call Claude a "secret" or unlockable romanceable character, but I suppose that'd make for an awkward translation.

Anyway, this formula is now familiar enough that the author doesn't even bother to establish any details about Aileen's previous life beyond "she was sickly and enjoyed otome games." Readers don't even learn her original name, and she either can't remember her past family and friends or didn't have any.

If this were my first "reborn as the villainess in an otome game" story, I might have liked it more, because it was pretty decent for what it was. Yes, like most heroines in these stories, Aileen used her memories of her past life to "invent" modern products much more quickly than should have been possible, but on the plus side, the book didn't spend too much time on this, Aileen concentrated mostly on cosmetics, and the person she was before recovering her past memories had actually planned to do something similar. It could have been worse.

The author knew what they really wanted to concentrate on, and that was the romance. It was simplistically done and formulaic, but still appealing. Claude was the reincarnation of the demon prince, but he was also a nice guy who just wanted humans and demons to get along. His emotions affected the natural world around him (if he was sad it rained, if he was happy flowers bloomed, etc.), so he had to be careful and remain calm. As with most love interests of his type, the first pretty girl to say something kind to him won his heart. In the otome game, that was Lilia. This time around, Aileen managed it.

In some ways, I'd argue that Aileen was even dumber than My Next Life as a Villainess's "Bakarina." The heroine of that series wasn't deliberately trying to romance anybody, so her lack of recognition that everyone around her was falling for her made a bit more sense. Aileen, on the other hand, literally introduced herself to Claude with a request that he marry her and knew that his emotions could affect the world around him. Still, for some reason she couldn't recognize the many signs that he was falling for her.

The romance aspects were nice in a fluffy, bland shojo romance kind of way. Claude liked Aileen because she was kind, determined, and amusing. Aileen liked Claude because of the things she knew about him from the game (for instance, that he was kinder than his stony face and demonic powers might indicate) and because he was ridiculously good-looking. I liked the scene where Aileen worried that, despite everything, Claude's first meeting with Lilia might have started Lilia's "Claude route," although it did highlight one of the problems with the book's "imprinted duck" style of romance. It's tough to trust in love that only seems to take one nice line of dialogue to establish.

Anyway, this was a relatively fluffy and low-stress read, although I should mention that there's a slavery storyline that's kind of dubious - the author bends themselves into a pretzel trying to establish one particular character as both terrible enough to inspire a "bad" otome game ending, and also a decent person who was just in over their head.

All of the major conflicts are resolved by the end of this volume, so it could conceivably be read as a standalone novel. I'll probably be reading volume 2 despite volume 1's issues (which included embarrassingly bad editing on Yen Press's part - it wasn't unreadable, but I've never seen so many typos in one of their volumes before). Still, unless the author comes up with some good ideas and does something more interesting with the romance, I don't expect to stick with this series for long.


A couple character profile pages with black and white portraits for Aileen, Claude, Keith, Beelzebuth, Cedric, and Lilia. Also, black and white illustrations throughout, and a short afterword by the author.

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