By: Peggy Sue Wood | @peggyseditorial
In the ever-growing stock of isekai mangas featuring young women reborn in an otome game, what stands out to me about Akuyaku Reijo Nanode Rasubosu o Katte Mimashita is that Aileen/Irene (our main character) isn’t being given the full story of the game like her contemporaries. This is something her antagonist, and the game’s original protagonist, Lilia, seems to have gotten in full.
Irene hasn’t lived through the events transpiring before, and even though she played the game, the memories only quickly pop-up before the destruction flags are set to transpire, acting more like premonitions that give her a psychic step-up in the world rather than a guide book to follow.
The premonition-like feel to Irene’s glimpses of her past game-play reminds me a bit of Higeki no Genkyou tonaru Saikyou Gedou Rasubosu Joou wa Tami no Tame ni Tsukushimasu‘s Pryde, the MC of the work, who receives visions of her past life similar to Irene. However, the stories of these two characters, Pryde and Irene, are entirely different.
In Higeki no Genkyou tonaru Saikyou Gedou Rasubosu Joou wa Tami no Tame ni Tsukushimasu, Pryde, is a bratty kid who gets an awful awakening of how her horrible behavior is leading her down a terrible path that she works to correct. Pryde’s “premonitions” are given on a consistent basis. Her visions are also publically known and viewed as a prophetic power passed down in her family line. They, like Irene’s visions, are also triggered by upcoming events, but unlike Irene’s foresight, Pryde’s troubles portrayed in each vision have semi-simple solutions. Solutions that can be summed up with “don’t be an evil person.”
A great example is Pryde’s first meeting with her adopted brother Style, in which all she had to do was not trick him, a young child, into signing a modified contract that would turn him into a slave as well as not ordering him to murder his mother. She does go beyond not doing that, going so far as to help change long-held rules about adoptees not being allowed contact with their former parents in addition to providing him as comfortable a life and as much freedom in his decision making as she can manage as an isolated princess. Akuyaku Reijo Nanode Rasubosu o Katte Mimashita is a totally different ball game by comparison.
To start, Irene isn’t a villain. She’s been villainized for ridiculous reasons but is a good person working hard to make things better for her country and her former fiance prior to the confrontation event we see at the start of the series. We find out that before the awakening of her past-life memories, Irene was/is an avid and successful businesswoman even though she’s considerably young. She’s made successful partnerships with talented commoners, and thereby can’t be faulted for class-based discriminatory behavior. (I say awakening here and am referring to her realization that the strange dreams she had as a child are memories of a past life. I do not mean to imply that her dreams in youth inherently count as the “awakening” to her past life memories; I consider the realization of what they are to be the awakening over having the experience of seeing the memory as a dream and believing it is a dream.)
In addition to this interesting approach of seeing the past in glimpses, I like the artist’s fun approach to drawing Irene’s inner monologues.
For example, when Irene is reviewing the game’s storyline in her mind, the art often shows little chibi hand-puppet versions of the characters acting out the game’s events. This is different from how others have gone about the game’s replay like telling us what happened in the game via dialogue or showing it to the audience with as much detail as they would give a flashback or another scene being played out in the new timeline of events. It somewhat reminds me of Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta’s approach where Katarina’s replay of the game’s events happens via an internal discussion between parts of herself.
It’s a fun read and pretty unique to the I’ve-been-reborn-as-a-villainess subgenre of Isekai. I have little doubt that it too will have an anime coming out soon (or, at least, I very much hope it does!).
The love story in this work is also terrific, and even though I love long stories, I appreciate that this story comes to a close in just three volumes. I mean, I could 100% go for another 100+ chapters of this, particularly if we get to see the cast go through events post-game, ideally leading to a spectacular love story and action-comedy. But I also really enjoy that this work has come to a neat close, making it feel like a gift. A gift that I REALLY want to gets at least a 13 episode anime…
However, perhaps what I find to be the best part of this story is it’s ending–in which we see a conflict that is often present in the game-vs.-life mentality of these kinds of Isekai. Think back to Rising of the Shield Hero, and how three of the heroes treat the world as a game with only Naofumi taking it seriously. Now privatize this idea to the thoughts of only two characters, Irene and her “hero” counter-part, Lilia.
Lilia, who has full memory of the game and the story, treats the world as a game–one that was built for her and should bend to her will since she is the hero and protagonist supported by plot armor. When that plot armor is chipped away, she pushes through and disregards the world’s nuances and the reality around her.
Compare that to Irene, who died early in her previous life and spent most of it locked up in a hospital room from what we can tell. Irene’s only “life” is the one she is living now. These two ideas are displayed in how we see the characters behave privately. For example, Lilia goes about the world lying and abusing her power over the prince and others to make all sorts of politically destructive choices (of which she suffers no consequences for until the end). Meanwhile, Irene is always on her toes, trying to correct the issues she sees around her in addition to fighting for her life and, by extension, the life of the monsters, Claude, and others.
These conflicting ideas, in which Lilia views the world as a game and Irene views the world as reality, come to a point in Chapter 12 without ever needing to be fought out via words between the two:
It’s a decisive moment for this underlying sub-plot/conflict that was a joy for me to see played out in such a unique way.
All this is to say that I HIGHLY recommend this series. You can buy a copy of the volumes on Amazon; you can find English copies online (but please support its official release).