Inori’s 2019 I’m in Love with the Villainess, Vol. 1 is the first volume in their I’m in Love with the Villainess light novel series. Illustrations are by Hanagata. The translation is by Jean Yamazaki.
As soon as someone refers to her as Rae Taylor, Rei Ohashi realizes that the actor’s nightmare in which she finds herself (finding oneself onstage in a play in which one doesn’t know one’s character, one’s lines, or even the plot) is actually her favourite dating sim, Revolution. While many people in her position might be concerned about how she got there — was it Truck-kun?1 Did a stack of books crush her? — Rei has well defined priorities. Her first is to seduce Revolution’s designated villain, blue-blooded bully Claire François.
Rae might look forward to Sapphic delights … provided that she can overcome some steep challenges. Not least of which is Rae herself.
Revolution is set within the Bauer Kingdom’s Royal Academy. The Bauer Kingdom is a European feudal state. Because it was designed by people disinterested in research, the faux-European setting has a lot of otherwise inexplicable Japanese elements, as Rei sarcastically acknowledges. Recently, commoners have begun agitating for political reforms. In an attempt to quell unrest, the Academy has begun accepting talented commoners, including Rae Taylor.
The game was designed by straight people, Rae is intended to court one of a number of men. But Rei has no interest in the men other than as friends. Rei is determined to win Claire. Rei’s familiarity with the game would seem to give her an advantage in subverting it. Not so. There are problems other than game design.
- Claire is a snob and Rei is a peasant, albeit one with impressive academic and magical abilities.
- Claire doesn’t seem to be interested in women (though it could be that she is and conceals it or that she would be if she were aware that this is an option), The Bauer Kingdom is blandly homophobic. They don’t actively suppress homosexuality as much as pretend it doesn’t exist.
But Rei’s biggest problem is that she has zilch social skills. Rather than cunningly inveigle her way into Claire’s social circle, Rei announces her undying love for the villainess and then gloms onto Claire like a lamprey on an innocent fish.
Can Rei overcome Claire’s loathing for Rei’s orientation and class or is Rei doomed to be as solitary as she was back in the real world? Or will they both be eaten by magical monsters first?
They are not eaten by monsters at this time.
Claire may have been the designated villain, but Rei derails whatever bullying plot there would have been with her courtship campaign. What the reader sees is Claire being spoiled and classist.
One feels a little bit sorry for Rei, because she is alone and … socially inept isn’t quite right … completely indifferent to social rules she feels are designed to frustrate her to no purpose. It’s no mystery why her romantic life failed to launch before the whatever it was did the whatever it did to send her into the game. Claire is extremely clear about not liking Rei and not wanting Rei’s attention and compliments. Rei pursues Claire anyway, apparently on the logic that since Rei is bound to be rejected so she might as well be rejected by a super-hot woman. Which in case anyone was wondering, isn’t really a winning strategy.
I read this because it was recommended in the same article that recommended the Apothecary Diaries . Frankly, while there were some amusing moments (the commentary about lazy game design decisions, for example), I did not find any appeal in Rei’s incessant stalking. But at least the novel was short!
Your mileage may vary.
1: Truck-kun is the affectionately named plot mechanism by which protagonists of manga or anime are whisked from this world to another. They’re hit by a truck and find themselves elsewhere.