Choose your own isekai!
Konoha Satou is a reclusive middle schooler who spends her free time in her room, working endlessly on her own isekai novel in which she gets to reincarnate as the incomparably beautiful and powerful Konoha Magnolia, a much-beleaguered and perfect young woman who gets to go on an exciting quest to save her beloved. Ten years later, Konoha’s an adult with a job, and has forgotten a lot of the finer details of her old story when she is run over by a truck… and reincarnates into the world she created. Alas, though, she isn’t the gorgeous lead but instead is her villainous little sister, Iana, who dies for her sins in the prologue of the book. Can she manage to recall enough of her own story to beat the fate she herself wrote?
So, here we have another young woman who must duck death after being reborn as the mean girl, and we can see clearly that the twist to set itself apart is that its our hapless lead’s own design she’s got to defeat rather than that of a game writer’s. Thus, the real question which arises for the reader is less “can she survive?” and more “ok, so does this actually set it apart at all from anything else?”, for which the surprising answer is – yes, it actually does a bit, which surprised me given that the conceit seems a bit lazy to begin with. While overall this opts for a relatively humorous tone (which, despite the popularity of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, is the less common choice for villainess isekai yarns), Iana does have the contend with the fact that the narrative choices she made as a kid have real consequences for real human beings in her new life, something which clearly sits uneasily for her. (As it should considering her middle school self’s penchant for writing scenes in which Konoha Magnolia is sexually assaulted; the narration notes that said middle school self didn’t really get what she was talking about but also definitely felt some sort of excitement over it, which, fair enough, that does track with adolescents writing fanfiction.) (This, by the way, is an element which is definitely not going anywhere, so if you dread the prospect of a character being threatened with rape at least once per volume, even if its clear they never will be, this is absolutely not a series to read.)
Now, having said all that, I’ll admit that the thing which sticks with me from reading is my sense of wonder over how ridiculous Iana’s sister’s breasts are. They’re huge! And they’re always on the verge of escaping from the neckline of whatever dubiously-designed dress she’s got on. Only author Akiharu Touka could possibly say how it is that these breasts do not manage to break loose and dash off to a life of their own. I mean, really, how the hell are those breasts staying put in this dress:
That just defies physics and all good sense, that’s a dual-nip-slip just waiting to happen!
So, yes, the fate of a pair of breasts is what’s endured with me, so maybe this didn’t present the most memorable of reads. On the other hand, it wasn’t bad, and its means of distinguishing itself from the crowd worked decently. I also do think that its a manga is a big plus (this isn’t an adaptation of a LN), as a lot of these isekai stories would be better off as manga to begin with; their storylines simply seem better suited for a more visual approach to storytelling, presumably as manga does cut back on the tendency to tell in lieu of showing. On yet another hand, though, I can’t entirely dismiss the suspicion that I wouldn’t have even picked it up in first place were I not in the mood for reading some lighter manga a couple afternoons ago.
Something the back of the book will not tell you is that about a quarter of page count is taken up by a one-shot that has no relation whatsoever to the main text, and is instead concerned with a Japan in which necromancy and exorcism is real. The former is forbidden, and the latter exists to deal with those who illegally engage with it, but a young exorcist is thrown into turmoil when the necromancer he’s hunting practices his art to reveal a murderer in their midst. Quite frankly, this one-shot is much more interesting than Iana’s story, albeit surely partly since tales centered on reincarnated villainesses who are trying to not be murdered have begun approaching glut levels these days. Unfortunately, despite an open-ended conclusion, the author makes it clear in her afterword that she’s almost certainly never going back to it.
The Yen Press release of this volume is good, no complaints from me other than that it would be nice if Yen would list more of the folks involved in production;
All in all, it’s a decent if not especially noteworthy debut volume. Folks who enjoy villainess isekai who don’t much like LNs will probably find the most value in this, wholly unfettered as it is from any LN stuff. The second volume is out late in April, and I’ll likely pick it up when it comes around. The synopsis promises that a friend from Iana’s former life has reincarnated, too, but wants to kill her now, which does pique my curiosity even as I figure its obvious why (friend reincarnates as someone who experiences something awful because of a cavalier writing choice made by past-life Iana).