Long time no see.
Well, I’ve been gone a while from this. Combo of job being too hectic, personal life being too hectic, and some health issues. I’d been considering starting to write reviews again from roughly January or so, but nothing quite pushed me to do so, until I picked up this last week. I suppose, then, that’d be the short version of this review – I enjoyed this opening volume enough to dust off my blog and share that with others! But, it’s probably best to fully shake off the rust, right?
The title sure is something, isn’t it? The titular reincarnated princess is Anisphia, nicknamed Anis, who realizes one day as a five year old that she used to live in a different world in which flight was possible. Her own current world does not have any human flight, but it does possess magic, so Anis figures that she could work her way to flight via that. Unfortunately, it turns out she’s unable to use magic, as she essentially lacks the circuitry to tap into the magic forces around her. And, so, her childhood passes. And then, one day, she accidentally crashes a fancy ball at her country’s fancy magic school, and in the process plays the savior role for the genius young lady member of the title, Euphylia. Euphylia is the daughter of a duke, and was supposed to be the next queen… alas, her fiancee, Anis’s brother, has just very publicly dumped her. But if Euphylia is in shock, Anis at least senses an opportunity, and ends up not only whisking her away but convincing both their fathers that Euphie is just the person she needs as a research assistant.
I had originally been on the fence about whether to pick this one up or not, as while the plot description sounded like it had potential, I’d also seen not great commentary on the LN’s manga adaptation. I also felt some skepticism, as some titles that have been released in English and trotted around by folks as being “yuri” in the past few years have either not really been at all, or only in the lightest of touches, and, quite frankly, I have no interest in that sort of thing; it reeks of the kind of stuff one ended up reading/watching circa 2004 out of a lack of other, better options. What nudged me over was a good review over at A Case Suitable for Treatment as well as a desire on my part for something a bit gay and on the lighter side, as I’d just read and really enjoyed both The Last One (Fatima Daas) and Cassandra at the Wedding (Dorothy Baker), but wanted some, well, lighter fare.
Well, I’m glad I took a chance on this one, as I enjoyed it enough for it to be considered a pleasant surprise. Anis is essentially a mad scientist… and while it is true that quite a lot of isekai protagonists snap their fingers and change their new world via the invention of mayonnaise or safety scissors, Anis really is the mad scientist type whereas almost none of those others are. The degree to which she is perceived of as eccentric in her world is emphasized, as is the fact that while some of her technological innovations and her discoveries about natural science have clear benefits, she’s got to be careful about how she goes about mentioning her ideas to anyone. The most obvious comparison would be to Ascendance of a Bookworm’s Myne, although Anis luckily has the benefit of being a member of the royal family; she does have to earn money to support her passions, but she at least need not worry about being randomly killed or kidnapped by aristocrats like Myne does.
Euphyilia is good, too, although it takes a little bit longer for her to get fully chugging away as a character, which is fair enough given that we meet her right at what might be the worst moment in her life. She’s also not entirely convinced of Anis’s plan for her, and ends up going along with it as she doesn’t think she has any better options since being jilted by the heir to the throne will have thoroughly ruined marital prospects for her entirely. But as she starts to come out of her shell, while it is clear that she tends more introverted than Anis, she’s got her own capacity for a backbone, it’s just been worn down by years of being prepped to be the next queen. Most of the book is from Anis’s perspective, but we do get to spend some time inside of Euphie’s head as well (and, more surprisingly, in Anis’s father’s POV).
Now, the yuri content isn’t particularly heavy here, although it is very much overt in the sense that Anis directly states that she’s attracted to women, not men. It is very obvious by the end of the volume that Euphie has a crush on Anis, although it doesn’t seem likely she’s clocked that fact yet. I am assuming that at some point the pair will get together, but at the moment it seems fairer to describe this as being a fantasy story with some yuri elements rather than as being primarily a yuri story.
Having spoken about a lot of things I did like, I want to comment on something I very much did not like – the illustrations. Those girls on the cover are supposed to be 15 and 17 years old. If you had the volume on hand, you could flip a few pages in and see the characters page, which features the 15 year old Euphie’s ex ditched her for. None of them look any of these alleged ages, but instead fluctuate between having the heads of 4-10 year olds on bodies with gravity-defying balloon breasts. Anis and Euphie don’t have particularly large chests, but once you notice how their physiques look upholstered into place, its hard to unnotice, and its creepy given the goo goo gaa gaa baby faces they’ve been given. Its easy enough to ignore LN illustrations, and LN illustrations as a category are usually pretty mediocre, but this time it realllllly bugged me.
So, tossing the illustrations aside, this was a strong opener; I like these girls and I want to see what their future adventures are. Got my pre-order in for volume two, which is scheduled for July. (The manga adaptation’s first volume is out in late May, by the way, although I am not going to be picking it up; it is nice that the girls don’t look so babyish, but I don’t usually like to read both LN and manga versions of same story, especially not when one is apparently the far worse iteration.)