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by Rebecca Silverman,

I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss

Novels 2 & 3

I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss Novels 2 & 3

Aileen Lauren D'Autriche has successfully averted her fate as the doomed villainess of the otome game she was reborn into, but as it turns out, that's not enough to truly save her – because the original game also has a sequel and a fan disc! Now Aileen has to contend with the characters from the second game who threaten her peace as well as the routes spun off from the first game in the fan disc, and that might be the true threat, because while Claude isn't really part of the plot of game two, the fan disc costs him his memories and magic. Meanwhile the also-reincarnated heroine, Lilia, is happily doing her best to manipulate the world – and Aileen – adding in a whole new set of complications. Will Aileen ever get her happy ending, or is there just no hope for a villainess?

I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss is translated by Taylor Engel.


While the first volume of Sarasa Nagase's light novel series I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss was a complete story in and of itself, the following two entries prove that just because Aileen got the guy doesn't mean that her story's over. As in the case with many popular video games, it turns out that Regalia of Saints, Demons, and Maidens, the in-world otome game Aileen was reincarnated into, had more than just the initial game that she solved in volume one: there's also a sequel game and a fan disc for the first game, and that means that Aileen can't just sit back and live happily ever after. At least, not without a fight.

A large part of the reason she has to fight, of course, is the heroine whom she displaced in the first novel, Lilia. Lilia, we learned, is also reincarnated into the game from modern Japan, and if Aileen's former self enjoyed playing on a more casual level, Lilia's previous self was a hardcore gamer. That's a dangerous fact in this story, because as the law of narrative causality states, if the villainess has become the heroine, the heroine must become the villainess to balance her out.

While there's reason to debate whether or not Lilia is aware that she's become the bad guy, her actions undeniably place her in that category, especially in volume three, the stronger of these two books. That novel takes for its plot the fact that a fan disc exists for the first entry in the game series, which means that the characters are all the same as in the first novel. This gives Lilia a chance to try to alter the events of the first novel by following the route where Claude loses his memories and magic, because in the version of the game world they're living in, that means that if Claude loses his memories, he also loses his love for Aileen. Needless to say, while her increasing bevy of followers might not mind this change in Aileen's situation, Aileen herself isn't going to just sit back and let it happen.

In this regard, book two can almost be seen as setup for book three. The plot of the second novel sends Aileen to a magic school, where she has to try to save the unfortunate antagonist of the story from his fate, mostly because his doom could spell Claude's. Disguised as a boy (or perhaps that should be “disguised”), Aileen infiltrates the student council and promptly begins to work her magic, meaning that she wins over the villainess of that game. Interestingly, that's not the reason why Serena, the heroine, shifts over to villain mode; Lilia is hard at work trying to doctor events to suit her purposes, and Serena's admiration for a corrupted heroine has the effect of corrupting her as well.

It's a fascinating use of the basic tropes of heroine/villainess reversal, and Lilia is in many ways a more interesting character than Aileen because of it. We see her building up to her worst self in books one and two and then come to full, noxious bloom in the third volume, and while we can extrapolate from her words and actions what's behind this shift (more than narrative causality, at any rate), it isn't flat-out stated until near the end of the third book: Lilia still thinks that she's in a game.

This plot point stands out because of the way that Nagase leans into it. Plenty of other light novels in the villainess subgenre play with the same idea, and others also have the dual reincarnation aspect. But few (in English translation) address the idea of a game heroine who is so invested in her gaming that she barely recognizes that the world she's living in is a real one, filled with actual human beings who have their own motivations, thoughts, and feelings. Lilia, a rabid gamer, is still in the mindset that she's the player, and she's not above manipulating people and events based on how things “should” function. She's basically trying to cheat the world, and she doesn't care who she steps on or breaks in her quest to “win.” She's not even particularly careful about who she tells this or how she interacts with people once she feels she's “captured” them, and the way that this pans out for her in book three is one of the highlights of Nagase's writing.

Ultimately, Lilia is the villainess because she can't stop seeing the world as a game while Aileen's the heroine because she treats everyone like people rather than characters and understands that if this once was a game, it isn't anymore. The writing tries to frame this as “obsessive gamer vs casual gamer” to an extent, which doesn't quite work, but it does make the series stand out in its increasingly crowded isekai subgenre; as gimmicks go, it's one that makes a lot of sense.

Despite all of these darker elements, this still is, first and foremost, a comedic series. Both books have a lot of good giggles in them, with the ducks being a highlight across both volumes. The epilogue to volume three is a delightful comedy of errors (poor, poor Claude), and Aileen, although at times unbelievably dense, is mostly a very engaging heroine. The illustrations are also quite attractive, which makes me sad that the only color art we get is on the covers.

I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss didn't need to have more volumes past the first, but we're lucky that it does. The story continues to build its comparison of Aileen and Lilia while maintaining its light and fluffy tone, making this just a lot of fun to read. The present tense narration is still a bit of a drag, but if that's not a deal breaker for you, it's definitely worth picking this up ahead of its anime adaptation.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+

+ Interesting use of Aileen vs Lilia, some very funny moments in both books.
Present tense narration is a little tricky at times, book two isn't quite as strong.

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Production Info:
Story: Sarasa Nagase
Licensed by: Yen Press

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I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss (light novel)

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