So normally when I add an anime or manga or whatever to my list in Anilist, I normally add some short comments there like ‘shit art good story’ on top of the /100 score I normally give. It’s not something that I write intended for someone else, but I write it as a thing where, if I ever rewatch it in the future, I can then compare my previous score+thoughts on it to the thoughts I have then. And when this kind of reflection does happen, it’s been pretty interesting so I’ve done it for a while. That being said, when reading I’m in Love with the Villainess, I ended up writing quite a bit because it was so enjoyable+there were some things that really bothered me while reading, and with no one to complain about it to, I ended up ranting on anilist’s comment section. This happened so much that it ended up going over the 6000 character limit and I had to move over to a google doc. I ended up writing quite a bit, so I thought why not just copy and paste it into a blog post. I’m sure there is some quality post that could be excavated from this mountain of rambling, but I’m lazy. Anyways, below are some rambling thoughts I had while reading all of I’m in Love with the Villainess in the span of a few days.
Oh, and spoilers, obviously.
volume 1; really really good, begins with lighthearted fun with unique character interactions even with the premise that’s really generic on the surface. has bits of foreshadowing for a more serious plot later on here and there which pays off in the last chapter for a decent twist and more fun. art is also gorgeous and pretty unique. 85/100
volume 2; mixed feelings but generally really great and builds on the first volume. the feelings of rae are explored and developed to surprising depths and the relationship between her and claire continues to change much more quickly than the first volume, but manages to be very natural. happy yuri ending which is always nice, the serious parts are quite good and exciting and kept me turning pages in the later parts of the book. The way the book built on some of the world building and how characters that weren’t explored in the actual game but was considered by the developers and therefore was in this world was also really interesting and good, keeping me interested.
Incidentally, games that start off light-hearted and later become more violent with heavy themes im a real sucker for(refer to fe3h), so the fact that the original game had this kind of plotline was an amazing surprise for me.
as for some of the problems, i think theres a bit of queer culture that is trying to appeal to the audience a bit too much. sometimes the story is just making direct parallels to queer culture in real life and the way its introduced and discussed in the book makes it feel like ‘a beginner’s guide to queer culture’ or something. I’m sure some people value the book greatly because it taught them about it or whatever, but personally thats not really what i wanted from this series.
To this end, Rae’s backstory on the love square was pretty bad. it felt like a completely different book with a cheesy story, and even if rae addresses that herself saying that it was foolish high school days or whatever, it doesn’t change the ultimate quality of the writing. i don’t think it really built anything about rae’s character either, i didn’t feel like she was more human or cared more about lgbtq culture or whatever because of the arc. she already had that from the tid bits that kind of thing was mentioned throughout the book and i thought that was sufficient. again, it felt like a sudden appeal towards queer culture that the book was doing which was a bit of a turn off.
prince or princess yu’s story arc was similarly poor imo, specifically rae’s personal feelings and reasons for being involved in it. but the rest of the arc wasn’t bad.
the last arc with the revolution and everything was really good, lots of great drama and twists with the proper build up and set ups that are done throughout the entire book that makes for some great pay offs. the only problem i have is the ultimate resolution where everything just kind of works out in the last trial. maybe the excuse is that the original story had that kind of convenient ending, but the story in the game and the actual events transpiring should have been so different at this point that it shouldn’t even matter.
i’ve complained a lot, but i think the serious and less serious moments of the book are really fantastic and kept me super engaged throughout the entire book. i read the entire volume 1 and half of volume 2 in bed, fell asleep, and then finished volume 2 basically when i woke up. 95/100! (i think the good parts are 95 and the bad parts are 75 ish? but im a sucker for shit that i like)
Thoughts about a third way through:
pon the end of volume 2 and the author notes i thought the story of claire and rae was over and that the other volumes would be focused on other characters, but fortunately that wasnt the case. initially i was on the fence about the kids since i thought id rather just see claire and rae together, but i imagine the author was at their limit with just the two interacting, and the two slowly but surely grew on me. The quad magic and no magic duo was cheesy but theres hints at it being not what it seems which is exciting, and the wholesome parts are pretty good– the parts with the kids going on about wanting to do x or y is boring but my investment in claire and rae makes most scenes that would otherwise be boring quite fun to read. And after a quarter of the book passed, some drama seems to be here!!
Thoughts by the end:
Soooo after finishing it, pretty fuckin good! Ultimately even after having the kids grow on me, i think they are best placed as side characters rather than the main cast. Still interested in their magic affinity thing from before though.
Lots of fun and minus the new student characters who got almost 0 attention, all thw new characters were interesting and great! Im not gonna lie im a little disappointed that the rest of the story is still building on rae having knowledge of the game though this time its throguh a spin off, but its still the same old great book ive been reading in the past 24 hours. Wholesome moments are good and the book is just generally a lot of fun. Not much else to say really. The weird pushing of queer culture is nonexistant which is fantastic. Only reason id say its not as good as book 2 is its lack of tension that was present there. Not to say there is no tension here, there is, but the hints at claire being executed in the original game along with the drama with rae and claires love plus the world building being in its early stages and being most fascinating makes book 2 stand out more imo. 90/100! Maybe 93 when factoring in my bias and love for some of the chars. Also its a bit late, but claire best girl.
Incidentally i will now have to read the rest of the story through a web novel fan translation. The quality is a little lower with slightly unnatural broken english, though it seems to use sama rather than lady which is nice. But the names are more literally translated in the fan translation so that will take some getting used to. Hopefully it doesnt hinder my experience with the rest of the story.
-interestingly enough, given the treatment that the book gives to lene and her brother, it seems like it has a pro-incest perspective. While i’m personally fine with it, i wonder how that aspect of the story has been perceived(though i imagine it is predictably bad)
Volumes 4-5 (i read the translated web novel from here, so idk where the split is)
Unfortunately the web novel doesnt have the illustrations, so that sucked
I was delighted with the lack of lgbtq agenda, but there was one stray chapter where rei is just teaching claire about gender identities and shit. I seriously do not understand the point of that chapter. Parts of it really just read like the author is trying to teach the audience. It feels so random and irrelevant, and it truly does nothing for the story. I could be perfectly fine with it if it did something in terms of the plot, or showed any elements of the characters that we hadn’t seen or allowed for some growth in them, but this doesn’t happen either. Claire’s reaction to the concept is essentially “I see/that makes sense,” and when Rei talks about the struggle that people have with gender dysphoria Claire’s reaction is a meager ‘that’s horrible.’ The fact that she is accepting of such beliefs is literally nothing new and says or proves nothing new about her character– she’s literally fucking gay! I don’t know if it’s necessary to say this but obviously i have nothing against lgbtq related things or things like gender dysphoria(i mean come on, my highest rated books are literally this and adachi to shimamura, literal yuri centered stories). But again, it’s not only not what im looking for in WataOshi, but it also doesn’t even feel like it’s properly part of the plot, but instead like the author has an occasional bulging need to educate her readers on this shit. Rant over
Thoughts after reading til 243;
I’ve read a little past the twist at this point, and my thoughts are…. Well, it’s okay I guess. I can’t think of any isekai related story where the twist/explanation for the isekai is actually rationalized. This isn’t really an exception either, but I wouldn’t say that it’s bad either. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed or anything, something like this was definitely foreshadowed for a while, though the twist itself was very unexpected and all my predictions were off the mark.
That being said, I can’t help but feel like each time a new arc started, the quality of writing and enjoyment from myself has fallen each time. The first big arc that happened from volume 1-2 where Rei saved Claire was fantastic at a 95/100. The second with the Empire arc all the way until the Demon Queen shit started happening was still fun, 85-90/100. Now I haven’t gotten that far into this arc, but I think it’s kind of weak. I wouldn’t say it’s below an 80 or anything, but it’s far from the 95 that the first arc was. Also, everything from the second arc feels like it was all wasted. This whole thing feels really rushed despite the foreshadowing that had happened until now. All the preparation for overthrowing Dorothea and hyping up Philine was really good and interesting, but the resolution to the conflict was really weak and even with the twist of Dorothea meeting the Demon Queen at a young age and whatever, it was just kind of a ‘eh? That’s how all of that build up pays off?’ Dorothea’s death was really sudden and sure it was emotional I guess, but it was just like skimmed over it feels so insignificant after the grandness of this arc. It really feels like everything that had been being built up was just thrown out the window. I wonder if the author got tired of writing WataOshi or at least was tired of this arc.
The best thing about this twist though, is that I’ve seen the cover for the 5th volume and I was worried that Claire would sacrifice herself or something. Of course it’s still possible but the Rei that looked sad in the cover may be the demon queen rei and not the rei we’ve been following this entire time, so that’s nice. I have high hopes for a happy ending with Claire and Rei…..
I cant believe i forgot to write about this anywhere, but alea and mei do not act like children. I know that the have a dark history, and the author desperately continues to lampshade the problem by continuously mentioning that they are mature for their age, but unfortunately im not convinced. They are like 6 years old at some points and 9 years old when they are fighting in the war, and everything they say simply does not reflect the thinking of any child their age in the world. It completely breaks my suspension of disbelief and is kind of shit. I like the two, but god damn.
After finishing entire story;
So I finished it, and shockingly enough to me, I dont have much to say. The last arc with the demon queen and explanations for the fake out isekai was, as i said before, just okay. It wasnt terrible it wasnt great. I really dont have much else to say except that this isnt the kind of story i had been enjoying before, it was more the romance mixed with revolution mixed with predicting the future kind of thing that I had been loving so much from Wataoshi. Generally id say the last arc until the demon queen shit was an 80 85, and after that maybe a 70. Though if i wasnt so invested in the story and characters because of the previous parts of the book, id probably say a 60 would be closer.
As for the final overall score, contemplating it has i think given me some perspective as to why some people say that giving ratings is kinda dumb. Especially for something like this where my enjoyment was all over the place. But ultimately its my list and i can do whatever i want, and i like to be nice to things that i thoroughly enjoyed certain parts of(refer to death note). The early 2 volumes of wataoshi was absolutely fan fucking tastic, and so ill give it a 95 which i think the second volume deserves considering its one of the best novels ive read period, right behind adachi.
Theres another spin off thats in claires perspective which im dying to try out, so i guess thats next. Im not sure who would read until here, if its me from the future after rereading, i hope you(me) add more to this stupid rambling document. I wonder if my thoughts on this series would be different in the future beyond ‘it wasnt as good as i remember’ but only time will tell. If its somehow someone else, i guess i hope you enjoyed reading this mess.