A light novel series written by Sarasa Nagase and illustrated by Mai Murasaki, I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is an isekai fantasy romance title about an otome game’s villainess who has to conquer the final boss’ heart in order to survive.
Also known as Akuyaku Reijou Nanode Last Boss wo Kattemimashita, this Japanese series was initially posted on Shōsetsuka ni Narō website and then published by Kadokawa Corporation in 2017. The English version of this light novel series is published by Yen Press under the imprint, Yen On. Volume 1 of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss, translated by Taylor Engel and the subject of the following spoiler-free review, provides a thrilling introduction where the villainess protagonist races against time to prevent her pre-scripted demise.
Their Broken Engagement Awakens Her Survival Instincts
Without any unnecessary frills, the prelude of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 opens grandly into the very moment when the villainess, Aileen Lauren d’Autriche’s life will be changed forever — that is, the tense and unpleasant moment when her betrothed, Cedric Jean Ellmeyer, publicly announces the annulment of their marriage contract.
In the midst of her shock and humiliation, Aileen gains vague recollections about her past life. Despite the stressful situation, Aileen adeptly pieces her fragmented memories together and quickly realizes she had reincarnated as the villainess of an otome game she once played in her past life. What’s more, she remembers a worrisome detail: in the game, the villainess dies three months after the current event. Knowing that she has no more time to waste, especially not on brooding over her broken engagement, she steels herself and prepares to fight her current real life’s impending doom with the help of her past life’s knowledge scraps.
After the prelude, Vol. 1 of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss narrates Aileen’s story over six acts in chronological order. Each act begins with an interesting, attention-grabbing hook and ends on a nice note that delicately balances between providing a satisfactory closure for the current act and hinting at a promising development to look forward to in the next act. This is certainly a light novel volume I just had to read through in one sitting because of how engaging and gripping the story is.
Aileen Lauren d’Autriche the Formidable Villainess
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is my first brush with the reincarnation isekai genre. As someone who enjoys playing otome visual novels, I was instantly fascinated by the light novel’s self-explanatory title. Not only does the villainess role sound plenty cool already, but she is going to tame the final boss too? Well, that sure is an amusing feat I look forward to witnessing, especially since the final boss as illustrated by Mai Murasaki is so drop-dead gorgeous.
In the end, however, Aileen the villainess portrayed in I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 is not as villainous as I initially imagined. “Villainess” feels more of a label rather than the full essence of her character, though Aileen has been shown to hide pretty wicked tricks up her sleeves for some effective and creative problem-solving on multiple occasions. Nevertheless, she is awesome even if some of her deeds are arguably heroic in nature. Be it her decisive ways in dealing with her vile ex-fiancé, her resourcefulness and quick wits in countering dangers heading her way, or her fierce dauntlessness while protecting what’s important to her, Aileen is a truly admirable villainess not to be taken lightly.
Although Aileen is the villainess, I am much more sympathetic towards her than the heroine, Lilia Reinoise, who happens to be Cedric’s new fiancée. Besides showing how fearless, single-minded, and considerate Aileen is, I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 provides a glimpse into her demanding life as Duke d’Autriche’s daughter as well. Through gentle weaving of the connecting threads between Aileen’s upbringing, her character, and how the others view her, the story easily convinces me that Aileen is worthy of my support. In fact, the terse but bold proclamation Aileen made in front of Lilia during the Fifth Act brought me to tears; pride and joy filled my heart at that moment after having followed Aileen’s intense and windy arduous journey since the First Act.
Claude Jean Ellmeyer the Final Boss
Surely, an otome game — or in this case, a romance light novel — can’t have no love interest. And the love interest in I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is none other than Claude Jean Ellmeyer, the demon king (or final boss) who lives inside a dilapidated castle.
Aileen’s first meeting with Claude is intriguing, to say the least. The forest the villainess has to trek through to reach the demon king’s castle is unsurprisingly filled with taunting demons. The crows, in particular, are annoying and rude but they also turn out to be the most entertaining bunch in I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 with their little squabbles and tricks played on Aileen. One of them, who would later be named Almond, is rather cute. This particularly gluttonous crow is easily tempted by good food but is nevertheless reliable when the situation calls for it.
With a delightfully compact and straightforward focused style like the rest of Vol. 1 is written in, the story swiftly introduces the demon king along with his two aides, namely Beelzebuth the right-hand man, and Keith the so-called left-hand man, soon after Aileen reaches the castle. Wearing a poker face, Claude does not always show his feelings outwardly but his emotions will inevitably affect his surroundings. Using this unique characteristic of the demon king, the writing puts forth several interesting indicators of Claude’s different emotions throughout. The subtle clues about what the demon king is currently feeling add nice sophistication to the scenes. Since Claude can be disinclined to speak his mind, it is fun to watch how the surroundings eventually speak on his behalf.
His main helpers, Keith and Beelzebuth, are equally fun to observe. Between the duo, I find Beelzebuth to be a more entertaining figure with his simple-minded honesty and earnestness. Keith, in comparison, is more collected and crafty. This left-hand man of Claude’s is also a key character of focus in the later acts of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1, which form a brilliant anchor for informative discussions regarding the state of affairs between the humans and demons residing in the Ellmeyer Empire. There is sadly little revelation about Beelzebuth in Vol. 1. Still, the story thus far has piqued my interest in the demons enough to anticipate learning more about Beelzebuth himself in future volumes.
Aileen’s wish to tame the final boss is not a lie. However, there is certainly a noticeable shift in the nature of her desire over the course of events in I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1. It is a heartwarming change for it reflects the positive development in Aileen’s relationship with Claude as well.
Writing and Translation Quality
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1, as mentioned, has a direct storytelling style that wastes neither time nor words to lead readers into the heart of its scenes. The characters and environment are described succinctly with their main features highlighted both directly and indirectly, enough to paint a decent impression of the subject as intended for that moment. While I wished there had been richer descriptions of the various venues in the Ellmeyer Empire, the scenes are so tightly written and excitingly paced that my attention was immediately on the unfolding events rather than the locations they took place at. The insert illustrations in this light novel volume, as expectedly, memorably portray a beautiful snapshot of a select scene with the participating characters as the main or only focus. Perhaps the manga series, whose English version is published by Yen Press, and the anime adaptation by Maho Film premiering on 1 October 2022 will present a fuller picture of the sceneries found within the Ellmeyer Empire.
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 is easy to read with its short sentences that do not contain much difficult vocabulary. Essentially, the story is driven by conversations between characters. While there are often contextual clues to suggest who is speaking a particular line, it can get confusing quickly when the scene involves more than two characters. Since the writing does not use the simpler convention of putting “XYZ said” at the end of each dialogue line at all, I have misunderstood who said what on more than one occasion. Sometimes, the dialogue line does not include the name of the character they are addressing, and one has to infer the speaker based on the tone and manner of speech depicted. Another way the writing differentiates between speakers is the use of bold text, though this special styling is applied only to the crows’ dialogue texts.
Nonetheless, that is the only part of the writing style that has caused me minor confusion from time to time. Otherwise, the writing techniques deployed in I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 have been clear-cut. Notably, the few scenes written from a different point of view are quickly indicative of whose point of view it is. They are introduced naturally into the prose and spice up the narrative with purpose.
The translation quality seen in I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 is excellent. The sentences flow smoothly and there are hardly any glaring typos or grammar mistakes even in the digital galley edition ePub read for this review.
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss Vol. 1 has been a fantastic thrilling ride from the prelude all the way to the Final Act. One moment I would feel anxious and in the next, relief. A few times I had tears welling up in my eyes as I reached a touching moment. In addition, the whole reincarnation concept has been handled with much humor and the scene is often amusing whenever Aileen makes references to the memories from her past life. Claude, while not too memorable a character so far, brings a smile to my face with the unspoken soft and warm emotions he expresses at times. Towards the end, I feel like strangling her ex-fiancé Cedric too.
All in all, Vol. 1 does a great job as the introductory book to I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss series, laying down solid foundations for its plot, main characters, and their potential conflicts as well as romance through its engaging storytelling. It is a worthwhile book to check out for anyone who enjoys a villainess that has the tenacity to tame a demon king final boss.
I’M THE VILLAINESS, SO I’M TAMING THE FINAL BOSS VOL. 1 IS RECOMMENDED
Want to read something else? How about checking out the I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway!? Or our light novel reviews? And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date.
Many thanks go to Yen Press who provided a review copy of this title.
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A person with many hobbies (and even more WIPs), KuroKairin plays, playtests, and reviews PC games. She loves games with good stories that bring her on an emotional and thought-provoking journey. Her favourite genres include otome visual novel, point and click, puzzle, and RPG. Follow her @KuroKairin.