The Sum Of All My-Next Lives?

So bizarre crossover fanfics are nothing new. Yet this ultra-bizarre crossover fanfic idea/fusion has just leapt into my mind after seeing a few strange similarities and having my eyes light up. It’s My Next Life As A Villainess/Hamefura and-the “Ryanverse”, specifically (gulp) The Sum of All Fears. Granted, part of the appeal is just the strangeness.

The first spark is the reincarnation of “Monkey Girl” (her pre-reincarnation proper name is never given but that nickname is) being weirdly crossover-friendly. It’s impressive that it’s character-focused. Take a good-natured and sometimes right-twice-a-day (her obsession with farming, thinking she would have to fend for herself, was actually sound) but clueless about human relationships person who thinks the world runs on video game logic, and there’s a surprisingly high number of things you can do with it.

The second was how the original pre-reincarnation Katarina was a vindictive, hate-sink villainess. Who else fit that bill? Elizabeth Elliot, whose novelty made her one of my favorite technothriller antagonists. So there was a bizarre mutual overlap already. But my brain didn’t stop there. Oh no, because of the thought of bringing otome game logic to one of the most male genres in existence just felt amazing. So The Sum of All Hearts would star analyst Cathy Ryan. She’d have a man named Jack as one of several love interests, having to pursue one of them while at the same time trying to stop a nuclear war. It would be something.

Granted, the specifics would probably wreck it, but why worry about such things as “details” and “plausibility” when you have such a delightfully mushed-up concept? And hey, it’s not really any farther from Clancy’s original tone than some of the other “Tom Clancy’s” label franchises are.

(Come to think of it, “Rainbow Six” [with that number of love interests] could be the title of a romantic game…)

Review: My Next Life As A Villainess Volume 3

My Next Life As A Villainess Volume 3

The third volume of My Next Life As A Villainess takes place after the original planned ending of the story. In-universe, it takes place after Katarina has “beaten the game”. There’s two reasons why this declines in quality. The first is that the second volume was such a good stopping point that it feels a little wrong (even if understandable) to go past it. The second is that the setup just really isn’t that deep, so it’s especially vulnerable to getting worse as it gets bigger.

The structural fundamentals present in the past two books are still there, for better and worse. But it’s definitely lost something. Going from “someone tries to munchkin a setting through foreknowledge and successfully ‘fails’ because she thinks it’s still railroaded when it’s not” to just “light fantasy antics” is a big step down. There’s a reason why, despite enjoying the first two installments, the third is the last I’ve read, with little motivation to keep going further.

Review: My Next Life as a Villainess Vol 2

My Next Life as a Villainess: Volume 2

The second volume of My Next Life as a Villainess deals with Katarina now going to the actual academy setting of the game and demonstrating her biggest character trait of absolute obliviousness towards romantic attraction (the fandom joke is that black holes are less dense than her). One of the biggest and best buildups in the first volume was foreshadowing the game’s protagonist, Maria Campbell. The second doesn’t disappoint when she actually appears. Katarina is clueless to the fact that her being actually nice has already butterflied almost all of the original game’s plot away, and equally clueless to how Maria is now attracted to her.

The plot is worse when it tries to go for more genuine danger and drama, simply because it conflicts with the tone of the rest of the story. But even that’s not too bad. While I can understand why that would be included, it’d probably have been more preferable to just focus entirely on its heroine worrying about nonexistent “death flags”.

It also has a good conclusion as Katarina survives the “game” and hears Maria’s confession, which she of course doesn’t get. When I read that this was the original planned ending, it didn’t surprise me at all. Of course, it was successful enough to continue, but just as how The Sum of All Fears serves as a good stopping point for Jack Ryan, so does this for the series (boy, never thought I’d be directly comparing those two).

The structural issues I mentioned in the past volume are still there. But after seeing so much of setting munchkinism, and coming from an online community where this kind of thing is a stereotype, I love the concept of someone who tries to munchkin the setting and it doesn’t work out (well, in this case it does, but not in the way Katarina thought or intended). While I probably won’t read too far beyond the original end, I still enjoyed this series as a break from tanks exploding.

Review: My Next Life As A Villainess Vol 1

My Next Life As a Villainess: Volume 1

I felt it was time to check out of one of those “anime antics” settings that Spacebattles has a bizarre fascination with. In this case, it was Saturo Yamaguchi’s light novel series, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom (these are notorious for their extremely long titles). Frequently abbreviated as Hamefura, this is the story of someone who is reincarnated as a video game character.

More specifically, it’s the story of a schoolgirl who stayed up too late playing her dating sims, which led to her death in a bicycle/car accident as she tried to hurry to compensate the next day. This led to her being reborn as Katarina Claes, the antagonist/rival girl in one of them set in a fantasy academy setting. Upon recovering her memories of her past life, and knowing that Katarina is fated to have a bad end in the game, the heroine tries to get a better fate.

This initial installment isn’t bad. I can see the “it’s a good concept even if the execution is ‘iffy’ ” that made appealing to fanfic writers. The prose is pretty well, matter of fact. I don’t know how much of that is due to translation issues and how much is due to the novel being intended to be smooth and easy to read (you could say it was meant as light literature). But it’s not a deal breaker, and neither are the “anime antics” surrounding Katarina and the inevitable boys. I had fun with it and it’s a nice change of pace from the usual fare here.