Continuing from where we left off in Volume 1, Aileen has gathered a ragtag band of friends and followers to make repairs to the Demon King’s castle, hoping to curry favour with him so he’ll attend the upcoming soiree as her fearsome escort. While things initially go to plan, the emergence of threatening letters addressed to Prince Cedric’s new fiancée, Lilia, supposedly from Aileen herself, throw a spanner in the works, particularly when Lilia suddenly disappears. Falsely accused of Lilia’s abduction and facing the threat of arrest, Aileen must now find the culprit behind it all and clear her name before it is too late.
It’s a bit of a slow start to this volume until we get to the juicier political side of things, as we have to sit through a pretty elongated round of introductions in the opening chapter for the new side characters while it sets the scene for this part of the story. While all the new faces are pretty fun, it’s Isaac who proves most critical to the plot as he joins in Aileen’s scheming to sweep the imperial court with a new cosmetics business. As an aristocrat and Aileen’s brainy friend from the academy, he has both the smarts and the connections to get the new skincare products and makeup into the hands of influential women, while helping to provide the funds to the guys making them, Luc and Quartz, a doctor and an herbalist who run a pharmacy and clinic for the lower classes.
As with the first volume, this is very much an exact adaptation of the light novel, yet I do wish there had been some leeway in fleshing some of the other characters out a bit more, as well as tightening up the introductions. Denis does get the short end of the stick as we hardly see him, and considering the castle repairs are pretty important, it would have been nice to see more of him gathering stuff together and starting work. Luc and Quartz do fare a bit better as we get to see them preparing the cosmetics, but at the end of the day it sticks to what it does best, focusing on the political machinations of the main characters.
What is surprising here though is it’s not quite the exact adaptation you thought it to be, as it doubles down on Lilia being the villain and expands upon her by showing that she’s been resurrected from the real world as well, which wasn’t a thing in the light novel. While it doesn’t delve too much into it, this basically changes the entire fibre of the character and helps explains her malicious behaviour and the swap in roles between her and Aileen. Instead of being the hero who saves the world, Lilia is on a serious power trip and is manipulating everything to get the status and money she never had in the real world.
This makes the prospect of a showdown between the two even more tantalising, but for now it’s clear that Aileen has the upper hand. Despite Lilia’s seductive advances, Claude is very dismissive of her, while Aileen has everything in her hands to separate herself from Cedric for good in a showdown at the soiree which takes up most of the second half of the volume.
As well as this section being pretty dramatic, it looks great too, as the art really emphasises Aileen’s impact on the event in her very striking dress and, as in the first volume, I think Anko Yuzu takes those initial character designs and does a great job of bringing them to life. It’s also cute enough to work in the comedic moments too, which are also a highlight in this volume outside of the politics, as you see Aileen and Claude slowly coming together in a sweet yet sometimes chilling romance.
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is being published by Yen Press and is available both digitally and physically. Taylor Engel continues to translate the series, and this volume reads well with no issues to note.
Overall, Volume 2 of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss continues to be a highly entertaining read filled with interesting political machinations and cute moments between the two leads. It is, however, mostly a word-for-word adaptation of the light novel, and while I think it could have deviated from it further, it does at least make one surprising change that I’m hoping will pay off as we approach the source material’s climax in the manga’s third and final volume.