December 7, 2021
Manga

Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry GN 1 & 2

  • October 19, 2021
  • 6 min read
Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry GN 1 & 2

We all know better than to judge a book by its cover (in theory, at any rate), but what about by its title? If you’ve been reading manga and light novels for a while, you’ll know that that is perhaps even less of a guarantee, because somehow exceedingly dark stories keep getting slapped with happy-go-lucky titles that don’t offer any hint of the tragedies within their cheery covers. In some cases, such as with I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again!, the manga adaptation defangs the light novel considerably; in others, like Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, a subtitle (“Familia Myth”) gives us a better idea of what’s really going on. Neither appears to be the case for Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry, because even though the light novel is not, as of this writing, available in English translation, the manga still goes into some very dark territory for a story that is titled more like it’s about a petulant princess than a young queen who dies by her own hand only to be reborn as a universally detested noblewoman.

The story follows Leticiel, who in her first life is the princess of a small Medieval kingdom. Letty (as she’s more familiarly known) is an accomplished sorceress, wielders of a specific magical style that uses aether rather than spell incantations. (The latter exists as well; it’s just called “magic” and those who can perform it tend not to be able to perform sorcery.) One day when she’s a teenager, she catches a young man who falls from the sky; this is Nao, who, as you might have guessed, has been somehow brought to her world from modern Japan. Letty teaches Nao the language and how to get by, and eventually the two fall in love and are married…only for their world to come crashing down when a neighboring kingdom invades. Nao falls in battle, and when Letty realizes both that and that she’s the only person in the castle left alive, she kills herself rather than bow to the invader. While it may sound relatively pat in summary, in practice the first quarter or so of the first manga volume is not only dark, but truly upsetting, mostly because we get such a clear idea of how much Nao and Letty love each other and how important their kingdom is to them. To discover all that and then have it ripped away is harsh.

It also makes this series something a bit unusual: a double-isekai. Nao, obviously, has been isekai’d away from Japan in one of the most commonly seen subgenres of the style, but after the tragedy in Leticiel’s kingdom, she (and, thankfully, he) are reincarnated one thousand years later, giving us a second isekai subgenre in the same story. Letty, reborn as Lady Drossell, is fully aware of who she was and what happened, but Nao, now known as Zeke, is not, which naturally creates the problem – or is it an opportunity? – for them to fall in love again. Just the promise of them being able to reunite does take some of the sting out of what happened to them in the past, which is fortunate, since Leticiel has many more pressing problems to deal with as well, and she’s a savvy enough queen to know that she needs to figure everything out before she can decide if Zeke really is Nao.

The first issue is, of course, what happened to the world in the thousand years between Letty and Drossell. Her kingdom’s name isn’t even known anymore, but the art of sorcery also appears to have been lost, making Drossell, who has no innate magic ability, looked down upon rather than revered as she would have been in Leticiel’s time, because sorcery is generally less unwieldly to use. Drossell herself is also tied to competing interpretations of a prophecy, one which proclaims her a demon and another which hails her as a savior, and although the king believes the latter, more people are inclined to the former, including the crown prince, to whom Drossell is betrothed. That’s a lot for Letty to process, and in the midst of all of it, she’s also concerned about what happened to the original Drossell. In a genre where that’s not always something people who “awake” to memories of a past life even consider, Leticiel’s genuine concern for Drossell is a particularly good detail, because she does want to do right by the girl whose life she feels she’s taken over. And Drossell is clearly someone who could use the goodwill; her family, especially her younger twin sister Christa, make Cinderella’s step siblings look like the Brady Bunch, which could indicate that Drossell willingly gave up her body to Leticiel in the first place.

Of these two volumes, the second is the stronger overall, although the first’s dark opening is well done. Mostly this is because the past and present tie together more fully in the second book – someone has been aware that Leticiel would come back and has been waiting impatiently for that moment, although why we don’t yet know. For that matter, we don’t know who the person is; we can guess that it was the conqueror of old, but why he’d be so keen to get his hands on Letty is uncertain. He’s less than thrilled that Nao’s back as well, so there may be a twisted romantic component to whatever his plan is, but he’s definitely not happy that as Drossell, Letty has been making friends, suggesting that she wasn’t the only survivor of the attack by accident all those years ago.

Although Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry does borrow from a lot of other stories, or at least to share distinct similarities with them, it manages to bring everything together in a way that’s good enough to stand on its own. The art is a bit uneven, mostly in terms of the costuming – school uniforms and military outfits are highly anachronistic and there’s an odd amount of fanservice – but it largely gets the job done. This is interesting enough to merit reading and in some ways the darkness of the story keeps it from feeling too much like another case of same old, same old. If you’re in the mood for a dark (but not grim) take on the shoujo isekai fantasy, this is worth checking out.

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