Tanya Artemiciov has lost her job as a Mage. The reason for her eviction is pretty straightforward: women aren’t really suited to be Mages, so it’s better she stop adventuring whilst she’s still young enough to nab herself a husband. Angry and betrayed, she decides to cause some harmless destruction in the wastelands—but inadvertently releases a centuries-old Sorceress called Laplace in the process! Now, the two have teamed up so Tanya can get revenge on her sexist ex-party leader, and Laplace can challenge how much the world has changed (for the worse) in the time she’s been sealed away. Come join these ladies as they bring some hope for equality in this dungeon crawler (and maybe fall in love too) with Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With a Mythical Sorceress!
This fantasy comedy with a feminist twist is J-Novel Club’s most recent yuri title; written by Ameko Kaeruda and featuring illustrations from Kazutomo Miya. The digital release of the novel was released October 2019 with translation from Molly Lee.
There’s not much going right in Tanya Artemiciov’s life when she accidentally releases the legendary Sorceress Laplace from her sealed imprisonment within a mountain. After being booted out by her party leader (and childhood friend) to allow her to ‘settle down and start a family’, the Mage can’t help but vent her anger by blowing things up in the wastelands. This sorceress, Laplace, challenges her to a tussle in order to gauge the Mage’s strength, and the two ultimately decide to band together after Tanya successfully blows Laplace up with a powerful explosion spell, and Laplace encourages her to change class to the fabled Magi-Knight—the strongest of all classes.
Meeting Laplace is an interesting experience. The legends call her a multitude of things—terrible, dangerous, Dragon whore—but Tanya can’t seem to understand why. Is the French-speaking, self-obsessed young woman spoiled? Yes. Over the top? Absolutely. But she doesn’t seem like the type of person deserving to be sealed in a mountain for 300 years. The result is witnessing the discrepancy of ‘common knowledge’ in society in the present, and the realities of the past—how the world has changed, and why. This extends to issues of gender divide between classes too: how girls are encouraged to become Healers, because of their ‘nurturing instincts’, how Healers have the lowest pay grade of all adventurers, and the false belief that skimpy outfits are necessary to allow for “mana absorption”. When the two go shopping for new clothes early on, there’s little choice for women and it never goes on sale. It’s incredibly obvious to see the real-world parallels Kaeruda is making (the dreaded “Pink Tax”), and although the writing is far from being subtle, some messages have to be overt to be successfully noticed.
After deciding to team up, the girls need to register their new party in order to join the upcoming tournament where Tanya is hoping to get her revenge against Ryan, her ex-party leader. There’s a skill level assessment as part of the process, which leads to an interesting interaction between the duo and the young woman behind the desk, Nadine. She makes the assumption that neither could be above level 20 or 30, as that’s typically how high women score. It’s a small part of the overall story, and seemingly just functions as comedy for the situation, but it represents the toxic beliefs that women can hold about themselves (and women in general). It’s easy to just dismiss societal sexism as “men are all assholes and hate women!”, but that ignores how pervasive these problems run—even amongst those of us whose lives are actually negatively affected by this type of thinking. I think it’s a great addition to an already fun book, and gives the book more credibility against naysayers who’d dismiss it for being “SJW garbage”.
Incidentally, the skill level test gives them an incredibly high score for both Tanya and Laplace, and their team Lilium overall. So high in fact that it disqualifies them from being eligible for the tournament. Trying to find a loophole in the system, Nadine agrees to join their party (her abysmal Healer level dragging down the team average to a lower level) if they agree to her condition: help a young, orphaned girl get into the Mage institute by helping her study for the exam. Both Tanya and Laplace have their reservations about it, but soon enough find themselves mentoring the young girl (and looking after her many siblings). This particular exam storyline is probably the largest reason the book was written, as it’s was certain real-world events that Kaeruda credits in the afterword as inspiring her to write. It also reveals that Tanya wasn’t just a lady Mage, but the first lady Mage to enroll in the academy—making her much more accomplished than she readily admits or believed (and makes her firing all that more egregious). After this, Nadine joins the team, and the three are set to kick some butt in the tournament—and prove that women are just as capable as men at being adventurers.
So far, I haven’t really mentioned the yuri element, but it’s definitely featured. Our main duo share numerous kisses throughout the book, and the rationalization of ‘transferring Mana’ is as convincing as it always is in light novels (ie, not at all). Laplace is very openly interested in Tanya (and women in general) despite her teasing tone, but as of yet there’s been very little in the way of grand announcements of love. Despite this, the two have a very familiar rapport of a rom-com couple, with Tanya overreacting to Laplace’s eccentricities and aggravations. Also, in line with the genre, there’s a fair amount of violent interactions played for laughs—Full Metal Panic-style.
Sexiled is a fun fantasy comedy featuring likeable, capable characters and biting commentary on sexism, with a yuri twist. Although obvious in its messages, there was never a point that felt like it was saying something that wasn’t true to real-life experiences or media representation for women: assumption of life goals (and shame if otherwise), women’s achievements being credited to men, shifting goal posts to favor boys, the weaponization of sex, and the wage gap. None of the characters have to say “men are the worst!” because the men they’re talking about will prove it themselves, without prompting. Most important of all is the disappointment and betrayal of a trusted friend—I only mentioned it briefly, but Ryan and Tanya are childhood friends; they grew up together and started adventuring together, and Tanya always did her best for him as he lead the party, even when he’d shortchange her owed wages or take credit for her achievements. She had thought he supported her too, but his dismissal and trivialization of what she contributed to the team hurt her more than if it had just been comments from a random passerby. In that situation it forces you to question the entire relationship thus far—and prompts the frustration at realizing how much was excused up until that point.
The book is a lot of fun and covers multiple obvious disparities between the treatment of the different sexes, both in this fantasy world and the real one. Hints towards future conflicts, confrontations and possible expansion of Lilium are made toward the end, so I’m definitely looking forward to the next one! Plus, it’s satisfying in that wish-fulfillment way of meting deserving characters their comeuppance; something that doesn’t ever seem to happen in reality. There’s a big possibility this book will be panned as anti-men propaganda within certain communities—but let’s be honest: they were never going to like it anyway. If you’re a fan of fun dungeon crawler comedies, yuri stories or JK Haru-style feminist light novels, give this one a shot.
Gee’s Rating: Highly Recommended
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