Shortly after winning the tournament and getting revenge on her previous party leader, Tanya Artemiciov and the all-women party Lilium have become local heroes—inspiring girls and women throughout the country to pursue their dreams. Everything seems to be going well until Laplace meets the Grand Court Mage Maxwell at a castle party, the same man who sealed her away 300 years before. Now, the sorceress has to face her past—and get her own revenge! Strap on your swords and comfortable shoes, it’s time to fight the patriarchy again with Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With a Mythical Sorceress! volume 2.
The newest entry in Ameko Kaeruda’s fantasy feminist comedy continues the fun of the last, and was released on digital platforms in December 2019 by J-Novel Club. The book features Kazutomo Miya’s illustrations, and translation by Molly Lee. A print edition for the book is planned for 2020.
After their resounding victory during the tournament, the three members of Lilium—Tanya, Laplace and Nadine—have found themselves well-respected and busier than ever. Although never too busy to visit their favorite eatery, where the (literally) foxy Katherine works. Their former adversary during the tournament has quickly (although with a small amount of denial) befriended the other women, and when Lilium hopes to fulfill a job they’re overqualified for, she joins as the fourth member as a highly-talented Mage.
The main reason for accepting the job is the allure of the all-you-can-eat barbecue reward being offered, but it soon becomes obvious that the young woman is in dire need of their help. After a fun night out with her friends, where she suspiciously became tired after a couple non-alcoholic drinks, she had been confronted at her family’s business by a much older man, claiming that she agreed to marry him. The biggest problem is that her parents are afraid to defend her, as her apparent husband-to-be is the son of an important client. Horrified by the situation, the women decide to defend the young woman in public court. It’s a farce of a trial that places all the blame on the girl, with the main argument boiling down to “she didn’t clearly say no, so that means she agreed!”.
Happily, when Katherine gives the creep a taste of his own medicine, he quickly backs down, but the victim-blaming doesn’t stop. Even the young woman’s father tells her she should have been more careful with what she wears if she didn’t want unsavory attention. Once again the real-life parallels are obvious, and Kaeruda perfectly captures the upset and doubt that victims are faced with on a regular basis. The timing is perfect for this English release, as it coincidentally comes the same week that journalist Shiori Ito won her case against Noriyuki Yamaguchi—a landmark for the #MeToo movement in Japan, and setting a new precedent for laws and prosecution against sexual assault and rape in a country where only 4% of victims come forward.
Shortly afterwards, the Lilium girls are invited to a party being held at the castle. Only Tanya and Laplace decide to attend, the other two too busy manning a food stall during the night’s festivities. Their attendance is two-fold: to recognise their great achievements, and to provide additional security. The second part is hindered by the insistence of palace staff that swords are unsuitable accessories to gowns, and the painful stiletto shoes Tanya finds herself in. The heels in particular echo the #KuToo movement the author notes in the afterword. Thanks to Laplace’s magic though, the Magi-Knight finds herself with new comfortable shoes, and a beautiful gold ring on her finger (the type of relationship ‘subtlety’ I haven’t seen since episode 10 of Yuri on Ice!!!).
The pair end up meeting the young princess Arianora, who has idolised Lilium since the tournament. She’s just another one of the thousands of girls inspired by the women’s achievements, indicating the lack of freedom and choice she has, even as royalty. Things take a turn when the princess is caught by Maxwell, the Court Grand Mage who Laplace has a complicated history with, and Tanya can’t help notice how it impacts her partner. After the run-in, the Sorceress disappears without a word—only rumors left behind for Tanya to follow to the castle dungeons.
This book is the opportunity for Laplace to get her own revenge after helping Tanya with hers. We discover the various reasons why Maxwell sealed away Laplace’s magic three centuries before, and the complicated relationship the two had prior. It’s exhilarating to read the climax of this novel, seeing the woman finally stop ‘laughing things off’ and valuing her own anger and frustration. She not only achieves her revenge, but also breaks the cycle of abuse that has lasted for centuries with the help of Tanya and the young princess. The absurdity of Maxwell’s excuses as to why he became a cackling villain perfectly encapsulates the fear of mediocre men when faced by competent women, and like always it’s not subtle—but it’s also not unrealistic.
The yuri element this time around is far more obvious, and the flirting and kissing between Tanya and Laplace has (mostly) shed it’s flimsy excuse of mana exchange. With the transformation of Tanya’s sword to a ring, there should be little doubt these girls are in love—but we get to hear those words too. Aside from our main couple, the romantic tension between Nadine and Katherine is also building. I’m sure we’ll see more develop on that front in future books.
Like always, it’s easy to prejudge a title like Sexiled as man-hating or radical, but I truly believe that the series knows when to be over the top to make it’s point, and when to keep its characters (and readers) in check when making assumptions. Towards the end, Tanya assumes a young guard is going to ridicule or devalue her just for being a woman—but he instead asks to shake her hand, having been inspired to chase his own ‘impossible’ dreams by Lilium’s great victory in the tournament. Similarly to when Nadine assumed the maximum skill level of lady adventurers in the previous book, Kaeruda makes it clear that the responsibility of societal sexism doesn’t lay solely with men who have been raised within its structure—it’s the exploitation of the powerless in patriarchal society that needs to be dismantled. Feminism isn’t men vs women (despite what certain groups would like young men and women to believe); feminism is an equalisation, a redistribution of power from those who benefit from the exploitation of those without it. The book very literally shows us how our characters do just that, once again being a truly feminist work—and a lot harder to dismiss as “man-hating propaganda”.
Sexiled is the type of escapist power fantasy any young woman wishes she could have—where the repeated sexism, devaluation and objectification of our protagonists end with the perpetrators getting their comeuppance in the most satisfying way, that almost never happens in reality. It is a perfect followup to the first novel, and every aspect has only gotten better—characters, conflicts, the yuri, the humor and the vicarious satisfaction. This is a must-read for everyone who enjoyed the first book, and for anyone looking for a feminist, yuri or fantasy comedy light novel.
Gee’s Rating: Highly Recommended