Over the course of this series so far, we’ve seen Leon go from a guy who was just trying to keep his head down to an unrepentant, over-the-top asshole. Of course, it’s not quite that simple—otherwise he’d be a thoroughly unlikeable character. Leon is only an asshole to those he believes deserve it—ie, people who have wronged him in either this life or his past one. For the Prince and his companions, he makes them suffer mentally, like he did when he was romancing them in the game. For those who pick on him because they bet against him and lost money, he revels in making them lose money. For the girls who revel in the power that their misandrist society gives them, he looks for any opportunity to repay them in kind.
To put it another way, Leon sees his actions as a kind of karmic justice. However, it’s not justice to simply punish the bad—you have to reward the good as well. Leon treats Livia and Angie with kindness because they treat him that way. While he may have first reached out to them for selfish reasons—ie, getting back at those he hated—that is clearly not the case now. In this episode alone he takes on a troublesome mission to protect Livia’s honor and replaces Jilk in the airbike race to help Angie keep her social standing. But it’s not just the two girls in his life that get this treatment. His airbike opponent, Dan, not only tries to warn Leon that participating in the race will put him in danger, but also saves him when his bike’s engine gives out at the end of the race. To repay these favors, Leon wholeheartedly gives up the true prize of the race: a favor from Jilk.
Leon knows what it is like to be used by others. And while his experiences are quite different, he likewise understands the complex mixture of hate and hurt that the various noble girls feel at being betrayed and discarded by their former fiancés. For Angie to move on, she needed a non-destructive path of revenge, which is to live well and to show the Prince that he made the wrong choice.
Clarice, on the other hand, is stuck at the moment of her breakup. Despite spending years with Jilk, preparing for their future together, he did the medieval equivalent of breaking up with her over text and blocking her, following that up by straight up ignoring her existence at school. She didn’t get an explanation, much less an apology—is it any wonder she can’t find closure? Everything she has done—from her change in style and building a beast-boy harem to targeting Jilk in the airbike race and gloating over his suffering—is for the sake of trying to illicit a response from him.
However, none of this works for one simple reason: Jilk understands that he is in the wrong and feels guilty about it. Everything she does, no matter how much it hurts him physically or emotionally, is a just punishment in his eyes—so he stoically takes it. Yet, his mistake is that he’s never come out and confessed his guilt to the wronged party. He doesn’t understand that admitting that you’re in the wrong is just as important as accepting the punishment. This is the situation Leon forces Jilk into in order to repay his debt to Dan—the face-to-face explanation and apology that Clarice has been longing for.
All this makes for a surprisingly deep bit of character drama for both Jilk and Clarice. It’s great to see that at least one of Marie’s harem realizes that “true love” isn’t a free pass to treat people like garbage (though it looks like none of the others bothered to apologize to their former significant others either). It makes me hope we’ll get to meet the other discarded love interests. But before we get more of “Leon Fou Bartfort: Villainess Whisperer,” we’ve got to see how he deals Carla’s highly suspicious request and her continued exploitation of Livia.
• Luxion’s hate for new humans extends to Leon even though they are partners in crime. It’s a great setup for the show’s comedy.
• There were some genuinely creative shots during the bike race.
• I like that Clarice isn’t head-over-heels for Leon in the end. Instead, he’s gained a new high-society friend who sees him for who he truly is.
• Leon has no issues playing the bad guy for the sake of those he cares about.
• While it was cathartic to watch Angie beat the crap out of the Offrey girl, it’s bound to cause her status to fall even further.
• It’s a shame Angie wasn’t on hand to witness Jilk and Clarice’s final talk. She needs to learn the same lesson Jilk did. If she feels she did wrong in the past she needs to apologize to the victim (ie, Livia) and accept any due punishment. It’s only then that their friendship can get back on track. Letting her guilt paralyze her into indecision helps no one.
Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.