Krystallina: I can’t be the only one who looked at the cover and went, “How does she hide those??” I mean, putting all of that hair underneath a wig is bad enough, but somehow this buxom babe is supposed to get through all of high school without anyone but her brother knowing she’s disguised as a young man.
…Even when she agrees to share a bed with another guy.
An otome gamer named Hiyono dies and, at the age of 5, realizes she’s now been reborn as a game villainess who dies during the routes. Cecilia is one of the candidates to be the next Holy Maiden, but since men can’t be Holy Maidens, she decides to peacefully pass her school days as “Cecil”. Even though she’s engaged to Prince Oscar, Cecilia has avoided him and most events so that no one knows her face. She’s also told her adopted brother, Gilbert, about her plan and her past life, so he can help cover for her ruse — well, “his” ruse.
Cross-Dressing Villainess Cecilia Sylvie is not the first time an isekai villainess has donned a disguise to avoid death and destruction. And this requires some stretching of logic in-universe. Somehow, Cecilia has avoided the duties of a noble girl and skipped out on years of parties. “Cecil” also wants to basically be a mob character, but Cecilia can’t help but spout corny lines and is nicknamed a prince of her school even at the start of the manga. Way to be inconspicuous! She also decides to go on an overnight school trip, and she is eventually so freaked out that she crawls into bed with Oscar. I mean, one night without sleep versus having your multi-year plan of not having your gender discovered…hmm, which one is the better option.
Beyond that, the story still has a feeling like the author is throwing all kinds of other tropes into the story pot to see what comes out, like monsters and BL undertones. A lot of these details are stuffed in long monologues just before they become relevant.
But most of these topics are overshadowed by “Cecilia is Bakarina II” vibes. Cecilia is engaged to the prince just as in the game, and even though they only met once when they were younger, he loves her. Gilbert is also in love with her and is actively trying to sabotage Cecilia and Oscar’s engagement. Cecilia is obtuse to both of their feelings and assumes they are or will be in love with the heroine.
I do think it’s possible if certain things play out as I expect them to, Cross-Dressing Villainess Cecilia Sylvie can improve itself. We’ve also only seen about half of the game’s love interests. But chances are you’ve read a manga or light novel like this before, and the art is a bit rough and inconsistent as it tries to jam-pack all kinds of comedy shots of angry Oscar and ditzy Cecil/Cecilia. This first volume didn’t impress me, but perhaps a lot of the flaws are due to the source material, and perhaps the manga can better convey the humor and mystery in the future.
Krystallina’s rating: 2.5 out of 5
Helen: Cecilia Sylvie has a secret: she knows that she’s reincarnated as the villainess of an otome game and is determined to avoid her bad end by cross-dressing as a perfect, princely boy! It’s not the most logical scheme, but with the number of bad ends in the original game nothing less than extreme options seem like they’ll do the trick. She’s already gotten her adoptive brother on board with the plan, even if he’s not entirely sure how much of this to believe, but now that events of the game have gotten underway her life is growing more and more tense!
Much like Katrina in My Next Life As A Villainous, Cecilia’s early awakening to her past memories seems to have already radically altered the script of the story in her favor, even if she hasn’t realized it. Her single interaction with Prince Oscar as a young child definitely gave him a different impression of her compared to the events in the game, cheerfully gorging yourself on food and then passing out in fear after being formally introduced will certainly have an impact, and the fact that she has steadfastly refused to meet with Oscar (or really anyone outside her family and servants) for years also contributed to his altogether different interest in his fiancée compared to his indifference in-game. Also like BakarinaCecilia is much nicer to adoptive younger brother Gilbert than her game counterpart was and that has given her a follower with a sister complex for life, which while handy here has me starting to be concerned about these otome game boys just romantically imprinting for life on the first girl to show them kindness.
I do have the first two light novels on hand and I’m looking forward to reading them soon, especially given my (currently unfounded) feeling that something was missing in this adaptation. The story seems to progress a bit too speedily, as even if Cecilia isn’t the heroine (aka, wouldn’t necessarily be present for all of the events in the story) some of the events seem like they should’ve happened farther along in the story; the fact that the dormitory living part at the end of this volume is supposed to trigger a special event if the heroine has already gained a lot of trust in one of the guys makes it sound like the story is a significant way into the game’s plot! I feel like the story needs to slow down and breathe a little, there’s a lot packed into one volume (largely humor which admittedly does condense well) and it makes all the comparisons to other otome villainess isekai stories all the more apparent.
Speaking of the heroine, she may be an isekai transplant as well and I do wonder if she’s Cecila’s old friend from her past life who was also a fan of “Holy Maiden of Vleugel Academy 3”. This idea is presented to the readers in a rather clunky fashion, by having Cecilia see some of Lean (the heroine’s) writings and think “wow, there are BL fans in this universe too! That reminds me of my friend who always wrote BL fics and also died in the fire with me when we were at the theater watching the movie adaptation of “Holy Maiden of Vleugel Academy 3”!” It’s such an obvious theory (to the reader, not Cecilia) that I have to wonder if it’s a red herring but I hope it’s not; it’d be nice to see the two of them reunited and, if this Lean is still a BL fan, it would probably be easier for Cecilia to survive by not being pitted in romantic confrontations with the other characters (and once again, this was a trope that also came up in Bakarina!).
I’m also eager to read the light novels since the future events hinted at here sound rather more interesting, like an assassin who is after the girls marked as holy maiden candidates and I wonder if the third, missing candidate (who was absent even in the original game) will appear after all. I don’t know if Cecilia ever 100% completed the original game — it wouldn’t be the first time that an isekai protagonist stumbles across secret game routes — but regardless of how far she got in the original game, there’s still a world of difference between fighting monsters and romancing boys on screen and doing it yourself for real!
Helen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5