Helen: Fiancée of the Wizard has come to an end, or at least this manga adaptation of the light novels has, and it’s an ending that will not be terribly surprising. Given that there have been only a limited number of named characters in the entire series, if any of them was going to be Filimena’s mysterious curser the list of candidates would be minuscule. And, after seeing that the heart of the curse was Filimena’s past self, the unnamed office lady who died too young, it was a sure bet that lifting the curse would involve a heart-to-heart between them as well.
I do wish that more isekai stories dealt with the fact that the characters can never return home, especially given the high rate of mortality to reach another world in the first place. I’m not fond of a current trend I see of making the “original” Earth character someone who lived a sick and isolated life, as if that alone would cut the bonds enough for them to start over in another world with nary a hesitation (with the heaping of “someone who lives like this could never possibly enjoy life” ableism on top). Filimena’s meeting with her old self isn’t the most nuanced but seeing the raw emotion that her old self, not fully merged with her, still feels at how she never got to love, take care of her parents, or even live, works quite well. I was left a little confused by the interaction — my impression all along was that Filimena was truly a reincarnation (that’s certainly what is implied in the first volume) but when she speaks about only absorbing her other self’s memories, not her full essence, it felt more like they were two people combined into one instead. In the end the actual mechanics don’t matter too much but I do wish the story had been a little more consistent about it.
To the end, this series has remained a shoujo romance (which is to say, lots of fluff but also dramatic turns and dark secrets) and despite the story not having changed I feel as if I’ve cooled on it a little. Part of it may be from the large gap between volumes, as while not anyone’s fault it’s certainly a sign of the pandemic times that this volume came out far later than the July 2021 date written on the copyright page, and I suspect I would have been a bit more enamored with it if I had been able to binge the series instead.
But still, it’s a cute romance, with thoughtful execution of some common tropes, and the art remains adorable to the end. If the light novels were to come out in English I’d certainly give them a look but, with so many other shoujo manga and light novels coming out these days, I don’t feel the need to hold my breath over it.
Helen’s rating: 3 out of 5
Krystallina: Even though Edy got rid of the demon imp, Filimena continues to struggle with her nightmares as well as her apprehension about Lady Luna-Marie’s attraction to Edy. But thanks to a magic stone given to Filimena by Edy, it doesn’t take long to track down the caster of her curse. And no, you don’t get any awards for correctly guessing that the two storylines intertwine. There is also the matter of Servus, whom Filimena considers a friend but has hiding significant details about herself. Love, jealousy, and magic all collide with Filimena’s second life on the line.
In previous reviews, I’ve mused whether to direct my complaints more toward Fiancée of the Wizard‘s original novel or this manga version. I’m sorry to sound like a broken record, but that feeling is perhaps even stronger now. By the time I was a bout a third of the way through, I kept thinking each chapter feels like an ending and how is the rest of the book going to fill the pages. We get some drama, then what seems like a denouement, then more drama, then another faux denouement, and so on. It also doesn’t help Filimena goes from the frying pan and into the fryer in an abrupt fashion with a shoehorned explanation. The volume is almost like an accordion, where sometimes the plot is stretched out and othertimes pushed together to wrap up the manga in volume 4.
I assume part of the reason the climactic scenes are relatively short is to fit in extra time for the sweet moments. But amidst Edy displaying his love to her is a sense of sadness. No, I don’t just mean sadness due to Fiancée of the Wizard ending or seeing Edy desperately trying to ensure Filimena’s safety. I mean actual sympathy that the hero of a shoujo romance is one where his lady love — and actual wife — thinks, “It’s been…years since he complimented me.” I mean, nothing gives me a warm sense of fuzziness like the thought maybe the male lead will praise the heroine three days in a row.
Just to be clear, that’s sarcasm. It’s true Edy is at his most romantic here, but that’s a very low bar for him. Filimena herself several times here muses how exasperating Edy can be, but of course, she loves him anyway. For a married couple, the spice factor is non-existent, and in terms of presentation, the more emotional conversation is between Filimena and Servus — or even Filimena and her past self. Edy’s earlier rampage tries to reach that depth, but unfortunately, this isn’t like volume 1 where full chapters can be from his perspective. It’s cut short by his friends snapping him out of his rage rather than dwelling on his bond with Filimena.
Fiancée of the Wizard volume 4 incorporates the isekai part of the plot better than volumes 1-2. But other than that, I don’t think any story or character developments — or even romantic ones – make the second half of the manga a must-read. If you’ve already picked up volume 3, then of course finish the series, but if you stopped at volume 2, you’re not missing out on much.
Krystallina’s rating: 2 out of 5