Dahlia’s life on Earth, where she died of overwork, was a short one and it seems like some of her personality and tendencies have carried over to her new life. She still has a habit of withdrawing into herself, preferring to continue her work in creating magical tools rather than facing conflict, and when her fiancé says that he doesn’t like how bright her natural hair color is, that he doesn’t like how tall she is, etc, she adapted.
Not many people amongst her friends and colleagues actually liked Tobias that much — it was a match born out of the hopes of their fathers — but none of them were expecting him to dump Dahlia the day they moved into their new house, the day before they registered their marriage. But, well, there’s nothing else for Dahlia to do but to approach this upheaval of her life with sensibility, a lawyer, and plans to move on. And there are plenty of people in Dahlia’s community who want her to succeed, from friends who already love the products she made, to the people in the Merchant’s Guild who’ve watched her grow up into a fine inventor under her father’s tutelage, and even newcomers in Dahlia’s life, like the injured knight she meets in the woods who seems incredibly enthusiastic about even her most mundane inventions…
Despite initially sounding like an over-the-top r/relationships or AITA post, Dahlia’s initial plight and the calm, almost in shock way she approached it really did tug at my heartstrings and did a fantastic job at hooking me for the rest of the story. There are certainly a number of slow-life isekai stories out there where the characters end up being just as busy as they were in their previous lives (as they do things like, bring technological innovations to the masses) but usually that’s something that the story builds up to. Dahlia in Bloom starts with Dahlia at her lowest point and one that serves as a wake-up call that she almost wasted her second life in addition to her first. I’ll admit that the way Tobias seemed to become more and more of an idiot as the story went on (it doesn’t take long for Dahlia to wonder if he was always this big an idiot) did feel increasingly at odds with the story, as if the writer themself wanted to publish Tobias. Fortunately it appears that he won’t be a re-occurring, or at least major, character going forward since any attempt to write him out of the idiot corner would take up quite a bit of page time.
Instead, our new contender for Dahlia’s hand is Volf, a knight from a noble background with some magic but not much and who is fascinated with the tools that Dahlia “invents” (aka, recreates from her life back on Earth, with varying degrees of success) with her own magic. Dahlia doesn’t think that she was born with any extraordinary powers since her magic is all very typical for this world (although I’d disagree and say that the extreme amounts of alcohol seemingly everyone can imbibe is straight-up a magical ability), but the way she approaches her magic, letting her past and current life experiences give her ideas for how to overcome complex technical challenges, lets her create items that no one in this world has ever thought of. And so when Volf approaches her about creating a magic sword, something that he would love to have but hasn’t had any success in acquiring so far, she’s totally game to experiment, although they haven’t had much success as of yet. It is a bit of a shame that, despite the two of them mentally vowing to just be friends, the story will definitely be pushing them together romantically in the future, since they do make a nice pair of friends. Like Tobias, it almost feels as if the author originally intended for one thing to happen in the series, changed their mind halfway through, and didn’t fully rewrite the beginning to make it flow as smoothly as it could.
Dahlia feels like a wonderful addition to a category of heroines that I like to call “women who are too obsessed with their hobby,” although she’s much more like Sei from The Saint’s Magic is Omnipotent than say Myne or Maomao in terms of temperament and age. And the cherry on top of this series is the interior illustrations which are great fun. While the covers don’t look particularly noteworthy (except yes, that is a shoe insole that Dahlia is proudly displaying on the second volume’s cover), the interior illustrations have an almost comic-like feel to them with how vibrantly they capture the movement in the scene. Light novel illustrations run a truly wide gamut in terms of quality, far larger than manga or anime, so it’s always a delight to discover that a series has really well-done ones. I certainly hope that this is a title that J-Novel Club puts out in print so I can add it to my physical bookshelves.