Anime Corner had the chance to chit-chat with Inori, the author of the yuri light novel I’m in Love With the Villainess, which started in 2019. It tells the story about Rae an office worker who wakes up in the body of her favorite otome game’s protagonist. After waking up in the new world, she meets Claire, the main antagonist of the story – and also her favorite character. Rei now has one mission: to get into a lovey-dovey relationship with Claire.
A few weeks ago an anime by Platinum Works premiered in Japan and overseas, gathering new fans from all over the world. We took this opportunity to talk to Inori about the I’m in Love With the Villainess series, queer culture, fans and more.
Q: With so many isekai villainess stories right now, each with its own distinct twists and turns, could you share the inspiration behind your unique approach to the genre?
Inori: When I started writing, I‘m in Love with the Villainess was not yet as popular as it is today. However, the template was beginning to form, and I wanted to try my hand at writing something. Right around that time, I met my current partner, Aki, and was fascinated by her very fun personality, so I wanted to design a character based on her. That is how the character Ray-Taylor was born. Although her maverick personality and behavior are exaggerated for fiction, her humor and positivity definitely come from Aki.
Q: Were you in love with the villainess?
Inori: If you ask me if I fell in love with the villainess, I don’t think so. I love Claire, for example, as each individual character, but I have no special attachment to the genre.
Q: Your novel addresses themes of societal norms and expectations; how important was it for you to incorporate these themes, and why?
Inori: As a minority, I am still interested in these themes, and I have written quite a bit about them in I’m in Love With the Villainess. I am personally satisfied with it, but on the other hand, when I think of it as a work of entertainment, I have some doubts about whether I have written the right balance. The purpose of an entertainment piece is to entertain people, not to preach to them. In that sense, I hope to be able to strike a better balance between the two in the future.
Q: Looking back, is there anything you would change or do differently in the novel?
Inori: Actually I am very happy with the novel, and while I have a few regrets, I don’t really want to rewrite it or develop it differently. However, several characters have become very popular but left the stage early, and I would like to bring those characters back into the light at some point.
Q: Do you watch yuri or shoujo ai anime or read light novels? If yes, which ones do you like the most?
Inori: There are so many interesting works, but if I had to pick one, I would pick The Demon Girl Next Door by Izumo Ito. At first glance, it is a very comical and funny work, but at the same time, it is a work that has a very strong grand story underlying it.
Q: For aspiring writers interested in making a girls’ love story, what are the key elements and considerations they should keep in mind? So what makes or breaks a good plot?
Inori: I am the kind of author who only writes the girls’ love genre, so I can’t speak too professionally about it. However, my advice to all aspiring novelists, not just those in the girls’ love genre, is to try writing one novel of your choice first. Put aside know-how and thoughtfulness, and write one novel first – that’s all I’m going to say.
Q: How do you feel about the reception of I’m in Love with the Villainess by the readers and the community?
Inori: The reception of I‘m in Love With the Villainess has so far received relatively positive reviews. However, this is because this work was accepted as a “good work by those in the know,” and after the anime aired, we received an increasing number of harsh opinions. The fandom, both in Japan and abroad, continues to support me, but I feel that now is the time for this work to be truly put to the test.
Q: Were there any reactions or interpretations that surprised you?
Inori: I have thought that the reactions and interpretations are a little different between Japan and other countries. While in Japan, many people judge a work based on its entertainment value, outside of Japan, for example, it is not uncommon to receive evaluations in the context of queer culture. This is something I didn’t know until I experienced translation and publication, and I think it was a very valuable experience for me.
Q: Many international fans appreciate your occasional multilingual tweets. What motivated you to start tweeting in languages other than Japanese? Is this also the reason the anime’s official account occasionally posts in English?
Inori: I started tweeting in languages other than Japanese largely because of the advances in machine translation. Originally, we wanted to respect the language of the people we wanted to communicate with, but until recently that was very difficult to achieve. With the advent of DeepL and ChatGPT4, I feel that the barriers have been lowered considerably. Originally, I knew a little English, though at a kindergarten level, and now I am trying to tweet in multiple languages while using English. I think the reason why official anime accounts sometimes post in English is because the anime staff wants to take care of not only domestic but also overseas fans. Of course, the discretion and responsibility of an official corporate account are completely different from that of an individual, so I am sure that they are feeling a bit frustrated that they cannot do as much as I do.
Q: Last but not least: what was being banned from Twitter (now X) like?
Inori: Are you referring to the locking of my old account? That was a very sad event indeed. I was really upset because the timing of the freeze was about a week before we announced the decision to produce the anime. The freezing of the old account was completely due to a misunderstanding by Twitter’s algorithm. We are still continuing to dispute it, but it seems that X company, which has changed from Twitter, has no intention of changing its decision, which is very unfortunate. However, my new account is slowly recovering thanks to the fandom, so I feel that I can give up on the old account now.
We’d love to thank Inori for taking the time to talk to us. You can find her on X (formerly Twitter). The I’m in Love With a Villainess light novel and manga are available in English by Seven Seas, while the anime is streaming on Crunchyroll.
© Inori / Ainaka Publishing /Ichijinsha/ Wataoshi Production Committee