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When I Became a Commoner, They Broke Off Our Engagement! Manga Volume 1 Review

Synopsis:

When I Became a Commoner, They Broke Off Our Engagement! Manga Volume 1 Review

When Anna and Annette were infants, a fairy bored of the usual changeling tales decided that it would be funny to swap the two girls, sending Anna to be raised as a noble and Annette as a commoner. Thirteen years later, at Anna’s coming-of-age party, a different fairy shows up to see what will happen when the trick is revealed only to get a surprise himself: Anna has the gift of fey sight (and touch). Now she knows the truth about her birth, but that’s a heavy burden to lay on a thirteen-year-old. Should she risk revealing what she knows to her family?

When I Became a Commoner, They Broke Off Our Engagement is translated by Leighann Harvey and lettered by Carolina Hernandez.

Review:

Message to the reader: suffers from what I think of as Light Novel Title Syndrome. This is when a book is given a title that ought to be nothing more than overly descriptive but turns out to be misleading. Other examples of this syndrome include and , and like both of them, this story’s first volume is quite grim. We don’t even get to the event promised by the title of this book, and it says something that Anna’s engagement to Edmund being broken is the absolute least of her hardships.

The plot of this volume is mainly true to the back copy. Thirteen years ago, a mischievous fairy decided to swap two human babies for giggles, picking one noble and one common child. The only link between them is that they both have magic, and even the fairy notes that she doesn’t care about that; it just seemed like a fun thing to do at the time. When another fairy calls her out on it, she realizes that the real entertainment will be when the families figure it out, so she writes a note to future her to come back and stir up trouble after the children come of age. Then she flits off, leaving the other fairy with something of a bad taste in his mouth. Fast-forward thirteen years, and Anna, whom a noble family has raised, is about to attend her coming-of-age party. The problem fairy is thankfully nowhere to be seen, but her friend is, and somewhat to his horror, Anna can see, hear, and touch him. That means that she learns the truth about her upbringing, and that begins the story’s slide into turmoil.

Among the most striking elements of the book is the way that Anna reacts to the news. She’s always been aware that she doesn’t look like her parents or older brother, and her parents haven’t been good at hiding their disdain for her – they’ve frequently wondered aloud if she’s their child. This has made Anna feel disconnected from them, but her brother Henry has always stood up for her, and that’s been her saving grace. When she learns from Klew (as she names the fairy) that she isn’t related to them, she’s overwhelmed with guilt and fear. Anna feels that it’s somehow her fault that the actual daughter of the Senet family was raised in poverty that should have been hers, but she’s also terrified of losing the only life she’s ever known and the brother she adores. This feels very realistic, especially for a teenager. It’s simultaneously the confirmation of her worst nightmares and the acknowledgment that what she’s felt in her heart is real, which is somewhat affirming. Mostly, however, the guilt overrules everything else. We can logically say that it wasn’t Anna‘s fault that any of this happened – she didn’t choose to be born or ask the fairy to switch her with Annette. But her parents’ treatment has already made her feel like the cuckoo in the nest, and this feels like the universe telling her that they were right. With no one else handy to blame, the already beaten-down Anna quickly shifts the blame onto herself.

It’s a lot to take, especially the developments at the end of the volume, which are both a cliffhanger and utterly depressing. We can’t look at Anna’s emotional turmoil in a vacuum; her parents come out looking terrible, and she’s not without at least one ally. Klew the fairy sticks by her throughout the book, and while he makes a lot of noise about the fickleness of fairies, that doesn’t seem to be one of his defining traits. The fairy lore in the story seems to be drawn primarily from Celtic traditions, with the fey folk existing in a grey space between being good and evil. They’re selfish and operate according to their whims, but they aren’t heartless (or at least Klew isn’t), and if he doesn’t care about Anna, he at least finds her situation interesting enough to want to offer her advice. His main aid comes in teaching her how to use her magic for her benefit and advising her to learn cooking, which looks as if it may become her saving grace.

We also can’t write Edmund off entirely. He’s not as present in the story as Klew or Henry, but what we see of him positions him as a tsundere romantic interest, unwilling to admit that he actually likes Anna but showing it nonetheless. He’s not around for the denouement, which will likely be significant. Even if he learns the truth, his ire will likely be reserved for the Senet family. Even if it isn’t, he’s still a wildcard that bears keeping an eye on, as is Annette, who we see just enough of to question how pleased she’ll be to suddenly be embraced by a family of strangers.

is off to a good start. The art helps; barring the usual anachronistic school uniforms, this has a gorgeous 18th-century opulence. But mostly, the emotional thrust of the plot is easy to get pulled into. It’s not a happy story, but it makes you want to keep reading, hoping that someday it will be.


Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. Yen Press, BookWalker Global, and J-Novel Club are subsidiaries of KWE.

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