Tearmoon Empire begins with 20-year-old Princess Mia being led to the guillotine. Her short life has been defined by frivolous spending and neglect of the common people, and now she’s about to be executed by the revolutionaries who toppled her family’s throne. Her last thoughts as the blade descends toward her neck are to wonder if there was anything she could have done differently to avoid this fate.
Then she wakes up, safe in the castle, a pampered 12-year-old princess with no worries besides where her next slice of cake is coming from. For a moment, she feels secure in the knowledge that it was only a dream. But the vividness of eight years’ worth of memories, combined with the appearance of a blood-stained diary detailing the events of the revolution, soon force her to accept the truth: it all really happened, and now she’s been sent back to the past with a chance to change the future!
Like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning, Mia immediately shocks her servants with a sudden transformation from spoiled brat to generous benefactor. But as she learns from the doomed timeline’s diary, which magically updates itself to reflect her new decisions, it will take much more than a few superficial changes to fix a broken system on the verge of bloody revolution.
Memories from Mia’s old life are interspersed throughout the narrative as she begins to understand the potentially far-reaching consequences of the tiniest decisions along her long journey to set things right. The interconnected issues she faces, and the looming specter of her future death, make the story feel a bit like a playthrough of a complex stat-raiser with plenty of bad endings—and this time, the player is determined to get the hardest achievement!
The first volume of Tearmoon Empire takes a bit of a turn partway through to become more of a school story, with Mia attending an elite academy for the children of nobles. While there, she’s constantly concerned about the political ramifications of things like whom she takes to the school dance, and whether she defends other students from bullies. This aspect of the setting feels a bit less unique, as while Mia’s situation still puts a spin on it, many of the tropes it relies on would be just as much at home in any other tale of teenage drama. Hopefully, the academy’s summer break beginning at the end of the volume will give the next one more space to focus on events back home in Mia’s empire.
Fortunately, Mia remains an intriguing character to follow throughout, as she leverages her knowledge of the future to make strategic alliances and avoid potential disasters. There’s a constant comedic contrast between other people’s perceptions of her as dazzlingly intelligent and kind-hearted, and the truth that she’s working with a supernatural level of foresight—alongside a healthy dose of desperation to build a good reputation with her subjects.
This also raises some interesting philosophical questions to consider as the narrative goes on. Can we truly consider Mia’s actions to be good ones if they arise from the selfish motivation to save her own skin? And will it ever be possible for her to reform her empire into a just and egalitarian one? Or does the power imbalance inherent to the existence of the nobility necessitate a revolution either way?
I’m looking forward to seeing these questions explored in further installments of Tearmoon Empire. If you’re interested in comedic political intrigue and lovably awful protagonists, Princess Mia Luna Tearmoon is just the girl for you.
Title: Tearmoon Empire, Vol. 1
Publisher: J-Novel Club
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Type: Light Novel
Author: Nozomu Mochitsuki
Translator: David Treng
Editors: Hannah N. Carter; Samantha J. Moore