It’s taken a while, but with this episode we finally get a deeper exploration of the series’ villainess—and no, I don’t mean Angie. Ever since we entered the second arc of the story, Stephanie Fou Offrey has taken over the role of being the main antagonist to our heroes. While Leon has remained largely unphased by her attacks, Stephanie’s bullying has had the intended effect of making Angie and Livia question the nature and foundation of their friendship—even if she did get the crap beaten out of her by Angie last episode. But while Leon is quick to dismiss Stephanie as a one-note character exactly like she was in the game, this episode actually gives us all we need to understand why exactly she hates Angie (and Leon and Livia by proxy).
Essentially, she’s projecting. Everything Stephanie says about Angie applies to her as well. She was abandoned by her fiancé in favor of Marie (Brad in her case). Her status at the academy (and likely her family’s status in general) is in freefall. She had no friends, only followers—who were basically blackmailed into supporting her as their families’ fates are tied together. Of course, that alone wouldn’t be enough to make her set out to take Angie down.
What set Stephanie off is the simple fact that, despite being in the same situation, Angie is actually happier than before. Angie has made two true friends in Leon and Livia and has let go of both her former fiancé and her need for traditional revenge. Stephanie refuses to accept that; In her mind, so full of anger and hate, it has to be fake. Because if it’s not, what does that say about Stephanie’s life and position?
It’s all a matter of ego when it comes down to it—the ingrained belief that, as a noble of a high house, she is superior. To protect herself mentally, Stephanie lashes out at Angie. She is determined to prove Angie and Livia’s friendship to be a lie, because if it is, then everything about how Angie is acting now must be one too. And you know what they say, misery loves company.
On the other side of the issue, we have Leon. While Stephanie is the clear instigator, Leon is also unwittingly exacerbating the situation. He suffers from a problem that many characters reincarnated in game worlds suffer from: he doesn’t see the people around him as real people, but rather as characters with preset personalities brought to life. Because of this, it is hard for him to separate the game character from the person in front of him. In fact, at this point, he has yet to realize that he should even make the distinction.
Stephanie is right about one thing: true friendship needs to be between equals. You have to acknowledge that your friend’s wants, needs, and feelings are just as valid as your own (something that can be hard in an inter-class relationship). But while Stephanie suggests that Livia’s low status prevents Leon from pursuing a relationship with her, it’s the opposite that’s true. In Leon’s mind, Livia is the protagonist and the saint destined to save the world. But more than, he believes that the entire reality he now exists in was designed for her. He holds her on such a pedestal (and believes himself to be so unimportant) that he can’t see her as a viable romantic interest.
If all that weren’t enough, there’s one other major obstacle to their relationship: Leon still sees Livia as his proxy. After all, when he played the game, he was playing as her—guiding her actions to get various desired results. Even reincarnated in the fantasy world, he continues to steer her toward the “good end.” Of course, the problem at this point is that the plot has derailed completely due to Marie (and Leon’s own influence). And with none of the male leads to rely on, he has decided its up to him to step in and do what needs doing.
Unfortunately, just like how Marie rushed her harem ending—denouncing Angie long before Angie had done the truly evil things needed to justify such an extreme response—Leon’s actions are undermining Livia’s heroic growth. In his mind, there is a set checklist of what Livia needs to do to “beat the game.” However, he is so focused on the “gameplay” that he has ignored the story. In the game, Livia had three years of trials and tribulations that all prepared her to be the saint and save the world at the end. However, Leon has been stepping in to resolve the trials one after another for her—even those he really doesn’t need to. This has prevented Livia from growing as a person.
In a real way, she has become an extra in her own story. And while she doesn’t understand why this has happened, she does understand that it isn’t right. This is why she blows up at Leon at the end of the episode: he has taken away her agency. Hopefully, this will open Leon’s eyes to his problem with how he views the world in general and Livia in specific. We’ll just have to tune in next week to see how it all turns out.
• Come on Stephanie, if Angie had no problem breaking your nose, what makes you think she would have any issues choking you out if you antagonize her again?
• I love that the queen has a crush on Leon. (Believe it or not, even married people who love their spouses can get crushes on other people. They’re only human after all.)
• Stephanie’s family protects the border. Huh. Something tells me that fact (along with the Black Knight) is going to be an important plot point before the season is over.
• The boys in Marie’s harem are learning that they have just been playing at being heroes. Seeing a real fight seems to have woken them up a bit.
• Luxion tries to warn Leon that his way of viewing the world is flawed but some lessons just need to be learned the hard way.
• Leon is kind of like an overprotective parent. Carla’s lie was never going to work. While she may be a commoner, Livia’s objection backed up by the pirates’ confessions would have been more than enough. Leon needs to learn when to step in and when not to.
• Boy, Leon sure got hit with a question that had no right answer to in the end there. Hopefully it’ll be a wakeup call of sorts.
Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.