There will be spoilers for the manhwa series I'm the Soldier's Ex-Girlfriend.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to suicide, death, murder, and abuse as it appears in the manhwa.
Maise Hazelnut is supposed to be the saintly female protagonist of the harem romance novel The Soldier's Girlfriend. But, unfortunately, the current Maise is not that saintess character. Instead, she is a girl from the 21st century who has reincarnated into the world of her favorite novel! But she's not just any character – she is the saintess! She initially enjoys the adventure and her cute, soon-to-be-soldier male protagonist boyfriend, Sucre. However, it doesn't take long before all of it gets old, especially when Maise is often getting kidnapped so Sucre's enemies can threaten him. While he is off gallivanting on various male protagonist adventures, he is also flirting with all the beautiful women of the novel.
Fed up with the plot, Maise decides to live her life her way. The first step to do that is breaking up with Sucre, and while he doesn't take it well, Maise holds firm. So, newly single and living her best, peaceful life, Maise goes out to look for her true love. In her pursuit, she is set up with the mysterious Eith Lancell. He's handsome, considerate, and everything that Sucre wasn't, which is just what our independent female protagonist is looking for. Eith seems just a bit too perfect, and it isn't long before Maise suspects there is more than what meets the eye with her devilishly handsome new beau.
First, let me get this out of the way: the male lead is exactly my type (though, again, I haven't really found many that aren't my type at this point – I think male lead is my type). I love how, as a devil, he is unfamiliar with many human concepts, so he clumsily fumbles through courting Maise. There's a sequence where Maise has to transcribe love letters, not realizing they are Eith's feelings for her, and she badmouths them right in front of them. It was adorable watching him flounder, all while trying to look cool. He's a bean that we must protect.
Beyond just the male lead, though, the concept of the female lead dumping the intended male lead is the first I've seen, though I am sure it is not the first by any means. For it to be so well done, I am super excited to see what others are out there in this same vein. I just love the idea of the female lead breaking up with the main character because she's tired of his shit, and it turns out the villain is just a cute bean that loves the heroine. Love that.
Something I was not that excited about when I realized it was part of this was the meta storyline. One of the major plot twists is that the story's author is possibly in the story, and Maise might be her. The primary villains are actually characters written out of the novel, the three moirai sisters. They constantly manipulate the world to their liking before starting it over and reliving it repeatedly so they can be real characters. I was beyond pleased when it turned out Maise is actually just the real Maise, and the author, Yoon Sooa, is actually a separate person who was isekai'd into the story. This was a really nice twist on the trope of the author being reborn in their story as a character.
However, I will say the way Maise/Yoon Sooa (the author briefly takes over Maise's body) reveals the real identity of the three moirai sisters is a bit corny. I hate when protagonists come in and go through some epic monologue that wrecks the villain with mere words. I wish there had been a bit more action at this point, especially since, right before this showdown with the moirai sisters, they were in the midst of a battle. I feel like ending everything with a monologue messed up the pacing and weakened Yoon Sooa's big reveal.
Now, back to things I did like. I loved Eith's dedication to saving Maise from her life as the main character's love interest with varying levels of success. It was interesting to see the different methods he tried and how he, as the story's original villain, played the hero for Maise when her boyfriend Sucre acted as the villain, causing Maise immense pain and often causing her death. It was nice to see their roles flip-flop like that. Sucre as a mini villain, too, I thought was great. He was a whiny jerk, which is completely counter to the idea of the heroic soldier he was meant to portray. Plus, the fact that we open the story with Maise dumping him is just great. That sold me immediately. Seeing her pissed over being a damsel in distress all the time and all of the women he inadvertently courts throughout his adventures is everything. I feel like most female protagonists would probably feel the same way if they could.
Finally, I have to talk about the art. It was super cute and pretty consistent throughout. I think the artwork really shines when it comes to Eith in both his disguise and his real self. Both designs are great and are male lead material, no doubt. All the demons are really nice to look at, and seeing Sucre's slow descent from generic hero to crazed stalker was super satisfying as the manhwa went on. I also just have to say how much I love Maise and Eith's designs together – the saintess and the demon king – completely opposing each other in both title and design. It makes a beautiful picture.
I really liked this one. The concept was unique to me, and the male lead was everything I could have hoped for. I don't think it was a perfect execution in terms of the whole meta storyline, but overall, it was really satisfying. Plus, I love Maise and her “I'm tired of your male protagonist bull” attitude. If nothing else, seeing her dump Sucre makes this totally worth the read.
Have you read I'm the Soldier's Ex-Girlfriend? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!