Can Someone Please Explain What’s Going On?! kicks off with the main heroine at a wedding. Viola Mangelica Euphorbia is at the Royal Capital saying “I Do” to her new husband, Duke Cersis Tinensis Fisalis. This surely means that we discover how these two lovebirds manage the dukedom while watching their love blossom over time.
Well, maybe this happens later in the series, but in this first volume, all of this is a fake — the marriage is real publicly, but that’s just for show!
While Viola is a noble, she is also the daughter of a broke earl. After famine struck their territory, forcing them to take out a loan, the Euphorbia family’s been in debt ever since. They’ve maintained their status thanks to Viola and the entire family doing the minimum, but otherwise they’re inconsequential as royalty. That’s why an offer to marry Duke Cersis catches them off guard — especially Viola since she considers herself pretty plain. Despite questioning why her, Viola doesn’t turn this proposal down. The opportunity to get the family out of debt was too tempting, so she easily accepts the offer.
But, as you know, it’s all a ruse. The Duke personally informs her it’s all so he can get his family off his back regarding marriage. He even has a secret lover, but due to societal standards and his lover’s peculiar past, he can’t marry her. So him marrying Viola is more out of convenience than anything else. The Duke can still keep his secret while maintaining face, while Viola doesn’t have to love him or have to socialize, but she gets her family out of debt. Win-win!
You can figure that’s going to change, but Tsuredurebana makes sure the change is not what you think immediately. As soon as Viola settles into the Duke’s home, she learns not only does he not spend time there, but he immediately spends it with his lover, who we learn later is Calendula, at a cottage within the vicinity when he’s not working. Viola also learns, aside from a few details, all the servants know what’s really going on.
So that leaves Viola with little to understand about her duties as the Madam of the House. But with her independent, frugal upbringing and sprightly personality, all it took was her wanting to not eat alone for things to slowly start changing.
The characters and the localization made Can Someone Please Explain What’s Going On?! a very enjoyable, hilarious read. Viola is very active throughout the light novel, but at certain times can be laid-back. That’s why for some situations, whether it’s Duke Cersis’ proposal or her asking the maids what’s actually occurring, she takes it in stride or quickly adjusts. Much fun was had anytime she hung out or talked to the servants — maids Dahlia and Mimosa and butler Rohtas — as they either tried to acquiesce to her strange requests (one regarding dresses, which Viola finds too fancy, but, uh, the Duke’s rich) or gleefully back her in secret due to the rapport built up (see later in the volume when Duke Cersis mysteriously begins coming to the house more often). While the Duke is kinda typical, his parents (especially his mom) shine in the few moments they have with Viola.
It’s nice that all the servants already know what’s going on, because their transformation as the volume progresses was cool. If they were lifeless before, just wait until Viola affects their mood! We see this more closely with the three mentioned earlier, as they interact with her a lot. Also nice of them to each share a secret that it appears not even the Duke knows about.
The work by Mattias Hirsch and Sarah Tilson does feel noticeable throughout the read. It’s definitely for the best. Would anyone back in this setting know, “We’re certain you’ll love our Madam more than the other brand, or your money back, guaranteed! (Call now!)”? No, but it’ll always beat something dry all the time. So really, localization choices like that only enhances the overall text, and also makes Viola shine.
Overall, while the premise is pretty simple, there’s a lot to enjoy in Can Someone Please Explain What’s Going On?!. Probably my main concerns are how Calendula was handled (her personality felt pretty one-note) and how this ended which makes me wonder how it’ll be moving forward. But between seeing Viola make choices, get harsh dancing lessons when it rained and see her complain, and the back-and-forth internal monologues she had in stark contrast to reality, this is a light novel that’s worth your time.