Krystallina: Since I Was Abandoned After Reincarnating, I Will Cook With My Fluffy Friends: The Figurehead Queen Is Strongest At Her Own Pace starts off in an entirely common fashion: a high-ranking noble named Laetitia is accused of bullying the commoner-turned-true-love of her fiancé, the crown prince. The public confrontation about her supposed crimes causes Laetitia to remember she was an ordinary Japanese woman who died after being hit by a truck. To avoid strife in the country, Laetitia agrees to be the temporary wife of the king of the neighboring country of beastpeople. And also because with her past life’s knowledge and her current amazing, powered-up magical skills, she can more freely cook over there.
There, King Glenreed doesn’t treat Laetitia royally or with disgust, but the two hardly meet up…in human form that is. As Laetitia continues to recreate recipes in her free time, she also enjoys spending time with the creatures who visit her villa. Including one particular silver wolf.
That wolf, unbeknownst to Laetitia, is Glenreed in disguise. The wolf acts like he can understand Laetitia (which obviously he does), and she tends to sense his thoughts the way most people do with animals. Him observing her in wolf-form is most of their interaction in this book, so those looking for romance won’t find much of it here. The novel checks in with Glenreed at points, and he’s intrigued by her duplicity as a near-perfect noblewoman and the doting animal lover. Laetitia, meanwhile, just sees Glenreed as a handsome king who appears to be very busy. Got a long way to go before she falls in love.
Glenreed has had marriage candidates before, and four of his potential brides still live on his property. Laetitia interacts with one house in this first volume, so I’m sure the other three are not far behind, whether they be enemies or allies. For now, she seems to be developing an animal harem, which, as you can imagine from the title, is a key aspect of the story. Laetitia gleefully recounts how soft and cuddly they are, and some of her titular fluffy friends are more than just their Earth counterparts. With the included illustrations, you’ll want to glomp them too. Simply adorable.
Animal lovers will be drawn to this title, and cooking is the other major hook. As you can imagine, Laetitia attempts to recreate some Earth recipes and techniques (mostly on desserts), and she also doesn’t like how nobility in this world tend to overspice their dishes. Commoner foods don’t have this problem, so this part was a bit weak since Laetitia isn’t doing anything unheard of in this world.
Speaking of Laetitia, my biggest concern going forward is she won’t be much of a rounded heroine. Like many isekai heroes, she is super talented, though a lot of her skills are due to her hard work. But I’m worried that this series will end up as a constant circle of Laetitia dazzling creatures and wannabe queens with her smarts and skills. The supporting cast could be handled better to balance this. For instance, her servant, Lucian, is introduced as being very talented and protective of his mistress. But once they head to Glenreed’s kingdom, his role is minimal.
Laetitia also learns just before leaving her smile is sometimes creepy, but it’s only when someone is irritating her. (And all of the illustrations show her with a cute, happy smile or a polite one.) It comes across as more of a hidden weapon than a weakness. Someone working with her on that smile, keeping her villainess-like appearance all the time — that would help Laetitia be a more rounded character and give her allies a role besides sampling her food.
Glenreed might help bring out more sides of Laetitia, so I’m looking forward to more of their (human-to-human) interactions. But the novel is well-written despite the usual tropes, and the illustrations are excellent. It was a relaxing read, but there is just enough intrigue and fantasy to not be slow-paced. Can’t wait for volume 2.
Krystallina’s rating: 4 out of 5
Helen: After falling victim to a scheme by her “rival”, Laetita Gramwell loses her fiancé, the crown prince, but simultaneously regains her memories of living in Japan as an office worker before her untimely death. Not that these old memories have much of an obvious effect on her life — she was already frustrated with her fiancé, a skilled magic user in her own right, and growing less fond of the elaborate meals she always ate as a duke’s daughter. Being part of an important noble family and being publicly snubbed by the royal family has put her into a bit of a pickle however, as she’s already withdrawn from the exclusive magic school that she (and her fiancé and rival) attended and it seems like the best thing to do will be to leave the country and lay low for a few years.
It’s not quite “laying low” but Laetita’s father receives an unusual proposal: the young king of the neighboring nation of Wolfvarte, Glenreed Wolfvarte, is under pressure to get married but he’s not ready to commit yet to any of his current queen candidates. Under Wolfvarte law, if a couple doesn’t consummate their marriage within two years the marriage is null and void so, would Laetita like to come and be a queen in a “white marriage” to give him more time to choose his real queen? Plus, in Wolfvarte it’s common for noble women to pursue cooking as a hobby and Laetita’s father has noticed how much time she’s spending in the kitchen….
Since I Was Abandoned After Reincarnating, I Will Cook With My Fluffy Friends: The Figurehead Queen Is Strongest At Her Own Pace has a rather involved set-up to match its absolutely enormous title, but thankfully I have been informed that the nickname for the series is Mofu Mofu or roughly “fluffy fluffy.” And on that note I would like to commend illustrator Kasumi Nagi for including some of Laetita’s fluffy friends in nearly all of the illustrations; that was a much bigger draw for me than the cooking aspect of the story (which at this point is its own sub-genre of isekai tales).
I’ve complained before about how tired I am of the “our isekai protagonist arrives in a world with terrible food and shows the natives the ‘true way’ to make tasty food, like a Japanese culinary savior” trope and Mofu Mofu tries to have its cake and eat it too in this regard. Laetitia’s new world is familiar with cooking spices, perhaps a bit too familiar given how she describes their usage! The current trend amongst nobles is to use an enormous amount of spices to show off your wealth, to the point where Laetita describes them drowning out the original flavors of the food. Laetitia isn’t too fond of this style, indeed every non-villainous character seems to agree with her, and so she works on convincing the cooks in her sphere of influence to reduce the spices and let the original flavors show through. Funny enough (to me), this all also reminds me a bit of a classic internet squabble: the “white people don’t season their food” rant and the “we want to taste the original flavor of the meat and vegetables” counter-argument. Between seeing that argument come up every time someone wants to make a TikTok duet mocking another person’s meal and seeing this trope come up in every third isekai title (a conservative estimate), I’m truly tired of it!
Thankfully, the majority of Laetitia’s “innovative” cooking is actually creating items that would be legitimately hard to invent on their own, like being able to use magic to create a chiffon cake pan (which is torus shaped) and inventing ice cream (where she has to work around not having refrigeration). In a cynical moment, I was surprised that her first priority wasn’t to introduce rice, soy sauce, miso, etc to her new world, since that’s how a lot of these isekai tales go.
But a part of the reason why this story doesn’t go down that route is because Laetitia is herself, not the Japanese office worker she was before. She’s still a duke’s daughter and not about to go traipsing the world looking for new cooking ingredients, she’s surprisingly content to live in a small villa on the king’s estate and to try and keep to herself, both in cooking and politics. Laetita has absolutely no expectations to become the “real” queen of Wolfvarte and doesn’t want to interfere with the power struggle involved in choosing the next queen. But sometimes you just need to prove that another faction is passing off your recipes as their own and defend your pride, even if it does lead to some shake-ups.
The cover doesn’t indicate that this is an on-going series (although it is listed as volume 1 on the copyright page) so I was rather caught off guard with the sudden ending; even the two short stories provided at the end of the volume didn’t help smooth that out much. I can’t deny that I didn’t want more after being cut off, although looking online it seems there are at least a couple more volumes in the series and I’m not sure just how long this premise can be drawn out (or at least, the almost inverted White Cat’s Revenge sub-plot which is currently the part with the greatest potential for drama).
It’s a fluffy story in all regards and I rather enjoy Laetita as a protagonist, but I fear that in some ways Mofu Mofu is too similar to a half-dozen other titles and I wonder how long I’ll remember it as a result.
Helen’s rating: 3 out of 5