REVIEW: Torture Princess: Fremd Torturchen by Keishi Ayasato

A beautiful woman appears before Kaito Sena following his tragic death and rebirth into another world. Introducing herself as the Torture Princess, she orders him to become her loyal servant. Naturally, his response is…”Hard pass.” And so Elisabeth presents him with two choices-become her butler or be tortured to death. After rethinking his hasty decision, Kaito is forced to wait on Elisabeth hand and foot, as well as aid her in her mission as the Torture Princess, which is the subjugation of the fourteen ranked demons and their contractors. But there’s a catch. Once her mission is complete, Elisabeth is fated to die alone-forsaken by heaven, earth, and all of creation.

Warnings: Extremely Graphic Violence/Guro, Horror Elements, Violence Against Children, Abuse

Category: F/M, M/F

Torture Princess is an isekai light novel series, featuring a girl who is famed for having tortured and slaughtered every last person in her fiefdom, earning her the title of Torture Princess. It’s an extremely over the top graphic gore novel, horror in aesthetic but light hearted and casually comedic in tone. There are currently five volumes translated into English, and a manga adaptation. It has a lot of themes of abuse running through it and could be very upsetting to some readers, but if you’re into a gothic gore aesthetic this may be the isekai series for you!

WRITING
Despite the extremely graphic nature of the content, Torture Princess is a pretty typical isekai in tone and plot. A dude from our world dies, and is summoned into another world, where he becomes embroiled in a monster-of-the-week style plot that echos many other isekai series that have come before it. The main character is a pretty typical isekai/harem protag, bland and passive, and there to more or less react to the zany world around him. Elisabeth, the Torture Princess, is a violent and sadistic person but with a tender and more innocent, and at times truly melancholic, side to her as well. And, of course, a slight tsundere streak. There’s also a maid robot that is bound to be Kaito’s lover and servant, which he is flustered by. Standard tropes to the genre.

The only really unique thing about it is the edgy gore theme, which is so ridiculously over the top as to be cartoonish. Some people may find it disturbing, naturally, but I actually find it so over the top that it looses it’s ability to truly unsettle. As such I can’t really classify it as a horror, as it really doesn’t use any horror storytelling tropes. What it does do though it create a really beautiful kind of aesthetic quality to it all, drenching the whole thing in a coat of blood and viscera. Unfortunately, none of the lovely illustrations depict any of the gore which would have added greatly to the haunting beauty of it, but I suppose the manga will have to pick up that slack.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
While the characters are all archetypes, I actually found that they are archetypes done pretty damn well. Elisabeth is an angst driven, inwardly contained character that puts on a haughty attitude and gleefully commits atrocities, but she also considers it to be her just punishment to eventually die horribly herself. Some reviewers disliked this aspect of the book: why read an entire series knowing that a character you’re going to come to love and engage with is destined for death by fire by the ending? But I found that this gave Elisabeth a lot of complexity as a very outwardly flippant but inwardly sorrowful character. The predetermined outcome allows her character the space to make choices that are interesting and thought provoking.

Meanwhile Kaito is your typical bland protag, but he’s got a hefty amount of trauma in his own past. The story covers a lot of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, which could also be incredibly upsetting to some readers, but much like the gore content, it’s so over the top as to lose impact in it’s cartoonishness. This allows the story to explore how that over the top treatment effected him in a way that would otherwise have made the story a little too serious. As it is, Kaito’s personality is very impacted by the way his father accustomed him to pain, and gives a solid circumvention to the “under-reacting for comedic purposes” trope.

WORLDBUILDING
The first volume sets up a fairly interesting isekai world. There are 14 Demon Lords that Elisabeth is tasked with by the Church to kill, after which she herself will be sentenced to death by fire. The Church, in this instance, is an obvious Catholicism-inspired fantasy realm religion, complete with cultish offshoots unsanctioned by the main body of the Church, and a God vs Demons war. I’m interested to see more of the setting, and am impressed with the authors creativity when it comes to the monsters designed for it. I do hope that later volumes give us a bit more glimpses into the towns and cities and average peoples of this world, as the first one mostly only concerns desolate places and battles with monsters and demon lords, only briefly showing us a township. It would make it feel a little less disjointed to have more of an idea of how people in this setting live.

STEAMINESS
While this is not a sexually explicit book, (at least not in the first volume), it is a guro book which is more than enough of a kink to warrant a review on an adult books blog. As before stated, the whole book has a rather haunting guro aesthetic which, in my opinion, could well benefit from an animated adaptation. It has such a beautiful kind of mesmerizing gruesome quality that could be compared to things like Blood-C or Mnemosyne or even the Hannibal TV Series. Gore of this particular type has an eerily horny air about it and I loved everything about that aesthetic. It also has a heavy dosage of dysfunctional relationships showcased in the narrative that give it a delicious amount of emotional tension and weight. Of course Kaito and his father are one such relationship, Elisabeth and her own father are another; the backstory surrounding how she was groomed to become the Torture Princess supplying a good amount of twisted feelings. Kaito and his maid Hina, and of course Elisabeth and Kaito, both model different forms of subservience and servanthood dynamics, and the constant threat Kaito is under of torture or grave bodily harm is beautifully exciting. Though I do wish the author had followed through and allowed Kaito to actually be tortured at least a little, there are some truly inspired scenes with the threat of torture hanging nicely to tease and titillate any tortureporn fans.

This is a cheesy kind of ‘guilty pleasure’ book, and from the existing reviews people either really love this or really hate it. It’s not going to be everyone’s thing, and I can certainly see the areas in which it is a fairly formulaic and run of the mill isekai with a side order of edginess. But if you like this particular stylized brand of edginess, it’s an awful lot of fun. You can’t take it too seriously, and if you are bothered by any of the content matter I’d skip it, but I found it a very enjoyable afternoon of reading and will probably keep reading the series.

Have you read Torture Princess? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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