*review of volume 01*
Sexiled is an intense amalgamation of female frustration stuffed kicking and screaming into the fantasy world of 'Pajan' (I can't tell if that's a joke or if the author genuinely thinks she's being clever), to the point that it's actually inversely sexist, portraying all men as ignorant, talentless lazy assholes. They're not written like real people, and thus the story reads as the sort of revenge fantasy that any woman might have about her sexist boss. That in itself supports the contents of the story, but it doesn't justify its portrayal to me.
The author notes that this novel was originally inspired by the scandal of a certain medical university fudging scores, and we see a direct parallel of this in the book. But it all comes on so thick and fast it just doesn't seem real. You become numb to the evil of the patriarchy, so that rather than being shocked by it you just expect it. A male character has appeared, how is he going to wrong our heroines now? The only female antagonist is, from her introduction, overflowing with the foreshadowing of her redemption arc, while the only decent redeemble male character is overwhelmed and overshadowed by our protagonists, and he barely makes an appearance at the end, in one of the after stories.
I'm not saying that the subject of this story is invalid, far from it, or that the issues these women face don't occur in the real world - I understand the need for kickass female protagonists and positive representation in media, but I'm not sure this is it. Sexiled aggravates the issue of gender division rather than fixing it, and rather than having characters, it has anthropomorphic swathes of society - select, opposing swathes. There are literally only super sexists and super feminists in this whole world.
For such an idealogically driven story it's also a little off-putting when the story is openly condoning domestic violence - at least as long as men are not the propogators.
Aside from that one redemption arc the only character with any development does so by pulling a backstory out of her arse in the middle of the tournament 'arc'. By the time we get this backstory and hear about her struggle she's already overcome it.
Our main character's development (if you can call it that - she has a change of situation, but it seems she's basically looked down on all the men around her since always) happens literally with the opening line - then she throws a tantrum, and miss sorceress comes along and makes her even more OP than before (did I mention that our MC is a genius who's just innately better than everyone else at magic?). I mean, if you're looking for Mary Sue stop now, she's right here.
Now (many mainstream) manga and anime are sorely lacking in gender equality - calling a girl cool or strong has been literally perceived as an insult, which boggles my brain to this day, and is blatantly based on being appealing to men or not, and the number of "you're a man aren't you?"s aimed at hesitant boys is simply uncalled for. So I can understand that this material might be more relevant in Japan. But strong female characters don't need to be defined by how much men suck. That's a terrible lesson for people to learn. Men don't suck (unless they're gay, in which case all bets are off).
One of my favourite series ever, Kumo desu ga, is a great example of this. Not once is Kumoko portrayed as weak or less, or more mature or morally superior - indeed anything particular because of her gender - and the same can be said of her eventual companions. But she's just as OP as any other famed isekai anti-hero. We don't need to hear an "even though she's female" or make men look pathetic to know how awesome she is. In fact she's not infallible at all, but that's another story. My point is that going as far as Sexiled isn't in any way necessary to build gender equality and positive female representation. There's also like, all the Ghibli films, if you still have doubts. If anything, making a big deal out of a woman being badass or OP like it's just the most super-ultra-hyper rare thing to happen ever, only pushes the idea that women are inherently weak people. Next time, instead of "Oh my god, she's so strong, even though she's a woman!" maybe try simply "Oh my god, she's so strong!".
Tldr: An attempt was made [to combat sexism].
Gaze long enough into an abyss, and the abyss will gaze back into you.