“My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!” is a comedy where the main character dies in the first episode. You read correctly, the first episode. She had to. If she wasn’t, how would she be reincarnated as the villainess of her favorite dating simulation, Catarina? Upon realizing who she is, she begins to remember “doom flags” surrounding a “heroine” she has yet to meet. In the game, doom flags were event-based indicators that she will die if she makes certain choices. The story revolves around Catarina navigating her new life in the dating simulation, avoiding doom flags wherever she can, changing the trajectory of her life for the better, and collecting quite the harem along the way.
The Characters in “My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!” are not very multidimensional. This, however, could be expected because dating simulations are not very multidimensional. There are eight characters that are present enough in the show to mention. The main characters are:
- Catarina Claes (Our preciously stupid Main Character)
- Keith Claes (Catarina’s adopted brother who has a thing for his sister)
- Geordo Stuart (Catarina’s creepy child marriage Fiance)
- Mary Hunt (Think Daisy from Mario but as a gardener, Random Noble)
- Alan Stuart (Mary’s Fiance and Geordos brother, Chopan with earrings)
- Maria Campbell (Random hot blonde Commoner, Game Heroine)
- Sophia Ascart (Random Noble, major Twilight fan energy)
- Nicol Ascart (Sophia’s brother, think sexy Dracula)
On this list of characters, exactly one of them has depth, and it’s our main character. Catarina is hard to pin down. On one hand, she seems entirely preoccupied with ensuring that she does not travel the path that leads to her own death, and on the other, she is a genuinely caring character who helps others heal the pain inside of themselves. Her sense of justice and ability to see the best in others is the centerpiece of how she connects with other characters. We see her defend Maria from bullies, encourage Mary in her gardening, give Sophia another lense to look through about her appearance, and challenge Alan as an equal. All of these were issues that each character needed to overcome as development early on in the show. Catarina is also full of quirks and preferences, which is critical to character.
A strong character is defined by quirks, desires, and actions. These often conflict or are used towards multiple intentions. A weak character usually has a single intention with singularly focused characteristics.
Catarina’s sweet tooth shines as a cute detail and her passion for doomsday gardening offers a glimpse into not only her mental but also her passion for her — quite pathetic — earth magic. Catarina is a character that is enjoyable, but like many of the other characters, does not really develop from their base state.
I should mention the other characters, but there isn’t much to mention. There is almost no depth from any of the other characters. Each character has a unique trait that I mentioned above. But the sad reality is that there was no nuance in almost any of the stories of those characters. They had an issue to overcome, Catarina helped them overcome it, they fell in love with her. The rest of the cast was lame in that regard. 2/6
All in all, “Villainess” was a fun show that kept a smile on my face. Catarina is so endearingly dumb and determined to live, and this combination brought joy to the entire show.
Catarina is clearly the centerpiece of the show and there is no attempt to hide that.
The Council of Catarinas sit above most scenes as an entertaining recurring section. Each member of the Council represents part of Catarina’s inner dialog, such as Smart Catarina and Playful Catarina. The Council of Catarinas is emblematic of the entire show as far as emotion goes, with the discussion between the five members was always short, ridiculous, and perfectly setting up the proceeding events.
I would be doing this show a disservice if I did not shout out the Book of Desires. It’s awkward to laugh out loud by yourself and have your dogs run up to you wondering what happened, but that episode, that episode is funny. It didn’t matter that Mary couldn’t bring herself to look at what the characters wanted to do to Catarina, we all got enough to paint the picture.
Overall, the show was a buzz of joy. Lasting joy? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps I won’t look back on this show fondly as the joke-laden “Love is War,” but it for sure reaches the upper tiers of comedy. 4/6
There were two main ideas that I took from this story that were so close to being interesting. We could look at the reverse harem that Catarina builds and the theme of life reincarnated, but these aren’t the interesting ideas. The two interesting ideas here are the connection back to the real world and the idea that the main character was reincarnated as the villain.
The idea is simple, “What happens to the people left behind when someone is reincarnated into another world?” “Villainess” gave us two episodes where the connection back to the real world was highlighted. The first episode shows the pain that Catarina’s absence caused after she died in the real world. Tackling the reality that a central figure in your life was gone was an abrupt departure from Catarina’s antics that caught me off guard, but intrigued me. Later on, the story rewrites that emotional hole as a redemption. As soon as the tone changed I felt that an emotional precursor was lost. I always wondered about the pain left by someone leaving a world and here we got to see a glimpse of that before the whole line was changed. So close to being compelling, so close.
The second idea was Catarina being reincarnated as the villain. Catarina’s memory of the game paints Maria as the flawless heroine that draws attention like a plant draws light. Coming into the high school phase I still thought Maria would be the center of attention and Catarina would slowly become a villain as she lost her grasp on the groups’ attention. This did not happen. Catarina became the radiant center piece that Maria was supposed to be. While I think that relegating your main character to the jealous villainess would be interesting and open a line of comedy on its own, the show did a fantastic job with the line that they took.
Were the ideas fun to think about? Yes, they were. Did they have room to improve and develop? Yes, they did. 4/6
I used to think about pacing pretty selfishly. A friend recently pointed this out to me when we were discussing the pacing of another show (one I will review soon) and because of this, I have reevaluated how I view pacing. I tend to superimpose my own, modified, storyline that I think should have happened and I compare the actual show to that. She pointed out that I should draw a line from episode one to the last episode and be able to evaluate pacing from point A to point B. While a line might not be the best metaphor because the beauty of a story is twists and curves and we need to account for those, she was more correct in her thinking than I was. So from this point forth, we’re going to run with that.
All things considered, “Villainess” was a show that exhibited fantastic pacing. The story was twelve episodes (we are still waiting on the second season to come out) and was broken into four arcs. The first three episodes introduced us to all the characters and showed us how Catarina made renewed connections with all of them. The second arc is also three episodes. These three focus on the interaction between the characters while they are at school and really set up the competition between the harem members for Catarina’s affection. The next arc consists of only what I can call “one off” episodes. These focus on the cast being tested in various forms by the school and life in general, putting Catarina’s obliviousness to their affection to the test. The final arc consisted of three episodes where Catarina has to conquer a hidden character, who actually isn’t that said character… yeah, I hate that particular trope. The series uses this final arc to cut ties with the world that Catarina used to know and solidify her position in the new world that we have learned to be a part of. The natural progression of introduction, development, world exploration and experience, and major twist plays perfectly into pacing in a comedy. 4/4
The animation in this story is quality, but not exceptional. Comedy tends to have quick cuts, and this can be a point of contention with how the animation works. “Villainess” does a great job at making quick cuts appealing while also giving attention to detail throughout the show.
There are not many reused shots, which are usually indicative of “lazy” animation or cost saving measures. This really adds to the variety of scenes and the fun of the world.
Also, how could you not be happy with Catarina’s face when she gets sweets? I mean, c’mon.
That said, there is a fundamental difference between quality animation and exceptional animation, it’s clear that the level of detail per frame is not in the highest echelon of animation. 3/4
The world was both small and full of depth. What we learn from the world is that there is a Victorian-esque semi-feudal system customary for fantasy animes and six forms of magic in which most nobility are born into. We learn that magic users go to the magic academy where our pro-antagonist studies. Hints all around the world were given to us as well about the idea of a “Department of Magic,” about powerful dukes and duchesses, satanic human-sacrificing dark magic users, and more. Narrowing down to the small details of the world, the show has some nice little easter eggs as well. One that I noted was that the carriage ride over a bridge that is shown in the first episode and during the first time when Catarina gets to her magic school is seen again as a painting in the maids quarters when Catarina visits Anne in the latter half of the season. The second interesting details is we get to see what Catarina planted for Maria’s mother: turnips! Catarina was a good villager and made sure that Maria and her mom could invest in the stalk market, a very smart call. 2/3
The musical score was largely a piano complimented by an orchestra band. The music was not intrusive and generally added to the ambiance of the world. In a consistent fashion, the details of the music stand out when you listen closely. At some point in the show, Catarina finds herself hanging off the edge of a cliff. As she was hanging off the edge of the cliff at death’s doorstep, you can actually hear car horn sounds in the music, a callback to her previous life. When I first heard the car horn I had to rewind and turn my volume up to be sure that I heard correctly, but this is just indicative of the kind of detail that was included in the musical track. I think that the music was not top tier but as stated before, detail rich and complimentary of the story. 2/3
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||4||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||4||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||4||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||3||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||2||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
I do not grade my curve on 75% being good. Anything above 50% is worth watching. With that said …
Everyone wants to talk about the love interests. Harem this, lesbian lovers that. Geordo is creepy. Mary needs to chill out. I get it, I get it. I only have one thing to say on this: I support Alan and Sophia in that order. End of discussion.