The Summer 2021 Preview Guide
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X
How would you rate episode 1 of
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X (TV 2) ?
What is this?
An otome-game obsessed young woman was hit by the Death Truck in our world, and found herself reincarnated as Catarina Claes, the villainous rival girl from her favorite fantasy dating game, Fortune Hunter. After regaining her memories at the age of 8, Catarina decides to put all of her efforts into subverting the game's intentions and making friends with all of the characters, not only because she's generally a sweet girl, but also because it means avoiding certain doom.
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X is based on Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka's light novels of the same name and streams on Crunchyroll on Fridays.
How was the first episode?
When it comes down to it, this episode is an epilogue to the first season as much as it is a premiere for the second. Catarina Claes has avoided her destined death/exile by utterly failing to be a villainess in any conceivable way. Instead, she has reached what she calls the “friendship ending", which is really the “bixsexual harem ending” where everyone is madly in love with her (though for some it's more platonic than romantic).
The episode starts with a recap of season one—which simply isn't needed. This isn't one of those series you can just start midway through. No four-minute recap is going to be enough to get a newbie into the story anyway. If, on the other hand, the recap is meant to remind viewers of the interpersonal dynamics of the first season, it is likewise redundant, since much of this episode does that naturally as Catarina wonders around the school festival. Kieth secretly wants to be Catarina's lover despite being her adopted brother. Mary uses the fact that she and Catarina are both girls to secretly put the moves on her. Maria likewise wants to be with Catarina, though is much more pure and direct in expressing her affections. Nicol is the prettiest of pretty boys but has trouble expressing himself—including his love for Catarina. Sophia wants nothing more than to hook her brother (Nicol) up with her best friend (Catarina). Alan treats Catarina like “one of the boys” and Geordo is somewhat annoyed at the fact everyone else is hitting on Catarina when she's his fiance. All of this is “shown” rather than “told” in the episode and is a perfect refresher to what has come before.
Of course, not everything is a reintroduction to the dynamics of the first season. It's nice to see that Catarina has friends outside of her harem who she enjoys spending time with. The episode also spends time establishing that Catarina has been so focused on her fated doom, she hasn't prepared for any future where things go well for her. The idea of becoming queen never really crossed her mind so she readily grasps at the first rope given to her to avoid this fate: joining the Department of Magic.
The episode ends by properly introducing Geordo and Alan's older brothers and their fiancés—which reaffirms once again that, whether she knows it or not, Catarina is playing the game of thrones. She has potential rivals beyond those that appeared in the original game and this time, she has no knowledge of the future to help her. And while Catarina, of course, doesn't realize this, it's a pretty good hook for us viewers who can see that there is danger looming on the horizon for our easily distracted and incredibly dense hero.
I'm a little skeptical about having a second season of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! After all, the first season concluded neatly at the logical endpoint of the story's main conflict, Catarina's quest to avoid being killed or exiled after being reincarnated as the villain in the otome game she had been playing. She successfully avoided her bad end and, instead of being hated, ended up with almost every character, male and female, in love with her. Sure, I like her, but her story has been told.
OR HAS IT????
Well… it's hard to say at this point. After four minutes of summing up the previous season, this episode mostly had her swanning around, oblivious to her suitors' affections and instead making insane logical leaps about why they're squabbling. She's still the bighearted and dumb-as-a-brick heroine we know and love, and while it's nice to see her and her bisexual harem again, without the central conflict everything felt a bit pointless. Even if the secondary characters managed to avoid being one-note archetypes, they're still quite flat overall, and the romcom antics were far less interesting to me than the comedy of errors that resulted from Catarina's attempts at self-preservation.
The greatest bright spot came at the end of the episode, when a new group of nobles shows up, led by Jeffrey Stuart, Alan and Geordo's older brother. Jeffrey's voice is provided by none other than Koyasu Takehito, the man of one voice but about a million roles. Hearing his instantly recognizable voice is always a treat, but especially when it's coming out of a comedic character, which Jeffrey seems to be. Oh, and a new theme song by angela, which also brings a welcome energy to the proceedings.
There are a couple hints at a conflict other than a big love… whatever you would call the polygon formed by seven lines leading to a single point. Catarina's mother seems exasperated by her daughter's carefree nature, with little regard for how a noble lady is supposed to comport herself. Never mind that she is well-liked by pretty much everyone she meets, is engaged, and even has a job offer. Said job offer also offers potential for shenanigans, and the last line of the episode is someone shouting, “There's trouble!” at the group of new nobles.
The fact is, I just haven't heard many good things about the story after the novels the first season covered, and that makes me hesitate to open my heart to this one.
The whole of this season premiere of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X essentially functions as a recap and review for anyone who needs to brush up on the general details of the show's first year.
In X, Geordo is still an incorrigible flirt, and he is totally in love with Catarina. Keith is still the doting adoptive brother who is also in love with Catarina. Alan is Geordo's moody twin brother, also in love with Cat, etc. Nicol never smiles…except when Cat is around, naturally. Mary, Sophia, and Maria are Catarina's best gal pals who should be in love with the various male suitors, but wouldn't you know it, they've been completely consumed with sapphic desire for our dear Catarina. Even last season's pseudo-villain, Raphael, seems to be a romantic possibility this year. Catarina, for her part, is too stupid to pick up on any of this, even though she has a whole little army of Little Catarinas that live in her brain and give her advice. She mostly just cares about gardening and eating. And friendship, of course.
As the whole crew prepares for the upcoming school festival and play, we get such goofy shenanigans as:
- Keith and Mary openly fight over their subtle methods for lusting over Catarina, which Catarina completely misunderstands as some kind of love declaration between the two
- Sophia attempts to hook her brother Nicol up with Cat, but only ends up with an entire room full of people, including Cat, literally suffering short-term memory loss over Nicol's smoldering sexual essence
- Mary expresses her desire to spend the rest of her life “by Catarina's side” despite being a commoner, and Catarina expresses her desire to never marry or be Spirited Away to some castle forever. This leads the both of them to commit to joining this world's prestigious Department of Magic, which I can only assume will be the vague plot thread of the season.
- Four new nobles arrive: Susanna, Selena, Ian, and Jeffrey. I can only assume that they will also end up falling madly in love with Catarina, while Catarina stands off to the side at some food cart and eats croissants all season.
In short, Villainess is a goofy and charming sitcom, and if you liked Season 1, you're almost guaranteed to like Season 2, at least based on this premiere. I'm a touch concerned about how much more mileage the show can wring out of its setup before getting stale, but as of now, it's still a fun time all around, and a great pick for anyone that needs some mindless anime junk food to nosh on this summer.
It's been both an eternity and only a year since the anime community fell in love with Catarina Claes, God's Favorite Idiot, but she's back in action with her bisexual harem of rich hot people to spoil her with baked goods in this X-rated sequel. Though you wouldn't know it from the first 90% of this premiere. With the story of the original Fortune Lover game wrapped up and Catarina's fated destruction fully averted, this new episode could easily be a celebratory wrap-up appended to the first season and you'd never notice the difference. Catarina and the rest of her potential suitors are still hanging out at magic school, getting ready for their fancy pants Nobility version of a cultural festival, and nothing much has changed once the premiere calls it a day.
That nature is both a blessing and a curse as a first episode, though. It's great to get re-ingratiated with the cast of simple but lovable teens all hopelessly in love with our charmingly dumb heroine, and as a victory lap for the first season's fans this more than delivers. I certainly loved seeing the ever-scheming Mary Hunt back in action, ready to fight anyone and everyone for her future wife, and while Best Boy Alan didn't get much focus, it was fun to see him again too. Plus the two share a fistbump in the new OP, which is just perfect. There's also some heartfelt moments, like Catarina deciding to aim for joining the Department of Magic in order to stay close to Maria, which is a good reminder that while Villainess' strength has always been its comedy, it can have some genuine sentiment too.
But as a precursor to what the rest of the season will be like, this premiere gives us little to go on. We meet some new characters – specifically the Princes' older brother and their presumed fiancées – but only get the barest of introductions before credits roll. These characters are all presumably going to be important for this coming season and whatever story it will cover, so getting an idea of who they are and what they're about is pretty integral. I've heard rumblings about the light novels declining in quality, and part of me wonders if this reticence to start the next story is the adaptation team trying to stave that off for a week. What's more, with the main driving force of Catarina's quest for villainous salvation squared away, it makes me all the more anxious about what this new season is going to entail, especially as the OP promises even more new characters being added to the already large ensemble cast.
Still, those are problems for Future Nick to worry about, as Present Nick is more than happy to have this show back. My Next Life as a Villainess was a needed and welcome bright spot in a very rough time last year, and there's no reason it can't shine just as brightly with this new installment. So here's hoping those worries are for nothing.
I'll admit it: one of the things I was most excited by in the premiere of the second season of everyone's favorite oblivious villainess was both Sora AND Pochi in the ending (opening?) theme. Not only am I fond of both of them, but it also gives me more of an idea how far this season is looking to go in terms of adapting the original novels – and it stops well short of where I think the series goes downhill. Yay! Mostly I think Sora (that's the guy with the long blue hair) brings a new element to Caterina's ever- growing harem, which at this point is quite a feat, but the upcoming storyline also puts Caterina in some new positions to unwittingly charm her way out of.
For now, though, she's just trying to get through a cultural festival which disappointingly, but not surprisingly, is completely devoid of Japanese staples like takoyaki. One of the most Caterina moments is when she slumps to the ground, bereft by this discovery, only for some of her classmates to swoop in and shove food in her mouth to revive her. The girl's got a reputation, and it is not anything less than she deserves; she's more food-motivated than my dog. Geordo is, of course, ready and willing to take full advantage of this, as we can see when he tries to feed her a macaron early on only to be blocked by Keith, who is not amused.
Although it does in fact adapt a chapter of the light novels, this episode is mostly about reminding us who everyone is and that they're all in love with Caterina. It does this admirably, presenting all of the characters both in reminder format and interacting with Caterina and each other, which makes it feel less like a recap than it otherwise might have. Nichol is the big winner, as Sophia manages to manipulate the situation so that he reads lines from the student council's play to Caterina – the romantic ones, of course. If you're Team Nichol, this is a particularly great moment, especially since Caterina's resistance to him is substantially weaker than it is to the other contenders for her heart. (Maria's probably the other one she has less resistance to.) Everyone else tries to woo her as well, but her natural obliviousness, as well as her steadfast belief in her own villainess status, work against them.
If you liked the first season of this show, there is no earthly reason why you won't like the second. Yes, the new characters do likely mean less time for the original harem, but the draw of this show is, for me at least, Caterina herself. This isn't full of plot, but it is a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to watching more.
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