My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X (TV 2) ?
That's twice now. Twice. Oh, Geordo, you may be her official fiancé, but you just broke the rules of the (reverse) harem, and if you think you're going to just trot out the old excuse and get away with it, I don't think even Jeffrey can bring you back from where Mary will send you. Or Sophia. Or Mary and Sophia combined with Keith's blessing. Yes, after an entire season of everyone basically skirting the issue and being content with being fed or getting the occasional touch of the hand, the show has officially moved into more adult territory.
Sort of. Or at least, for a given value thereof. In any event, the end of the episode is certainly the most exciting part of it for a variety of reasons. There's the second kiss, yes, but Keith's ululating shriek of rage as he leads the charge towards Catarina is another highlight, to say nothing of Catarina's impressive ability to find ways to gloss over or brush aside things that have happened to her. Part of it is, as the Council in her head says, because she's got exactly zero romantic experience between two lifetimes, but I think there's a little bit more to it than that. One piece is that she's fully aware that her character was originally the bad guy, and in that role any attempts to get the guy (or girl) resulted in her death, so she's very wary of stepping on Maria's toes, so to speak. But her gold medal oblivion could indicate a general discomfort with romance that goes beyond that, or at least makes the idea of “I'm not supposed to or I die” more of an excuse than an actual worry she has. If you're someone who has no interest in sex or romance for yourself, signs of impending crushes on the part of other people can be intensely uncomfortable. This goes double if they're someone you consider a friend, because unrequited feelings that the other party tries to act on are almost always the end of a friendship. And if you lack the vocabulary or understanding of this (we'd say today that such a person would be on the asexual spectrum, but even without that terminology, Catarina's not the world's most mature individual), then the easiest way to cope is to pretend that the other person's feelings are something else entirely. This isn't necessarily to suggest that Catarina is asexual or demisexual, but her immaturity and other romance-related baggage could lead her in similar directions at this point in the story.
Anyway, despite what you may assume, the end of the episode isn't the only part that's directly adapted from the books. The entire flashback sequence (which, I am pleased to say, is much less bloody than the similar sequence in this week's The Case Study of Vanitas) is adapted from volume five, which is a collection of short stories. It also almost prompted me to give this a higher grade, because it's finally doing what I've missed in the anime-to-novel (and to manga, for that matter) translation: giving us the first-person perspectives of the love interests. That's more important than you might think, because everyone loves something different about Catarina, and she saves them all in very personal ways. We could have guessed Alan's reason – his inferiority complex where Geordo is concerned has been apparent from day one. But Geordo's reasons for loving Catarina have been a little more hidden behind his shining prince mask, though they are no less important. Learning that Alan's frail health caused him to resent Alan's claim on their mother and to feel neglected for most of his childhood grounds Geordo as a character, giving him not only a firm reason to be so attached to Catarina as the person who first truly made him feel like he deserved love, but also a bit more nuance to his personality. He's not just a stereotypical anime prince with golden looks and a black heart. He's a person. Catarina, through whose eyes we've seen most of the characters, originally only knew him as a character, so we were encouraged to see him that way as well. But making him more of a person to us may have a similar effect on her…assuming she's ever comfortable enough to make the transition.
The major change here is Jeffrey's role. I was all set to grumble about that, but by God if Koyasu Takehito hasn't made me like the character more. He's a good-hearted goof with a much more parental affection for his brothers, and while I found that off-putting at first (and in the books), it's much more endearing here. Also, is color photography a thing in Sorcié? Because if it's not, then we have to assume that Jeffrey's Wall'o'Brotherly Love is composed entirely of paintings. Did he commission them all from the court painter? Or does Jeffrey secretly have astounding skill as a portrait artist and this is how he spends his free time?
Either way, I can kind of see why Susanna would spend more time at work…
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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