My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 6 of
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ?
It's summertime! Us here in the real-world might be confined to our homes for the time-being, but we can at least take some vicarious joy in this sixth episode of My Life of a Villainess, which is another prime example of the show telling us what it is about right up front. The episode is titled “I Had Fun Over Summer Vacation…”, and that's exactly what this is: A series of vignettes where we get to learn all the wacky things Catarina Claes and Co. got up to over their summer break. This makes my job doubly easy, since I can just run through all of the scenes in order and break down what they do (or don't) offer Catarina's ongoing efforts to avoid her doom and all that.
First up, we get to check in on the Claes homestead, which has lots of cute little goodies to unpack. First off, Catarina is using Tom, the gardener, as a dealer for her increasingly realistic fake snake toys, and she has gone so far as to erect a practice dummy that she uses to hone her snake-pranking skills. God bless this beautiful dork. It's also nice to see that Catarina's mother — who definitely noticed her daughter's alarming shift in personality after getting knocked on the head — is more or less on board with the positive changes Otaku!Catarina has brought to their lives. She even mentions that her marriage to Catarina's father has improved, which is something I really wish we'd gotten to see happen onscreen, since the Claes parents have been little more than window dressing in this show.
The second vignette features more Catarina-and-Keith time, which I'm always game for. We get to see a flashback that shows how Catarina would help Keith recover from the trauma of his upbringing, which is obscenely cute, and Keith tries to sneak a kiss from the sleeping Catarina before her monstrous craving for sweets rouses her to action. The whole “I'm gonna kiss this girl I like when she is sleeping” bit is a cliché that doesn't play as well in 2020 as it used to, but while I'm guessing all of the boys in the world of Fortune Lover could use some sensitivity training when it comes to the concept of consent, I won't hold it against the boy. He means well, and he's so darn sweet. Just don't try it again, Keith.
The third part of Catarina's summer adventures sees her taking up Geordo on an invitation to a lakeside date, only to have a protective Keith crash the outing. Eventually, everyone shows up, because of course they do, which means all of our boys and girls get some time to compete for Catarina's time and affection. This was a surprisingly muted scene, given that this is the closest thing we've gotten to a “beach episode” from My Life as a Villainess so far; it mostly consist of the gang admiring Catarina for being such a shining force of positivity and sweetness.
Part 4 of the episode is the weakest segment, which has Catarina joining Sophia and Nicol on a shopping day. I like Sophia, but much of the sequence is a montage that verges on being a slide-show, so there isn't a lot of opportunity for her character to shine. She does play wingwoman for Nicol when she gives him some alone time with Catarina, which is cute, but I'm just not all that charmed by the gag of Nicol being absurdly smooth and seductive in as few words as possible. It works as a gentle sendup of otome game clichés, I guess, but it doesn't make Nicol a more interesting character.
The most significant moment from this fourth segment ties into other curious beats from the final vignettes, which is when Sophia off-handedly mentions that she vaguely remembers shopping with Catarina in the past, even though this is definitely the first time they've done so. Later, in a scene where Keith tries to help Sophia catch up on her summer homework, Catarina has a dream of her old life, and her friend Acchan. Finally, during one of Alan's piano recitals, Catarina has a very odd encounter with Sirius Dieke, who responds to her innocent question of who he likes with prolonged, blank stare. It's kind of creepy.
I wonder: Is My Next Life as a Villainess building up to some larger plot involving Catarina's past life and/or some secret, darker route involving Sirius Dieke being a serious…well, you know. The end-credits of the show do have that strange glitchy effect, after all, which I always associate with a show trying to foreshadow something creepy in an otherwise innocuous setting. We're about halfway through the season now, too, which means this would just about be the time for the show to pull the rug out from Catarina's feet in a big way. She's spent her whole life trying to avoid her doom, and so far, her efforts have met with resounding success. Could it be our heroine's fate is not something that can so easily be thwarted?
Odds and Ends
• During the picnic story, the gang are also amused by how ferociously she chases after a goose that steals one of her cookies, and let's all be honest here: Catarina would absolutely eat whatever bits of cookie she snatched out of that bird's beak, goose drool and all. Not one member of her harem would think any less of her for it, either.
• Shipping Wars: Mary is coming out swinging this week with a lot of very outward, competitive aggression against Catarina's other suitors. When Alan fumbles over responding to whether he played his romantic concerto with anyone in particular in mind, Catarina cheekily assumes he might be in love with one of her friends, and that Mary is even jealous of her fiance's affections. Mary, however, mumbles something about spending years trying to convince Alan that he doesn't love Catarina, and I think we all know who she's really vying for.
• In other, much more predictable news, Keith continues to be a good boy. My favorite gag of the whole episode was how, upon learning that Geordo had gone off “on his own” for some random outing, he dead sprinted through woods to catch up to his wagon, because he didn't trust that the Prince wasn't trying to sneak some alone time with our heroine. And you know what? He was right.
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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