My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
Episode 8

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 8 of
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ?

Man, what a weird episode this is. Based on the opening of “I Became Engulfed By Desire…”, you'd be forgiven for thinking that My Next Life as a Villainess is finally giving Mary her first showcase since the show hit the time-skip button, since she's not being even a little bit subtle in her attempts to monopolize Catarina's attention. That's kind of true, since the main gag of this opening sequence is every other member of the harem shows up to crash Catarina and Mary's library study session in predictable fashion, but then Mary and Maria leave the room for a minute so they can ply their lady's will with tea and sweets, which is when everyone else finds a particular book. It's a supposedly ancient script known as “A Tale By the Name of Desire”, which proceeds to suck every other member of the gang into a nebulous dream world, leaving Mary and Maria alone to try and figure out how to save their beloved Catarina and the rest of their friends from being permanently isekai-ceptioned.

To be honest, the setup is a little flimsy, since the exact rules of this sorcerous tome aren't made especially clear. Are the stories that Mary and Maria witness in its pages literally playing out all at once, or do they only exist when the two are actually reading the pages? It doesn't really matter, I know, since the whole scenario is just an excuse to see some of the harem members enact their comedically unbidden desires upon Catarina, but I still found the loosey-goosey framing of the whole situation a tiny bit distracting. Still, it's undeniably amusing to see how the different visions of “seduction” characterize Catarina's would-be paramours.

Geordo's fantasy is pretty obvious – he just wants to marry his fiancé and get to the consummating, so it stands to reason that his desires are the most overtly sexual. Amusingly, he sees his ideal self as supernaturally smooth, catching a falling Catarina and a tumbling wine-glass in midair, Spider-Man style. It doesn't make him any more likeable in my estimation (Geordo is still the blandest of all the cast, in my estimation, save maybe for Nicol) but it's nice to see he's just as much of a dork as his rivals. Keith's fantasy has the likeability quotient down pat, though, since all he is doing is what he normally does — Keeping Catarina fed and making sure she stays awake long enough to do her homework — just with a hilariously overdone layer of sexy smolder slapped on top. Plus, if Catarina has any kinks to take advantage of, I'm sure having someone shove cookies into her mouth with lusty abandon is one of them. More on that later.

Nicol's dream desire goes a long way towards successfully endearing him to the audience, in contrast to Geordo, since it plays on the running joke of how hopeless he is at communicating his feelings to anyone, much less Catarina. In the pages of the magic book, Nicol can actually take advantage of his Devilish Count alter-ego, mesmerizing his female pursuers while he flees with Catarina along canals and across rooftops, dropping sexy one-liners that make you believe that Catarina could actually fall for someone like him. His sister Sophia gets less to do, unfortunately, but she makes the most of what she's given. Wasting absolutely no time in the plain library setting she finds herself and Catarina in, Sophia straight up pulls a wall-slam and confesses her love for Catarina, proposing they move in together immediately. Catarina is just a bit too thick to understand the full context of this love confession, but Maria and Mary's reactions sell the moment.

Speaking of Mary and Maria, while I was hoping they would get to jump into the book so we could see what their desires are, they're really only here to read along passively until the book reaches its conclusion. There's some weak talk of how they need to see at least one of their friend's desires to its conclusion to free everyone, but it's not a compelling plot device either way, as the inevitable climax arrives when we see Catarina's desire: A candy house straight out of Hansel and Gretel, plus a bottomless stomach in which to stuff an infinite amount of treats. Thus, we get the most bizarre solution to the “Trapped in a Magical Book” plot that I could have imagined, which sees Catarina eating so much that she magically balloons in size and explodes the book from the inside out.

So yeah, that was a thing, and everyone in the crew laughs it off like we all didn't just experience an uncanny nightmare scenario that is only just a degree or two away from Catarina Claes' Nightmare on Elm Street. Was this a good episode of My Next Life as a Villainess? I don't know, especially since it feels about as aimless as last week's dungeon crawl. It was certainly a memorable episode, though, and it gets points for indulging in its cast's charming stupidity. In that arena, one can easily say that Catarina Claes and her monstrous stomach reigns supreme, and I'm sure her harem wouldn't have it any other way.

Rating:

Odds and Ends

Shipping Wars: Mary gets points for effort and determination this week, while Sophia squeaks even further ahead with the pure gusto of her library love confession. Poor Maria hardly got anything to say or do, however, which leaves her falling behind in the Best Girl competition. Your baking skills will only get you so far, hon! Meanwhile, Keith remains the undisputed champ of the Best Boy bracket, since his saucy visions remain too darned wholesome for me to resist. Nicol is gaining some surprising traction, however, which sees poor Geordo dead last in the rankings, as far as I'm concerned.

• Meanwhile, Alan is just hanging out in the corner, doing his own thing, and damned proud of it. I don't know exactly what to make of the joke that his dream desire was literally just to play piano for Catarina — was it cut short because the girls didn't read any further, or is he really just that wholesome? Either way, he's a thousand times cuter than Geordo.

• Can anyone at all tell me what the point of Sirius Dieke is? Did he intentionally send Catarina and Co to the library so they could find the magic book? Does he have any role to play in the show's admittedly loose framework of a story? I need to know, dammit!

• I enjoy that Mary and Maria immediately recognize that all of their friends' desires will revolve around Catarina, since it's just out in the open that all of them are desperately in love with her. I like to imagine a regular Council of Love Rivals that everyone in the gang attends, where they all discuss the agreed upon rules of romantic warfare, as well as their collective strategy to keep Catarina alive and functioning, since she may very well be the dumbest person in history.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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