My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom! Volume 1 by Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka
Publisher: Seven Seas
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: My Next Life As A Villainess Vol. 1
Summary: A high school girl is stunned to find herself reincarnated as the conniving villainess from her favorite dating sim game, Fortune Lover. Now, as Catarina Claes, the impossibly rich and spoiled daughter of a Duke, her new life seems to perfectly sync up with the world of the game. This means big trouble! No matter how the game turned out, there were only two fates for Catarina: exile or death!
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: My Next Life As Villainess is an utterly brilliant manga series that follows Katarina whose reborn into the villain of an otome game and now, she’s trying to avoid her doom at all costs! The comedic, page-turning story is driven not only by humor, but also it’s refreshing plot that at its core, is about friendship!
What first drew me to this series was the concept!! A villainess whose trying to avoid her destruction at all costs? Little did I know it would end up being an Isekai (following a character who gets transported to another world/universe). I recently started watching the anime because its been on my to-watch list and its seriously been phenomenal (I’m obsessed), so I had to check out the manga.
Katarina Claes from page 1 has now realized she had a past-life as a modern-day 17-year-old and has now been transported into an otome called “Fortune Hunter,” where she’s currently the villain of the series at 8 yrs. old, but the problem is, all her storylines lead to destruction! When she regains some memory of her past life, she records everything she can about the story, characters, and its fantasy world of royals and nobility to start working on a plan (at only 8 yrs!!) to prevent any possibilities of her execution or death!
There’s dukes, princes, royalty of all kinds, and as Katarina not only builds up her strength through magic and combat, she finds that her main plan is to befriend her future enemies to change her fate! It wasn’t until I revisited the story as a manga that I ultimately realized, Katarina is not only befriending and helping the royals around her, but she’s even helping them overcome insecurities. Its just refreshing to see in a fantasy setting, not only the incredibly genius comedy, but also the underlying concept of friendship.
Yamaguchi and Hidaka tell a brilliant story where they understand their audience. Because of that, the reader becomes so self-aware of the tropes being introduced, and yet it’s almost effortlessly subverted or interwoven with a comedic moment of Katarina slipping up in her royal status, or using her knowledge of the “capture targets” to her advantage. In her efforts to evade all doom, it leaves the reader wanting to know more and immersed in her journey even more than when it began!
Also, just seeing Katarina act like a normal person in this world makes for so many hilarious moments!
She meets her adopted brother Keith, Mary (an introverted noblewoman whose ignored, or bullied by her older sisters), Prince Jerod (Katarina’s fiance), and his brother Prince Alan. There’s also Sophia and Nicol, who are children of the prime minister. Katarina not only befriends all of them, but also starts mysteriously taking over romance lines or moments from them before the game has officially even begun!
Friendship is such an important and underlying driving force of this series and its just refreshing to see this as a main focus (mixed with comedy) in a YA Fantasy setting! Katarina builds such deep bonds with royals and nobles she meets, despite all the hilarious situations. Although she understands she’s the villain, she works to evade it as much as she can to live a comfortable life, not only by taking up sword fighting, but also taking up gardening to improve her magic.
I truly believe a story of this caliber truly shines as an animated series. While the book is just as fun and revisiting it allowed me to remember some plot points I may have forgotten, the anime does make it more fast-paced and offers those little layers of intrigue and mystery into the story. The anime is a crafty amalgamation of inverting tropes, humor, and at its core, is something you would gladly invest hundreds of hours into to see what happens next!
Hidaka’s art style makes each character stand out and they all have their own unique designs. There were some wonderful pages with details to the background, FOOD, setting, and so on that make the world come to life! While the magic is a common elemental-based system, there’s little details like dirt dolls, Katarina improving her magic through gardening, that gives it unique and comedic twists! However for the most part, there really hasn’t been too much magic showcased, but I’m eager to learn more about it through the other characters.
I’m very much invested to see where the story is headed (I’m actually already on Vol. 2 story-wise in the anime). Katarina is an incredibly funny, at times dense, but amazing protagonist, so I’m looking forward to what happens with all her new friends and the main heroine of “Fortune Hunter,” Maria!
My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom Vol. 1 is great introduction to a unique, entertaining series in the Isekai genre! There’s a dynamic cast of characters, meaningful exploration of friendship, some intrigue, but its above all a tale brimming with comedy you won’t be able to put down! This is genius series and I highly recommend it!