REVIEW: ‘My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom’

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My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is a shojo anime adapted from the original manga by Silver Link Inc.. One day young Caterina Claes is walking on her family’s estate. She is the young daughter of a noble family in a magical kingdom. When she trips and falls, she strikes her head hard against a rock. This blow grants Catarina memories of her previous life. In this life, she was a teenage girl in the modern-day who was obsessed with a Japanese romance game called Fortune Lover. In it, the player takes the role of a young woman who goes to a magic academy and finds love with one of the other characters in the game. All the while, the player is tortured by their rival: Catarina Claes!

With the revelation that she is the villain in her favorite romance game, Catarina sets herself the task of avoiding the many bad ending that could befall her. Armed with her, mostly, complete knowledge of the game, she sets herself goals she feels will best aid her endeavor. Her plan involves either A) befriend the characters in the game, thus avoiding the “doom flags” that marked Catarina’s terrible endings or B) have plans that will enable her to survive the game’s bad endings should they come to pass.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is a brilliantly done comedy. With the bulk of the humor being born from one of Catarina’s two aspects of her personality. The first is her nature as a modern girl and the second is due to Catarina’s single-mindedness. As a 20th century teenager living in a magical land of nobles and royals, Catarina is instantly different. She is kind to all and doesn’t judge based on class or propriety. She doesn’t see any particular activity as fundamentally “beneath her” and loves to indulge in activities that are far from ladylike. This unpretentious nature and heartfelt joy exhibited by Catarina instantly draws the attention of those around her. And while some find it charming, even if a little strange, others are driven to their wits ends by her unique demeanor.

The biggest aspect of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom’s humor comes from Catarina’s single-mindedness. She is so focused on avoiding her doom that she misses a lot of what is obvious to those around her. Namely, that her kindness and good humor have earned the affections of all those who know her. And I do mean all who know her.

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

This obliviousness leads to many humorous misunderstandings and lots of great chuckles. But, there is also a really beautiful message I found among the many people who come to find their affections with Catarina: a decided lack of possessiveness. If the creators of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom wanted to, they could’ve had lots of bickering, backstabbing, and melodrama flowing between the many characters that come to desire the time of our protagonist. Instead, when Catarina unwittingly trashes an attempted date by inviting the entire gang, it is shrugged off, and instead, everyone delights in their mutual friendships. This affection without possession is a lovely thing. No one, even her princely fiancé never tries to claim ownership over her. She is a free individual, and they are largely just thankful for the time they have with her.

Among the many romantic misunderstandings, there is also a splattering of magical mishaps. These light, random moments help give a variety to the situations the show presents within its episodes. The magic takes a much more pronounced place in the multipart finale, with a surprising turn in the story that gets a bit darker than I expected. The last stand out aspect of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom’s story is Catarina’s mind itself. Periodically the show will cut to an internal dialogue within Catarina’s mind. This is represented visually by a council of mini Catarinas who debate the problem at hand as well as deliver exposition about characters or past events. These moments swiftly became some of my favorites in the series. They are a fun way to imbue backstory and exposition with a good dose of humor.

The animation style in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is well executed but nothing that particularly stands out to me. The character designs are sharp, however, with each character getting their own distinctive look and colors. While we are talking about the presentation, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the show’s intro which is wonderful. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom’s intro delivers all the bounce and fun vibes this delightful show deserves. It is one of those anime intros that demands the viewer groove along to its catchy rhythms and upbeat lyrics. It is a true gem.

In the end, I relished my time with My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom. It provided a fun, lighthearted tale about a woman trying to avoid doom and all the friends she inadvertently makes along the way. The power of kindness and love is on full display in this fun comedic story and I realized that I needed more of a bit of both in my life.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is available for viewing on Crunchyroll.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

In the end, I relished my time with My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom. It provided a fun, lighthearted tale about a woman trying to avoid doom and all the friends she inadvertently makes along the way. The power of kindness and love is on full display in this fun comedic story and I realized that I needed more of a bit of both in my life.