Karandi: We’ve reached the final episode of season 2 of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X and I’m feeling a little bit flat overall around this season, though I’ll save that discussion for when I get to reviewing the whole season.
For now, I’m left with a feeling like this episode more or less did a very weak tea version of Ouran High School Host Club’s encounter between protagonist Haruhi and club Vice-President Kyouya Ootori between Catarina and Keith, celebrated two years of Catarina eating, and then left us with a very ho-hum story to be continued. But maybe I’m being a little harsh.
Before we get right into that though, Irina, Crow, how are you?
Irina: I’m doing good. It’s a TGIF sort of week, but it is Friday so everything’s great! This said, I’m pretty much with you on the harsh side. ‘Ve sort of been over this season of Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X since the very early episodes and although I do think going back to its roots might be a good idea for the show, I’m afraid I no longer have the enthusiasm for it. But maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of this post.
I have a bad habit of just going section by sections and replying instead of reading everything before putting my part in. It sometimes leads to a bit of redundancy.
Crow: Gotta say: Irina, you just took a lot of pressure off me! I reply section by section, too, and to be honest, I like the spontaneity it brings to the posts! But maybe I’m just rationalizing things!
It’s a TGIF sort of week for me, too. But the work week is over, unless there’s some kind of after hours disaster. It’s an occupational hazard when working in computer security — and boy do I have a lot of respect for police and firefighters, among others, whose disasters threaten life and limb! I just have to log into a VPN and type.
What happens this week on Villainess?
Karandi: I will admit, I took way too many screen caps this week as we cycled through most of the main cast, though I note that Sophia and Mary only really got to be on screen together to echo others and had very few moments of their own. Still, right from the opening conversation between older brother Jeffery and Susanna, taking place in front of that glorious wall of Jeffery’s, this episode was very pretty.
Of course, the fact that I’m discussing prettiness rather than plot or characters probably sums up my feelings about this episode. It kind of brought all the characters together for one last turn about the dance floor and then we were left with a to be continued style conclusion.
Irina: Seaking of Jeffery – Yes I know Karandi wasn’t actually talking about Jeffery but humour me here you guys! – I couldn’t help but notice his equally glorious mullet in that opening sequence. That thing was downright majestic! Fitting for a crown prince and all. It was all I could do to concentrate on anything else for the rest of the episode.
OK, I may be exaggerating a bit. But of all the aime mullets that are trying to convince me that mullets are sexy, this was up there in the top 10. Great mullet! I have one other fun thing to say about this episode so I’ll keep it for later.
Also, was it just me or were Lana and Jeffery on that scene basically stating that the mirror thing was a very hard to believe deus x machina and Catarina is a massive Mary Sue. Because it sort of sounded that way to me. And if the show had been a bit more into the self-aware humour up to this point, I might have thought this was on purpose and rather witty.
Crow: Karandi, you mentioning Sophia and Mary made me realize how much I’ll miss those two characters — and how much I wish they would have played a bigger role this season!
Irina, I choose to believe that Susanna/Larna indeed saw through the plot device. How cool would it be if she began to suspect that they were in a space/time parenthetical? For the third season, she could put the pieces together and realize her world changed at certain intervals that she eventually tied to some event outside of the world. Then she could discover that Sophia and Catarina were bridges to that other world!
Yeah, this episode didn’t really capture my imagination, so I had to keep it busy. Though I had to laugh when Catarina’s Council of the Wise-ish was self-aware enough to realize most of their flashback footage was of food.
Karandi: In case it sounds like I’m being a little too down on this episode, let’s discuss the bouquet of sweets! Can someone make this a real thing?
So much better than flowers. Okay, I actually like receiving flowers but inevitably my cat eats or destroys them and either way eventually they wilt and die, usually still on my table or kitchen counter and there they stay until I finally get around to turfing them out a window. Of course, that could just be my lack of maintenance of flower vases.
Then I started thinking about what else you could get a bouquet of. I mean, Stranger Than Fiction had the main character deliver flours because the girl he liked ran a bakery. I could do with a bouquet of note books or really funky pens and post-it notes (okay, I’m boring and I like stationery but at least I’ll use it). If we were going for food, a bouquet of pocky would be kind of fun.
What about you two?
Irina: I wouldn’t be opposed to a bouquet of manga or maybe kittens. Provided both are unharmed in the process.
You know what else though, you just made a way bigger deal about the bouquet of candy than Catarina did. That just bugged me a bit. I figured Catarina would have dropped everything, exploited with glee and proceeded to eat half the thing right then and there. But she just sort of politely accepted it and Fey ended up talking it up and appreciating it more than Catarina did.
Ok, so I did mention that it was sad to reduce the character of Catarina to being ditzy and liking food but don’t take those traits away as well… Or maybe this is when we find out Catarina was never rescued for the first kidnapping of the season and this has all been a fevered dream.
Crow: Hmmm. A bouquet made up of a six-pack of quality beer sounds intriguing. Though to be honest, a bouquet of pocky does sound appealing! I’m from a time period where men-folk didn’t receive flowers. Just as well — they didn’t keep well in the damp caves we had to live in. Though we did get to be pretty good with charcoal for decorating the walls!
And I have to agree with Irina on this point. I really thought Catarina would be over the moon after the junk food bouquet. Though I do hope it’s not a dream. The last season of Dallas completely killed that trope for me. And I didn’t even watch that show!
Karandi: Right, so episode 12 of My Next Life of a Villainess, the ball sees Catarina dancing with Gerald (has anyone tried to count how many times he sighs throughout this series?), then Keith, then Nicol (loved all the other guests fainting at Nicol’s smile), before Catarina makes her way to the buffet where she feeds Alan meat before Mary and Sophia arrive demanding to also be fed.
It all works but isn’t exactly fascinating as each character is more or less rehashing previous plot points or character moments and while it is lovely to see the core cast back front and centre, as so many of them have been sidelined for a lot of this series, they don’t really get to do anything other than the cameo at the ball.
Or am I wrong?
Irina: I’m the wrong person to ask. Like I said, I gave up on the season a while ago. But this, this is the second part. Yes, the fainting. I genuinely laughed out loud at the fainting of half the attendees when Nicol asked for a dance. This was a great gag. I wish there were more of them.
Crow: The fainting scene was really funny. It’s the kind of humor I enjoyed from the first season, too! Mary popping up whenever Catarina did the “Ahhhh!” thing (like with Alan) or the dress thing (like with Ginger) made me laugh, too. But, and this goes back to what Irina talked about in her post about the Flanderization of Catarina, the show just didn’t seem to want to give Catarina or her friends room to grow. More than most shows, that bothered me because I like these characters so much. I want to see more of Mary going after Catarina. I want to see more of Maria confessing her feelings.
And most of all, I want to see more of Catarina coming to grips with who she is, because I’m beginning to suspect she is borderline asexual, and I would love to see a fictional treatment of that perspective.
Karandi: We then get to the moment I mentioned at the start of this post. The most where My Next Life is a Villainess took a page straight out of Ouran’s playbook (though who knows where Ouran got it from) and we had Keith trying to make Catarina aware that she’s actually a girl by pinning her down on a bed.
I didn’t get too annoyed about this in Ouran High School Host Club, but I know some viewers were absolutely rubbed the wrong way by the scene, however, at least there it felt purposeful. Here it isn’t given the time or focus it needs to be anything more than a random sequence that is kind of horrible if you think about it and kind of blink and you miss it if you don’t, and I’m not sure how that leaves me feeling about Keith given he could have just escorted his sister from the room, reminded her it wasn’t appropriate for a lady to be alone in a gentleman’s bedroom, and wished her goodnight.
Am I just taking things too seriously again in this harem comedy that makes no sense anyway? I think it is more that I’ve seen this scene before done better so in honesty if they wanted a sequence like this they should have just committed to it rather than the half-hearted attempt we get here.
Irina: I don’t think you’re taking things too seriously.
Although for me, it’s more the fact that this scene, more or less exactly, has already been done not only in 99% of romance anime before but in this season of this show… We had Sora do this a handful of episodes ago. At this point I’m just more annoyed at the incredibly lazy writing.
I’m sure our readers know that all this pushing down and kissing out of the blue stuff is pure anime nonsense and not actually romantic…or legal… It’s just an anime thing like complete lack of parental oversight, being able to eat everything in sight and never gain weight or catboys.
Karandi: Irina, did you just burst my bubble about the existence of catboys?
Crow: I don’t want to speak for Irina, but catboys are every bit as real as catgirls. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I mean, some of us prefer illusion to despair!
The “blink and you miss it” problem with that scene applied to a lot of this whole season. There were glimpses of what could be emotional moments that got glossed over. That scene we already talked about with Susanna/Larna — that had huge potential. I found myself wanting more of that scene, especially with the hilarious background of the Wall of Brothers. This episode, like this season, felt too unfocused and diffused.
Karandi: Probably the highlight of the episode for me, outside of the sweet bouquet, is Catarina’s dream where she sees her friend from before she was reincarnated starting to play the sequel game of Love Fortune at the Magic Academy. If Catarina was attempting to avoid death flags, her choice not to just marry Gerald has back-fired horribly as she’s clearly plunged herself straight back into the Otome plot she was trying to avoid.
Irina: For me it was the fainting. I loved that gag so much.
However, like I mentioned right at the beginning, I thought this scene was a good move. I really liked the scenes of Catarina’s before life in the first season and this was a good throwback. It also invigorated what felt like an otherwise kind of aimless plot. It almost made me want to see more.
Crow: Even clicking on New Game at the last moment was interesting. I’ll come back for a third season, but I’ll make sure I am not excited about it! I have to wonder how much of my reaction is based on it not meeting my expectations, which were really high.
Karandi: I’m with you. This season wasn’t bad but it didn’t meet my expectations.
All and all, this episode does what it needs to do in bringing this season to a close, but like most of this season it was kind of a mixed affair of some good, some not so great, and while there’s been an announcement of a movie I’m not entirely sure if I’m looking forward to that or not. Final thoughts?
Irina: To me it felt almost entirely like a set-up for another season and was actually sort of lacking in resolution. Sora is introduced super early into the season but his character arc is up in the air. The entire succession thing that they made a big deal of is just sort of hanging. New villain Sarah has no resolution at all, even the state of the harem hasn’t advanced in any satisfying way.
If there are many seasons to come, and I know a movie has been announced, this episode might be fine as a sort of bridge but as a finale on it’s own, I just don’t think it actually concluded any of the plot threads the season put forward. At all.
Season 1 had what felt like considerable character evolutions for pretty much everyone and resolutions for all the character arcs. It also nicely tied up the central plot with Catarina no longer being in danger of exile. But this time around, I don’t really see any of that. Maybe I’m the one being too harsh now.
Crow: I don’t think either of you are being too harsh. We can’t say we liked a show if we didn’t. I mean, we have a lot of smart readers, and they’d see right through that kind of thing! The first season was always just a little more than a routine harem comedy, and that’s one of the things that made it memorable for me.
This season almost felt like it was so busy looking over its shoulder at its past success that it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. And that’s a shame, because the characters still have all the potential they had from the first season! Which proves what Irina just said about the characters not evolving at all this season.
Karandi: I’ve had a great time this season following My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X with Irina and Crow. Hopefully they’ve had fun as well. We’d love to know what you thought of the season so leave us a comment and hopefully we’ll get to collaborate again on another show in the future.
Images from: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X. Dir. K Inoue. Silver Link. 2021
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 1: I Avoided My Doom Flags, So I Got Carried Away at the Cultural Festival…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 2: I Became a Villain…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 3: I Was Captured…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 4: I Had a Friendly Tea Time With an Attractive Butler…
- My Next life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: Love for the Younger Brothers Poured Forth…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 6: I Had a Summer Adventure…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 7: My Wish Was Granted…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 8: I Had an Arranged Marriage Meeting…
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 9: Keith Disappeared… Part 1
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 10: Keith Disappeared… Part 2
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 11: Keith Disappeared… Part 3