Karandi: Well, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to advance its plot but at the same time seems to be giving me exactly what I want from this series – super cute moments and absolute silliness. With another episode focused more on the cast when they were younger I have few complaints.
Irina: I’m pretty good. Work has been a bit horrendous but that’s nothing to complain about. And Montreal is almost suspiciously nice this summer. I am a little bummed about the inflection numbers being back on the rise. I hope no one loses a loved one.
Crow: Hi, Irina and Karandi! The infection numbers, plus the reaction of some Governors in the US has me worried. I drove home tonight past about 30 people with signs and much yelling outside of a pharmacy. It was an anti-vax protest. But my family’s still safe, and that’s a big plus!
Karandi: Glad to hear you guys are both safe. QLD is also going through another wave though I’m a long way away from it (one advantage of living in the middle of nowhere). I am worried about family though.
So how did we find Villainess this week?
Karandi: I really did love this week’s episode even though the plot more or less stalled and the characters spent the majority of the episode reminiscing about the time they went ghost hunting as children. Then again, the kid versions of all these characters are super adorable and honestly there was something just innocent and cute about how all of this came together.
But let’s start at the beginning. Does anyone else worry about Catarina’s sense of self when her own inner-council seem to be pretty condescending (or at least gleeful about her short-comings)? While the Catarina Council are adorable, the joy with which they declare she’s hopeless at romance is a little disheartening even if undeniably accurate.
Irina: The council is a bit different this season. Last time they were united and had a specific goal so whenever we saw the council they were debating on the best course of action and all had their own particular views but ultimately, they were all aiming for the same result. I think that without the motivating factor of “avoiding doom” the narrative doesn’t always know what to do with the council anymore.
Now they just sort of pop up to keep the joke going and are more scattered.
It is a little odd that a girl that has dedicated so much time to otomes in her life is that hopeless when she’s in one. One that she’s actually played even. Maybe her inner council was a bit worried.
Crow: It has felt odd, hasn’t it? This episode, in fact, is the first one where she thought about marriage. There was a shot of her imagining how she and Gerald coming down the steps after their marriage ceremony. She seemed almost melancholy about it, which felt like an interesting feeling to project within comedy. Then later, her main reaction seemed to be regret at not being able to climb trees or garden after marriage.
This might sound like I’m trying to be salacious, but I’m being serious: I don’t think Catarina has played any eroge games. She seems completely clueless about that dimension of human interaction. Which sounds like the way Spock would say it…
Karandi: As the framing device for the flash-back, Gerald invites Catarina to the Summer villa and rather than just refuse the invitation (Catarina freaking out over the kiss still) she brings along her trusty brother, Keith. Of course, Catarina isn’t the only one worrying about her being alone with Gerald and Alan takes it upon himself to invite the whole gang to the villa. Sorry Gerald, you aren’t going to be getting any alone time with Catarina any time soon.
Crow: Alan as Mary’s wingman is fantastic!
Karandi: I also enjoyed that Catarina wasn’t quite the usual flippant self as she’s seriously considering the implications of her getting older and potentially closer to actually having to marry Gerald. Again, she doesn’t dislike him but the idea of having to behave like royalty is freaking her out, though one suspects most of the other royals already know exactly what she’s like and probably won’t stress too much about it.
Irina: I have to say, this episode’s Catarina is the best I have seen this season and closest to the character I remember. I don’t know about becoming a royal, but I do have a feeling that becoming a mother might calm her down a bit. Priorities do tend to change when you grow up.
I’m not a big fan of traditional marriages or anything but I have to admit, the image of Catarina and Geordo as bride and groom was really nice. They both suited their respective rules very well and the outfits looked good on them. Although they were a bit boring. ‘Cmon Catarina, you can do better than that for your wedding dress!
Crow: Seeing Catarina as a mom is almost beyond my imagination! Though given how she approaches life, her kids would have a different than that society’s usual perspective on life!
Karandi: Naturally this leads to the girls getting caught in a sudden down-pour and taking shelter where Sophie, Mary and Catarina recall the time they went ghost hunting as children and also got caught in the rain. Maria listens in fascinated as they recall the tale.
My favourite moments had to be Alan waving the stick around in fear before the bunny jumped out of the bush and then Sophia’s little daydream about her and Catarina fighting a dragon. That was awesome.
What moments did you like or what didn’t work for you here?
Irina: I really like the kids so I was happy with the entire flashback. I’m not sure how any of it fits into the main story but I thought it was cute. I felt a bit weird recognizing Anne before Catarina did.
I guess realistically, this episode felt mostly like filler. I don’t think it advanced the storyline much and we didn’t learn anything new. It seemed to be putting the story on hold. But it was also one (if not the) of my favourite episodes this season. Seeing little Catarina rush up a three to catch a beetle while everyone else is freaking out was just so nostalgic. And charming.
Although my favourite moment is the one coming up…
Crow: Sophia spontaneously composing the dragon story was great. I also thought the shot of her marrying Caratina, with Catarina wearing the tuxedo, was a nice touch.
Speaking of Sophia, did you notice she wore her hair differently? Or did it happen before and I’m just now noticing it? It looked very attractive on her.
Karandi: I actually didn’t notice Sophia’s hair. Now I want to check.
What I think made this episode work perfectly though was when we found out what the real source of the ghost stories actually was. That was hilarious and a great way to bring the little story to a close. The fireworks and even the post-credit scene where Catarina seemingly ret-conned her own memory were just kind of icing on the cake because I was perfectly satisfied with the episode on finding out the secret behind the ghost.
Irina: I’m with you, that last act really brought everything together perfectly.
I gotta say, I do feel a little bad for Crow though. Not only was this a kids episode, which Karandi and I really enjoy but Crow is more neutral on but those new costumes have a very different aesthetic.
Also, we once again didn’t get to see much of Mary. I mean she was there the whole time and she had lines and everything. Probably as much as the other characters. But somehow she didn’t stand out. I feel like the story is giving her less focus this season. Am I imagining it?
Crow: You’re not imagining it. As a big fan of Mary’s, I’m considering writing a sternly-written letter of protest.
This week, the kids kind of grew on me. There’s a shot of the three little girls, standing besides their maids, looking out at the lake after the storm, that just looked so adorable. I still prefer the adult-sized women folk, but the flashback story structure worked for me.
The punchline for the ghost fit the story very well. In fact, I thought that was a bit of plot craftsmanship that elevated the episode.
Karandi: I wonder if next week will transition to a new plot line or if we’ll have another stand-alone kind of story with the gang just kind of hanging out. I’m going to be honest, I don’t really mind either way. Normally the story not really moving anywhere would bother me but I don’t really watch My Next Life as a Villainess expecting a compelling plot in the first place.
What are you two hoping for?
Irina: I wouldn’t mind a compelling plot. I like those. The season has been a bit all over the place. I’m not sure what we’ll get next episode to be honest. They started dangling a lot of plotlines and a lot of new characters, I suppose they will need to get back to that soon if they don’t want to leave anything hanging. Then again. Maybe the plan is to continue all of this in season 3.
I don’t even know if a season 3 has been announced, I’m just saying it’s a possibility.
Personally, I like the slice of life stuff. I kind of hope they drop all the overarching storylines and we just get random adventures for the rest of the season.
Crow: It’s rare when I like an entire cast so much that just hanging out is fun. But this episode was fun for just that reason. In terms of the next episode, I think they have to start executing on some of the teased plot lines at some point, and this was episode 6. They’re going to run out of runway if they don’t kick them off soon!
Images from: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X. Dir. K Inoue. Silver Link. 2021
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