Cross stitch pattern of Katarina Claes from My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! This is one of her poses from the outro. Download the PDF here: My Next Life as a Villainess Pattern
Grid Size:84W x 99H
Design Area:5.93″ x 7.00″ (83 x 98 stitches)
My Patron, Mel J, is a werewolf living in the city. They love to take time off to visit the mountains each month and live as a wolf for a few days around the full moon. Some say lycanthropy is a curse, but they’ve been doing it so long that they can’t imagine not having that freedom.
I’ve been reading a few “villainess” titles since they seem pretty popular nowadays. I picked up My Next Life as a Villainess, Beware the Villainess, and The Pet of the Villainess, and all of them share the same core premise of a working woman isekaied into a romance story where they aren’t the intended protagonist. There’s always an ensemble cast of beautiful suitors, both male and female, and all three stories have potential lesbian pairings with a bisexual leading lady. It’s kind of eerie how much these stories have in common, but they are all still very distinct from one another.
My Next Life as a Villainess hooks you in with the first few episodes as characters go through a lot of growth and exploration. The stakes are the highest of the three stories, but ultimately Next Life has the lightest tone. Everyone ends up being friendly towards each other and the show pretty quickly settles into a groove of everyone in the harem fawning over the main character. Katarina carries this show as she has by far the most interesting personality.
The second half of the anime kind of falls apart though as you can really tell that the author didn’t plan ahead to the ending so there’s very little build up. It’s weird though, there are a few very minor antagonists, dukes and nobles barely mentioned in people’s backstories, that could have been rolled into one man so that the villain reveal would feel more impactful, like if the guy the maid was going to be married off to against her will was the same guy as was rumored to be Maria’s real father and he was also the dark magician, then there would be some foreshadowing and connection between the characters and the finale. As it is, it’s kind of meh.
It’s still a good show, don’t get me wrong, just the plot is a little weak. I love the characters though and getting some bisexual representation in anime is always welcome.
Beware the Villainess on the other hand is a slightly darker take on the premise with a cheating prince and ample opportunities for the protagonist to use the title of villainess to do mean things to people who had it coming. Melissa is short tempered and flawed. She holds grudges and can’t stand rudeness. She’s a good person, but definitely not in the same angelic way Katarina is.
One thing that peeves me is that one of the two main love interests, Nine, has some dubious consent going on. He’s Melissa’s employee and has no friends outside of the Foddebrat family’s control. He can’t go home and lacks the skills to blend in with human society. He is financially and emotionally dependent on Melissa and that would hinder his abilities to confidently say no to her in a romantic relationship. It’s a little squick for me, but I’m sure there are others who wouldn’t be bothered by it since their friendship does seem to be genuine.
The outfits are amazing too and there are some prime meme faces sprinkled throughout that gives the story a distinct look. If you liked Next Life, then I encourage you to check out Beware the Villainess. It feels like the author read the first few chapters of Next, didn’t like where it was going, and decided to write their own story with a love triangle instead of a harem.
The Pet of the Villainess is pretty much “Emotional Labor: The Manhwa”. It consists of a long series of charisma checks as the protagonist gracefully puts up with everyone’s baggage. It’s tone is similar to Next Life at the beginning, but gets darker in later chapters as the mystery unfolds. It has more intrigue, deception, and backstories and less wacky magical hi-jinks. There’s a key difference that the main character picks a love interest about halfway though and the rest of the story follows the cast as they learn to respect that decision and support her in different ways. It’s good if you’re looking for something like Next Life but with almost no harem aspects. Edit: Spoiler alert, the main characters stage a coup against the king and install a puppet leader! Dang, Pet of the Villainess goes hard!
Hopefully with the success of My Next Life as a Villainess, more villainess stories will get picked up for anime adaptations.