The Character Who Launched A Thousand Ships!
What’s the Story?
Catarina Claes was always a bit of a brat when she was a child, until one fateful day when she hit her head and suddenly remembered that she used to be a Japanese school girl in her past life! What’s more she realises that the world she’s been reborn into bears a striking resemblance to a game she used to play in that past life, ‘Fortune Lover’ where the main villain was Catarina Claes! In the game Catarina is either doomed to be exiled or outright murdered by one of the conquerable characters and, desperate to avoid this fate, Catarina sets out to remove every single doom flag in her path. Can Catarina win over all the conquerable characters and avoid her fated doom? What about when she finally meets the game’s protagonist? It’s time to build a harem!
I should really stop being surprised when a genre of anime I typically don’t like offers me up a gem of a show that I quickly fall for. It’s happened with sports anime, slice of life, even romance (all genres that I would have balked at a little under a decade ago). Now it’s the turn of the harem genre because, despite all the logic in my brain, I love this show and this may just be the haremiest show to ever harem.
Now I don’t have a major issue with harem series, if you like them that’s fine, go forth my young romantics, enjoy. It’s just that, personally, I have no interest in them. If there’s romance in a series I like to feel that it’s going somewhere, whether it’s plot relevant or not, whether it shows us a different side to the characters or not, it should be developing in some way. Harem series though, and this is me completely generalising, don’t want to do that. They offer up as many potential love interests as possible and then we’re stuck in a holding pattern for the rest of the series. It’s a rare harem that actually pushes forward one of the love interests and sets them up with the protagonist. Usually it’s a continual back and forth until the series ends and no one has made any progress whatsoever. It frustrates me to no end, especially if I happen to get behind one of the ships, so I don’t generally watch harems. My Next Life as a Villainess is different though, oh structurally it’s a harem through and through, not an ounce of progress is made and yet I don’t mind.
What makes this show so different? Honestly I don’t know. I’ve been puzzling it out for the past couple of weeks now and I still haven’t come to a satisfactory answer. On paper I should really dislike this show. I mean outside of the harem aspects where we have a multitude of relationship options that I know are never going to come to fruition, there’s also the repetitive nature of the series on the whole. The main joke is that while Catarina is worried about all the doom flags that are waiting for her, she’s also too dense to notice that she’s making every single conquerable character fall madly in love with her. It’s a joke that is repeated over and over again to the point where you start to wonder how Catarina can function as a human being, let along how she managed to conquer these characters in the game in her past life. And yet I never once got bored with this series. Every time that Catarina fails to read the signals that are being screamed at her by the other characters, or accidentally adds a new member to her harem, I laughed. This show is endlessly charming and maybe that’s it’s secret because I completely understand why all these people fell in love with Catarina in the first place.
Catarina may be as thick as two short planks (actually that’s a British phrase I’ve always struggled to understand, what’s so stupid about short planks? What makes long ones so intelligent? Sorry I’m getting distracted), but she is charm personified. She’s so upfront and earnest that it’s hard not to cheer for her, she may charge into every situation without thinking it through in the slightest, but she always do it for the best of reasons. Also when she does actually think about things her thought process is often so bizarre you can’t help but laugh, I mean come on, a veggie bouquet, how do you even come up with that? Add on top of that the fact that the rest of the characters are also equally charming and you have a recipe for success. I may have my own personal ship (Catarina X Maria ‘til I die!) but I honestly wouldn’t mind Catarina getting with any of her potential love interests, they’d all make adorable couples and suit one another perfectly. Honestly the chemistry between all these characters is just mesmerising, I could spend forever with them and not be upset, which I guess is the reason I love this show so much. It doesn’t matter what Catarina and the gang get up to, whether it’s being sucked into a magical book or just organising a sleepover, I’m happy to spend time in the company of these characters. I guess I should count myself as part of the harem too!
In the end, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is a fun series. On paper it’s your typical harem, well outside of the fact that the harem consists of both men and women and is constantly being added to, but it’s charm comes from it’s characters. I’m sure there are some people that will eventually get bored with this series, but if you fall for this wonderful cast as much as I have you’ll happily spent forever in their company. It’s a sweet, charming bit of fluff and I honestly can’t think of a single thing wrong with that. I’m really looked forward to season 2, even if I have no idea where the story is going to go from here, just being with Catarina will be enough for me. Consider me haremed!
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.