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My Next Life As a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5

Review of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5

Welcome, everyone to our weekly talk about My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X! In episode 5, Catarina may have survived the kidnapping from episode 3 and episode 4, but now she faces two even more intimidating dangers: a flash-back (retconned, at that!) and an enraged harem! But before we get into that, I want to ask Irina (from I Drink and Watch Anime) and Karandi (from 100 Word Anime) how their weeks have gone? Any news? Anything special happen?

Introductions

Hi Crow, hi Irina. My week kind of happened. I’m not sure if I really remember most of it. I’ve been a little busy lately and every day is kind of just blending into every other. Sad that I only really keep track based on which anime episode I need to review.

That said, everything is good and I was looking forward to this week of Villainess.

I’ve been absolutely swamped. I managed to get some sleep but I had a couple of days with only about 10 hours off work and I am looking forward to having a nice lazy morning on Sunday! It sure makes the days off amazing and the week fly by. So I guess I’m pretty lucky in a way. 

I even managed to catch villainess although Vanitas is going to have to wait a bit. I can’t wait to watch it! It’s had a really strong start.

Has Catarina Learned Her Lesson?

CROW: I don’t want to go so far as to say I didn’t enjoy this episode, but I found the laughs per minute (LPM) to be significantly down this week. In fact, it might be the lowest in either season so far. It started off funny, with Catarina trying to walk to class, but Maria, Sophia, Alan, Mary, and Keith were right on her heels. It seems they were aware that she was still in danger, even if she forgot. Maria even made Catarina promise not to go off on her own again. 

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: Catarina's harem is worried about her

They’re right to be concerned. This is Catarina we’re talking about! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

At that point, were either of you willing to believe Catarina would not go off on her own by the end of the episode?

KARANDI: Catarina was always going to go off on her own but just in case the audience wasn’t aware of that they did have Maria flag it for us.

Crow, do you actually measure LPM?

CROW: Not really — but I’m thinking about it!

KARANDI: I actually thought the harem being all over-protective of Catarina (though protecting her from Gerald rather than future kidnappings) was pretty adorable. I had a bigger problem with Catarina somehow convincing herself the kiss last week was just a dream and I am so glad they sorted that silliness out before the end of the episode because if they’d dragged that into another week I might have started to feel a little sour about the whole thing.

IRINA: By far my favourite episode this season. I wouldn’t say it was hilarious, I don’t really count LPMs but as far as me laughing goes it was on par with the rest and it had consistent character development with season 1. I really hope the rest of the characters get this type of treatment in coming episodes.

You might not remember this from our season 1 reviews but the time when the cast were all kids was my favourite part of the show so getting to revisit that made me really happy and reminded me of a lot of the more charming aspects of My Next Life as A Villainess.

CROW: I do remember!

IRINA: Personally the only fault I could really find was that I missed some of the other characters but I appreciate taking the time to get to know more cast members and like I said, I’m really hoping it’s an indicator that we’re going to see some background on everyone else as well.

Jeffrey: The Bro in Brocon

CROW: The next section started with a cool transformation scene: Susanna Randall, who had masqueraded as the maid in the previous episode who helped rescue Catarina, tossed off her maid’s outfit, including wig, to reveal an elegant gown! I thought that was funny.

I want to know where she hid the earrings… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But then we launched into an odd portion of the show. Well, I thought it was odd. It was about Jeffrey. Apparently, he loves his younger brothers. A lot. I’m used to brocons like Kirino Kousaka or Akiko Himenokouji. Both of them have something in common: They are sisters. I’ve not seen a brother with a brother complex before. It was so bad that Susanna even called him “a freak with an abnormal adoration for your younger brothers.”

Pretty harsh, I thought. What’d you think?

KARANDI: I thought Jeffrey’s wall was magnificent.

Actually, I think Villainess has carried this one off because the last couple of episodes have hinted that maybe Jeffrey was up to no good and then this episode more or less upended our expectations and largely just convinced us that Jeffrey does have a seriously bad brother complex and it is actually super sweet. Okay, a little obsessive, but sweet.

IRINA: I remember quite liking Jefferey when we first saw him and now I finally know why. All the tonal indicators and cinematic language were setting him up as an antagonist. The music cues and camera angles were all menacing and then blamo, subverted big time. And I was impressed. The show is usually straightforward when it comes to production elements so this was a pleasant surprise.


It’s also possibly my favourite iteration of brocon. He’s not obsessed with any brother in particular, just loves them all, didn’t mention once that he thought any of them were attractive and seems to be ok with giving them plenty of personal space, and letting them find happiness with their respective fiancees. Just has some home decoration quirks. I would like the trope to take this form from now on.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: Jeffrey is unusually attached to his younger brothers

You know, it really is an impressive wall! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: Recap Retcon!

CROW: The episode then dove back into events from the first half of the first season. We got to relive Catarina bringing light back into Gerald’s life and confidence into Alan’s. Very nice, but we’ve seen it before. I mentioned retconning before, and in this case, Jeffrey’s version of the story inserted himself into the timeline. We didn’t see anything from him in the first season, but now there he was.

Not a terrible thing, but it left me feeling a solid “huh.”

What did you think about it?

KARNDI: When I was reviewing season one, I loved the first three episodes that focused on Catarina and friends when they were young children. I was actually a little disappointed when they grew up. 

From a narrative point of view, this is pretty meaningless and Jeffrey’s insertions into past events didn’t change anything except how we viewed Jeffrey and his reveal of his wall had already done that so basically it just belaboured a point we already got. However, it did mean we got to spend many minutes of this episode back with the cute children versions of Alan and Gerald as well as the younger Jeffrey and to be honest I kind of loved it. 

Sure, it is pointless but realistically I’m not looking for much from Villainess and the cute factor definitely was enough here.

IRINA: I’m with Karandi, like I said, those were my favourite parts as well. I guess in isolation the scenes could be considered meaningless but then again so was the play, the flashback of not Sebastian’s past, the croissants.

It’s quite possible that all those elements will come back and become meaningful in the future or maybe it was just a series of scenes that were meant to establish that Jefferey’s obsession is more of the nurturing type, in order to define the character. 

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: Jeffrey's affection for his brothers seems honest

Jeffrey seemed genuinely happy to establish bonds with his brothers. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I did like that we got to see how Gerald and Alan manage to mend their relationship. Since they are both main characters and possibly the two leading contenders for Catarina’s affection, it does make the main story a bit more compelling when you know that their own bond is affected.

Gerald’s Very Dangerous Kiss Take II

CROW: That section ended with Jeffrey asking Susanna to be on the alert. It seems like black magic is gaining strength, and that could add a bit of drama to the series.

After classes, Catarina snuck off on her own. I know. It was shocking, wasn’t it? She snuck off to her garden to get some privacy. Gerald figured she’d be there, so he surprised her. He surprised her very much, because for some reason, he suspected she would not have believed he really kissed her at the end of the last episode. So he kissed her again. 

The birds taking flight in the background was a nice touch.

How the show portrays Catarina’s reaction to romance intrigues me. After he kissed her, she actually asked him why. Maaya Uchida, Catarina’s voice actor, managed to inject a vulnerable timidness into her voice. Gerald had to spell it out for her: He flatly told her that he loved her.

What did you think of Catarina’s reaction?

KARANDI: I’m just glad he did spell it out for her and she can’t continue to pretend it was a dream.

If I was a reviewer who scored anime I’d give Gerald’s confession a ten out of ten and Catarina’s reaction a five. Honestly, the guy she’s been engaged to forever just honestly confessed his feelings for her and she’s somehow confused by this. Normally I don’t mind Catarina’s ditziness but she’s taking clueless protagonist a little too far here.

IRINA: Just in case we got some younger readers, let me just say please don’t go kissing people without consent. It’s not cool.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: How does Catarina see her relationship with Gerald?

Scenes like this make me genuinely want to see the world from Catarina’s perspective. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

From what I remember, Catarina did heavily imply that she’s not interested in a romantic relationship, maybe in her mind she thought she made it clear and that’s why she’s so confused. Or maybe it’s just a thing that happens in most harem and romance anime.

The Harem’s Wrath in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5

CROW: Of course, they didn’t get much time alone. Her harem honor guard from earlier in the episode found them. More like they stormed the garden. Mary was all for blasting Gerald; Sophia’s only objection to that plan was that she wanted to blast him first. 

Maria’s reaction made me laugh: “At least keep the injuries mild enough that I can heal them with my magic!”

I like seeing that the kiss is having an impact on the story, at least at a surface level.

KARANDI: The harem’s reaction was pretty solid though I would have enjoyed it more if one of them had actually launched a spell just because it would have spiced up the episode (you know but missed Gerald and taken out one of Catarina’s plants or something). 

Is it just me or are we five episodes through this season and yet to see like half the characters who actually appear in the OP this season?

IRINA: Really? Aside from the main cast I noticed not Sebastian, Catarina’s house staff, parents, the other princes and their girlfriend. The only ones I think we haven’t met are the two magic students who aren’t Sirius? I might have missed some mind you. 

Hope they start the magic school arc soon, I’m assuming things. First I hope there is a magic school arc and then I hope it starts soon. It looks like fun.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5 Closing Thoughts

CROW: I’m not sure what to make of the last shot. Atsuko Sasaki, Catarina’s friend from her previous life, congratulated someone (presumably Catarina?) for conquering the black-hearted prince’s story line. What was that about?

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5: What is Atsuko Sasaki doing here?

Hi, Atsuko! What in the world are you doing here? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

KARANDI: I’ve got absolutely nothing on that one. I was kind of confused and then just shrugged and forgot about it until reading your comment.

Maybe we’ll find out later and maybe it doesn’t matter. It did seem kind of random to suddenly see her friend from the previous life though given we’ve not had a lot of references to Catarina’s previous life in this season.

IRINA: I thought the black-hearted prince was Sirius. I’m pretty sure the show strongly implied it in season 1 and he’s a dark user and all. But did we ever get solid confirmation? Maybe we did. I decided to go on crazy theory mode and assume we didn’t get confirmation and it was a long con bait ‘n switch and that the black-hearted prince is in fact not Sebatian.

As such, Atsuko’s line was letting us know that he’s going to become an official part of the harem in the coming episode(s). 

All of this is wild conjecture, mind you.

CROW: Let’s hope we’ll find out soon!

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19 thoughts on “My Next Life As a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Episode 5

  1. First, I loved the flashback scenes. Jeffry’s wall is quite impressive. I wonder if you can use magic in a photographic way? Otherwise, that’d be quite a few paintings commissioned, with a lot of them looking more like photographs than traditional portrait paintings.

    Second, I’m with Karandi on Catarina thinking the kiss was a dream. An eye-rolling moment if there ever was one.

    Now taking these two elements together, I think the second season is struggling a little with presenting a shift in focus, but I’m not sure that’s actually true given the ending. Let me explain:

    Last season’s structure was all meta (I wish I remembered the details of the ending, but I don’t) with the game and Catarina avoiding the doom flags. The opening suggests there a still doomflags, and the first episode showed Catarina letting down her guard.

    Now, Catarina being dense in season one has always struck me as coming from two aspects: a personality trait to focus completely on a goal (to the effect that she’d break down a door with an axe), and a pre-occupation with the game. Now that here pre-occupation with the game is gone, in season two so far, her cluelessness would be remnant or a habit. In keeping with the structure of the first season, we should have gotten the Catarina council confused – wait, shouldn’t he be attracted to Maria? Oh no!

    The show has, however, shifted the focus from the game to politics and worldbuilding. We’re getting stuff like succession wars, the ministry of magic and the dark magic problem. Expanding the show with inserting Jeffry makes sense. He wouldn’t have been in the first season, since Catarina never met him. We’re seeing world-suff now in scenes that don’t have Catarina in them at all. I don’t remember enought to be sure, but I think we didn’t get anything like that in season 1 (at least not in that extended way – some scenes may have gone on after Catarina left the scene, and there’s the Atsuko scene that Vance mentions [though I didn’t interpret that as her having died; it’s an interesting take]). So, now what?

    The problem with “Congrats on clearing the secret route!” for me is this: The protagonist of the game is Maria. I don’t know what happened to Catarina in that route, either because the show didn’t tell us, or because I don’t remember. In the current worldbuilding and narrative, Sirius has told Catarina that someone at the ministry has an interest in Catarina. So it’s not entirely impossible that there’s a sequel game based on the secret route that has Catarina reprise her villain role in a new setting. (From a gamedeveloper’s perspective, that’s probably what you’d do if you find your villainess to be surprisingly popular – set the only route in which she’s still around for canon and procede from there.)

    Is this what they’re going for? I’m just not sure. I found this season a little more aimless than the first season in terms of narrative, but there are still clear throughlines, and there’s still a plan. I sure as hell hope the show’s not going to show us what a real villainess looks like by having Susanna be the ambitious fiancee of a prince… (Though that could be interesting, too, I suppose, if they manage the return of the meta aspect well.)

    1. I understood, at least dimly, that retcon-ing Jeffrey into the story’s lore opened more avenues of story-telling. I like the detail of how you came to that conclusion. That gives me a framework going forward.

      I suspect that using “retcon” gave off a negative vibe, which I really didn’t intend. I had a neutral reaction to it, though I did find a bro with a broncon syndrome to be hilarious and a great take on the trope.

      “Sirius has told Catarina that someone at the ministry has an interest in Catarina. So it’s not entirely impossible that there’s a sequel game based on the secret route that has Catarina reprise her villain role in a new setting.”

      I like that interpretation. I have been wondering what effect releasing sequels would have in the otome world. I’d love to see the series explore that in some way. I’ve not seen it before, and it could be a lot of fun. Plus, it’ll give the story a little focus. The game aspect is important to the humor, and having it play a role would give better thematic continuity to the first season.

    1. Your comment made me wonder, were the number of routes in the world based on the game set at the world’s creation? Do expansion packs in our world add routes to the game world? Do Catarina’s actions change the routes?

      I’d like to see the series play with those ideas.

  2. “he suspected she would not have believed he really kissed her”

    I’m confused. Since he kissed her quite deliberately, why would he suspect she didn’t think he kissed her? Something like that ought to be pretty memorable.

    I’m wondering if all this amorous aggression isn’t the beginning of another dark magic arc.

    1. “why would he suspect she didn’t think he kissed her? Something like that ought to be pretty memorable.”

      For the vast majority of humans, it would be.

      But this is Catarina we’re talking about. She earned her nickname Bakarina. I think Gerald knows here pretty well, so I think he expected her reaction.

      “I’m wondering if all this amorous aggression isn’t the beginning of another dark magic arc.”

      All Bakarina jokes aside, for Gerald and Mary especially, waiting for Catarina to make a decision has got to be frustrating in a primal way. I could see those frustrations going dark!

  3. As a very logical person, I tend to interpret things with a holistic approach, which is why Re:zero is right up my alley with all the details one needs to remember. In this second season of Hamefura, aside from the succession storyline, what has gotten the most focus is Sophia trying to set up Catarina with Nico or Nicol (can’t remember how they spell it), her brother. Thus, I see that brief flashback of Atsuko being a sign of Sophia and Catarina’s relationship possibly being further developed, perhaps culminating in Catarina and/or Sophia herself finding out that Sophia is Atsuko reincarnated.

    My brother thinks Geordo is the one most likely to marry Catarina, but I think based on what the story has presented with Nico/Nicol being the only one who could make Catarina flustered before Geordo started kissing her and how Nico/Nicol reminds Catarina so much of the count from the romance novel series she and Sophia likes so much that Catarina will end up with Nico/Nicol so that Catarina and Sophia can be sister-in-laws like Sophia wants to happen. Nico/Nicol seems very much like Catarina’s type, and it would be the ending which is the most quintessentially Hamefura, so I’m partial to it.

    1. “I see that brief flashback of Atsuko being a sign of Sophia and Catarina’s relationship possibly being further developed”

      That’s an interesting idea. It would be interesting for Sophia to consciously realize who she is.

      I also wonder if that means Atsuko is dead in the original world. Doesn’t reincarnating in a new world mean one has to die in the original first?

      “but I think based on what the story has presented with Nico/Nicol being the only one who could make Catarina flustered”

      Also a good point. Even Rufus/not Sebastian didn’t make her feel anything. But you’re right — she has a strong reaction to Nico/Nicol.

      “Nico/Nicol seems very much like Catarina’s type, and it would be the ending which is the most quintessentially Hamefura, so I’m partial to it.”

      I’m still holding out for a society-changing revelation that harems are actually okay in this world. But I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

      1. Atsuko was revealed to have clearly died in Season 1. She wished that in the next life, she could be friends with whoever Catarina was in her past self again. The Atsuko we saw giving instructions to Sophia was just a remnant of her that remained since she still had unfinished business with Catarina.

        1. “Atsuko was revealed to have clearly died in Season 1”

          I get that whatever the construct was hold Catarina in her old world disintegrated. I really didn’t catch that Atsuko had actually died, except by implication insofar as the narrative did show her as being reincarnated as Sophia…

          Which, not that you point it out, necessarily means that she had died.

          I have no idea how I kept the two ideas of “Atsuka is alive in our Earth” and “Atsuka reincarnated as Sophia” in mind all this time…

          I really should learn not to admit stuff like this in comments, too!

  4. This episode felt a lot like filler. Not exactly a recap, because it’s pretty much all new artwork, but it didn’t really advance the story all that much. More like a “vamp ’till ready”. Also,It’s been a while since I rad the LN, but I don’t remember anything like this being highlighted.

    1. Also, checking back with the LNs, Gerald is indeed the “Black Hearted Prince” in Fortune Lover, and with his confession, Atsuko is congratulating her on finishing that route.

      1. So, your impression of the last moment is that finally, Catarina finished the Gerald plot line? Interesting! That would mean Atsuko’s not necessarily coming back…

        I’m finding that this show is unusually adept at plot subtlety. More than I would expect for this kind of comedy.

        1. Hmmm, maybe not so much finished the plot line (he’s still her fiancee, after all), but reached the end of that route in the otome game. It may be that they really wanted to get Atsuko in somewhere, and this was how they did it. Wakaranai.

          1. By “the Gerald plot line” I meant the route in the game.

            You’d think that with English as my first language, I’d be a bit more precise by now!

            But it _was_ a nice way to work Atsuko back in, as Atsuko.

    2. It felt like the show wanted to flip the brocon trope on its head (which I thought was hilarious) as well as subvert our expectations for Jeffrey’s involvement. So, more of a wrap-up episode for the kidnapping arc.

Please let me know what you think!

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