Anime

Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom: Another Flag Falls, Another Soul Heals

In the fifth episode of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, “I Visited the Heroine’s Parents’ House…,” Catarina Claes continues her relentless battle against the engine of fate controlling Fortune Lover. She’s focused, she’s determined, and she will spare no expense to avoid the bad endings. And in this episode, she claims two more casualties in her own personal war.

I’m laying it on bit thick, aren’t I, Irina? By the way, how’s your week? I hope you’re staying safe and healthy!

Still staying home and loving it. Spring time is starting to finally peak through but apparently it’s going to snow next week. I’m also hoping to actually have some time off work next weekend.  Have been watching a lot of great anime latey and that’s really doing great things for my morale. I’m a very simple creature. And My next Life as A Villainess is one of those anime!

This was a busy episode! Once again, I took twice the amount of notes as I do for most series, even The Tower of God! We see Catarina express interest in another character — at least, she expressed more interest than she has in anyone not in the game’s main path. We witness Catarina unleashing the full force of her Earth magic, which adorable results. Speaking of adorable, we get to see the most adorable Earth doll ever, and no, it wasn’t Catarina’s. We can only watch helplessly as Bakarina makes her appearance in this episode — but I found myself completely enamored. And then we see the show veer into the dramatic as we witness just how unexpectedly rough Maria Campbell had it at home — and the effect Catarina’s unique charm had on the situation.

Irina, any opening thoughts?

I’ve said it before I think but I really wish there was an actual otome out there with such a great story, where all the characters had complete backgrounds and interests and motivations and there was rich character building. This show is simultaneously making me want to go seek out a visual novel (and despite what I may have led you to believe, there are some truly fantastic visual novels out there… otomes on the other hand…) and make me a little weary of starting a new one because I’ll end up disappointed…

It is telling that this show is based on a light novel rather than a game. I haven’t seen many great animes based on actual otomes. 

BTW, Irina’s in bold and there will be spoilers!

The episode opens with Maria tutoring Catarina in the student council room. Apparently, Maria’s a good tutor, and Catarina picked up the concepts quickly. She also praised Maria’s note-taking and observed that Maria was a diligent hard-worker. Now, to Catarina, that was probably just stating the obvious. But Maria wasn’t used to anyone being so openly complimentary, and she almost appeared overwhelmed. The praise only grew louder when Maria shared some cookies she’d made. 

Maria seemed to really appreciate Catarina’s praise. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Catarina. Warming hearts, one snack at a time.

The student council president, Sirius Deek, interrupted them to serve tea. Catarina watched him working for a moment and realized just how much work could accomplish. “Man, he’s fast,” Catarina thought. “He only had a side role in the game, but he’s actually a beast!” She seemed pretty impressed. And when she praised the tea he’d made, he seemed a little surprised.

Do you think she’s starting to take a liking to him, Irina? 

Well one of our readers sort of told us she was going to so now I’m pretty much seeing it no matter what. She probably could have not even said anything to him and I would have been (oh my, sparks are flying). Too bad, though.

I really would have liked to see an actual romantic relationship between Catarina and Maria blossom. It would have turned the otome premise on its head. And it would have given both characters a lot of interesting agency. Although I have no actual proof of this, I have also decided based on nothing, that the fans would have appreciated that storyline as well.

Don’t get me wrong, the red head is adorable and apparently he’s an uber Gary Stu which matches Catarina’s personalities. It’s not like it’s a bad possibility, but it seems kind of plain and safe for the series. 

Of course we know very little about the character. He could turn out to be the most interesting one in the show. Still, from what I have seen so far, and we’re almost halfway through the show, if Catarina must end up with a suitor and a male one at that, my vote still goes to Keith.

Catarina was seriously impressed by Sirius’ administrative skills. That said, I’m with Irina on this one — Keith is a better match for her! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Keith certainly has her best interests in mind!

Catarina’s inner Council of the Wise sounded an alarm: Maria was still acting cool towards her outside of the student council room. Maybe some other students are bullying her? Catarina is nearly in a panic. She thinks she has to act immediately, so she asks the young man who’s become her closest confidant: Keith Claes. Keith is a reasonable young man who’s used to Catarina’s moods. He calmly suggests that they all spend more time with Maria. As members of the elite, no one would dare say anything to Maria if she were with them! As she dashed happily off to find Maria, Keith had this almost pitying smile that said, “There she goes again.” 

Seriously, if she would just take a second to look around herself, she’d see just how much these people adore her!

I think on some level Catarina is still playing the game. You know how it is. Even if you lose yourself in it and really suspend your disbelief part of you still doesn’t take in the interactions the same way. 

You know, I realize that you may have been talking about Maria not realizing how much people like her. In which case I’m going to say it’s because of all the bullying and what we discover in the rest of the episode.

If it was about Catarina though, she is still talking about stealing events and avoiding flags. It may have been years but she is still very much treating the experience as a player navigating an amazing VR game and as such, she’s looking for markers. You never know when an NPC will change because you accidentally triggered something. Catarina can’t let her guard down. Heck, she might even wake up back in her old life one day…

Catarina is still thinking very much in terms of the game’s plot. She’s judging every event by how it would have happened in the game. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I meant Catarina (and I promise to someday use pronouns correctly!), but both of your interpretations have intrigued me…

Catarina remembered that Maria used to each lunch alone in the game, so that’s where she searched. She was horrified to find four young noble women again bullying the game’s heroine. When one of those girls invoked a flame spell, Catarina acted. Striking a dramatic pose, she called forth her ultimate weapon: the Earth Bump!

Under the bully, the ground shook. She looked around, scared. Then, the Earth Bump erupted! It came up a good 20 centimeters. Maybe 30. She was so startled that she toppled over.

Was that hilarious, or what? 

I’m going to say 10 cm at most. I really loved Catarina’s heroic pose on the railing here, and there was even a very convincing looking bleu light from her hand. I wonder if the Catarina in the game was also bad at magic. It’s not been mentioned and when we saw the same even as it originally played out, Catarina was inciting the other girls to use their magic instead of using her own, so we didn’t get to find out.

Such a dramatic pose for such a little bump! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’m just wondering if Catarina changed in any other way than her personality. Is her magic being weak because she comes from a world that doesn’t have any? Or is it irrelevant and the character was always that way?

Magic is apparently genetic on some level. Is there still something in Catarina’s genetics that makes her different from the other people in this world? And she’s been here for 8 years, does she still remember her world?

Before the girls could recover, Catarina dashed over and stood between Maria and the bullies. Adopting her most savage Resting Villainess Face, Catarina told them that Maria was her friend, and that she was her friend because she was a diligent worker and a wonderful companion. Then Catarina told them they had better back off, or “doom will before you.”

The girls ran for their lives, apologizing all the way. 

I’ve been looking through the screencaps and Catarina does really have villain eyes. They are much more pointed and slanted down than any of the other female characters which is usually reserved for meaner characters. No wonder those girls were intimidated.

I’m 6’2″ farm boy. Pretty much nothing scares me. But I think that Catarina’s glare is pretty intimidating! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Catarina turns to Maria and found her crying. She thought Maria was crying because she was scared. I think it was more that Maria was crying out of gratitude at how effusive Catarina had been describing their friendship.

It was a little much but it was cute. These scenes are getting a bit repetitive to me. I mean it was pretty much the same for the other two girls as well, give or take a few details. There’s a girl in the opening credits with glasses that I don’t think we’ve seen in the show yet. She looked much more no nonsense. I look forward to meeting her. It will be nice to have some variety.

This is something that Villainess is doing such a great yet unobtrusive job doing. In a real society with such a striated class structure, the only real class interactions would be commercial, servant/master, or the kind of bullying we just say. For a noblewoman of Catarina’s standing to take the side of a commoner would be unheard of. For that same noblewoman to gush about her friendship with a commoner? It’s no wonder Maria’s about to hurl herself into Catarina’s harem. 

I don’t have much knowledge about it but I’m pretty sure nobles protected their servants from nobles of different families fairly regularly. Especially in a case like this where Catarina is of much higher class than any of the other girls there. Had the other girls been her social superior it might have been different, but she’s for a very high noble family and engaged to the royal prince. Catarina doesn’t have much to fear from any of the other students.

That night, Catarina belatedly realizes that she had just inserted herself into the moment that Keith was supposed to have saved Maria from the bullies — but in the game, Catarina had been one of the bullies. In her memory, Keith had used his powerful Earth magic to stop the flame attack. The huge Earth doll picked Maria up, princess style, and carried her to him.

Most. Adorable. Earth. Doll. Ever. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It was the most adorable Earth doll ever!

It looked a bit like Big Hero 6. I saw it for the first time recently. Broke my heart. Also one of the best written fictional robots. We were talking about something else…

Somehow I don’t think this Keith would have embraced anyone, let alone Maria who he doesn’t know very well at all. So even if Catarina hadn’t stolen the event, and even if Keith had saved the day since he is quite good at magic, I have a feeling it still would have not happened the way it was supposed to.

Now we come to the Bakarina moment. By the way, I don’t mean anything disrespectful by calling them Bakarina moments. Catarina is clearly an intelligent young woman. She’s constantly thinking. She’s constantly forming strategies to survive if the worst should happen. She’s just amazingly oblivious to things like social cues. That’s what makes this moment so darned funny.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done half as well in her place. Her continued study of farming is one of my favourite aspects of the show. It’s just so… down to earth… And I mean that seriously if you can believe it. The simplicity and practicality of the solution is just so endearing to me.

Catarina arranged for Maria to spend some time with her, Mary Hunt, and Sophia Ascart. Hoping to gather some intelligence she could use to help Maria be happy, she asked Maria if there was anyone special she liked.

“I… am deeply fond of you, Lady Catarina,” she said with a shy smile.

And the harem grows.

You can probably guess what happened next. I actually thought there might be a small war. But no, nothing so violent. Mary immediately chimed in, saying she also loved Catarina. Not to be outdone, Sophia said the same thing.

What must it be like to be surrounded by people who genuinely like you? That’s got to be amazing… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

And poor, lovable Catarina could only think, “That does make me happy, but that’s not the kind of ‘like’ I meant…”

On a side note, I really was relieved to see Mary and Sophia continue being kind to Maria as they shared snacks. That seems to be the kind of people they are.

Irina, what did you think of the Bakarina moment? 

As I explained above, I would really love to have an actual romantic relationship explored, but I have a feeling it may just stay at baiting which is a bit of a shame. It’s not going to make me not like the show or anything. It’s just something I would like to have seen explored in this joyful setting. Also, otome games are traditionally about doing everything to get the guy, there is something satisfying in the idea of the main rival and main character just saying, forget that let’s just ride off together instead.

That would actually be amazing. It not over yet — so let’s hope!

Then the show switched tracks and showed that it can handle poignant moments as well as anyone — with Catarina’s unique twist, of course! By a Series of Fortunate Events, Catarina and Keith find themselves walking up to Maria’s home. Some gossipy townspeople had breathlessly tried to push some gossip on them. Namely, that Maria’s father had left her mother because Maria’s real father had to be a nobleman — otherwise, how did Maria obtain any magic? I thought it was cool how Keith adeptly diffused  the situation. While Catarina was utterly baffled, he hid his anger at the gossipers and, using his most smooth and polite manner, excused themselves.

I was really curious about the fact that both of their “commoner” costumes included glasses. Do commoners have to wear glasses? They both looked great in them. Actually they both looked great in the entire outfits. Those were some of my favourite costumes in the show so far. 

Catarina and Keith do look attractive — and comfortable! — in their “commoner” clothes. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But as soon as the two arrived at Maria’s home, they found that Maria’s mother was emotionally distant. She was by no means cruel. Instead, she seemed defeated. When Maria offered to bake sweets for her visitors, her mother was shocked. 

The flashback was short, but really painful. It showed how everyone around Maria treated her differently after her magic manifested; how the rumors spread; how her father left; and how her mother withdrew into herself. Maria had tried to make cookies for her classmates to make them like her — but they continued to ignore her. 

She stopped baking, because it had become so emotionally painful.

What did you think of the flashback, Irina?

It was quite touching. I wonder if Catarina knows about it. Like I wonder if the game included a backstory for the main character in which case these are all events that Catarina has already seen. Or maybe these are full rich lives that players never get to learn about, in which case Catarina and Keith still don’t know anything because it’s not like Maria said something.

I wonder why Maria started baking again. Now it’s for Catarina, but the first time, in the council room, Maria had brought cookies she baked. Why had she baked them? Was she hoping to make friends despite everything? Cause that’s a very sweet thought if so. Little Maria confronting her trauma and putting herself out there but being too shy to actually offer them to anyone.

That’s a beautiful thought!

Maria’s mom was surprised to hear that Maria had been baking sweets at school. Now we know why she was surprised! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

So Maria had offered to bake sweets for Catarina and Keith. Since Catarina is Catarina, she had brought some seeds, and she’d noticed that one of Maria’s farm fields was bare (it was more a patch — not really a field, but maybe that’s part of the humor!). While Maria baked, Keith and Catarina tilled. 

Which gave Maria’s mom time to to reflect on how her withdrawal had hurt Maria, and how Catarina’s friendship had healed a portion of her daughter’s pain. At one point, Maria looked up from baking at the same time Catarina had taken a break from hoeing, and Catarina gave her a happy, utterly carefree wave. 

Seeing that, Maria’s mother ran off to the cellar and found the box of old cookie cutters — the ones Maria had stopped using all those years ago. Presenting them to her daughter, she said that she’d like to help her.

A mother and daughter warmly reunited. Another soul healed because of Catarina’s oblivious and pervasive kindness. It’s like wherever she goes, healing follows.

Irina, what’d you think of that moment?

You know what scene I really liked? Maria and her mother waving goodbye to Keith and Catarina on the road. Her mom just takes a few moments to stare at her daughter, realizing that Maria has finally started to get over her past and that she is going to be o.k. Feeling all the relief and pride of it. And Maria, sensing something was off, staring at her mom confused and then smiling just a bit. Then the scene ended.

This show continues to hit the right notes. Such a beautiful scene, presented in an understated and completely effective way… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

They didn’t say anything. No one felt the need to explain the situation to the audience. No one cried. The show didn’t tell us what happened to Maria’s dad. We had all the information we needed to put the story together for ourselves and the show trusted us to do so. That’s respect for the audience and faith in the narrative. I really love that. To me, this scene was head and shoulders above the overtly emotional ones and had way more impact because the work had been put in to lay down the foundations. A lot of shows would have had the mother exclaiming how much she loves her daughter or how happy she was that she had friends now and the daughter tearfully telling her mom that she doesn’t blame her for anything, but this episode didn’t do that. It didn’t need to. All those same feelings were there, but they had been established smartly and therefore didn’t need to be spelled out.

So far, Catarina had accidentally made pretty much everyone around her fall in love — with her. I wonder what’s next? Will Sirius Deek (really, what’s with that name?) be next? Will something threaten their almost impossibly warm circle? Truth be told, I’m half afraid Catarina’s mom will find out about her friend with Maria and throw a fit.

What do you see coming, Irina?

I think it’s about time we developed Nicol a bit. We hardly got to see him at all, and yet he seems to be billed as a main character. His contribution has been pretty pathetic so far. Also the Stuart brothers are obviously the main characters of interest so that love triangle should start to get going soon. For now it’s just Keith being jealous about Geordo, I figure Alan should start being more obvious in his interest and that will cause conflict. What do you think?

I think… that I don’t know! Those are good possibilities, but the show’s done such a good job of building the characters and situation that anything could happen! But if I had to guess, as you said earlier, Catarina is focused on avoiding doom flags. Putting my own wish-fulfillment aside (namely, that Catarina end up with Mary, Sophia, and Maria, in that order), I think Catarina might start playing matchmaker in the hopes that it would keep everyone happy and disinclined to exile or execute her. 

Also, we’re pretty comfortable with the main characters now. Is it time to introduce someone new? Maybe the girl in glasses you noticed in the OP?

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Reviews of the Other Episodes

13 thoughts on “Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom: Another Flag Falls, Another Soul Heals

  1. …///I’ve said it before I think but I really wish there was an actual otome out there with such a great story, where all the characters had complete backgrounds and interests and motivations and there was rich character building. This show is simultaneously making me want to go seek out a visual novel (and despite what I may have led you to believe, there are some truly fantastic visual novels out there… otomes on the other hand…) and make me a little weary of starting a new one because I’ll end up disappointed…

    It is telling that this show is based on a light novel rather than a game. I haven’t seen many great animes based on actual otomes.\\\\…

    I don’t believe Catarina herself would disagree with you one bit. I think the above is the substance of what she would have written to the game company, had it been possible for her to send a letter of complaint about Catarina Claes’ character in Fortune Lover.

    …///Now, to Catarina, that was probably just stating the obvious.\\\…

    Actually (and the anime didn’t show this for some reason), it wasn’t obvious to Catarina. In her memories of playing the game in her previous life, she accepted at face value that Maria was the typical generic MC for the player, who showed brilliance, talent, and assurance on top of her stunning beauty. In the light novels and manga, it wasn’t until Maria started to help Catarina with her studies that the noble girl realized that Maria’s “genius” was really due to her constant study and hard work, and Catarina inwardly noted that fact long before her confrontation with Maria’s accusers (another observation by Catarina that unfortunately didn’t make the confrontation in the anime was that the reason she knew that there was no favoritism towards students was her rueful observation that otherwise Lady Claes would get better grades!).

    …///Of course we know very little about the character. He could turn out to be the most interesting one in the show.\\\…

    Actually, one vital clue on the character was unfortunately omitted in the anime. In the manga, in her musings on Sirius, Catarina expressed puzzlement that Sirius wasn’t a capture target in the Fortune Lover game. Unfortunately for Catarina, there is a key part of the game that she knows nothing about, so she’s going to end up getting entirely blindsided. Fortunately, there’s one character who DOES KNOW, and is going to come forward at the climax of the story…

    ..///I think on some level Catarina is still playing the game. You know how it is. Even if you lose yourself in it and really suspend your disbelief part of you still doesn’t take in the interactions the same way.

    You know, I realize that you may have been talking about Maria not realizing how much people like her. In which case I’m going to say it’s because of all the bullying and what we discover in the rest of the episode.

    If it was about Catarina though, she is still talking about stealing events and avoiding flags. It may have been years but she is still very much treating the experience as a player navigating an amazing VR game and as such, she’s looking for markers. You never know when an NPC will change because you accidentally triggered something. Catarina can’t let her guard down. Heck, she might even wake up back in her old life one day…\\\…

    You know, in the final episode of “Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!”, there was a brief cameo of Misato Kurihara lounging around in her cat PJs, interacting with her parents and little sister. THAT IS NOTHING compared to the extent and impact of Catarina’s upcoming flashback to her former life–but to say any more would be telling…

    …///I wonder if the Catarina in the game was also bad at magic. It’s not been mentioned and when we saw the same even as it originally played out, Catarina was inciting the other girls to use their magic instead of using her own, so we didn’t get to find out.

    I’m just wondering if Catarina changed in any other way than her personality. Is her magic being weak because she comes from a world that doesn’t have any? Or is it irrelevant and the character was always that way?\\\…

    If anything, the otome Catarina’s magic in the game was far worse. Post head bump, Catarina blamed the weakness of the original character’s magic on her being too obsessed with Prince Gerald and neglecting her magical studies, and she believed that dedicating herself to magical study under her tutor and at school would at least strengthen her magic enough to make a living in exile (since there is no magic outside of the kingdom). That didn’t happen, but her efforts didn’t go totally to waste because she did make her Earth Bump some inches higher.

    (By the way, even before the fifth novel came out with its beginning manga story, I wondered concerning her desire to earn money from her magic if Catarina wasn’t tackling the problem backwards–why couldn’t she explore if her magic could improve the soil, and make it easier to clear and plow the land? The school by definition has all the kids age 15-17 in the kingdom who can practice magic; the Student Council by definition has all of the most powerful and skilled magic users in the study body–why couldn’t Catarina use her contacts at school to try to study how her own and other types of magic could be used to improve the agriculture of her kingdom? This very episode, Catarina and her brother actually set up an effective means by which she could make a living for years keeping in contact on the quiet with farmers in her neighborhood, which could be invaluable for both her dukedom’s and ultimately kingdom’s agricultural sector! Sigh, too bad Catarina’s mother lacked the imagination and vision to see that.)

    …///This is something that Villainess is doing such a great yet unobtrusive job doing. In a real society with such a striated class structure, the only real class interactions would be commercial, servant/master, or the kind of bullying we just say. For a noblewoman of Catarina’s standing to take the side of a commoner would be unheard of. For that same noblewoman to gush about her friendship with a commoner? It’s no wonder Maria’s about to hurl herself into Catarina’s harem.

    I don’t have much knowledge about it but I’m pretty sure nobles protected their servants from nobles of different families fairly regularly. Especially in a case like this where Catarina is of much higher class than any of the other girls there. Had the other girls been her social superior it might have been different, but she’s for a very high noble family and engaged to the royal prince. Catarina doesn’t have much to fear from any of the other students.\\\…

    If we look at Maria’s life in context, it becomes crystal clear what motivates her hard work is to try somehow restore her broken relationships with her friends and family. All in vain for years–until it suddenly wins the affirmation and affection she craved from the most unlikely direction that could be imagined. Catarina is the ultimate romantic cosmic black hole, having such a powerful gravity that even light (or light-magic users!) cannot escape her grasp… And lIke you said, when the Student Council fully practices Keith’s idea of using their perks of status to protect Maria, the incident this episode should prove to be the final one. Of course Catarina has her own problems concerning jealous cliques, who cannot believe this baka girl who doesn’t follow social norms can somehow have won herself status and protection from the royal family and other highly-placed people of the kingdom (her own father not being the least), LIke you said though, that very favor from people of high status should give Catarina absolute protection–EXCEPT viewers are going to find out that there’s a fearsome forbidden power being kept quiet by the powers-that-be, which will be capable of totally altering that picture…

    …///I actually thought there might be a small war. But no, nothing so violent. Mary immediately chimed in, saying she also loved Catarina. Not to be outdone, Sophia said the same thing.

    And poor, lovable Catarina could only think, “That does make me happy, but that’s not the kind of ‘like’ I meant…”\\\…

    It was more intense and even more hilarious in the manga. Maria’s confession sparks hot argument between the three girls over who adores Catarina the most (even though they quickly calm down and are friendly again in another panel or two), while Catarina is in the middle of another classic Bakarinaish moment by not noticing furor at all because she’s too engrossed in thinking she’s got to step up her efforts to avoid doom! (What can readers do except shake their heads and think, “Oh Catarina…”?)

    …///Like I wonder if the game included a backstory for the main character in which case these are all events that Catarina has already seen. Or maybe these are full rich lives that players never get to learn about, in which case Catarina and Keith still don’t know anything because it’s not like Maria said something.

    I wonder why Maria started baking again. Now it’s for Catarina, but the first time, in the council room, Maria had brought cookies she baked. Why had she baked them?\\\…

    From what I read, the heart-breaking reason Maria continued baking only for herself was it reminded her of those happy days before the revelation of her magic destroyed her home and happiness. Maria was only too happy to hand out store-bought treats donated to the Student Council, but Catarina’s desire to try her baking absolutely floored her (in her previous life, Maria’s baking looked so tempting to her on the screen that Catarina wanted badly to actually taste them). Now it seems Maria has Catarina so trained like one of Pavlov’s dogs that the mere sight of Maria is enough to get Catarina’s stomach growling!

    …///So Maria had offered to bake sweets for Catarina and Keith. Since Catarina is Catarina, she had brought some seeds, and she’d noticed that one of Maria’s farm fields was bare (it was more a patch — not really a field, but maybe that’s part of the humor!). While Maria baked, Keith and Catarina tilled.\\\…

    Now that is a purely anime-only moment–absolutely no hint anywhere else that the farmers gave seed samples to the Clase siblings, let alone those siblings’ generous impulse to share them with the Campbells. Yet it’s so powerfully effective! It only accentuates what was already an important turning point and healing scene in the story.

    …///They didn’t say anything. No one felt the need to explain the situation to the audience. No one cried. The show didn’t tell us what happened to Maria’s dad. We had all the information we needed to put the story together for ourselves and the show trusted us to do so. That’s respect for the audience and faith in the narrative. I really love that. To me, this scene was head and shoulders above the overtly emotional ones and had way more impact because the work had been put in to lay down the foundations. A lot of shows would have had the mother exclaiming how much she loves her daughter or how happy she was that she had friends now and the daughter tearfully telling her mom that she doesn’t blame her for anything, but this episode didn’t do that. It didn’t need to. All those same feelings were there, but they had been established smartly and therefore didn’t need to be spelled out.\\\…

    Nothing to add to that magnificent analysis. (Though I am reminded that Catarina’s father narrowly escaped suffering the same fate as Maria’s mother. The problem with allowing nobles to routinely skate on acting irresponsibly like Keith’s or Anne’s sires merely-by-blood–by the way, it’s even going to factor into when we learn what’s really with Sirius Deek’s name–is that it breeds a natural cynicism in society that will tend to sweep a broad brush onto a Duke Claes or a Mrs. Campbell, even though they may be totally innocent and beyond reproach).

    …///I think it’s about time we developed Nicol a bit. We hardly got to see him at all, and yet he seems to be billed as a main character. His contribution has been pretty pathetic so far.\\\…

    Sophia (as we should see the next episode) would AGREE with you 100 percent. She’s always warning her brother that he’ll lose out to the other harem contenders if he doesn’t press his case soon. Personally, I think if Catarina is going to end up in a rocking chair with more than a cat in her lap, Nico would make the most sense than any of her potential suitors. It’s true that he’s very hard to read–but then Catarina always has a lot of trouble consistently reading people anyway (she’s always showing amazing flashes of insight on occasion, but most of the time she’s not only wrong, but RIDICULOUSLY way off–but let’s face it, that’s probably a big part of her charm). At least with Nico, Catarina KNOWS she doesn’t really know what he’s thinking and is more apt to probe than leap to conclusions. Overall, Nico strikes me as a bit more mature and level-headed than the royal twins, and lacking their dark sides (granted, Catarina’s influence has countered their characters’ undersides to a great extent), so I think he would be a considerable solid anchor to steady Catarina’s wildly soaring and diving kite. And there’s the bonus that his sister has bonded with Catherine as BFF far deeper than any of them realize (sorry, no spoilers, you’ll just have to keep on watching to figure out that statement).

    But why is Nicol so reluctant to press his case, always saying he would love to have her but can’t (naturally,because he doesn’t say it directly, it always goes straight over Bakarina’s head)? Unlike other members of Catarina’s harem, the royal twins and Nicol are childhood friends, and their families are tied together in a political alliance of prime importance to the kingdom. Unlike his sister, who was sheltered at home all her life until a few years before, NIcol probably sees the disastrous pitfalls in interfering with Catarina’s engagement (or even crossing royal fiance Mary Hunter, let alone the princes). Anything that could conceivably end in a breach between the king’s and prime minister’s families is probably something Nicol is unwilling to risk.

    And in regard to glasses girl–well, to be honest, I looked carefully through the OP, and the only girl I saw with specs was Catarina Claes. Though it does give me a thought. Bakarina is forever complaining about her “villainous eyes”. But if in devising her “inner council” she outfitted the “smart Catarina” in glasses, and also used them in her merchant disguise–then why in the world has it never occurred to her that glasses might be an easy practical solution to what she hates about her looks (yeah, I know, I know, trust oblivious Bakarina to overlook the obvious)? Round lenses obscure the corners of her eyes, and could soften the intensity of her blue pupils. If she wanted to look intelligent and bookish, her disguise certainly seemed effective, as the farmers showed no sign of intimidation like those girl bullies did, but apparently were taken by the Clases and only too happily shared what Catarina was looking for.

    1. You know, I’m amazed you could fill in so much background that the anime skipped without dropping any spoiilers.

      That’s some fancy wordsmanship!

      Thanks for the explanations. What you said about Nicol in particular makes sense. The anime has avoided much discussion of the intricacies of court, which in terms of comedic timing is probably for the best. But the details you shared make so much sense, and explain so much about Nicol, that I’m sorry they weren’t included.

      Having just seen episode 6, I can see what you mean about Sophie and Nicol — that’s some good stuff.

      The more I learn about this series, the more I like about it.

      Thanks for taking the time to fill in those details!

  2. So far this has been the best anime of the season for me.

    She has spent a few years in this world. By now you’d think she would be more comfortable in it and aware of how the world works. Less freaking out about doom flags because she has defeated so many already.

    1. “Less freaking out about doom flags because she has defeated so many already.”

      You got that right!

      I mean, just look at Sophia and Mary’s expression when after Maria confessed her feelings — I’m as emotionally dense as a cement block — rough edges and all — and even I could see that massive amount of devotion.

  3. I think I can say for I like where your thoughts are going regarding a couple characters, but will at least confirm one thing: there definitely will be a challenge for Catarina (as expected), and it seems to involve an otome game element that maybe those who play them would get. That’ll be all because spoilers of course. Definitely don’t want to ruin the experience for you two.

    On another note, Catarina’s mom SURE was impressed to learn about the farm her daughter’s building on campus right xD

    1. Thanks for no spoilers! I’m having a lot of fun guessing.

      “Catarina’s mom SURE was impressed to learn about the farm her daughter’s building on campus right xD”

      Do you know, I actually felt scared on Catarina’s behalf? Her mom is really something!

      1. Not all of Catarina’s denseness comes from her situation or previous life–a lot of it is obviously inherited. Remember, this is the same woman who thought her husband had married her out of political and economic considerations, because she couldn’t figure out FOR YEARS that the Duke was madly in love with her.

  4. Hm, if I remember this correctly, the first cookies Maria served weren’t self-made; Katarina asked if they were, because she knew from the game that she baked. I think the first self-made cookies she ate were ones that had been dropped? In any case, she did start baking before that, because (again I think) she said the kitchen staff let her. So the point here’s still valid.

    And I also really liked the moment between mother and daughter near the end. And while it didn’t occur to me while watching, it’s true that it’s getting a little repetitive when everyone auto-likes Catarina. It’s not hard to see why, but it does yield diminishing returns.

    1. “Hm, if I remember this correctly, the first cookies Maria served weren’t self-made;”

      I didn’t catch that. There’s a lot going on in this show; it’s pretty densely packed. I like that! Plus, it means I’ll need to rewatch it at some point.

      “And I also really liked the moment between mother and daughter near the end. ”

      That _was_ a beautiful moment. As Irina pointed out, it was so under-stated.

    1. Me, too!

      I _think_ the Council of Wise-ish is made up of chibis, but in this episode, I couldn’t be sure. Didn’t get to see them long enough. But at the very least, they remind me of the smaller forms.

      1. Honestly, I think the chibis deserve their own series. They were comically endearing in ways that these older characters just can’t match.

Please let me know what you think!

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