In the seventh episode of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, “I Entered a Dangerous Dungeon…,” Catarina Claes and friends have to take the their final exam. Unfortunately for all concerned, especially Catarina, the exam is in a dungeon left behind by a deceased mage. They have to find the magical stone, and the dungeon is filled with traps. You can probably guess how well Catarina and traps mix.
But before we get to that, how are you doing, Irina? Are you getting as dangerously used to working from home as I am?
I worked from home for several years before so it was hardly anything new for me. I already had a complete virtual office set-up and everything so the adjustment was pretty minimal. This said I am having mixed feelings about ever having to commute to work ever again. We’ll see. Maybe I should just retire….
Wow — that sounds eerily familiar!
BTW, did you notice that the title on the Crunchyroll web site was “Will he come at me as well?” But the title on the episode itself was “I Entered a Dangerous Dungeon…” I went with the latter because a) it was on the show itself and b) it follows the same pattern as the other titles. Still, that was unusual…
I did not notice and “Will he come at me as well?” doesn’t really fit with the episode. I mean maybe with the smoke creature but it’s a bit of a stretch. We’ll get to that, I assume. “I Entered a Dangerous Dungeon…” is very on the nose as a title, however, I think that’s kind of charming…. ok now that come at me title is sort of bothering me. What is the “as well” part about? Who is the other person? And come at me is such a specific expression, like what you tell someone in a fight but someone you kind of like? Like if you get into feisty cuffs with your friends or something. I tried imagining someone yelling that in a life of death situation and actually it does sound like a cheesy shonen line so I take it back. It could be a serious fight but it still sounds like odd phrasing to me…
Yeah, it seemed very odd…
This episode was a departure in terms of reveals and stakes. For example, we find out that Catarina isn’t alone in waking up in the world of Fortune Lover, and I bet you can guess who the other one is. We get even more examples of the delightful dichotomy that is in Catarina’s soul: one minute she makes an insightful, keen observation; the next she does exactly what one shouldn’t do in a dungeon full of traps. We gain some insights of our own into the combatants in the ever-escalating battle for Catarina’s heart, with some commendable camaraderie. And finally, Catarina’s luck comes through for her yet again, though the victory wasn’t complete.
Irina, before we dive in, do you have any opening thoughts?
I had just finished a series that dealt very directly with themes of grief and loss at a tender age this very morning, so this episode felt like deja vu to me. That’s not a bad thing mind you. I found both the series I watched and this episode of villainess very touching. I’m a sucker for tears. To be honest I had been wondering how her poor friend dealt with the fact that she had been left behind, but since the show was a comedy I figured we wouldn’t go there.
This episode has at least portions that were a lot more somber than previous episodes… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
This said, I hope they do something with this little edge of pain they’ve decided to add in. I hope they don’t just forget about it. It was pretty and I wanted to understand it better. Since the series did choose to deal with the sad part as well, I hope they give it the time and space it deserves.
The show starts with Sasaki Atsuko, a middle-schooler, sitting alone reading a book as class adjourns. Realizing she was the last one in class, she packs up and heads out. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t at all expecting for another middle-schooler to land on her as she walked under a tree.
“Please don’t die,” the faller said, disregarding all medical advice about not moving a patient who may have broken bones and shaking poor Atsuko. “I can’t bear the thought that I killed someone with my butt!”
It was a really cute call back to the first episodes. I wonder how odd “not Catarina” is in the flashbacks? Do we know her original name? In any case it was cute from a 7 year old. It’s a little more eccentric if she’s 16 (which I am assuming she is but then again this could have been years before the accident). Still fun though.
It appears Catarina’s Earth self’s butt is every bit as dangerous as her butt in the world of Fortune Lover — as Keith Claes found out back in the very first episode. But Atsuko was as unhurt as Keith had been, and the two struck up a heart-warming friendship.
It seems that Atsuko had recently transferred and was still very alone. Moreover, she was a shy isolated girl that had never had many friends even at her previous school. She had always been the type to play otomes or read manga by herself so naturally, someone with such an outgoing personality as not-Catarina charmed her right away.
Atsuko and non-Catarina struck up a close friendship. Interesting how we never got to see not-Catarina’s eyes… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
As Catarina’s Earth self (I don’t think we know her Earth name, either…) struggled with studying for the high school entrance exams, Atsuko made her a deal: if she studied hard and passed, Atsuko would share her favorite otome game. You guess what game it was! The ploy worked, because they passed the exam.
I really liked the Fortune Lover poster on the wall of Atsuko’s room. It looked super authentic. I wonder if they will ever sell it as merch? It would be a smart bit of advertising. I always love merch that has something to do with the series itself rather than simply branded merch. Like something that lets you share the universe of the anime rather than just advertise it? Does that make sense? The only example I can think about is how much I prefer jerseys from the teams in sports anime than t-shirts with the characters on them. How about red flower pins as Promised Neverland merch that makes it look as if a small flower is growing out of you? That would be so cool but people who haven’t seen the series probably wouldn’t even know it was merch at all. I guess that’s the downside for a production. They want their merch to act a bit as publicity. So people who see you wear it or use it might get curious about the series and you can’t really do that with the more subtle merch. So I don’t blame production companies for deciding to go with more obvious choices.
I’d buy some of that!
But for My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom it works out pretty well since the in universe game almost works as an anime in itself and features all the characters. Even someone who hasn’t seen the show could figure out it’s from an anime and the name Fortune Lover would lead them very quickly to My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom. It’s a win-win.
Catarina’s Earth self’s death in a traffic accident came as a terrible shock to Atsuko. Catarina’s Earth self’s last text message to her friend was, “Acchan, I can’t conquer the black-hearted, sadistic prince!” It had come at 3:00AM.
Her friend’s death hit Atsuko hard. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
That was terribly, terribly sad. I can’t help but think Atsuko might blame herself for her friend playing the game so late. Did that contribute to the traffic accident? In any event, Atsuko was heart-broken.
And then we find out who the other Earth person was to wake up in Fortune Lover. The camera shows Sophia Ascart waking up from a sad dream. Tears still streamed from her eyes.
Am I interpreting that right, Irina? Sophia is Atsuko reincarnated as Sophia?
That’s basically what the show was saying. I hope it’s not that simple. It’s a bit trite. I’m choosing to believe that friendships themselves could be so important that they take on an importance beyond the individuals. I guess they could also turn it in a sort of Wizard of Oz retelling where everyone in Fortune Lover is actually a version of someone Catarina knew in her old life and in the end she’ll wake up in a hospital room or something like that.
In Fortune Lover land, Catarina has a problem. She’s still terrified of the doom flags, of course. But now she has another fear: failing the exams. The Council of the Wise-ish met, and they were unanimous: if they fail the test, “We’ll get the doom ending when our own mother kills us!” She resolved to take the test seriously.
I loved how her mom killing her for failing was the biggest doom flag of them all. Very reasonable! Sure, in theory it’s possible that the future imitates the game but the wrath of mothers is a guarantee and it would be very foolish to ignore it.
It wasn’t any boring old written exam. Her class, including with the bully girls who just can’t seem to stop carping about Maria Campbell, were fathered around what looked like a crumbling castle. Some teachers were there to monitor the test with the help of some older students like Nicol Ascart and the student council representative, Sirius Deek. The castle had belonged to an ancient mage, and the goal of the test was to find and return with a super magic stone. The catch? The dungeon was full of traps.
Before they could start the exam, the students had to be put into groups of 3 or 4 by the teachers. Unfortunately, they couldn’t simply pick their groups for themselves. The teachers assigned the groups, I’m guessing they picked students whose specialties and proficiency with magic would work well together, so that they didn’t end up with really unbalanced groups that would wreck the curve or worse, get themselves instantly killed! In any case, that meant that Catarina could just group up with all her friends or with all the girls as she tends to do from time to time. Instead they were split up into two separate groups, but thankfully still all together instead of scattered among all the groups there. One group had Alan with both Mary and Maria. I wonder if it got confusing when he wanted to call one of the girls. The other group, as you may have guessed, had the remaining characters, namely, Geordo, Keith, Sophia and Catarina. Once they had been sorted out into their respective teams, they were finally really to head out into the dark and scary dungeon.
Catarina’s reaction to hearing the dungeon was full of traps was completely reasonable! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
At almost the exact same time that I thought it, Catarina wondered out loud why they were letting students go into a dangerous situation like that. I’m not saying I’m smart or anything, but jeesh — putting high school kids into a magical dungeon with magical traps just doesn’t sound safe.
It really doesn’t. Maybe they had some magical safe guards just in case? Like in Harry Potter.
That was Catarina at her best. But I didn’t think it was good enough to warrant giving her the lead position in her party, which consisted of her, Keith, Gerald Stuart, and Sophia. She wasn’t only in the lead; she was moving at a pretty good clip. Then she saw the bright red button set between two flag stones.
I bet you can guess how Bakarina reacted. Yep. She pushed the button. There was good news and bad news. The good news was the trap she triggered simply dumped water on Gerald and Keith’s heads. The bad news? When Catarina stood up to see what she’d done, she leaned against the wall — and touched another trigger. A huge round boulder à la Raiders of the Lost Ark crashed towards them in the narrow hallway.
Do you think it’s because Catarina falls on her head so much? I’m joking. I know that Catarina is just being a Dojikko trope although I think it’s kind of unjustified since she’s the most athletic one there. She really should be the one catching the others when they fall.
I am not ashamed to admit I had to look up Dojikko. Okay, maybe a little…
The boulder had a silver lining. To get away from it, they dashed down a side corridor and found a wall of ice. That’s good because it was the kind of thing they had anticipated: an obstacle they needed to overcome with their magic powers. Gerald was first up. In an impressive display of skill, he used his flame magic to melt the wall. He was so impressive, in fact, that they all clapped for his performance — even Keith, with whom he’d been arguing more and more obviously about who should stand beside Catarina.
Even Keith was impressed with Gerald’s fire magic skills. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Gerald returned the favor at the next obstacle. There was a deep pool of water separating them from the exit, and there was clearly some kind of creature under the water. Keith used his Earth magic to create a bridge they could use to cross. This time, Gerald applauded him.
Irina, it looks to me like the rivalry for Catarina’s affections are getting more blatant. At the same time, I’m seriously impressed at how nice everyone is staying with one another. Is that how it looks to you?
Well, Mary did seem to swoon a bit when Alan saved her. Oh Mary… you’re so flighty… She obviously didn’t instantly let go of her attachment to Catarina, but it did seem like the start of something. And that’s smart, all the characters are likable and it would be sad if we left most of them heart broken. So if Alan and Mary can slowly develop their fated romance, that’s two taken care of right there. I guess everyone else will have to develop a side romance. Are there any other rival characters? I don’t remember there being any. Of course someone could end up with Maria if Catarina doesn’t.
Catarina and her party continued the search. After seeing both Gerald and Keith step up with their magic, she felt guilty. She wanted to be useful, too! So when she saw a low spot in the floor, she didn’t hesitate. She called forth her Earth bump and made the hole level with the rest of the floor! I had to laugh as Gerald, Keith, and Sophia made a big deal over her contribution. It gave her a little something to be proud of.
Well, until she stepped over it and right onto the trigger for the next trap. Which consisted of wave upon wave of arrows. Gerald and Keith had to combine their magic. While Sophia wisely crouched behind them, Catarina tried to flatten herself against the wall. Unfortunately, she triggered the false wall and plunged down a chute. Her party didn’t hear her because they were busy trying to stay alive.
Seriously. Who sends a bunch of high school kids into a dungeon like that?
That’s always what I think in all these potentially fatal highschool exam settings. I mean if 90% of the kids die each year, who’s paying all the tuition? It’s a precarious business plan!
It’s a bit disappointing that all the girls got to do at all this week is accidentally set off traps and then get saved. I hope they’ll get a bit more agency next week cause the characters have been well set up. Honestly, it’s a real good thing the groups were split so the boys were there or else all the girls would be dead.
It would have been nice to see Sophie, Mary, and Maria use their magic. Maria in particular, since she’s a rare light magic user. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
And with Catarina being so athletic, too. That is disappointing.
On the other hand, never let it be said that Catarina lacks courage. She didn’t sit huddled on the floor in tears. She jumped up, dusted herself off, and set off in search of an exit. Her hunger distracted her, and she was about to eat some bright purple mushrooms (is the girl insane?) when she thought she heard steps. We in the audience saw a wisp of shadow start to form behind her, but it dissipated as soon as she turned around.
Any idea what was up with that Irina?
Not really. It’s the spirit of the great magician of the place who can tell that Catarina is the main character of the series? That’s sort of my best guess. For some reason I didn’t really pay attention to that part much.
Catarina continued her search for mushrooms. She came into a wide, circular area that looked like the inside of a chimney. There were tons of mushrooms growing inside the walls, but they were too tough for her to pick. She grabbed a green glowing rock with sharp edges and began harvesting.
You don’t me to guess what the rock was!
It was pretty obvious. I have to admit the dungeon part of the episode sort of bored me except for Catarina’s great quote about always exploring dead ends first. That was super cute.
Meanwhile, there was panic among the harem — er, Catarina’s friends. Nicol said no one had seen Catarina leave, so that meant she was still lost. He had the brilliant idea to use his wind magic to detect her voice, and Sophia, who’s apparently also a wind magic user, joined him. Together, they heard Catarina’s voice say a single word: Mushrooms.
The entire harem headed in the direction of her voice.
Can you really do that? Pick up sound waves on wind? That sounds cool. Wait I’ll look it up, it kind of can! Awesome.
It was nice seeing Sophie step up and use her magic — with her brother, Nicol. Interesting way to find Catarina, too. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
That wispy shadow kept showing up, but Catarina couldn’t see it. Curious — not in the least bit afraid — she walked towards it. The stone lip gave way, and she started to fall into the chasm. She caught herself. Vowing not to meet her doom here, she tried to haul herself up — only to feel more the lip crumble away. She began to fall backwards away from the wall.
I want to note for the record that I am impressed as heck with Catarina’s resolve. She didn’t think about giving up even once all the time she was alone in the dark. She impressed me this episode.
I’m sorry I didn’t get any of that at all. To me this was just Catarina doing Catarina things. She seemed like the exact same character that she’s always been. Maybe I just missed something.
It might just be she seems brave because she doesn’t know any better. It still impressed me.
So did Sophia’s upper body strength. Even as Catarina fell, Sophia threw herself on the ledge and grabbed Catarina’s arm. The effort was clearly enormous. So much so that Catarina, even dangling by one arm, knowing the drop would likely be fatal, begged her friend to let go.
This is where Sophia’s dream came back to her. “No! I won’t let go,” she said, her face flushed with effort. “Never ever! I don’t ever want to lose you again!”
It seems like Sophia might have remembered more of her dream than she had let on. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Irina, what’d you think?
I was happy Catarina didn’t die!
A wind magic spell that looked a lot like what Nicol and Sophia had cast in search of Catarina picked up the two women and gently put them down on the ledge. It wasn’t Sophia’s magic. It appears that the shadowy figure had cast it. More on that in a moment.
It looked exactly the same. I thought Nicol had just caught up since he dashed after Sophia so it would make sense. I guess they didn’t want to use a new sort of magic because then the characters would have to wonder where it came from?
The rest of the group found Catarina and Sophia, and they confirmed what we thought earlier. The stone Catarina had been using to hunt mushrooms was in fact the goal of their test. That meant they would pass!
Good for them.
Maria was the only one of them to actually see the shadow. But she wasn’t sure what it was she had seen. I liked the uniforms they used in this episode, by the way… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Wait who passes? Catarina’s team or Alan’s? What about all the other teams, do they fail? Does that mean only 3 to 4 students can pass in a year? Is there any way to get partial marks? I’m just being nitpicky. It’s just funny to try to figure out how this curriculum works.
Fortunately, I was vague saying “them.” Unclear antecedents for the win!
But we’re left with another mystery. What was the wispy figure? Was it a manifestation of the shadowy figure who saved Catarina and Sophia? Who was the shadowy figure?
Irina, was it my imagination, or was Sirius the only character who was unaccounted for during these times?
I hadn’t thought of that! Good point, much better theory than mine. I mean none of the teachers or other students were accounted for either, but they don’t count. I actually really like this and now that you’ve pointed it out it seems really obvious. I feel pretty derpy for not having thought of it myself.
This episode still had its trademark humorous moments. I mean, pushing the red button? Really, Bakarina? But it also added a bit of peril. I don’t know if the shadows meant Catarina any harm, but they didn’t seem to volunteer their identity, either. What do you think’s going on, Irina?
I really don’t know but I like your Sirius theory. That’s pretty obvious from my gushing above! I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.
Reviews of the Other Episodes
- Review: My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 1: I Recalled the Memories of My Last Life…
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 2 with Crow and Irina
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 3: Met a Beautiful Brother and Sister
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 4 – Ave Maria
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 5 – Another Flag Falls, Another Soul Heals
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 6 – The Devilish Count Makes His Move
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 7 — I Entered a Dangerous Dungeon…
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 8 — I Became Engulfed by Desire…
- Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ep 9 — Things Got Crazy at a Slumber Party…