Anime

Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom: The Maid and the Shears

In the ninth episode of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, “Things Got Crazy at a Slumber Party…,” Catarina Claes make a stunning announcement to her maid, Anne Shelley: Catarina had passed her exam! She was heading for her second year at school — and she still hadn’t triggered any of the doom flags. Anne’s reaction was a revelation! Later, Gerald Stuart received an invitation from Catarina to meet her at a location he knew to be secluded. His imagination went wild until he remembered: this is Catarina. Would she really do anything romantic? The answer might… oh, who am I kidding? You probably know exactly what happened, but the details are still funny!

Before we get started, how are things in Canada, Irina? I hope they’re more peaceful than things here. Not only do we have to deal with a pandemic and the George Floyd’s tragic death, we now have news that out-of-state actors infiltrating the protests of Mr. Floyd’s death. Minnesota has deployed national guard units. And just a few miles from me, for the first time in my life, Columbus is under curfew. With the SpaceX launch today, this feels uncomfortably like 1968…

Sadly, we have similar issues with Regis Korchinski-Paquet, which was a tragedy. The details are still coming out as we speak, but we’re all in this tense insecure place and it’s very sad.

On a much less serious note (although still worrying), the temperature is all over the place. Last week was so hot I thought I would melt. I think we reached highs of 30 (that 86F for those not using Celsius), then overnight on Friday it plunged back down to 13 (that one is 55) where it still is now. So everyone has a cold from the constant temperature change. Unfortunately  these have been getting more frequent and more drastic in the past few years. Otherwise everything is great!

Sorry to start off on a bummer note! This is just so concerning.

Not at all. It’s an important subject. 

We get two stories in this episode. The first deals with the perspective of Anne Shelley, Catarina’s maid. We got to see some of Catarina’s early life through her’s maid’s eyes, and we got to attend a girl’s sleep over with Catarina. It seems that Catarina’s influence wasn’t limited to her friends and parents! The second story dealt first with Gerald, and it’s now official: I feel sorry for the guy. I wasn’t sure before, but I am now. 

Irina, before we dive in, do you have any opening thoughts?

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom has been pretty smart about stretching it’s production budget by, among other things, reusing animation. This episode is a great example of adding a full 23 minutes of content without having to create all of it.

I loved that in her excitement at passing, the first person she ran to tell was Anne. Maaya Uchida, Catarina’s voice actor, vibrantly conveyed Catarina’s joy. I’ve liked the voice work in this series!. 

As she started to run off to tell her friends, she turned back and thanked Anne. Anne was confused and didn’t seem to know what Catarina was thanking her for. “You’ve stayed by my side. That’s what counts!” she said as she bounded off.

Anne seemed touched. I just love how well Catarina tries to treat everyone around her. Sure, she has ulterior motives most of the time — she wants to avoid doom flags, and I can’t blame her! But she’s nice to Anne because she thinks Anne deserves it.

Anne lovingly stroked a little memento box. That turns out to be pretty important a little later.

Anne’s desk had just two items: a memento box and a picture of Catarina. Seems that the young woman is very important to Anne! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

In this first opening act of the episode, we found out through flashbacks and thanks to Anne’s detailed voice over explanations, that all of the main cast characters cared a lot for Catarina. In fact we were told that most of them had romantic feelings towards her (according to Anne), except for Sophia and possibly Maria who still love her dearly as a friend.

I did really enjoy finding out that Sophia, realizing that her brother Nicol might have some interest in Catarina, has been talking him up to her. It was one of the very few potential new pieces of information we got in this sequence and it painted a really lovely brother and sister relationship.  Have no siblings and I’m always very thrilled when I see some getting along well.

It also speaks volumes for Nicol that he would have a sister that is so dedicated. He must have been, and probably still is, a very loving and kind brother. Those are big points in his favour and I do hope we get to see way more of him to flesh that art out!

However, it’s a little selfish of Sophia to try to break up someone else’s engagement like that.

I felt a little bad for Gerodo this episode but it got worse later on. So I’ll keep it for later. Who I felt REALLY bad for in the first act was Alan.

According to Anne, Alan has not realized his own feelings. Anne has no way of knowing this at all, she barely speaks to the boy, but since Anne was the exposition vehicle for the episode, I figure she is speaking in the voice of god so we can assume what she says is true. Either way, it still means that Alan has not acted in any way at all on his feelings for Catarina, nor does he plan to. To him, she is his best childhood friend and someone who helped bring him out of his brother’s shadow. Catarina is very dear to him and he wants her to be happy with Gerodo, who has been a kind if a little distant brother from what we know.

Alan’s feelings for Catarina are such that he couldn’t even say no when she asked him to play violin for her potatoes. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

On the other hand, Alan’s fiancée is actively planning to not only cheat on him, but also take away his dearest friend who would most likely have been his primary support system in the situation, pretty much guaranteeing that he would be left alone and devastated with no one around to drag him out of it. We all know that Alan is prone to depression, so this seems really cruel.

It’s not as if he’s done anything to deserve this as far as we know. And no one seems to care about his feelings at all. It’s pretty sad for him. Hopefully Mary will at least give him the courtesy of talking to him so no matter how things turn out, he won’t be completely betrayed and blindsighted. And you don’t want them to end up in a loveless marriage where she resents him forever and he doesn’t know why.

I could see him never figuring it out…

Catarina throws a pajama party. After a brief scene where Anne has to talk her out of wearing outlandish pajamas (was one of them really a grape costume?), the girls arrive and start doing the girl talk thing. Sophia Ascart asked everyone what they would like to do if they were seeing someone. Catarina paused to think. Mary Hunt, overcome with ardor even though the night was young, encouraged her to answer. As you might guess, Catarina answered she’d want to cook them something from her garden.

Maria Campbell wanted to make sweets for them (hmmm… she enjoys making sweets for Catarina…). Mary’s answer at first seemed pretty routine: she’d want to have a meal with them. Then she started talking about bathing with them and styling each other’s hair. “And we could trade dresses!”

When Catarina asked why she’d trade dresses with a boy, it was the turn of Miho Okasaki,  Mary’s voice actor, to shine. The note of incredulity was perfect when she said, “What? Does the partner have to be a boy?”

Mary wasn’t happy that the rules assumed her partner had to be a boy. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Sophia’s answer strung together the plots of several different romance novels.

Not having ever attended a pajama party, I have to say I have no idea of how realistic this was. Any insights, Irina?

Maybe in 1800s… We have TV, Internet games and so on. This said, even when we did just sit around and chat, I have personally never been to any sleepovers where we would talk about our future husbands. I think that may be more of a fiction staple. Maybe about sex a bit in sort of general terms. And occasionally there was this one girl who would really be into her boyfriend and talk about marrying him, but most of the time the others would humour her and go on to talk about whatever interested them at the time and just joke around and tease each other and stuff.

Of course that’s my experience. I’ve never been that interested in romance so maybe I wasn’t invited to those ones, and that’s very much for the best. I would have fallen asleep before the first girl finished her say…

The really astonishing part of this scene was that Catarina actually showed some emotional insight! Mary was nice enough to ask include Anne by asking her if she had anyone in mind for marriage. She answered that she had no intention to get married, and the girls, curious, asked her why. She shifted uncomfortably, and Catarina changed the subject and a little later told Anne she could turn in. On the way back to her room, Anne recalled how she was the daughter of a Baron and one of his maids. She had tried to be meek and obedient to gain his favor, but she found out how badly she had failed when a fire destroyed their home and killed her mother. Since her arm had been scarred by the flames, the Baron said she was useful as a “political marriage pawn,” and he cast her out of his home.

Sure, the story was blatantly manipulating my emotions. And yes, it worked!

But the narrative had a reason for this. Anne was trying to live by suppressing herself entirely. Even after she met a young Catarina, she tried that approach, because Catarina was an ungovernable, spoiled brat. 

Until Catarina fell and smacked her forehead onto the paving stones. 

As Anne said, “… After the events of one day, Lady Catarina changed.”

After Catarina’s forehead injury, she began to act with a modern person’s sensibilities. Simply by not demanding Anne conform to a set of restrictive social norms, she free Anne to be herself. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This is the part of about this scene that I absolutely loved. We got a montage of Anne and Catarina interacting — things like Anne having to bandage the little girl (which I’m guessing happened quite a lot). Catarina giving Anne a small memento box — the one we saw earlier! It was the first gift Anne had ever received. 

As a consequence of her interactions with her young ward, Anne started to see herself differently. “Around Lady Catarina, who was cheerful, energetic, and treated everyone equally, I could no longer just be a tool.” 

The Bakarina in her is probably too strong, so Catarina isn’t aware of this. But the effect of her treating people well, especially people who work for her and her family, is inspirational. I think this is why I like this show so much. She’s like the antithesis of the cruelty we’re seeing all around us.

I don’t suppose we could arrange for her to be Re:CREATEd in this world, could we?

Later, Anne’s dad had come back to order her to enter into an arranged marriage. He said he’d found someone to take her even though she was “damaged goods.” It was adorable to see Catarina explode into the room, curtsey, and ask the Baron to leave Anne with her. After all, Catarina kicked the covers off every night, and someone had to put them back on! Fortunately, Catarina’s dad walked in and backed up his daughter. 

Back in the present, after Catarina and her friends had gone to bed, Anne looked in on them. Sure enough, Catarina had kicked off her covers, and Anne had to cover her up.

Catarina still kicks her covers off — just as she did when she was a kid. One thing the series never addressed: How does she stay so slim with such a voracious appetite for sweets? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, what’s you think of this part of the episode? Part of me wonders why we’d get Anne’s back story in episode nine. Another part of me wonders if this is showing us that Catarina’s support goes beyond her friends and parents — which might become important after the after-credits scene (more on that later!).

I have to admit, I’m surprised by this.

So in your interpretation of the episode, Catarina’s actions towards Anne were oblivious? She really was just a careless child that yanked a poor woman around and treated her as a toy then threw a hissy fit when someone tried to take her away. The examples that she gave of Anne’s importance were really just of her being a dedicated servant and had nothing to do with her value as a person.  Assume that she was just playing the role of a little spoiled kid at the time (since she was in fact a much older girl who would know better) but you think she was being sincere? 

That puts everything in a whole new perspective. Like maybe she cut off Anne from talking during the party because she is just rude and wanted to move on and not because she was trying to spare Anne from talking about a painful event. 

 Have to admit that I never really thought about it that way. I figured Catarina was just a standard harem protag type (like Tohru for instance), but this super self centered and careless character you’re portraying is way more unusual and sounds interesting!

 I’m going to watch the next episode with that in mind. It’s exciting!

That’s not exactly where I was going! But it does sound intriguing! 

Anne was adamant: she did not want to leave Catarina. Especially for an arranged marriage! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I wonder if we’ll ever see Anne’s fiancé again. Political marriages are usually important to both parties, so I hope he didn’t get into too much trouble. From the second we saw of him, he didn’t seem like the bad sort. Maybe Anne would have been happy as a wife. She could have visited Catarina whenever she liked and they would have been able to build up more of a relationship as equals instead of having Anne stuck in servitude.

Maybe once Catarina graduates the story can go the fairytale route and Anne could get to know her once potential husband and give him a chance. If they like each other she could get married and start a family of her own with the freedom and possibilities that would grant. I think that sounds pretty sweet. 

The last four minutes of the episode convinced me that yes, I feel sorry for Gerald. He was sitting, doing whatever royals do in their spare time, when a servant delivered a letter. It was from Catarina, and he was immediately suspicious. “The normal Catarina wouldn’t choose such an elegant, showy card…” Poor guy — I could feel hope warring with his common sense. The letter asked him to come to a place he knew was secluded. Could Catarina actually want to spend some alone time with him?

I give Gerald full points. He forced himself to calm down. Realizing he’d like to have some gift prepared for her, he tried to think of what she’d want. He discarded frivolous fancy stuff out of hand. He remembered her saying that her garden shears were getting dull, he decided that’s what he’d get. He even had them packed in a really nice wooden box.

Gerald’s imagination is a much happier place for him than real life! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

He really knows his fiancée pretty well. Even imagining her showing off her latest snake replica. And despite that, he truly cares for her exactly the way she is. He has been a faithful and devoted fiancé to a woman who spends a lot of her time thinking of ways to defeat him. It’s not as tragic as Alan’s situation, but it’s still kind of bad. I’m not sure there’s a way of making harem shows not a little bad for the harem members. Unless you make them all not care about the protagonist and just be sort of stuck with them. Like KonoSuba or something.  

When he arrived — and I bet you saw this coming! — the rest of the crew was there. Not only all the women folk, but also Alan Stuart, Keith Claes, and Nicol Ascart, too. Catarina arrived in a great mood and announced they were all going to help her celebrate her harvest day. And how were they going to help? Why, by helping her harvest, of course! She’d even had her work outfit copied for each one of them. She insisted everyone change into them.

Their expressions were hilarious. The girls seemed to be okay with them (well, Mary was a little freaked out), but the guys were clearly struggling. 

Gerald — poor guy! — tried to salvage the situation by choosing that moment to present Catarina with the shears present. At first, it looked like he’d done well — she seemed really happy to receive them!

Then he noticed that everyone else had given her the same thing. 

“Well,” he said, eyes glazed, “I should have seen this coming.”

Well, at least no one got her anything that upstaged his gift! That’s a plus, right? Poor guy… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I remember that you defended Gerald back in episode 3 when I thought he might be taking advantage of Catarina (and you were right!). What did you think of him in this scene?

The gag works much better with all of them giving her the exact same gift, but I would have liked to see them give her different things. It could have been a fun way to build character. Maria could have brought snacks like she always does, and I think Mary could have gifted her some really nice gardening gloves or a better hat. A phonograph would have been a perfect gift from Alan, that way she could lay music to the plants whenever she wanted to. I could see Keith having painstakingly taken handwritten notes on how to cultivate different vegetables on the school grounds, or alternatively, having come up with the perfect plan to cover this up from their mother. Sophia is trickier, maybe a hair ornament to keep Catarina’s hair out of the way while she worked, it would commemorate their shopping trip together as well. And Nicol could show off his impressive magical talent with some enchanted seeds, jack and the beanstalk style.

The episode didn’t have time for any of that but it could have been cute for next week. Or they could have just shown the scene of all of them holding their different completely unique but perfect Catarina gifts.

I had fun coming up with different gifts for each of them. 

There was an after credits scene, and it made me think Catarina’s going to need all the goodwill she’s built up over the years. The group of women-folk bullies who had tried to hurt Maria in episode 4 are back, and the leader vows to “expose all of the evil deeds you have committed, here and now!”

Catarina’s mystified expression was a perfect reaction. She didn’t trigger any flags. So what’s up? Irina, what do you think?

This isn’t the face of Catarina terrified. It’s the face of Catarina thinking that she didn’t trigger any doom flag — so what the heck’s going on! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Aren’t those just the jealous noble girls they have been foreshadowing all season? We’ve seen them in a lot of episodes. I’m pretty sure it’s just a mean girl troupe trope. Troupe trope is fun to say! 

I think that the unnamed girls are going to get together to do something mean to Catarina because they’re jealous or something and then the boys will save the day. Or rather a boy will save the day. Right now my vote for what will happen goes to Sirius saving the day. Although I would really love to see Catarina save herself. One of my favourite parts of this show was how resourceful Catarina was in the early episodes when she wanted to just stay away from everyone, or use them to her advantage and avoid any potential trouble. We know she has it in her so maybe they’ll let her be her own hero. That would be sort of cool. 

If I had to choose one of the suitors, and since we’re getting low on episodes left it’s probably the suitor she would end up closest to, I think  would choose Geordo. Who would you choose Crow, if it was to end up the canon couple?

It’s hard not to go with Gerald, isn’t it? I mean, he’s been dedicated to her all along! Though I would really like to see her get together with Mary. I’m not sure anyone else is as passionate for Catarina as she is, as least in a romantic way! 

Reviews of the Other Episodes

15 thoughts on “Review: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom: The Maid and the Shears

  1. …///n the ninth episode of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, “Things Got Crazy at a Slumber Party…,” Catarina Claes make a stunning announcement to her maid, Anne Shelley: Catarina had passed her exam! She was heading for her second year at school — and she still hadn’t triggered any of the doom flags. Anne’s reaction was a revelation! Later, Gerald Stuart received an invitation from Catarina to meet her at a location he knew to be secluded. His imagination went wild until he remembered: this is Catarina. Would she really do anything romantic? The answer might… oh, who am I kidding? You probably know exactly what happened, but the details are still funny!\\\…

  2. I’m actually surprised that we did get a not filler episode for the most part. (Anne’s perspective was in the LN, but like a few other parts that focused on the other characters, I expected it to get cut). It does indeed explain a bit why all of these characters have fallen for Catarina for sure.

    Also to continue not spoiling anything there’s one particular comment made in this article that made me laugh, and I hope to circle back on it either next week or two weeks from now xD

  3. I particularly liked Mary’s further response when Catarina said she assumed her partner would be a boy — “In that case, I can’t think of anything.” Mary appears to be the most seriously yuri of the lot, and you’ll recall, in an earlier episode, even had a map and boat schedules for their possible elopement.

    As for Anne, I think she really doesn’t want to get married, she wants to stay by Catarina’s side. She’s just the latest (or maybe the first) in a long line of women charmed by Catarina’s modern Japanese approach to equality. Catarina didn’t interfere with the marriage arrangements so much as rescue Anne from a situation she dreaded — being “willing to take you even though you’re damaged goods” is not a good basis for an engagement.

    1. “Mary appears to be the most seriously yuri of the lot, and you’ll recall, in an earlier episode, even had a map and boat schedules for their possible elopement.”

      I honestly admire Mary’s devotion. I’d love to see her end up with Catarina. But as Irina pointed out, that’d be tough on Alan. So I’m conflicted.

      “Catarina didn’t interfere with the marriage arrangements so much as rescue Anne from a situation she dreaded”

      That’s what I tried to get across, but I think I wasn’t clear — that’s the price I pay, I guess, for trying to be concise! Maybe I should focus on being clear instead…

      Maybe one takes care of the other?

      1. The interesting thing, and I may be drawing more from the LN than the anime for this, is that in the game, Marie is the protag. On the Alan track, he gets the best of both worlds. A Good End for her is marrying Alan, whilst Mary gives them her blessing. A Bad End for her is Alan deciding for Mary. So, Mary is the competition, not Catarina.

        1. Why else do you think Catarina was so pissed off when she realized how her ends compared to Alan’s and Mary’s, and wanted to write a nasty letter complaining to the games company!

    2. Catarina DID interfere with Anne’s marriage arrangements and forced Anne Sherry to endure old maidenhood forever–according to Bakarina’s confused conscience in retrospect. Like her always offering to let Gerald of the hook with their engagement, Catarina will express regret to Anne and offer to help her get a husband, and Anne’s strong demurring goes right over Bakarina’s head just like Gerald’s responses. (On the other hand, remember this is the daughter of a duke who felt guilty for years for forcing his wife into a marriage he thought she probably didn’t want, so I guess in Catarina’s defense she’s clearly an apple who didn’t fall far from the tree!)

      In the original story, Duke Claes went much further than back up his daughter, he actually broke relations with Anne’s father when he found out afterward the type of man Anne’s father tried to foist her on (say what you will about Catarina’s father’s faults–he’s also clearly a good guy, particularly compared to some other bad actors among the nobility.)

      1. “say what you will about Catarina’s father’s faults–he’s also clearly a good guy, particularly compared to some other bad actors among the nobility”

        That’s an interesting insight!

        I appreciate that you share some of these from the other sources and don’t spoil the anime! The extra depth is really interesting!

  4. I remember the 1967 Detroit riots. I was close enough to the 1992 LA riots to smell the smoke and see it rising over the city. I’m hoping it doesn’t get that bad again.

    After almost 3 months of COVID-19 isolation, LA was going to reopen a bit on the 1st of June. That is all FUBAR now. The entire county is under curfew now. But we can expect a large spike in infection to start showing up over the next couple weeks. Lot of people shouting in very close contact and not a lot of masks to be seen. OTOH, if we don’t get a spike, it means the epidemic is largely over here.

    My daughter is involved in some protests up in Vacaville. According to her, “There’s been a few racist scum try and instigate violence, but we’ve de escalated it.”

    There’s a very small group of people who want it to get very very bad. They are hoping to trigger a race war. Not gonna happen but it is their dream and such people are to be found both among the extreme right and the extreme left and among both whites and blacks. Antifa and Aryan Nation and others. And there are cops who are racist and cops who are natural bullies or have anger management issues. Sometimes very high ranking cops.

    We’re not having genuine riots out here in LA. We’re having peaceful protests plus unrelated looting. The cops all go and surround the protests and leave the rest of the city unprotected. The various criminal elements know this and use the protests as an opportunity to pillage. Watching the KABC7 helicopter coverage, it seemed remarkably organized with some people pulling up in large SUVs while others filled them up with trash bags of looted merchandise. It is the policy of local PD in the area to let the looting go on unimpeded while keeping the body of protesters tightly controlled.

    At least in LA County area, officialdom has great fear that a white cop will shoot a looter who happened to be black and it will immediately be reframed as another act of racism. So let the situation just burn itself out and have the insurance companies pick up the tab.If someone dies, can’t blame us for it.

    This is what they did in 1992. Police and sheriff’s deputies were all confined to their stations during the peak of the riot. Even when the National Guard was finally called out, they weren’t issued ammunition. There were 63 dead and 2800+ injured and probably a billion in property damage.I could smell the smoke and see it rising over the city.

    Google “Reginald Denny.”

    But cops are not the enemy. Racists and violent people are the enemy.

    https://www.facebook.com/avissword/videos/3486864431342904/?hc_location=ufi

    1. “My daughter is involved in some protests up in Vacaville. According to her, “There’s been a few racist scum try and instigate violence, but we’ve de escalated it.””

      I hope she’s okay. It’s great to see her standing up for what’s right; but it’s got to be worrying.

      “Antifa and Aryan Nation and others. And there are cops who are racist and cops who are natural bullies or have anger management issues. Sometimes very high ranking cops.”

      David Brin is one of my favorite authors. He’s also a historian and a student of politics. He’s spoken of the spirit of the Confederacy as a mental model for what’s going on. No matter how much blood we spill to get rid of it, racism seems to be deeply rooted her. In the Civil War, that spirit was concentrated in the South. Now, as you said, it’s everywhere — the political right and left, police forces, military, corporations…

      The antidote is the same — respect for each other and a dedication to the idea that if freedom doesn’t apply to all of us, it applies to none of us. Still, I wish I knew how to effect change on a wider level.

      “It is the policy of local PD in the area to let the looting go on unimpeded while keeping the body of protesters tightly controlled.”

      I had no idea. Talk about misplaced priorities…

      “I could smell the smoke and see it rising over the city.”

      That’s got to be a haunting memory.

      “But cops are not the enemy. Racists and violent people are the enemy.”

      That is the truth.

      1. Apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. I was politically actve up until the mid 90s.

        You will never end racism by spilling blood. You hurt me, so I’ll hurt you back. Only you’re not hurting your oppressor, you’re hurting a proxy for your oppressor. That makes the proxy, who might have had some sympathy for you or might not – hate you. And want to hurt you back. That’s how the cycle continues forever. “An eye for an eye” just leaves everyone blind.

        While I am not a complete pacifist, I believe that Gandhi and Martin Luther King still offer the most effective models for social change. I also believe that there will be no peace until everyone considers their membership in the human species to be more improtant that their membership in whatever subgroup they’ve joined or were assigned to by accident of birth.

        1. “That’s how the cycle continues forever. “An eye for an eye” just leaves everyone blind.”

          Do you know how wonderful it is to read that? It’s like a breath of fresh air.

          “I also believe that there will be no peace until everyone considers their membership in the human species to be more improtant that their membership in whatever subgroup they’ve joined or were assigned to by accident of birth.”

          And we’re hard-wired for tribes.

          But that’s the heart of the issue. If we can solve that, at the very least, we can take another step forward, and face whatever the next hurdle is.

          I’d welcome that.

      2. The whole point of curfew… LAPD and others have an institutional memory of 1992. Both the city and the county kept the police off the streets. A peaceful protest at Parker Center went out of control. I get what they are trying to do and why.

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