You know, being in plain text from here on out is really working out for me. Last week, Irina (from I Drink and Watch Anime) made the command decision to always be in bold type for our collaborations, and I’m cool with that. First, it takes a ton of pressure off — I mean, I hate being bold and out there! Second, it’s much easier to remember. And finally, it shows considerable outside of the box thinking. No “that’s the way we’ve always done it” tired old excuse for this collaboration! We innovate! And no, I’m not being in the least bit sarcastic!
This week, we review “Met a Beautiful Brother and Sister…”, episode 3 of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! I’m finding it hard to punctuate a title that itself ends in punctuation. Also, it just occurred to me that I think the titles seem like titles Catarina Claes would use in her diary.
Anyway, before we get this show on the road, do you have any opening thoughts, Irina?
To be fair I just wrote a paragraph in bold because I forgot the host was plain and then just rolled with it. I feel like I’m bullying Crow here. You can have whatever font you want Crow! We can all be bold!!! Oh this is a doom flag isn’t it?…..
This show really is a little ray of sunshine in my weekends. I do hope our readers are getting just as much out of it as I am. The best part (for me), it’s that it really is an homage to otome tropes, a gaming format that has been long maligned. So I’m really thrilled to see so many people enjoying it!
A lot happened in this episode, and though it seemed to speed by, it felt like two or three episodes’ worth of stuff. We learned that there’s something that Gerald Stuart just can’t do, no matter how much he tries. And it has nothing to do with snakes! We learn that one of our cast members can do a great imitation of a superhero landing. Catarina herself learns something about otome games, and it’s a bit late for her to do anything about it. We learned the show has no hesitation — none at all! — to lobbing an emotional grenade in our faces if it suits its purposes. And finally, we get an example of just how dedicated Catarina is to her mission to avoid bad endings — or it might be that she’s just that Bakarina-ish. It was hard to tell.
Alan and Gerald seem to be getting along much better. It’s nice to see.
The episode starts with Catarina and her younger brother Keith receive an invitation to a tea party at Gerald and Alan’s estate. As they’re waiting for Catarina to arrive, Alan starts teasing his older brother about the fake snake that Catarina had lobbed at him in the previous episode. Mockingly, Alan said he thought Gerald to do anything.
Gerald’s answer? Well, yes, he thought that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. Then he hesitated and said, “Well, I’d say predicting what Catarina Claes will do is just about the only thing.”
Given that Catarina is really a seventeen year old modern young woman in a Victorian-era (or later) 9 year old girl’s body, it’s not surprising. Irina, what’d you think?
I give Gerald full credit for admitting there was something he couldn’t do. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I’m not sure there’s that much difference… I don’t mean I acted like a nine year old when I was 17. I act more like a 9 year old now. In fact I act more like a 9 year old than when I was 9. What makes Caterina special in that world is that she grew up without any of the constraints and biases of that universe and class.
It’s not that she’s so humble and kind that she treats even servants with respect, it’s that she has always learned to treat people with respect because she was never above anyone to begin with. I love Caterina so maybe I idolize her but I hope she would have been just as lovable a little spitfire even if she had her 9 year old brain….
After Catarina arrived, I’ll bet you can guess what she did first. Yep! She started shoving deserts into her face. Did you see the expression on Keith’s face as he watched? Poor guy has a hard job, watching out for her!
Of course, she ate way too much way too fast, and she had to excuse herself. Moments later, before she could find a bathroom, a tiny dog had chased her up a tree, where she witnessed a moment of bullying. Apparently, one of the other invitees was Sophia Ascart, and it seems she is a person with albinism. The other kids at the party had cornered her. They were not kind. They said she was cursed and that she had tainted the prince’s party. The poor girl hated crowds anyway, apparently with cause, and she didn’t know what to do. It was very hard to watch.
I felt bad for Sophia as she tried to deal with such open hostility. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I know overeating is a trope in anime but I have to say I was getting sympathetic stomach cramps for her. As a person with a delicate digestion, it was a bit hard to watch.
I gotta say, I’m so desensitized to anime coloration, that I didn’t realize there was anything off about Sophia’s eye and hair colour. In hindsight, this show does stick to mostly “natural” pigmentation but somehow she just didn’t seem out of place to me… Should I be worried?
Nah. Well, not about that, anyway…
Sophia didn’t know it, but a guardian angel was about to intervene on her behalf. Okay, it was more that Catarina really had to go to the bathroom, but why quibble over a detail like that? In desperation, unable to wait much longer, she launched herself out of the tree and landed one knee and one hand. And I swear I saw Iron Man in that same pose! Or was it Captain America? Or maybe both…
Anyway, to Sophia, it looked like an avenging angel had landed. A small avenging angel, but an avenging angel nonetheless. Because all of the kids fled in terror. Catarina ran off, too, for a completely different reason, but she had made quite the impression on Sophia.
What did you think of their introduction, Irina?
I think you may be laying it on a bit thick there. Some weird girl just fell from the sky and broke it up. It was a bit creepy. Avenging angel is going far…
Actually, and figure we’ll get to it later, but Sophia is another representation of something I am loving in this show and for that to work, it’s kind of important that there is no hero worship, I’m being all mysterious and confusing and annoying probably. It’s because I’m sure you’re going to mention it in a paragraph or two. Let’s see if I’m right!
I guess there is a sight that will distract Catarina from desserts! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Never let it be said that Catarina learns from her mistakes. Moments later, she’s back at the desert table trying to decide what to eat when Sophia introduced herself. I think she was trying to introduce herself and thank Catarina, but Bakarina chose this moment to strike! Sophia reminded Catarina so much of a character from a romance novel she had read that she absent-minded quote from it, saying “our hair is as lovely as silk.” Out loud. Right to Sophia’s face!
The harem grows…
Nope not yet.
Learning that Sophia, too, loves romance books, Catarina invited her to visit. Which she did. But she apparently doesn’t go anywhere without her protective older brother Nicol. When he introduced himself, Catarina was horrified. He had been one of the playable routes in the game — and she hadn’t played that route!
I thought that was a new and interesting twist in a genre where the main character is usually a complete expert in the game. What’d you think, Irina?
Oh no! Crow pretty much skipped over it. I made you guys wait for nothing!
Ok, to me the cool part was that Caterina was really set on getting to know Sophia because they had something in common. A hold over of her modern otaku leanings. A love of stories. Yes, Caterina thought Sophia and her brother were beautiful, but that’s not what piqued her interest. It was the possibility of making a friend and connecting on that level.
And similarly, Sophia was most impressed by the fact that Catarina was accepting her at face value and apparently wanting to get to know her better. She wasn’t looking for someone to protect her or use as a shield. Sophia wanted a friend and the prospect of getting someone to chat with is what charmed her.
Sophia and Catarina were both overjoyed to find in each other a fellow romance fan! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I really like this. I enjoy friendship stories and they often get devalued or undervalued in favour of romantic relationships. The fact that Cateriana all but ignores a beautiful potential suitor because she gets over excited at the prospect of someone to gossip and giggle with just filed my heart with joy. My favourite moment was when the council of the wise was scrambling to justify that a friendship with Sophia wouldn’t lead to doom. That’s how much she just wanted a friend!
You know, it was in my notes, but I thought I was running long, so I didn’t include it. Glad you did! And sorry for contributing to making the readers wait!
Catarina and Sophia got along so well that they ended up meeting often to read books. Looks like they invited Mary Hunt, too, and I was happy to see that. She seems like such a dear I’d hate to think she was left out and lonely! One on occasion, Keith and Catarina were visiting Sophia and Nicol. They were about to leave when Sophia said she’d forgotten to let Catarina borrow one of her favorite books. She dashed back upstairs to get it.
At first, I thought she was going to fall down the stairs and trigger some other doom flag. Catarina felt something the wrong, too, but it wasn’t something either of us expected. Sophia dashing off triggered a memory in Catarina. More like a deja vu moment. Catarina remembered when one of her friends had done something similar — remembered a manga she’d wanted to loan Catarina. She reflected that if Sophia had been there with her, the two of them would have read manga and anime together.
It ended up being a sweet moment, for it really felt poignant. Irina, did it strike you that way?
Seeing Catarina imagine what it would have been like to share manga and anime with Sophia struck a melancholy chord. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
It sort of rejoins the point I was making above.
I also really like how it subtly implies that like all Jane Austin characters would probably be Otaku nowadays. I dunno, that made me happy. We used to put on a pedestal women who got lost in stories and would love fiction with a passion. A lot of classical heroines fit that mould. We should bring that back!
And yes, it was heartwarming. Friendship stories are great! Girls getting along, even in a harem setting, is wonderful!
Shortly after that scene, we get a time-skip of about seven years. It’s Catarina’s birthday party, and the gang’s all there — and all growed up. And it seems like for at least one of them, he’s beginning to change how he sees Catarina — and what he wants to do with her. Gerald asks for the first dance, and as her fiancé, he got the first dance. As they danced, he told her he had every intention of keeping his engagement with her.
“But if anyone else ever catches your attention, just say so. I’ll back off without putting up a fight,” Catarina told him. On one hand, I applaud her dedication to avoid death flags. She wanted to make sure that when he met Maria Campbell, there wouldn’t be any conflict that resulted in her being dead or exiled.
Then Bakarina struck again. He came out and told her she didn’t get what he was saying, and he proved it by yanking her close to him and telling her he could “easily take you at any time.” Then he gave her hickey. And she had no idea what he’d just done.
Irina and I saw this scene differently. I think seeing how men around me have treated women gave me a negative lens. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Keith, though, knew exactly what Gerald was doing. And he didn’t approve at all. As soon as Gerald left, Keith was by her side, trying to hide the effects of the hickey by rubbing her neck and saying it was a bug bite. She even believed him.
Irina, I get Gerald’s her fiancé, but did the way Gerald treated her annoy you as much as it did me? Or am I reading too much of my guy background into this?
Not really. Or at all in fact. Didn’t seem to annoy Caterina either and that’s who I go by. I know what Keith said, but she’s a capable and strong young lady, I have faith that she can at the very least articulate her own preferences and desires. As long as she’s o.k. with it, I stand with her!
Gerald is supposed to be a devilish character who hides evil intent beneath a perfect exterior, and I suppose this scene was going to illustrate that, but if the extent of his villainy is kissing his fiancee of seven years, it’s a bit weak. I know that Crow says hickey but it seemed to be a light kiss that lasted a second and no one in the room noticed…
I’m hoping we get more evilness out of him because to be honest, the suitors are all looking sort of bland at the moment. I have my favourite though but I can’t deny that they could use some flavour, as the ladies are all more interesting to me.
This said, it was a nice way of setting up just how close Keith and Caterina have remained. By the way, Keith is my favourite. As in I think they would make the best couple. The way he looked after her and reminded her of her matters as kids was sweet, and he’s the only one who put her back in her place aside from Gerald occasionally. And I thought it was hilarious how she freaked out when she thought he had been charmed by Nicol. I just think they have the best rapport and ‘m rooting for them. Even if it is a but… incesty… Congratulations anime, you finaly made me side with incest. This post went into an odd direction, you can edit this out Crow!
You know, Keith is the most interesting of the potential suitors! At the very least, he seems really concerned for her well-being. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I’m too busy having fun reading it! Looks like I’ll forget.
On a different note, I think this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think I would have liked to see them as kids just a little bit longer. Like another episode or two…
Maybe to see how Nicol and Sophia interacted with the rest? Seeing the two of them with Keith and Mary was really heart-warming, for lack of a better word.
There was a charming scene after the dancing had ended where Mary and Sophia joined Caratina on the balcony. Mary was jokingly (maybe!) upset, saying it wasn’t fair that she’d only danced with the boys! Catarina joked back that she didn’t know the man’s role, otherwise she’d be happy to dance with Mary.
And guess who had also taught herself the man’s role? Mary did, that’s who!
I think Catarina’s gone and built herself quite an extensive and inclusive harem!
Catarina has built a beautiful circle of friends around her. I’m almost anxious thinking about what the future will bring! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
One small thing that ran through my mind was that Catarina is a Mary Sue character, right? I mean she’s perfect and any failings she might have (the overeating for instance) are framed as quirky and charming. She wins over everyone around her without even trying. She’s pretty much the definition of a Mary Sue and yet I like her. A lot in fact.
I think there are two reasons for that. One is that she’s a bit of a doofus and I love doofuses. The second is that I think that that’s also a doom flag. Catarina is supposed to be this epic villainess at the start Fortune Lover, someone who has everything the main character could possibly want, and it seems that’s exactly the position Caterina has maneuvered herself into. She just did it through being a caring and loving friend. And that’s awesome sort of throws a whole new light on a lot of otomes.
I am extra super curious now to see how they treat the arrival of the player character…
The last thing I wanted to mention — and really to ask you about, Irina — was one of the last things that Catarina said at the end of this episode. So far, she’s been all about avoiding the two unhappy fates awaiting her. But as she reflected on her party, she said, “I just hope that I can avoid my own doom and stay with all of my friends forever…” That second part’s new, isn’t it?
It really is. She mentions that Mary and Sophia are also rival characters (isn’t it lame how all the girls have to be rivals?) so they have their own doom flags to deal with. There’s something poetic about it as well. If you take out all the otome and isekai factors, what Caterina is really hoping for is that she can grow up without growing apart from the friends that mean so much to her. Sweet isn’t it…
Very. I wonder if we’ll meet Maria in the next episode? Like you, I’m curious how they’re going to handle that introduction!
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…