My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is an adaptation of a light novel series, which I assume is pretty popular, as it will soon be turned into an anime. I haven’t read the light novels, so I can’t comment on how this manga works as an adaptation of the source material, but, considering it on its own, this first volume proved to be delightful! Despite some similarities to other manga series I’ve read, I believe this is a title that stands on its own merits; it’s funny, heart-warming and super cute!
Katrina is the spoiled and selfish 8-year old daughter of a Duke who is used to getting her own way in everything. While visiting the royal palace, she meets the young Prince Jeord and is instantly smitten with him, but, in her exuberance, she accidentally bumps into him and falls and hits her head. That’s when she regains her memories of her past life, where she was an ordinary Japenese high school student who loved playing otome (romance) games. One of those games she remembers playing was Fortune Lover, and it seems that she has been reincarnated into the world of that game, but as the villain who stood in the way of the heroine’s romance with the Prince! What’s more, all the possible outcomes she remembers from the game end with Katrina either getting exiled or killed! Now Katrina must work to change the course of her life so that she can deviate from the story of the game and avoid her terrible fate!
It seems like characters getting reincarnated into the world of an otome game, and specifically getting reincarnated as the villain, has become something of its own genre. The premise of this manga is extremely similar to that of Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, another manga based on a light novel that’s been licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. While that series focusses on political intrigue and the protagonist’s efforts to use her knowledge from her previous life to better the kingdom, My Next Life as a Villainess is more of a romantic comedy. Having died at the age of seventeen in her past life, regaining her memories from that time doesn’t equip Katrina with much in the way of world experience, but it does cause her to become less arrogant and more empathetic towards others. With her more modern sensibilities, Katrina has become something of a fish out of water, not caring how a proper lady should act and instead running around climbing trees and taking up gardening as a hobby. She also never lets herself feel too discouraged by the harsh fate that could be waiting for her. She is proactive; she considers different strategies for avoiding these bad outcomes and decides to improve her swordsmanship and magic abilities so that she’ll be able to defend herself and have useful skills with which to build a new life if she gets exiled. I really enjoyed the practical and earnest way Katrina tackled her problems. She has 7 years before she must attend the magic school where the game takes place and she’s determined to make the most of that time!
Katrina’s personality transformation has caused a lot of other factors to change from the scenario she remembers from the game. Over the course of this volume, Katrina meets the other love interest characters, as well as the two other girls that acted as rivals if the player chose to pursue one of the other romance options. Each character received a chapter dedicated to their introduction and the excitable and kindhearted Katrina is able to make friends with all of them, quickly amassing a harem of admirers that causes her brother to quietly lament about how she keeps seducing everyone she meets. Katrina is either too focused on her own concerns or too naive to notice that her open-hearted nature has caused a lot of her friends to develop romantic feelings for her. On top of that, she’s already resolved a lot of the issues that caused these characters to grow into the angsty teens in need of having their hearts healed by the sweet and understanding heroine from the video game. This volume ends with Katrina’s 15th birthday celebration, right before the she leaves to attend school, a.k.a the setting of the game. Will the relationships she’s built with her friends be shattered once they meet the heroine? Or will Katrina be surprised when all her male friends (and possibly her female ones) start vying for her affections instead? I personally suspect it will be the latter and, seeing how hilariously oblivious Katrina has been to friends’ feelings for her, I expect things are going to get messy and I can’t wait to read more!
My Next Life as a Villainess is a fun and sweet story about a fan of otome games who has been reincarnated into the world of a game and is completely unaware that she’s unwittingly becomes the heroine at the center of her own romantic story. I highly recommend this to fans of otome games and reverse harem style romance manga!
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
Be sure to let me know your thoughts on this series or on the light novels in the comments section. I’d love to hear how the two versions compare!
You can find more information on My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom as Seven Seas Entertainment’s website: https://sevenseasentertainment.com/series/my-next-life-as-a-villainess-all-routes-lead-to-doom/