Will Catarina survive all the hurdles that might lead her to her doom?
A fresh season starts anew, with a variety of new shows to partake in. One show that I've been waiting for is none other than My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! If you know me, this choice is a no-brainer, since otome games are totally my jam. If you're into such games, or even just regular visual novels, I'm sure this will be right up your alley, as well! With that being said, let's dive right into this recap of the first episode.
**SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 1 AHEAD**
Our villainess is the cute, charming, and wealthy heiress, Catarina Claes... wait, did I say "charming?"
Whoops, my bad. There's nothing charming about this attitude at all! I feel sorry for those poor maids trying their best to get Catarina ready for her day. Our story begins with our bratty heroine throwing the biggest baby fit over the color of her bow. It had to be PINK, but the maids only had ready what Catarina herself had previously selected. C'mon, girl, the blue goes with your outfit better!
Luckily for the maids, Catarina's dad walks in and serves as a distraction from the bow drama. He also brings a very important guest: the third prince of the kingdom, Geordo Stuart.
Oh... she fell in love at first sight, didn't she? Well, as Geordo is talking about the beautiful flower garden as they stroll by, Catarina is more preocuppied with making sure she doesn't let his arm go. She's totally smitten!
As they walk on, they cross paths with Geordo's younger brother, Alan. He's not as approachable as his brother; he frowns at the pair before heading out. Don't worry, we'll get to know this guy better later on.
What we should be worrying about is what happens after.
Catarina dashes after Geordo when he walks ahead, and she takes a very nasty fall that causes... a HUGE change in her life!
Catarina's life begins to flash before her eyes... or wait... Is this her life or someone else's?! Moments from her birth, to her climbing trees, to being chased by dogs begin to fill her mind as she remembers it all. Just what is going on here?
Meet our real main character, the Catarina we'll be spending the rest of our time with; a girl who got deep into her hobby of games and spent an entire night playing an otome game called "Fortune Lover." The next day, she woke up late for school and ran into the street... you can guess what happened there.
Our unlucky main character died at the tender age of 17. And now she's a wealthy heiress in another world?! Going from climbing trees and playing otome games to royalty... that's quite the change!
The following day, Geordo checks up on Catarina to see if she's okay, only to discover that she has a nasty scratch on full display right on her forehead. She suggests that it's no big deal and it was totally her fault for running around, but that won't fly with Geordo. High society won't think too well of a scar where everyone can see it, which might affect Catarina's chances of getting married. Should she even be THINKING about marriage at that age? Being a noble is not as freeing as Catarina thought, and as she's thinking about how she misses her previous freedom, she unknowingly agrees to Geordo's wedding proposal.
Yup. Good luck, kiddo!
Her parents are completely ecstatic about this engagement, wanting to go all out with celebrations, but all Catarina wants to do is go to sleep. Relatable!
It's hard to get excited about being engaged to an 8-year-old boy when you're a teenager trapped in a child's body. Her being engaged to Geordo... something about this situation sounds oddly familiar. In an otome game she was playing before, there was an evil noble girl engaged to a prince due to an injury on her head... Huh?!
The heroine of the game is a commoner named Marie who gets into the magic academy due to her possession of the incredibly rare light magic. The romanceable guys are Geordo, Alan, Keith and Nicol... Wait, GEORDO and ALAN?! We know them!
Then there's the villainess... Catarina Claes. What kind of fate does she meet in some of the game's endings, though? In Geordo's Good End, after tormenting Maria to a cruel degree, she is stripped of her rank and gets exiled. What about the Bad End? After trying to attack Maria with a knife, Geordo protects Maria attacking Catarina and she ends up dying... Exile or death? There is no good ending for Catarina Claes in this story!
Panic ensues as Catarina begins planning on how to avoid a terrible end as she lives her life in this new world. How about she calls off the engagement? Nah, that would cause a huge uproar and would manifest another Bad End! How about not bothering with the whole magic academy business? Then she wouldn't run into Maria and no such doom flag would appear? Oh, but... it's the duty of everyone who has any sort of magic to attend the academy, so that's out of the question.
Alright then, how about she doesn't bully Maria at all? That could work, but... the Geordo she knows from the game is a total schemer; he might make Catarina look like the scum of the Earth in order to be with Maria. Things aren't looking too good!
The important thing is to stay alive right? Why not train to use the sword to have combat skills at the ready and also brush up on magic? That way, even if she gets exiled, she can make a living with magic. Take that, doom flag! Do your worst!
And so, Catarina began her sword training and studying up on magic. She had the brillant (is it, though?) idea to do gardening to converse with the earth in order to boost her magical power. I'm not sure that's how this works, Catarina, but you do you.
In the midst of her... garden training, Geordo shows up to formally ask her to marry him! What timing! Catarina's mother faints at the sight of gardener daughter, and Geordo laughs at her magic training attempt. Breathing a sigh of relief that she didn't make Geordo mad, she unknowingly (AGAIN) accepts Geordo's proposal when that was the opposite of what she wanted to do. Good job once more, kiddo!
Even with her sword and magic training, things are still progressing just like in the game. But Catarina won't give up; she's going to live out her life and not die young again! And just as she thinks that, her dad calls out to her to meet her new brother, Keith, who's also one of the main love interests in "Fortune Lover." Another doom flag to conquer?!
Keith is a distant relative who had a rough upbringing due to being a son of a mistress; he was bullied by his siblings pretty often. In "Fortune Lover," even after the Claes family took him in, Catarina also bullied him on the daily, which caused him to hole up in his room most of the time.
Keith eventually grew into a shallow playboy who fooled around with countless girls to bury that loneliness he grew up with. But when he meets Maria, he ends up falling in love for real. Funny how it always ends up that way in otome games...
But what about the endings?! Well, as you can imagine, if Catarina interferes with Keith and Maria, she either dies or is exiled. What should she do in this case? Well, if Keith isn't lonely or bullied, that doom flag is done for; Catarina won't meet her doom! Time to give Keith lots of attention as a loving older sister!
Catarina shows off her veggie garden, some fishing spots and her impressive tree climbing skills. Wait, did I say "impressive?" She fell right off the tree and landed on Keith, so she needs to maaaybe stop the tree climbing. Or anything that has her falling.
Nice thing about Keith being around: new sword practice buddy! He's been helping Catarina brush up on her sword skills to avoid that pesky doom flag. While the garden is great and all, it really isn't doing much to increase her magical skill. Hm, isn't Keith skilled at magic too?
He sure is! He's able to make a dirt doll and have it move by pouring magic into it. All Catarina can do is... make a dirt clump. She has a lot of catching up to do!
When she begs to see a bigger version of this, Keith hesistantly complies. And he was right to be hesitant because the first thing Catarina does is RUN RIGHT INTO IT. This girl is an expert at leaping into danger's arms!
Of course, this ends in Catarina being bedridden again. How many times will this happen?! She's fine, thankfully! And so is Keith, but... Keith locked himself up in his room refusing to come out. Keith's magic is powerful and he can't really control it that well yet; there was an intance in which he accidentally injured his brothers while trying to use his magic. If he locks himself away, he can't hurt anyone, and he'll make sure it stays that way.
Unfortunately for him, Catarina wasn't gonna have that happen.
She breaks down the door with an AXE (where did she get that from?!), and faces him with full determination! There is no way she was going to let him be barricaded like this, after all, that would lead to a Bad End! They make amends with a promise to always stay together, which I'm sure slayed that doom flag far away from Catarina's fate.
But while one doom flag goes down, many more will surely pop up! Which doom flag will be the next to challenge Catarina? We'll find out on the next episode of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!. What an excellent start to a very promising show! We'll be back this Saturday as episode 2 airs to see Catarina conquer more doom flags.
What did you think of the first episode? Will Catarina escape her doom flags? Let us know in the comments!
Catch My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! every Saturday at 10:30am PST / 1:30pm EST on Crunchyroll!
Nicole is a frequent wordsmith for Crunchyroll. Known for punching dudes in Yakuza games on her Twitch channel while professing her love for Majima. She also has a blog, Figuratively Speaking. Follow her on Twitter: @ellyberries
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