So certain times of year coincide with heavier professional workloads, and when that happens, I tend to gravitate towards much lighter reading, things like My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (volume 5). This is a light novel series that has been turned into both a manga and an anime. The premise is that a high school girl obsessed with a certain kind of video game dies, and is reincarnated as the antagonist of her favorite dating video game. A bump on the head at the age of 8 causes Katarina to regain her memories and how the game goes, and she wants to avoid the villainess fates. She does this by being super nice to everyone so that they don’t end up wanting or trying to destroy her; as a result, unbeknownst to her, Katarina ends up making everyone in the game fall in love with her. She’s just starting to realize this about her current fiancée, Prince Jeord, but is oblivious to the fact that the rest of the cast feels the same way.
Volume 5 of the light novel series is a set of shorts, taking various perspectives set roughly around the time just following the precious installment with one main exception where we get the story of Katarina’s mother and how she met her now husband.
This is largely fluff, basically innocent childish romance and friendship. There’s some magic and some adventure in the world, but not much in this volume. Katarina is confused about things most of the time because she’s apparently really dense and emotionally incredibly immature; this gets old, and not just for me; it frustrates most of the other characters as well. When other characters fight politely in front of her about her, she can tell there’s something off, but has no clue beyond that. While I appreciate that this feature of Katarina allows her to be kind to everyone and everything, there’s no reason why someone more observant and emotionally sensitive couldn’t be nice as well. It would make for a more interesting character.
Out of all the little vignettes, I think the one from Nicol’s perspective is the most interesting because it gives him a little more personality and hints at possible character growth in the future. He’s Jeord’s childhood pal, has a crush on Katarina, but refuses to act on it to the chagrin of his little sister Sophia who wants Katarina to be with her and as a sister would be fine. Nicol’s reasoning is that he couldn’t betray his friend, and this is probably one of the better reasons for hiding his feelings from Katarina. The thing with Nicol is that he’s a very good looking charming guy but apparently has no idea of the effect he can have on the women around him. He decides he needs to start looking for a partner of his own, and his first few match-making meetings do not go well, the last one shows some promise, although the nameless girl involved seems about as interested in him as he is in her, and so really they might actually become something at some point. That might be interesting, although I wonder if anything will come of the potential set up here.
Anyways, cute-ish if occasionally mildly annoying set of stories and characters, kind of generic fantasy world, harmless conflict, and a few interesting bits here and there do make for some pretty good brain drain reading.