Quick Premise review: a modern day Japanese schoolgirl dies after being hit by a car and wakes up as the villainess in her favorite romance role-playing video game. She uses her knowledge of the game to avoid the bad endings for her character, but now she finds herself in the sequel which did not get a chance to play during her previous life.
Finally there is some actual worldbuilding and some actual characters develop in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (light novel v.7), but none of it applies to the main character, Katarina Claes. The worst part is that the character herself directly admits to being dense and not making much effort in school which she may not have passed without a lot of help from friends. Deliberately glorifying your own ignorance should not be something to laugh off. Neither is leaning hard into the stereotype of hating to do intellectual work. Kaarina actually says at one point she prefers manual labor, which on the surface is fine, but she’s 18 and has been in this world in her current social place for 10 years, and she really should not have any excuse for not recognizing the general social perceptions of people being usure about a duke’s daughter wanting to have a working life (mostly to avoid a wedding with a guy she likes but is too immature to really accept the implications of marrying). It wouldn’t be so bad if she just said that, and if even said guy Prince Jeord can have a moment of self-revealing to her, Katarina should be capable of some level of personal growth.
Yes, it’s good that her basic instinct is to kindness and people over status as illustrated by her initial confusion but eventual accepting of transgender colleague Laura (correct pronouns are used in this volume without question) as well as her immediate acceptance and understanding of a personal secret of one of her supervisors dealing with class and perception, BUT this would suggest that she should also be capable of self-reflection and growth.
I was really hoping that maybe getting Katarina away from the group of school friends who totally enable her laziness towards any kind of intellectual work as well as never calling her out on being socially dense as a rock might start to change once she graduated from magic school, but that seems to not be the case so far.
Just because Katarina is beyond aggravating at this point doesn’t mean I’m giving up on this series though; the new characters and expanded world of the Ministry is actually pretty interesting; like the reveal behind the Secret Library, which is both quasi realistic as well as hilarious. Even if this book seems to have attempted to fill in about 1/3 of itself with various other characters retelling the exact same story from their perspective which adds nothing to the story since it was clear even from Katarina’s telling, there is some interesting suspense and adventure building up, and hope that keeps going.