Synopsis: Most people would prefer being the protagonist of a world full of adventure, be it in a game or in another world. But, unfortunately, a certain girl is not so lucky. Regaining the memories of her past life, she realizes that she was reborn in the world of Fortune Lover—one of the games she used to play.
Unfortunately, the character she was reincarnated into—Katarina Claes—is the game’s main antagonist, who faces utter doom in every ending. Using her extensive knowledge of the game, she takes it upon herself to escape from the chains of this accursed destiny.
However, this will not be an easy feat, especially since she needs to be cautious as to not set off death flags that may speed up the impending doom she is trying to avoid. Even so, to make a change that will affect the lives of everyone around her, she strives—not as the heroine—but as the villainess.
Given the current state of anime, I know a lot of people might be experiencing isekai fatigue right about now, and I thought I was too, until I started watching My Next Life as a Villainess, which I’ll be calling Hamefura for the remainder of the review. Thanks to mediocre anime like BOFURI, my expectations are pretty low for shows in this genre. A reason why I felt differently about this anime isn’t because Hamefura does anything radically different than other isekai anime, it’s simply because the show seemed fun and clever, two things I personally haven’t felt about this genre since the olden days of SAO and The Devil is a Part-Timer!.
Most of that is due to the otome game backdrop that this anime was set against, which was a really nice and clever touch. Being reincarnated as a villianess in an otome game where all routes lead to doom sounds really fun for us viewers, and it is. The romance aspects of the show are definitely not sleazy or anything like that, and if anything, I’d even say that the romance is mild, compared to what I was expecting.
Laughs are what these potential routes produce more than anything, however, there’s a nice balancing act that goes on with this show. It’s funny, but I don’t think it was too goofy. It’s playful, yet there are some moments of drama that deliver the feels. There’s magic, but the fantasy aspects don’t play a huge part. Hamefura doesn’t wear out its welcome in any one facet, and I think that’s pretty impressive.
Although I enjoyed the teenage episodes more than the first three that focused on Kat’s early time in her new body, I thought the pacing was fine and the story progressed nicely. There was enough character development to keep me happy and engaged, and while the story was somewhat predictable, that didn’t make it any less entertaining for me.
A second season has already been announced, and it seems that the story is once again set up for success, especially if the girls get in on the Kat sweepstakes next season. Whether it’s because of isekai or the otome game, it’s easy to be wary of what this anime might be like, but I think the story played out really nicely, so I enjoyed it.
The story seems ripe for all sorts of interesting characters, and I feel like this is where Hamefura shined the most. We’re given a little bit of backstory for each of the characters, and while these flashbacks are over with fairly quickly, I think they end up being more than enough to get us to care about these people a little more.
As expected, Kat is the best character in the show, and because she’s funny, charming, and kind, it’s no surprise why everyone loves her. She may be dense and oblivious, yet she was always an entertaining character to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her nab an award at our end-of-year yuri awards, and I think it’s well-deserved.
Kat’s fiancé (Geordo), her adopted brother (Keith), Geordo’s brother (Alan), and Sophia’s bishonen brother (Nicol) are the guys who represent the conquerable routes from Fortune Lover, and while I’m sure some yuri fans will loathe the idea of all of these guys falling for Kat, at least all of these guys are generally pretty nice and respectful. I expected to hate this reverse harem aspect of the show, but I didn’t, though it helped that Kat wasn’t interested in any of them.
The guys are all a bit different and pine for Kat in different ways, but it’s not just the guys who flock to her. The three other female characters (four, if you count Anne) are drawn to Miss Claes as well, and as you can tell by the yuri score, it’s definitely worth watching for yuri fans. Without getting into spoilers, Sophia and Mary both have their moments where you can’t help but ship each of them with Kat, and while saying that you love someone if great, showing that you love someone is so much better, and no one’s actions matched their words like Mary’s did.
Even though Mary is engaged to Alan, at no point do you get the impression that she’s anything other than a raging lesbian, but being a lady, she’s able to control herself, and she’s able to fawn for Kat in dignified ways. I’d love to say that Kat eventually reciprocates Mary’s feelings, but Kat’s either too dense or simply too uninterested to reciprocate anyone’s feelings, even Mary’s. Still, it’s enjoyable to see a girl with her own little yuri harem, but let’s hope that come the second season, Kat sees them as more than just friends.
I know some will say that I’m downplaying Sophia and Maria’s feelings for Kat, but despite what they say (especially Maria), I just viewed that as nothing more than friendship, with Mary being the one who’s genuinely in love with Kat. After all, you can love a friend, but that said, this was still one of the most yuri anime of the year so far. So I thought this cast was great, and not even the het romance was enough to change my mind.
As always, what is there to say about the animation and sound? Given the royal or noble status of the characters, it’s not surprising that the music took a more regal approach than your typical anime, and I liked it. Nothing came across as being especially memorable to me, but I never got the impression that the music was lacking, so that has to count for something. As for the animation, I think it’s middle-of-the-road, so I don’t have much to say about it. Lastly, that’s a pretty nice OP.
Overall, the total enjoyment score may not necessarily reflect it, but Hamefura was probably one of my favorite anime of the year so far. The otome game structure worked a lot better than I expected, and because any romance that stemmed from that was one-sided, it wasn’t an issue. Yuri fans should like Mary and how Kat wins the hearts of even the female characters, but the lack of actual romance there might leave some feeling unfulfilled. Nevertheless, this was a fun anime that gave me hope that not all isekai anime has to be rehashed fantasy nonsense, so I have no problems recommending this anime to those seeking a good time.
➕ Well-rounded anime that does a lot of things well
➕ Enjoyable cast of characters
➕ The guys aren’t as aggressive with Kat as they could have been
➖ A lot of guys vying for Kat’s affection
➖ Mary is the only girl who displays romantic feelings for Kat
➖ The friendship ending
Total Enjoyment: 7