All routes lead to doom! Our poor protagonist (antagonist?) finds herself reincarnated into an otome game where she’s the villain! In a rarer form of isekai where a girl finds herself transported to a new world, this show is funny and fast-paced with amazing characters and beautiful artwork. Definitely one of my favorites from the 2020 lineup!
I love Catarina Claes! She is voiced by an extremely exuberant Maaya Uchida, known for so many popular titles such as Date a Live, Highschool DxD, The Rising of the Shield Hero, The Promised Neverland, Noragami, Rascal Does not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Domestic Girlfriend, so many others, but perhaps most importantly as Rikka Takanashi from Love, Chuunibyou & Other Delusions. She does an amazing job! So excitable, so full of energy, so frustrated and confused! It’s a joy to listen to her race through her dialogue like she’s had waaay too much coffee already. She’s such an exciting character in this way! But also she has to live up to the villainess title. And while this just is NOT Catarina’s real personality, it comes through pretty often in her character. Usually this takes the form of raging outbursts and “scary” faces. I love her in the opening to S1 as much as anywhere. That’s about as villainous as she ever gets to be honest. From the start of every episode to the finish she’s so much fun!
Being an otome game, there’s a lot of romance going on around her. The thing is though, she’s not supposed to be at the center of it. Remember how she’s supposed to be the villain? The object of the majority of the male characters’ desires is supposed to be a young lady named Maria Campbell. Super pretty, very girly, and super shy, she originally is the central character in the game itself. This character is voiced by another prolific VA, Saori Hayami, known perhaps best as Shirayuki in Snow White with the Red Hair, but also is prominent in Monogatari (try to guess which character!), Demon Slayer, Naruto, Anohana, One Punch Man, etc. I love her voice, so smooth and pretty. Since Catarina has altered the game so much since she cannot maintain her villainous character, Maria now is falling in love with Catarina. Yuri alert!! It’s hilarious actually, given how the story is supposed to go and how it’s actually working out.
Then of course you have all the guys who are in love with Maria. Oh no, actually they’re all in love with Catarina! Yep, she’s altered the game so significantly with her shift in character that she’s pretty much the object of everyone’s affection, including Maria and most of the other girls as well. It’s a lot of fun to watch Catarina become suddenly aware of this one character at a time. But anyway, each of the male characters, and most of the supporting characters in general, are all pretty unique individually, if at times a little typical. But it’s okay! The chaos of their orderly game world is more than enough to make these characters sufficient. Most of the characters change from the way they were supposed to be in the original game. And that’s all due to Catarina. Of course it is! Everything’s about Catarina anyway! I love all these characters.
If it wasn’t obvious already from the VA cast for this show, the producers quite obviously didn’t hold back on supplying this show with the best, including the artists. All the characters are amazingly beautiful. For kind of a zany isekai comedy, the artwork is uncharacteristically super beautiful. Everything is super lively and colorful, and very shiny and bright. Designs are fairly simple, both in surroundings and the characters’ faces, etc. It’s a little hard to describe now, as I sit here writing, but it’s all very beautiful.
Catarina herself is fantastic. Simple yet beautiful, and the height of expressive. She makes more different kinds of faces than any character I think I’ve ever seen. Usually it’s utter surprise or dumfounded confusion, but you also have her youthful exuberance, both as a child and young lady, and her outbursts, and her smug or threatening villain faces. And everything in between. I’ll repeat what I said before and say this character is so much fun to watch! Add to all these expressions her tasteful blue-themed palette of colors, her cheeky hairstyle, and the glassy gorgeousness of her teal green eyes, and you get this amazing character the likes of which you only see every few years. She’s right up there with Mai Sakurajima and Zero Two among top-tier female MCs in the past several years. And design is perhaps chief among her best characteristics, which is saying a lot.
The story kind of takes a back seat in this series, but it is unique and effective. Essentially, our MC is reincarnated as the villainess of this otome game, and after hitting her head in the game itself, she remembers her past life in our world. As a result, her character changes immensely, and she recognizes the game from her previous life, and knows all the potential routes. Of course, all of these routes in the original game lead to either her death or exile. Neither of which outcomes, of course, she finds acceptable!
So while that theme runs through the whole show (and I presume will do so in S2 coming this year 2021!), it essentially becomes very episodic. Which is to be expected, as she encounters each character and their associated traits (route in the game). She is constantly trying to dodge the stereotypical “death flags” that would trigger her going down a sure path to being killed or exiled. This is the source of a great deal of her mental energy, much of which we get to hear as part of her dialogue. And through the end of S1, she has so far avoided all those! The flipside, of course, is all the terribly unexpected outcomes she encounters as a result. And so far, all of those outcomes have resulted in her becoming the central character in the game, and every character falling in love with her! Whether she was mean to them in the past or nice to them in the present, they’re all falling for her, girls and boys, rich and poor alike! It’s hilarious.
This show is fun from start to finish. From the start you have the fantastic opening, who unfortunately I don’t know who did at the moment, but is so much fun showcasing Catarina. And the craziness lasts from that moment until the episode ends! Oh, I forgot the personification of the various personalities inside Catarina’s head! That’s hilarious when we get those flashes inside her head and these five individual Catarinas have debates, with their different personalities clashing. But that’s just another fun thing about this show! Yes, it’s getting a second season April 2021, so you should make sure you watch the 12 episodes from S1 right away. It’s a breeze to watch through, it’ll be over before you know it. Eagerly awaiting S2!!!