(*Note: The review of the first episode is copy-pasted from when I reviewed it for The Fall 2022 Preview Guide—which also includes three additional reviews of this episode from other ANN reviewers. The episode 2 through 4 portions of the review are completely new.)
I love villainess stories. It doesn’t matter if they are isekai, time travel, or simply telling a cliché story through the villainess’ point of view. They are my crack cocaine and I seek them out voraciously, regardless of the medium. I love how each story puts its own subtle twists on the archetypal narrative framework and revel in all the little differences. In the case of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss, the twist is that, after her denouncement, Aileen not only gains memories of her past life but realizes that the only way to survive her looming death at the hands of the demon lord is to seduce him (and, in doing so, prevent him from going on his mad rampage).
Aileen herself is the key to this romantic comedy. While generally a nice person, there is nothing she won’t do to ensure her survival—be that poisoning, blackmail, or slipping the demon lord an aphrodisiac. She has no shame about the underhanded things she is doing, and will proudly admit to them after the fact, which makes for some very effective comedy. All she cares about is winning the demon lord’s heart, and she sees nothing wrong with pulling out all the stops. She isn’t trying to deceive anyone really; she just doesn’t think that anyone would believe her story about being reincarnated in a game.
At this point, most of the supporting cast serves as little more than her comedic foils. However, her encounters with her ex-fiancé Prince Cedric and the “heroine” Lilia highlight the other mystery of the story: why did Cedric break up with Aileen? He implies that it’s because Aileen has been bullying Laila, but we also see Aileen being framed for doing so in this episode. Is this all part of Cedric’s plan or is he just a fool being influenced by others? Is Lilia as innocent as she seems or is that all a mask? I, for one, will definitely be back next week to see how this mystery continues to unfold.
Episode 1 Rating:
Episodes two through four provide a nice little story arc that seemingly stretches all the way to the end of the game Aileen played in her past life. Aileen has done her best to derail the plot in a positive way, namely by unabashedly laying out her own truth in front of everyone at the ball and then helping Keith redeem himself before his betrayal became too great to forgive. The problem is that while she was running around putting out fires, she left the real threat untouched—i.e., Cedric’s ego.
As the second son, Cedric has always felt inferior to his older, magically-talented brother—even after his brother was stripped of his title as crown prince and banished to live amongst the demons. While Aileen gave her all to become the perfect partner for him, ironically, what he needed wasn’t actions, but words: someone to commiserate with his feelings and insecurities. This is what Lillia was able to give him.
However, it never occurred to him that Aileen would give up on him, even if he gave up on her. This sting of being proven wrong here is two-fold when she not only discards him but latches onto his brother as well. This, frankly, drives him mad to the point that he devises the perfect plan to kill his brother and trap Aileen into marriage with him as a powerless consort.
But the really interesting part here isn’t that Cedric’s so mentally twisted that he can go along with a plan that includes both rape and fratricide with a clear conscience, it’s that Lillia can as well. Lillia is supposed to be the stereotypical pure-hearted protagonist—i.e., one that would be shocked and horrified by such a plan. The fact that she isn’t hints at one of two things: either she is a master manipulator, skilled at hiding her true personality—or she, like Aileen, is also a reincarnator.
From what we see in this arc, it is the latter that seems the most likely. Lillia deviates from the script several times when Aileen isn’t involved, hinting that she is changing things on her own. She even tries to seduce the villain and seemingly go for a full harem ending. (It’s too bad for her that Aileen got there first.) Lillia may be suffering from an ailment many characters do when being transported into a game or novel: she doesn’t see those she meets as real humans—but rather characters she can do with as she pleases. After all, it’s not ethically wrong to do bad things to fictional characters.
All this means that while we have gotten to the end of a story arc, complete with a cliché climax where magical tears heal everything, very little is actually resolved. Cedric may have lost his position as crown prince, but his attempted crimes remain hidden from the public. Likewise, Lillia may no longer have the holy sword, but she still has a harem of powerful heirs to noble families under her thumb—and is more than likely nursing a grudge. Even without the mysterious blond boy showing up in the closing seconds, we have plenty of fuel for the story going forward—and this time Aileen won’t have past life knowledge to aid her. (You know, unless she played the sequel and hasn’t mentioned it.)
Episode 2 Rating:
Episode 3 Rating:
Episode 4 Rating:
• I like that getting her past life memories doesn’t change Aileen all that much. She simply undergoes a shift in priorities: instead of studying to be the perfect queen, she focuses on trying to survive.
• That said, I wonder how much Aileen really bullied Lillia and how much was made up or a twisting of the truth.
• I’m legitimately surprised that Belzebuth sided with Aileen against Keith—no matter what evidence she had.
• Why couldn’t the demons find the kidnapped Aileen simply by popping out of her shadow? Does that only work inside the demon territory?
• I loved Aileen getting herself stabbed to steal the holy sword. It was a great badass moment.
• The human nobles seemed surprisingly okay with the demon lord becoming their new crown prince…
• I’m a bit worried about the idea of dating a man whose emotional state dictates the weather. It’s like a form of unintended emotional blackmail—”don’t upset him or people could die!” Not exactly something conducive to broaching tough subjects or facing hard truths.
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