“You see, this world is an otome game that existed in my previous life . . . I am, as they say, the rival who exists to be vanquished . . . You’ve heard of the power of love, though, correct?”
Lady Aileen D’Autriche’s fiancé just dumped her, and that might be the least of her problems! The shock of the humiliating public rejection also triggers the sudden return of her memories from her past life in another world. With dawning horror, Aileen realizes that she’s been reborn into the role of a villainess in an otome game. And if she remembers the route she’s on correctly, she’s destined to die when the demon king Claude loses control of his powers in just a few months. Aileen reasons that she can avoid her fate if she can make Claude fall in love with her, but does she have the time? And what about all the other complications of the game’s twisting plot that remain blurry in her memories? These intriguing questions drive the plot of I’m The Villainess, So I’m Taming The Final Boss.
Aileen’s characterization as a partially reformed antagonist makes her perspective uniquely interesting to follow. Once she regains her memories, she sincerely regrets many of the villainous actions of her past, such as bullying the game’s heroine. But she remains as cold and calculating as ever, and her mission is essentially to manipulate Claude into marrying her in a desperate bid to save her own life. This moral ambiguity provides compelling intrigue and adds to the complexity of her relationships with other characters.
However, the story doesn’t comment on the specific tropes of otome games nearly as much as one might expect. Its medieval fantasy setting and focus on the impending threat of the “final boss” make it feel more like an RPG. And while this may change as the series continues, Aileen’s knowledge of the modern world from her past life doesn’t come into play much either. A slightly different concept, like a time loop, would have suited the story just as well. The idea that it’s an otome feels like shallow set dressing that’s borrowed from other successful entries in the “villainess” trend.
There’s also an abrupt conclusion that comes out of left field, with the sudden introduction of a new conflict that lacks foreshadowing. And at around the same time, an attempted sexual assault causes a shocking jump into a much darker tone. These events, combined with the missed potential of the otome concept, create an ultimately disappointing story. The charm of Aileen herself and the details of the fantasy worldbuilding could make later volumes more entertaining, but on its own, the first entry in the I’m The Villainess series leaves much to be desired.
Title: I’m the Villainess So I’m Taming the Final Boss, Vol. 1
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: October 12th, 2021
Type: Light Novel
Author: Sarasa Nagase
Illustrator: Mai Murasaki
Translator: Taylor Engel