When a college student wakes up to find herself in the body of an otome game villainess, like most, her first thoughts pertain to ensuring she’s able to live a full life and not die at the hands of the heroes. But instead of trying to make friends with the main character and love interests, she plots out a new plan: level up as quickly and efficiently as possible to give herself a better advantage!
Unlike most otome games, Light Magic: A Tale of Heroes (or LH for short) not only has otome elements where players romance LIs to achieve different endings, it also has RPG elements and battles. Players can take on dungeons and fights to level up and eventually take on the Demon Lord as well as Eumiella Dolkness, the hidden boss, which is who the protagonist finds herself reincarnated as. It’s the RPG element of LH that enticed the now-Eumiella to play the game in her previous life, and she has very little care for the other aspects of the game.
When she wakes up at the age of five and realizes what her new reality is, Eumiella gets to work leveling up. She trains every day until she turns 15 and enters the Royal Academy. With her black hair and dark eyes being a bad omen and a sign of her rare dark magic, everyone makes sure to steer clear of her. Eumiella doesn’t mind though. With no interest in interacting with others, she focuses instead on making sure she doesn’t run into the MC and LIs to avoid triggering flags that will lead to her death. But her plans become that much trickier when at the entrance ceremony it’s revealed that her level is.. 99!?
Villainess Level 99 was a blast to read. While I love (almost) all things otome, it’s easy to get bored with how oversaturated the otome isekai genre is becoming. Between titles like Villains are Destined to Die, My Next Life as a Villainess, and I was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyways! (and so, so many others), it’s easy for some of the stories to blend together or be looked over if nothing helps it to stick out from the rest. And if I’m being honest, had Yatta-Tachi not received a review copy, I may have done just that with this one.
I am really glad we got a copy.
The two aspects of Villainess Level 99 that helps it stand out from the pack the most are how hilariously uncaring the MC is, as well as the RPG elements added into the story. When Eumiella realizes what’s happened to her, instead of being worried or surprised or even concerned, she’s excited about being able to level up and fight monsters, and she starts pouring all of her energy into gaining EXP. It’s so fun to see how hardcore of a gamer the MC is. The references to common tropes and mechanics in RPGs and Eumiella’s mindset to view her new life as just a video game is very entertaining. I also really liked the story having an actual level to each character instead of using an obscure or ‘hidden’ skill tree like other videogame isekai. It made it feel more like a game than a generic fantasy world, and it helped to add some extra comedy when people try to take her on, only to realize she’s max level before their fight begins.
The most enjoyable part for me was Eumiella’s interactions with the three LIs and the MC. Unlike other similar titles, none of the characters fawn over Eumiella nor do they try to make friends. Instead, they treat her as exactly what she is–the villainess. Of course, this treatment starts before Eumiella can even think about acting like a real villainess. But having this small change really helped to make this title feel vastly different than others in the genre.
Though I enjoyed the story, the fact still remains that the genre is being bogged down by too-similar titles and too-similar settings. A good amount of content in this volume replicates My Next Life as a Villainess–the setting (an academy for magic users that doesn’t allow commoners in), the magic system (element-based magic affinities with dark and light magic both being some of the most powerful and rarest types), the plot to the otome (the MC being a commoner who is allowed to enter the magic academy because she can use light magic), and even the character designs for the light-user MCs, Maria and Alicia, are incredibly similar.
For people looking for a manga that will twist the otome isekai genre on its head, it’s easy to say that, at least in volume 1, Villainess Level 99 is not that.
While the parallels between My Next Life and Villainess Level 99 were distracting to be sure, they didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the volume. There are enough differences in the characters’ personalities, the direction of the plot, and the overall feel of the story to make up for what, in some ways, felt like a carbon copy of My Next Life as a Villainess.
Eumiella was such a refreshing main character for an otome isekai. I love her kuudere-esque personality, and the interactions between her and the otome main characters were so funny. Though the beginning of the volume felt rushed and a little contrived, and I would have liked to see a setting that was a tad more unique, I felt a camaraderie with Eumiella. Her gamer attitude and know-how felt real, and I could easily see myself becoming besties with her if I found myself isekai’ed into Villainess Level 99.
Manga by nocomi
Original Story by Tanabata Satori
Character Design by Tea
Translated by Hengtee Lim
English Edition Published by One Peace Books 2023
Thanks to One Peace Books for providing a free review copy. Receiving a free copy has in no way impacted the thoughts in this review.
- Interesting twist for the genre
- Pretty art and interesting characters
- Aspects of the story are very similar to other popular titles
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