Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss But I’m Not the Demon Lord – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser January 10, 20240 Comments
Yumiella floating and glowing red

What’s it about? After a tragic accident, a college student is reincarnated as Yumiella Dolkness, the extra-hard secret boss of Light Magic and the Hero. Her initial goal is to avoid heroine Alicia Ehnleit and her love interests altogether, training in secret in case she should need to defeat the Demon King herself. But all her training adds up to is putting every eye on her at the academy’s entrance ceremony.

We are well into the oversaturation of villainess anime at this point, I’d say. It’s inevitable with any popular trend, and the world of manga and light novels have been glutted for years now, but it’s still kind of a bummer given that I really enjoy the microgenre’s better entries. Villainess Level 99 isn’t a terrible show, but it sits firmly in the same uncreative slog that broader wish-fulfillment isekai have been stuck in for years.

Its first failing is one of pacing. The first half of this episode straightforwardly follows the otome heroine through her introduction and that of her three love interests, pulling back to tell us about our actual main character once the two first meet. Alicia is fine in a bland way, but the villainess isekai is so done to death at this point that I can’t think of a single person who would stumble upon this as their first taste of it. There’s initially a hint that there’s a parallel structure at work, showing Yumiella in the background of Alicia’s introduction a la Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, but it gets dropped after a single scene. It just feels like a waste of the viewer’s time, padding out the runtime before the actual beginning.

split screen view of Alicia and her three love interests

The other problem is our true heroine herself. Yumiella Dolkness—who I assume originally became evil not out of nominative determinism but sheer embarrassment—is an energetic void. Fairouz Ai is an extremely talented voice actress, but she seems to have been directed to give a performance so deadpan that it drains the life out of every scene.

Yumiella muses that the original game character probably became a cold villainess because of social stigma around black hair and dark magic, or that she kind of hyperfixated and spent literally every day of her youth grinding levels, but the visuals are so uninspired that the comedic gulf between narration and image just isn’t there. There’s a nice little moment of Yumiella giggling that her spooky powers are extremely cool, actually, but it’s a somewhat isolated moment of energy. Combined with the shortcut of having characters use game jargon in dialogue, and it’s hard to get invested.

There is room for this to grow if it can get better visual timing and play Yumiella off of her more energetic castmates. She seems to have a nice love interest boy of her own, but right now I’m much more keen to see her attempt to do damage control on her interactions with Alicia. As far as first impressions though, 7th Time Loop is the easy winner if you’re looking for a villainess story this season. Villainess 99 is too generic to overcome its production limitations and the direction sadly isn’t skilled enough to lift the good ideas out of the Narō of it all.

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