I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss

Alt title: Akuyaku Reijou Nano de Last Boss wo Katte Mimashita

TV (12 eps)
Fall 2022
3.815 out of 5 from 4,595 votes
Rank #2,081

When her engagement to the prince ends unceremoniously, details of the young noblewoman Aileen’s past life come rushing back and help her realize she’s living inside the world of one of her favorite otome games—as the heroine’s greatest rival! However, her memory has more plot holes than bad fan fiction… and the only certainty is that if she doesn’t do something quick, her death is all but assured. The hero/main-love-interest can’t be relied on, so why not see what the last boss has to say?

Source: Yen Press

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This is a romance fantasy adventure that takes a path less traveled.  Aileen is projected as an ideal though perhaps uncommon woman.  She's a survivalist, manipulative, cunning, hardheaded,skilled, and at times quite powerful in her own right.  Claude is cast as an ideal romance novel protagonist. He has dashing long hair, poise, looks, physique, combat skills, magic, power, position, humility, care, rational reasoning, equality, and intellect but he's often quite naive and even susceptible to schemes.  Though technically, Aileen's motives may have been similar to the wicked Lillia at first, she quickly realizes it's not just a survivor move to flip the plot of the otome on its head but she actually starts falling for him upon first sight.  She even struggles to contain and control her own baser instincts and desires around him. This isn't your usual love story by any stretch but it still fun to watch with plenty of fantasy and magic but most of the plot centers around the narcissistic Lillia who thinks the world is her playground and she's the only actual lifeform since she fails utterly to realize or accept the game has become reality and all her designs rise from false perceptions but that really doesn't excuse the level of her violence, harm, destruction, duplicity, inhumanity, or her treatment of others as playthings and not lifeforms.  She at some point herself seems to belatedly realize in her drive to push the story to a happy ending for faster, that she ended up becoming the real villain. While other similar stories were certainly fun or funny, I think this one simply pulls the story together much better by shifting from one scheming plot to another that protagonist and antagonist play against each other.  The only weak points I may see are Lillia having the freedom to continue being an obstacle to so many without significant enough consequences to prevent her further disruptions despite the issues she caused, she was given opportunities again and again which technically doesn't make much sense.  Other weak points are some lost opportunities like Aileen's adventure in school or lack or exploring how or why she left and didn't go to another early on.  Or in another case, why didn't she continue school after getting in another eventually? Cedric appears slow witted as it took him so long to realize he was only a tool and stepping stone and the first rejection did appear a bit out of nowhere to start the series off.  This could have been a much better and richer story with a bit more depth and time dedicated to developing it more with more episodes.  It still does a very good job of creating a memorable unique story with plenty of entertainment and excitement pushing things along.  There's a fair share of good characters, story arcs, challenges, and some setting and backstory but those last two are probably it's weakest pillar structures supporting solid story telling.

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