WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 5 of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, streaming now on Crunchyroll.
In the most recent episode of the My Next Life as a Villainess anime, Katarina Klaes is doubling her efforts to become Maria’s friend, and in doing so, she soon realizes just how lonely Maria’s really is.
Katarina is no ordinary student at the magic academy — she’s on a mission to micro-manage Maria Campbell’s personal life, and she can’t afford to make a single mistake. Maria is a kind girl with a big heart, but she’s also lonely, which is a recipe for her falling in love with the first boy who shows her sincere kindness in return. That makes her a great otome game heroine, but for Katarina, who’s trapped as the antagonist’s role, a happy ending for Maria is a bad ending for her. Any route would lead to doom.
Right now, Maria is still lonely, and Katarina notes that Maria is only animated and happy while in the student council, and otherwise, she’s hardly even seen at all, let alone a part of the school’s social scene. Katarina knows that in this state, Maria is liable to conquer one of the male love interests — whether its Keith, Alan or Nicol — and she can’t have that happen. At least, not yet. So, she decides to track down Maria during lunch and make some headway.
Once again, Maria is being bullied by four girls (who are part of Katarina’s clique in the original game). This time, magic is involved, and Katarina swoops in to protect Maria and chase off the bullying girls. This is just like the scene with the muffins, where one of the love interests was supposed to step in; in this case, Keith Klaes. This is important for Katarina’s mission, but can she keep it up? Saving Maria from bullies might not be enough to keep her on the track that Katarina wants, so Katarina has Keith come along on a trip to the countryside during the day off, to visit Maria where she lives.
En route to Maria’s hometown, Katarina and Keith first need to get a lead on where the Campbells even live. Along the way, Katarina realizes that Maria is no ordinary girl, and she has a bit of a reputation here due to her light magic affinity. In fact, two girls tell Katarina and Keith that Maria’s light magic suggests a scandalous possibility: that Maria’s mother had a child with a nobleman in secret, and Maria inherited that magic from her father. This makes her something of an outcast among her peers.
Maria suffers from a poor social life, and her mother is astonished and delighted that Katarina and Keith have come to visit as friends. Mrs. Campbell explains that Maria can heal with her light magic but her classmates ostracize her, and not even her baking could win them over. Maria soon gave up on baking and trying to make friends, and she seemed doomed to loneliness. But now, with Katarina and Keith by her side, Maria sees hope, and she treasures her new friendships. Katarina leaves in high spirits to go home, but there, her angry mother demands an explanation about Katarina’s odd behavior lately.
So far, Katarina is keeping a tight rein on Maria to save her own life, but her family might threaten to undo it all.
The latest episode of the otome series shows exactly what kind of life Maria has been living, and it's hardly a charmed one.