ANN’s coverage of Anime NYC 2023 is sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!
This is the definition of cartoon accompaniment. That doesn’t make it bad, but it’s disappointing — especially after a second season that lacked narrative urgency and relied heavily on goodwill toward the characters. Those hoping for any follow-up to the Fortune Lover II tease from the end of Part 2 will have to keep waiting for a potential Part 3.
It’s a strange task to make a movie large enough in scale to feel big-screen worthy while also knowing that it can’t be important to the series’ broader continuity. Doing this is easier with Shonen action anime, where you can simply have the characters fight a new, bigger monster of the week. For a romantic comedy built on the relationships between characters, it’s more difficult to introduce new BIG events that don’t make sense. The movie My Next Life as a Villainess was almost a success before having serious problems at the end.
One clear positive about the film: it is the best My Next Life as a Villainess has ever been considered in terms of art and animation. The watercolor background, which is the strongest aspect of the TV show’s visuals, has multi-layered depth. The characters are drawn better than before, with great lighting effects and fluid moments of sakuga. Only some crudely integrated CG effects beat the film in this regard.
As filler movies tend to do is introduce a few new characters to hook you for a moment before they are never heard from again. The first is a cute little bird adopted by Catarina and named Piyo. Between the reveal of Sasaki and Peeps and the giant model of Filo from Shield Hero on display, one of the obvious highlights from Anime NYC 2023 is the inclusion of bird mascot characters .
There’s a circus caravan coming from Mutrac, a country with a Middle Eastern/North African influence. Aaqil, a magically gifted animal tamer who connects more easily with his companions than with humans, is a protagonist of interest in both personal character development and potential as love. The most prominent caravan member is Gerudo Link, Aaqil’s female best friend—I mean, Qumiit. The film is as refreshingly positive about his gender nonconformity as the series is about queerness. Sophia’s interaction with Qumiit is the comedic highlight of the film.
I wish the series’ regular supporting characters had more shining moments in the film, but getting to know the new characters is fun. Aaqil’s story has a lot of touching family/friendship themes—and, after a somewhat contrived but plausible reveal midway through the film, the first real danger since Part 1 is all the way can all lead to destruction.
The increased stakes allow for what up to this point has largely been a hangout movie that builds in excitement. If this weren’t a filler film, this could be something special. Heck, even if it were a more tactfully handled filler film, it still could have been a solid recommendation. I can’t say where the movie went wrong without spoilers. At a certain point at the end of the movie, my mind was filled with profanities. The final moments are so crude and awkward due to the film being considered filler. For all its entertainment value up to that point, I can’t blame any fans for skipping this movie entirely.
Overall grade: C+
+: The best series I’ve ever seen, the new characters are charming enough
-: The conclusion is so bad it becomes insulting