The Other Side of Isekai

I’ve talked about the hugely trendy isekai boom currently underway in the anime and manga realm, and as promised, I’m here to talk a bit about a lesser-known subtrend of the trope. Yes, I’m talking about shoujo/josei isekai where the protagonist is a normal girl reincarnated into an otome game— almost invariably as the villainess character.

The main thrust of these titles is that the protagonist is trying to avoid the villainess’ “bad end” (usually death) or otherwise make the best of the situation, which usually involves one or more of the game’s love interest characters falling in love with her…or sometimes someone the heroine liked as a player who wasn’t normally romanceable. 😉

Seriously, check this out:

I Reincarnated into an Otome Game as a Villainess With Only Destruction Flags… Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shite shimatta (I Reincarnated into an Otome Game as a Villainess With Only Destruction Flags…) My sense is this is the most popular, originating as a light novel with a manga adaptation and in the near future an anime as well. Katerina is reborn as 8-year-old daughter of a duke with the knowledge that her character becomes the antagonist of the story. In an effort to avoid the bad ends of the game, she good-naturedly tries to help the other characters and also takes up farming (as a backup skill for when she gets kicked out of the magic academy)…which results in her effectively becoming the protagonist of the game as everyone falls for her, platonically or otherwise. (She’s oblivious, obviously.)
The Villainess Wants to Marry a Commoner Akuyaku Reijou wa, Shoumin ni Totsugitai!! (The Villainess Wants to Marry a Commoner) “Love Interests? More like NOT interested! Gimme that cute commoner NPC!” A normal office lady dies— she actually trips because she’s distracted by the fact that her favorite character in an otome game isn’t getting any merch — because he’s just the guy players buy items from. After reincarnating as the villain character in the game and having her engagement annulled, this isekai heroine / otome game villainess decides she’s gonna hook up with the merchant NPC instead, and it’s pretty great.
As a Result, The Villainess Lives Freely In the Life After the Annulment of Her Engagement Wakeari Akuyaku Reijou wa Konyaku Hakigo no Jinsei wo Jiyuu ni Ikiru (As a Result, The Villainess Lives Freely In the Life After the Annulment of Her Engagement) Firmly in the “make the best of this” camp, Leticia wants to get past the annulment and kick back into a hedonistic lifestyle of drinking and relaxing with no involvement with politics whatsoever. But she was a nurse in her past life, and instinctively saves her fiancé’s father— the king, of course —by way of CPR. After that, she finds her relaxing “retirement” slipping away from her as incident after incident interrupts her leisurely life.
The Banished Villainess! Living the Leisurely Life of a Nun Making Revolutionary Church Food Akuyaku Reijou no Tsuihougo Kyoukai Kaikaku Gohan de Yuuyuu Sister Kurashii (The Banished Villainess! Living the Leisurely Life of a Nun Making Revolutionary Church Food) “Sucked into another world and becoming a cook” is a popular isekai trope unto itself, and this title is no different as heroine Yuka gets sucked into a fantasy world as the villainess…and also makes the most out of getting dumped by her fiancé, in this case by becoming a cooking nun. A fusion dish, if you will!
An Observation Record of my Fiancé - A Self-Proclaimed Villainess Jishou Akuyaku Reijou na Konyakusha Kansatsu Kiroku (An Observation Record of my Fiancé – A Self-Proclaimed Villainess) The twist in this particular iteration is that the villainess embraces her antagonist status whole-heartedly, thinking it the best path to support the love interest’s happiness with the game’s original heroine. Unfortunately, this villainess isn’t very bright and all her efforts just amuse and endear her to her slightly sadistic fiancé.

And that’s just five titles along these lines. Here are a few more:

And a couple of fun bonus twists 😉

So as you can see, we truly live in an isekai trope world…what do you think the next trend will be?

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