All of us have our unusual picks for our favorite characters in anime or games. But for salarywoman Rae, her favorite is maybe a little more unusual than most, as is her dedication to the character. In Rae’s heart, no one exceeds the villainess Claire, and those feelings continue to hold true when Rae is mysteriously isekai’d into the dating game. As “Rae Taylor,” a high-achieving commoner at a magical school, she draws the attention of Claire, a student of noble status. Despising commoners, Claire bullies Rae, but it doesn’t have quite the effect she expects; Rae loves the attention she’s getting from her crush, and even interprets Claire’s “bullying” as being little signs of affection. Oh my. Now Claire is turned inside-out and left frustrated and unsure—that is until she thinks up a plan to get rid of Rae once and for all!
I generally have no love for villainess series, nor do I watch many GL anime, but I found the opening episode of I’m in Love with the Villainess to be quite good, irresistible even! It all begins with the leads. Rae demonstrates a massive amount of energy and optimism without coming across as obnoxious; she’s a fun character, and Claire is equally adorable, as Rae might say. In her, the audience gets to enjoy all the villainess tropes (including the “Oh ho ho ho” laugh) while also seeing her constantly flustered by Rae’s unexpected reactions. It’s all actually very, very funny, especially in the dub, which is getting a same-day release as the sub. Hannah Alyea is so spirited as Rae, and Lindsay Sheppard absolutely perfect switching back and forth in portraying Claire as overly confident and then unsettled. The supporting turns are strong as well, including all three actors playing the intended male love interests and Marisa Duran as Rae’s level-headed friend and the voice of reason, Misha. The dub is more over-the-top than the Japanese language version; it not only works, it exceeds the original because that loud approach is really what this type of series calls for. Credit to ADR director Emily Fajardo—the dub is such a riot! But I’m also looking forward to how the series may develop along more usual lines in later episodes. There’s potential here for a number of interesting isekai/magic school-themed storylines to develop and for character growth as well, particularly with Claire (think Lieselotte). And if the series is able to follow those routes with as much vigor and fun as it has the initial introduction of its main characters and their relationship, this anime could very well be a keeper!
I’m in Love with the Villainess is available to stream on Crunchyroll.