I’m walking into this review a bit off-kilter, having thoroughly enjoyed the premise and writing in the first arc, then gradually spiraling into disappointment through the middle and ending. I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss may have let me down at the end, but I still appreciate Aileen’s character and her romantic interactions with Claude. Their blunt flirting left little to the imagination and made for some of the most entertaining couplings of the year.
I’m Taming the Final Boss started out as a predictable video game isekai where the main character, Aileen Lauren Dautriche, wakes up in an otome game as a minor villainess headed for a bad ending. Sounds familiar, right? How it differs from My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is instead of working her way into everyone’s hearts through hard work and clumsy charm, she leaves behind her toxic environment and confronts the game’s Demon Lord directly, earning his heart along the way. His initial negativity about his lot in life that puts him at odds with the human kingdom and its royal family of which he is the original heir is supposed to result in his defeat by the game’s end. Along the way, Aileen’s character is also supposed to die a pathetic death. Her goal of “taming” the game’s main antagonist through marriage to avoid this ending works faster than expected. You would think this simple plot would frame the entire season, but you’d mostly be wrong. Instead, their pairing goes off extremely quickly and only makes up the first arc of this single-cours series.
The two following arcs that fill the middle and end of the series comprise of Aileen first going undercover at a neighboring kingdom’s school as a boy to tackle the conflict of the game’s sequel series, and at the end fighting against a more serious conflict with her rival “heroine,” who is also reborn from the real world.
Bring on the Flirting
My favorite part, hands down, of this entire show is the way in which Aileen and Demon Lord Claude interact with one another. Not only do you get the clear sense of their attraction to one another, but Claude makes his feelings explicitly clear with his words and actions. His constant propositions and her flustered responses is the best stuff of romance. Maybe it’s because I’m used to other anime either being unrequited or true feelings staying firmly under prickly wrappings. Seeing a couple like this one revel in their affections is a good example of why I’m such a sucker each year for the plethora of new romantic Christmas films.
While the pacing of their romance is fast, I never felt like it was too rushed. Their early bickering which transformed to teasing and later to respect felt completely natural. Their move to real love was steady but fast in the way some of the most head-over-heels romances are. If the show had ended after the first four episodes after Aileen pulls Claude back from his demonic transformation, I would have been more than satisfied, as short as the story would have been.
More of a Good Thing is Still Good, Right?
With the finality of their engagement, I had no idea where the story would move in the future. The new setting featuring a game spinoff made an odd kind of sense and I went into it with an open mind hopeful for something as charming as what came before. Unfortunately, we were back to Aileen as our primary character. As much as I enjoyed her early on and throughout the first arc, I had grown to love her verbal spars with Claude and the lack thereof left me feeling empty.
Aileen going undercover as a Aily provides a gender swap twist that makes up a bit for the quirkiness of the earlier episodes, but isn’t enough to make up for the loss of their frequent flirting. This is why her eventual duck costume when confronting a visiting Claude ended up becoming my favorite part of the second arc. Her frantic attempt to keep her identity a secret from him and his resulting confusion about why a member of the student council is so obsessed with ducks never got old.
The actual plot here didn’t really interest me other than to move us steadily towards the eventual reveal of Aily’s true identity. Having a second antagonist so similar to the first antagonist, yet another human-demon character, ended up feeling like a weak imitation.
Sensible, I Guess
By the time the final arc started up, I was ready for the series to end a full month earlier than scheduled. While I enjoyed seeing Claude and Aileen butt heads, Mische Academy had lulled me far enough into routine that I didn’t feel a need for any more plot development. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened, and instead of ending light and fluffy like I would’ve liked, the show opted to follow a more serious storyline that did make sense given events leading up to this point.
The first arc’s ending may have been short and sweet, but any deeper inspection would reveal that the former crown prince and his meddling heroine had much more to offer in terms of conflict. Lilia and Aileen never received a proper confrontation, which is exactly the reason for this final setting. That the cost of that development would be my favorite romance was one I’m still reluctant to approve. Claude and Aileen’s bond somehow felt too strong for something as pedestrian as a spell to erase–he’s the Demon Lord for crying out loud!
Either way, they predictably survived the ordeal, arguably stronger for the trials they overcame. I’m not entirely convinced that multiple episodes of possible flirting were worth Lilia having her moment, but feel free to disagree with me. My feelings may very well be strongly affected by the fact that I’ve been reading a ton of smutty fanfiction lately and it always irks me when some contrived story fills the pages of what I truly want to read–the dirty goodness.
Rating: 0 dango
Watch on Crunchyroll.
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.