- Mangaka : Gwon Gyeoeul (Story), SUOL (Art)
- Publisher : Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo
- Genre : Ize Press
- Published : November 2022
It’s no secret that the manga industry has been on a recent high of villainess-focused titles, many of which we’ve covered ourselves at Honey’s Anime.
As more Korean-produced manhwa make their way to the west, though, Japanese manga creators might soon be given a run for their money—as is the case with Villains Are Destined to Die.
The hugely popular manhwa has now been adapted for bind-up format by Ize Press, the new manhwa-focused sub-print of Yen Press. But how does this villainess-reincarnation story measure up against its Japanese rivals?
Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we review Villains Are Destined to Die, Volume 1!
Right off the bat, the initial setup for Villains Are Destined to Die offers a unique twist on the “reincarnated as the villainess of an otome game” trope.
Our protagonist has a very similar backstory to the villainess—both were illegitimate, adopted children of wealthy families; both have a pair of troublesome brothers; and both are struggling to free themselves from the hand fate dealt them. While desperately trying to clear the dating sim’s “hard” mode, our protagonist falls asleep and awakens as the game’s villain, Penelope Eckhart.
Penelope has a strict deadline to max out one of the romanceable leads’ affection, or else the game’s heroine will arrive and permanently lock Penelope out of a happy ending. Since the original game was so difficult, our protagonist only has limited knowledge about some of the routes—but that won’t stop her from doing everything she can to achieve a happy ending and escape this deadly game.
With Penelope and our protagonist being so similar, frequent flashbacks to her real-world life provide greater insight into her choices and decisions. Villains Are Destined to Die is surprisingly dark in its execution, and Penelope (and our protagonist) grapple with their own abusive upbringings to survive in a world where everyone treats them like unwanted annoyances.
SUOL’s artwork is absolutely breathtaking, and although we read our copy digitally, we know from prior experience with Yen Press’s manhwa that the glossy full-color bind-up will be well worth the higher-than-usual price. SUOL perfectly captures the characters’ emotions, while providing high-quality backgrounds and lighting effects that are truly mesmerizing.
As with all adapted-to-book manhwa, a huge amount of effort has gone into fitting a vertical webcomic into traditional panels. Nothing feels odd or off at all; the editing work has been carried out flawlessly, and we think the team at Ize Press has achieved some of their best work to date with Villains Are Destined to Die.
1. Changing Up The Game
Villains Are Destined to Die flips the script on the usual otome-game-reincarnations, forcibly railroading our protagonist into filling up affection meters to survive the game’s “bad endings.” This limitation ensures that Penelope can’t go completely away from the game’s script, but challenges our protagonist to think exactly how to appease the ruthless men in her life, even if it means sacrificing her pride.
Coupled with the excellent dialogue and the dark overtones of the story, Penelope’s plight engenders a sense of anxiety in the reader—genuinely, you feel her frustration and fear at being trapped in the game’s “hard” mode, where death awaits her at every turn.
Villains Are Destined to Die absolutely shines with its characterization—it’s no exaggeration to say these are the best characters we’ve read all year. Penelope’s brothers, Reynold and Derrick, act distant towards her, but as she begins to play out her own path in the game, their own regrets and desires to change become clear.
Even minor characters, such as Penelope’s maid—who is, initially, abusive and cruel—undergo their own growth as Penelope begins breaking out of the shell the game’s script had built for her. Coupled with sharp dialogue and thrilling drama, this story really takes hold of you and draws you into Penelope’s world.
We also appreciate some more adult language and themes—it’s nothing that’d warrant a warning of any sort, but the story’s stakes feel appropriately matched by Penelope’s thoughts and her tragic upbringing.
Villains Are Destined to Die is a visual and literary treat, and an absolute must-read for any fan of the shoujo villainess genre. Whether you’re acquainted with manhwa or not, Ize Press’s adaptation is nearly perfect, and sitting at 265 pages, you’ll be getting great value for money.
The character illustrations are of the highest quality, and matched with Gwon Gyeoeul’s captivating story, Villains Are Destined to Die has shot to the very top of our recommendations for the villainess genre.
Are you going to check out Villains Are Destined to Die, Vol 1? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!