Ah, the classic love story. A shy, quiet girl of common birth falls in love with a prince, far above her reach. However, fate plays its part to bring these two together, though many troubles stand in their way. For instance, the jealous noblewoman, betrothed to the prince finds herself at odds with this common child who opposes the nobility. Spiteful and angry, she attempts to poison her nemesis’ love. However the nobleman and our common girl’s love for each other is too strong, and not only is the day saved but the heroine and prince are finally wed in happiness. The nobleman woman gets her just desserts and ends up destitute and dead.
Or should she? What was her deal, anyway? Was she really a rich bitch or was there more to this that a new perspective would uncover? That is where I’m a Villainous Daughter, so I’m Going to Keep the Last Boss comes in. While a technical isekai, this manga likes to play uniquely and so twists a few things on their head, including certain isekai tropes. Obviously, the story is about the jealous rival rather than the “protagonist” of the love story, who in finding out her fiance is actually in love with the protagonist and not her, finds herself suddenly remembering odd things she hadn’t before. Like, for instance, how this is all a game and because she’s played it to death in a previous life, she knows exactly how this story will play out…
And also that she winds up dead at the end.
Right to left
Villainous is about someone who just very much would like to not die, and knows exactly how it’s going to happen. In the original game’s story, Aileen’s character finds herself desperate and leans on the Demon King for help. Once her ex-fiance and the protagonist are married, the Demon King transforms into a monster and attacks, ending our villainous heroine in the ensuing battle. However, the Demon King will only transform if he doesn’t find love, due to a curse. As such, best bet? Make the dude fall in love with her!
What I immensely enjoyed while reading through the first few chapters of this story is that a simple shift of focus unravels a character that, from one perspective, was a one-dimensional bully and jealous jerk, to a well-rounded character whose hard life has led her to being a badass. Due to her sadist father, Aileen grew up having to fight for every scrap and every sentiment. Her father would even nonchalantly say various things such as “Do this, or you’re disowned from the family.” for even the simplest of things. She found no love from her parents and developed a very hard edge because of it. However, this also enabled her to achieve her own success and find value in that personal achievement. She excelled in her schooling and training, and entrenched herself well within the nobility, finding many friends along with enemies. It was no surprise when she was to be wed to the prince.
So imagine her surprise when a common girl that had no background, no family, and was given a special opportunity to ascend the nobility is suddenly taking everything from her? She, who had to work for everything to just stay alive in her position and in her family.
Obviously, a little miffed.
After her fall from grace with the prince annulling their engagement, she admits to being venomous but decides that this is not the time to seek revenge. And really, she was never really much one for that type of mentality. Rather than dig herself deeper into this hole, she needs to survive, which means being smart.
Aileen’s struggle hinges on the Demon King not accidentally killing her, and so she dedicates herself to unwinding the ties in the game’s story that lead to this end. She cleverly recruits characters that didn’t even show up in the game’s original story, and uses her albeit failing credibility to assist her in getting several projects spinning to impress the Demon King, not to mention her already bold and infectious nature that leads her to barging straight into his keep and announcing their marriage. And while both she and the Demon King admit to not starting things off from a source of love, they both inevitably end up giving it a chance and finding what they like about each other.
As a love story, it’s very interesting to see a very outgoing and knows-what-she-wants character striking out and getting it done. It’s also nice to see how clever she is, fighting battles with brains over beauty, though she will fully use both. Rather than the mild-mannered and quiet beauty, who’s appearance wins the heart of the soon-to-be king, our hero, or rather villain, is intent on working her way through her problems without relying on a handsome prince to save her. And she’s genuinely likable! There is a valid reason why she was liked by the court before and while the Demon King is initially shocked at her outspokenness and sudden announcement, their relationship develops naturally, with both showing their best and worst to each other.
However, on a lesser note, as an isekai, I very much enjoy that this series really doesn’t go for a lot of tropes outside of just the setup. In fact, we don’t even know anything about the woman she was before except that she was bedridden and played games to cope. Everything else, her childhood in the game, her choices and actions, those are hers and directly have much more impact on the story. It’s just she has a bit of clairvoyance about the future.
The world itself is interesting as well. Since most of our characters are entrenched in the nobility, the politics of the realm and its issues are not just the backdrop but heart of many elements in the story. Aileen herself is well-known in the aristocracy, and has been spinning up several business ventures to assist the poorer classes. So when she’s stripped of this and having to deal with the edges of society, she incidentally becomes wrapped up in the health and work rights of the common folk, which makes for a wonderful story that expresses much more than just the “love” and “romance” tags this manga gets online.
It’s yet to be seen if this series will end up a bit Taming of the Shrew, as the main character seems to lose her demeanor when the Demon King takes interest in her, but as of yet, it seems to just be her acceptance that someone loves her and her taking comfort in that, rather than a walk-back of her own personality. This only makes me nervous because I’ve sadly seen before the issue of a character becoming an entirely different personality to fit the romance plot layed out in these kinds of stories. However, as far as I’ve read, Aileen seems she will always be herself, Demon King be damned, and her love and expression of such will just be another amazing aspect of her own fight for survival in an isekai world that she will ultimately control.