Oh man, this post is going to have a dozen disclaimers. Ok so first I should say that I’m only about halfway through season 2 of My Next Life as a Villainess all Roads lead to Doom! My observations may not hold through for the entire season.

Second, I’m watching the show with Karandi and Crow, both of whom think it’s amazing and do not share my opinions. Personally, I think it’s ok but I find that a lot of the elements I thought were charming in season 1, aren’t coming through this time around. And a lot of it can be attributed to Catarina herself.

it’s not that bad…

Before I get into the specifics though, let me quickly talk about Flanderization in general. If you haven’t heard of the term, it actually comes from The Simpsons. Maybe I’m the only one that was surprised to learn that. Basically, it was coined to describe the way that the character of Ned Flanders became more or less a caricature of himself throughout the seasons.

This is hardly limited to The Simpsons though. It’s in fact fairly common in shows with multiple seasons or movies with a lot of instalments. Cough Pirates of the Caribbean, cough. When a character becomes popular with fans because of certain aspects, it can be very tempting to show more of those particular aspects. However, when it’s not done right, those aspects can overshadow the rest of the character’s personality and/or get exaggerated to the point of no longer making much sense.

I find that Flanderization is in fact much less frequent in anime than in other mediums. And when it does happen, it’s more subtle. I think part of the reason for that is that anime almost always follows an already established storyline from manga or light novels. And those are a bit less prone to Flandarization in the first place as it’s tougher to integrate audience feedback quickly. But it’s not impossible. And even anime based on manga can diverge from the source and evolve characters in some odd ways.

Actually, I’m into this Catarina

Caterina Claes isn’t the only example of anime Flanderization I can think of. She is not the worse either. In fact, it’s kind of subtle which is why I wanted to chose her as an example. I know the show has a lot of fans and a lot of you might disagree with this post. Even so, the idea does apply in general.

So in season 1, Catarina was an endearing protagonist to me. Sure, she adhered to a lot of the tropes but I liked the characterization they were going for. Catarina was your standard genki optimist. Full of energy and good intentions, kind to all those around her and a bit dense. In fact, she earned the nickname bakarina from the fanbase because the character was seen as a bit of an idiot.

However, there was a lot of nuance there. Catarina was very naive and is obviously not someone who had traditional book smarts. She doesn’t like studying and she tends to believe those around her even when she shouldn’t. But she was also someone who from childhood honestly believed she was doomed to exile or death and spend her entire time devising plans to avoid that fate. Not all of them were genius but a lot of them were creative. She even put together a plan B in case she did get exiled so that she could survive on her own. Independently teaching herself the basics of vegetable farming and cultivation.

That’s not someone who is a complete moron. She consistently showed out-of-the-box thinking and an ability for alternative problem solving that helped everyone out on several occasions. And she was hardworking and dedicated. Getting up before everyone else to tend to her garden and putting in a lot of time and energy towards her different pans to avoid the worse. She may not always have the most sturdy hold on logical reasoning but throughout season 1, we saw that she does indeed spend a lot of time thinking things through, even having an entire council in her head to analyze the different situations she found herself in.

Look at that council member calmly making her point to the group!

As a harem heroine, Catarina was of course irresistible to all those around her as well. It’s a trope of the genre that harem protagonists are super boring and audiences wonder why anyone would be attracted to them. But in villainess, we did have some viable reasons. Since Catarina was not in fact born into her station in life, she never really acquired the rigidity of nobility. She doesn’t feel the need to hold herself back or censor herself due to her class, making her much more entertaining than the average noble. More importantly, she treats everyone with kindness and dignity regardless of who they are. That’s one of her defining traits and it’s one of the aspects that make her so loveable by both characters in the show and audiences alike.

In summary, Catarina Claes is impulsive, naive and lacks skill in traditional academia but she is hardworking, dedicated, open to those around her and persistent. She is a lady who knows what she wants and defends her friends. She may be an adorable ditz but she’s also a capable main character who inspires those around her.

Or at least she was. The Catarina of season 2 seems to be the same at first glance. She’s still full of energy and enthusiasm. She’s still a loveable airhead. But there are little things that sort of undo some of her admirable traits for me.

All my s2 screencaps are kind of like this

In the first half of the season, I don’t think we’ve seen Catarina work hard at anything. Her vegetable garden isn’t important anymore since she is seemingly out of danger and she no longer needs to make plans so she’s just sort of drifting along. It seems she sleeps in as much as possible as often as possible and even in dangerous situations is difficult to get out of bed before noon.

I mentioned this in one of my episode reviews with Karandi and Crow but there’s a scene where she explains that she never bothered to learn her family butler’s name and just calls him Sebastian cause she thinks he looks like one. It’s a joke. It’s not supposed to be character development or anything. But it still feels way off for someone like Catarina to be treating others this way. In fact, she also calls the butler in that episode Sebastian without asking for his name.

The entire kidnapping arc paints her as way more docile and sort of hollow than she was before. Catarina is naive and potentially kind to a fault. But despite the nickname, she’s not an idiot who would just accept getting kidnapped and not do anything to help herself. Even becoming close to her own kidnapper after hearing his stated intention of hurting her friends. It just doesn’t really seem to fit in with the girl I had gotten to know.

Heck, she even thinks that a kiss is an insect bite. Farmer Catarina who spend an entire season in the fields and taught all her friends how to grow vegetables, and an entire childhood climbing trees and catching bugs, can’t tell an insect bite apart from a kiss.

sounds about right

I understand that all of these are jokes. The sleeping in, the Sebastian bit, the insect bite. They are all just little silly moments and not revelations about Catarina’s character. But that’s sort of all that we got so far this season. The show has insisted on showing her carefree, ditzy, obliviously lovable naive side and there hasn’t been time for anything else. The Catarina who spends hours working by herself on her own plans to achieve her goals hasn’t made an appearance yet. The Catarina who is deeply kind to people who usually don’t get any consideration but who will rip you to shreds to defend her friends simply hasn’t shown up.

It’s a more subtle change but I would argue that it still definitely counts as Flanderization. The fans liked Bakarina a lot so now she’s more Bakarina than anything else and I think that’s a shame. I liked all the layers Catarina had, I think it made her more interesting and gave the series more options when it came to the relationships in the show, which are really the core of the series.

Like I said, there’s still an entire second half to go. Maybe the show will take the time to reestablish the character. I hope they do. Or that they will in future seasons.

I’m sure a lot of my readers will disagree with me. That’s ok. Feel free to let e know what I’m missing. Or maybe you can tell me if there’s a character you liked that got flanderized? Maybe there’s a character that got improved by Flanderization. I’m not sure I can think of one off the top of my head but that would be very interesting to hear about!

ED: The day after I wrote this episode 6 aired and Catarina was almost back to her season 1 self. It was a great episode and now I feel like my example is much weaker. There’s another episode tonight which may render this post pretty much irrelevant. But I’m going to publish it anyways. The ideas still make sense to me.

20 thoughts

    1. Catarina is actually less present in general, like it’s not so much from her PoV anymore so we just don’t see her doing it. Maybe she does

  1. I haven’t been following the second season of Bakarina, so it is interesting to see this kind of post, because everything you’re describing would seem extremely familiar to anyone who reads webnovels or light novels because flanderization and legacy fillers are problems faced by almost all light novels. Another somewhat recent example that comes to mind is Arifureta, the light novel of which is kind of suffering a death by thousand cuts because of these issues.
    Reading the other comments, apparently some of the filler lull has been driven away in the recent episodes, which is nice to hear, especially since season 1 of Bakarina was pretty endearing and I am planning on watching season 2 when it finishes airing.

    1. Sadly the recent episodes are filler… I’m curious to see what this will mean for the rest of the season.

  2. I sort of agree. This entire season so far felt like an extended fanservice OVA. It’s fun, but doesn’t quite capture the rest of the series. Part of it is that they got rid of the meta aspect. It’s the sort of stuff that happens when serialisation survives the story (or that’s what it feels like for me).

    As someone who never remembers names, I wasn’t that bothered with the butler thing. It’s a nickname, and if that’s all you use, you can forget the real name. I’m honestly not sure what Catarina’s relationship with names is. She’d have known the ones that appear in the game well in advance. She’d clearly know the names she uses daily (Anne? Is she in the game?) But the rest? Not knowing a name can be disrespectufl socially, but it’s not necessarily so personally. I can still see your point, though, especially with lots of little things adding up and re-inforcing each other.

    So far, I’ve found this season lagging behind season one, but I’m still having fun. It helps that I wasn’t sure what they’d do with season 2, and so my expectations weren’t any higher really than what I got. I’m still wondering what that one meta end-credits scene was about.

    Interestingly, I’m reminded of Kimi ni Todoke. Season one is among my favourite anime romances ever, but it really was mostly a coming-of-age story to me. Season two focuses way more on romance and just doesn’t work as well for me (it’s a bad sign when you watch flashback scenes and get nostalgic for season 1 while watching season 2). I still enjoyed the show, but it’s pretty far from my favourite. This season of Villainess seems to be doing the same – focussing on the romance aspect so much that they forget what makes season 1 so endearing.

    As for that one screenshot caption: Oh, I loved Catarina playing a villainess on stage. Such fun. They could do more with this sort of thing.

    1. Villainess Catarina is the most fun. Maybe they can show us what happened to her. Did the main character crush her soul and steal her body?

  3. I haven’t watched the second season at all because as per my usual habit, I’m waiting for it to finish so I can binge it. Even before reading this post, I was looking at it with some trepidation because it just didn’t seem like a show that could sustain a second season in any reasonable fashion. So with no other knowledge than this post, I have to say it does ring completely false to me to have Caterina just dismiss the butler as a nobody unworthy of even knowing his name, and really unimaginable that she would accept being kidnapped without immediately starting to come up with plans to escape. She decided to escape her earlier bad fate after all, that was the whole point. So…gee…I’ll probably still binge but if I’m feeling this way halfway through I doubt I’ll finish it.

    Flanderisation as a term is new to me, but I’m well aware of the tendency for this to happen in popular series on TV or movies. Even in a book series I’m reading right now, I’ve noticed this happening to a couple of side characters who were once people in their own right but are now turning into a little bundle of repeating stock phrases to the point of me wondering how this got past an editor who wouldn’t at least say, you can’t have him say the same thing every time he opens his mouth. LOL. I wonder if it is becoming more of a thing now that we have constant feedback from fans on social media. I’m not sure this is even what the fans are looking for. Like us (I mean, we’re fans too), they fell in love with characters that acted in a real sort of way or one sort of way, not the one single dimension that becomes exaggerated to being the ONLY dimension. Just because I post on Twitter “Oh I laugh every time Jenks says fairy farts” doesn’t mean I don’t want Jenks to ever say anything that might have more substance than..fairy farts. Perhaps it’s possible to be TOO responsive to fans?

    1. I tend to agree with you. As in random social media feedback shouldn’t be taken as constructive criticism but I honestly don’t know where the trend comes from. I know that I have no cue what I like and I have a blog discussing that. I will say I would be awesome if the developped this character more only to realize actually that’s boring and stalls the narrative once they do. I should not be trusted and I suspect I’m not the only one.

  4. In episode 7, which is after you wrote this, I noticed that Catarina was the first one to figure out they were in the doll house. At least, she acted on that realization and helped Anne.

    What’s interesting is that’s one of the only examples I could think of! That proves your point, I think.

    I attributed at least some of her relaxed attitude to thinking she’d defeated the doom flags. But I have to admit your examples go beyond simple relaxation. Especially that bit of mistaking a kiss for a bug bite.

    Episodes 6 and 7 offered some hope, I think. I’m still enjoying this season, but my favorite humor comes from interesting characters. Caricatures aren’t nearly as enjoyable!

    1. Yeah I loved tose two. I was a bit sad that one of our readers told us on the last post that those two episodes were anime originals that stray from the novels unlike everything up to there. I’m not sur eif it means that if the show gets back to the plot it has been estabishing it will go back to a different characterization. It does explain the change though

  5. I see this going on, but I can’t say that the show was something I took seriously in the first place. At least in a drama sense. It’s always been that kind of show I relax to watch to unwind after a busy day or week, so I’ve just been enjoying it the way it is which is completely uncritical by you know…

    1. I agree it’s not a very serious or consistent show. I guess I just find this version of the characters boring

Leave me a comment and make my day!