So…What’s Up With These Villainess Webtoons?

Villainess webtoons from Tapas
Graphic created with Canva

If you’ve ever browsed through Tapas, I’m sure you’ve noticed the “Villainess” titles among the platform’s premium comics. Curious, I decided to check out several of these comics. Here are my thoughts on them…

I’ve been granted free access to each of the webtoons featured in this post. All opinions are my own.

Part of the Isekai genre, villainess stories incorporate conventions, tropes, and character archetypes to construct their plot or narrative arc. We have the protagonist, the love interest(s) or suitor(s), the companions/allies, and of course, the villainess. These narratives usually start with the protagonist reincarnated as the villainess of a novel or game. The villainess either tries to escape the story or changes the plot through her actions.

Despite the multiple uses of “Villainess” in the titles (at least most of them), each of these webtoons contains varying storylines. The villainess stories I’ve read so far include different angles of what it means to step out of a role assigned or predestined for you. What does being a villainess mean? The six webtoons featured below explore hierarchical societies, interpersonal relationships between women, and more.

Please note that as a Western reader, I cannot comment on the gender dynamics or cultural significance of villainess themed webtoons from South Korea. Thus, I’m avoiding references to feminism as what’s considered empowering in Western countries might not be so for South Korean feminists.

 

Kill the Villainess by Your April and Haegi
Kill the Villainess

Kill the Villainess by Your April & Haegi (content warning: suicide ideation and attempt)

Eris Miserian would rather die than be trapped in this fantasy romance novel. She wants to return to the real world, but her attempts to take her life fail. Apparently, she can’t die because of this world’s “principle of casualty.” With the help of a witch and other friends and allies, Eris embarks on a journey to return to her previous life.

This webtoon gracefully navigates mental health and self-worth. I find myself rooting for Eris; I want her to achieve her mission. There are awesome character dynamics and narrative turning points as well.

 

The Villainess Flips the Script by Garine and KEN
The Villainess Flips the Script

The Villainess Flips the Script! by Garine & KEN

A woman wakes up as the protagonist’s aunt, Judith, from the novel Master of the Winter Forest. Of course, Judith is the villainess, the protagonist’s (Luca) abusive guardian. Determined to alter Luca’s future, the new Judith treats him better and attends to his needs. When Luca’s long-lost uncle visits to take him to the Winterwald manor, Judith joins them. Not only is she determined to ensure Luca has a better life, but she also aims to prevent her predestined death.

An engaging villainess story with endearing family moments and well paced action sequences. The dynamic characters and suspense have kept me reading on.

 

The Villainess is Retiring by Kim daham, BeBe, and DJH
The Villainess is Retiring

The Villainess is Retiring by Kim daham, BeBe, & DJH

An office worker reincarnates as the villainess Everia Oberan. To escape the tragic and spiteful life set out for her, she decides to retire to the countryside. But she hasn’t expected to settle into a cold weather region, so she summons the archmage (demon) Theoharis to magic the fireplace. Much to his chagrin, Theoharis is now bound to Everia for life.

This webtoon brims with fascinating worldbuilding (the wyverns, a talking sword, and more!) and comical moments between Everia and Theoharis.

 

The Villainess is a Marionette by hanarim and manggle
The Villainess is a Marionette

The Villainess is a Marionette by hanirim & manggle

Princess Kayena lives a privileged life with promises of love and happiness, but as the novel’s villainess, she’s meant for a life of betrayal. The reader who now inhabits her body refuses to follow that same fate. She manipulates her narrative, forging alliances among the inner court ladies, and avoids falling into her older brother Emperor Regef’s trap again.

This webtoon contains a lot of political intrigue, which isn’t usually my thing, but the villainess in this story is well developed and amazing. I truly admire Kayena’s narrative arc and her willingness to defend her maids.

 

The Villainess's Days are Numbered by Harasyo, Salmon, & Ryuho
The Villainess’s Days are Numbered

The Villainess’s Days are Numbered by Harasyo, Salmon, & Ryuho

The ruthless Clea Rino makes a deal with the Demon King but then dies before completing it. With a woman from the real world inhabiting Clea’s body, she has to fulfill the bargain in six months – marry Issac Detroi. However, Clea suffers from an illness that severely affects her mobility. To make things worse, the Demon King gives her a certain number of health points (like in a video game). If her HP drops too low, she can faint or worse.

The character dynamics really make this story. I would love to see more interactions between Clea and the Demon King for their humor.

 

Beware the Villainess by Berry, Blue Canna, & Soda Ice
Beware the Villainess

Beware the Villainess! by Berry, Blue Canna, and Soda Ice (completed)

In the novel, All The Men Who Loved Her, the protagonist Yuri encounters four potential love interests: a crown prince, a werewolf, a mad genius, and a sniper. The villainess, Melissa Foddebrat, sick of her fiancé Ian’s affairs with other women, decides to screw it all and divert from the novel’s original plot.

Beware the Villainess! contains an excellent balance of humor and drama. Not only that, but it rightfully calls out the romanticization of abuse and toxic relationships in most romance novels. During one part of this webtoon, Melissa discovers her brother Jake, the sniper, stalking and taking photos of Yuri. Later on, Melissa uses magic to turn Jake into a rabbit to teach him what it feels like to be stalked. Jake, out of fear of his sister and the wolves hunting him, chooses to stop his problematic actions- a very much needed message.

Do you know of a villainess webtoon that you’d like to recommend? Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomics archives!

Author: Brahidaliz Martinez

Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.

Pronouns: he/they
Location: DC Metro area

Twitter: @brahidaliz


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