I’ve read a few manga and manhwa where the lead character winds up in a game. While each has unique worlds and characters, my favorites have to be where the main character becomes the villain in the game, struggling to survive. Within that smaller subset, Villains Are Destined to Die is my favorite. Laughs are few, but the story is complex, and each time I pick up the book, I cannot put it down. In Villains Are Destined to Die Volume 2, I get wrapped up in Penelope’s character as she fights to earn affection while starting at a deficit to win and possibly escape the game.
Written by Gwon Gyeoeul, illustrated in full-color illustrations by Suol, translated by David Odell, and lettered by Chiho Christie, Penelope’s life is still fraught with danger. The second volume in the manhwa, serialized in English from Yen Press, has Penelope tracking the fifth possible love interest, Eckles, while trying to avoid the others and her possible untimely demise. I do not judge her because she played hard mode before being trapped in the game. As the villain, she repeatedly died in what felt like a rigged game. If I were in her shoes, I’d say as little to these men as possible.
Villains Are Destined to Die Volume 2 Emphasizes Penelope’s Not Looking for a Love Match
Living as the villainess in the game—or reading about it—gives you some perspective. The “attractive datable men” murder Penelope repeatedly for minor reasons. Worse, her current behavior results from how they treated her when she first arrived as a child. Now trapped in the game with death a real possibility and no game reset in sight, you feel bad each time Penelope bites her tongue. Penelope aims to snag a love and hopes that transports her back to the world. She’s eliminated both her adoptive brothers, Derrick and Reynold, as possibilities. The violent crown prince cut her throat, so he’s out too. So now she needs to track the slave Eckles, another potential partner.
Just Like A K-Drama
Though Penelope tries to stay out of trouble, it’s challenging when she’s the only one who knows she’s in a game. Plus, one wrong move means certain death. At best, she beats the game and returns home. At worst, she’s stuck there and needs an exit plan. Despite being twenty in real life and eighteen in the game, Penelope does not understand guys. Her life was about survival before the game.
So, it’s hilarious when Penelope sees her brothers. Their respective love meters for her go up in her absence. This leads her to believe that the best way to avoid dropping to the negatives and dying is avoiding them as much as possible. Alas, as they start to care, they keep popping up to bother her, making her plots difficult, like the festival event.
Distrust Rooted in the Game and Her Past
There still needs to be more character development regarding the other characters. But as the story is from Penelope’s perspective, her experiences color her observations. Her keen sense is also what has kept her alive thus far. While this is a reverse harem story, this is an abusive home. Imagine walking on eggshells in your home. Seeing illustrations in Villains Are Destined to Die Volume 2 flash to her life in the real world and Penelope’s past highlights their similarities and why she feels such empathy for Penelope. There’s a kinship between both. But her grit as Penelope shows another layer that’s intelligent and crafty.
Those familiar moments, the dynamic main character, and gorgeous men make Villains Are Destined to Die Volume 2, and the series as a whole, compelling. Meeting Eckles, you seesaw on who is the best match for Penelope. Though, for my part, like Penelope, I wrote off Derrick and Reynold, given their violence in the gameplay. I don’t care how attractive they look; I need more than just a pleasant face. Happily, Penelope’s the same way. Bring on volume three and please animate this!