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Light Novel / I'm In Love With the Villainess

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Left to right: Our protagonist, Rei, and her love interest, Claire.
Formerly a regular Japanese Office Lady who overworked herself to death, our protagonist finds herself reincarnated as the protagonist of her favourite otome game, Rei Taylor of Revolution. As to be expected, there are three handsome, dashing princes for her to try and woo, but Rei has no interest in them—no, her sights are solely set on Claire François, the rival character in the original routes.

And it's safe to say that absolutely nothing will stop her, be it the strict social hierarchy of the Bauer Kingdom, nefarious forces threatening to topple the government, and especially Claire herself.

Also known as Watashi no Oshi wa Akuyaku Reijou (私の推しは悪役令嬢。) and originally translated in English as I Favor the Villainess, it is a Japanese Web Novel by author Inori (いのり。), originally posted here. It is currently complete at 113 chapters (including the epilogue), and a light novel and manga adaptation currently having been published. Seven bonus chapters have been released, as well as one drabble through Twitter, and two sequels have currently been released. The unofficial fan translation can be found here.

In April 2020, it was announced that Seven Seas Entertainment had picked up the license for the series.


This work provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The Order of the Royal Academy of the Bauer Kingdom, handling things like day-to-day clerical and administrative tasks for the academy's extracurricular organizations, helping organize and execute important celebrations like the Founding Festival, and defending the school and its population from grave threats if need be. Somewhat justified, in that this was a school for future nobility and aristocrats, they were trained for these tasks and duties since early childhood, and the aforementioned military element to them.
  • Accidental Public Confession: Claire, during the climax of the Scales of Love arc, accidentally makes it known that she feels far more strongly about Rei than she would have liked.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Lene Orso appears earlier in the manga, albeit just in single-page cameos. She's properly introduced after Rei becomes Claire's maid, which is when she first appeared in the web novel.
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  • Anachronism Stew: Justified, the world of Revolution is a dating sim game made by a modern Japanese company, and certain liberties had to be taken with the largely Victorian Era Europe time period. A great example of this is how the swimsuits are very modern with their sleek, body-hugging designs and exposed skin, as fans would not be very happy to see period-accurate, incredibly conservative swimwear. Other examples include new students introducing themselves before the class and some of the menu in the school being Gyudon and Oyakodon.
  • Artistic License – History: During the investigation into corrupt nobles, Rei notes the use of double-entry bookkeeping, which she describes as being another modern-day Anachronism Stew. However, the use of double-entry bookkeeping does in fact date back to hundreds of yearsnote .
  • Author Tract: The story takes an aside to criticize the Japanese treatment of the LGBT community, which is highly conservative at best. Rei recounts facing a lot of discrimination from social isolation to being considered promiscuous and with no standards, which another character points out is unfair. However, the other character's view of homosexuality is also lightly criticized for being too 'clean' and not recognizing that gay people are gay, not overlooking gender in the name of love.
  • Babies Ever After: With the revolution successful and largely bloodless, the Naa Empire exposed and foiled, and much of the corrupt aristocracy removed from power, Claire and Rei live a happy life in the outskirts of Bauer, having adopted two orphans from the Sassal Volcano eruption.
  • Back for the Finale: Every main character and major side characters joins Rei's second attempt to save Claire from execution at the hands of the commoner revolution, and expose Salas as the traitor he is, while they're at it.
  • Beach Episode: During the summer vacation arc—what else are you supposed to do in a peaceful, scenic coastal town, anyway? In a bit of meta-humor, Rei explains why exactly there are modern, skimpy, form-hugging spandex-like swimsuits in the Victorian Era Bauer Kingdom.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Manaria Sousa is initially introduced as the very picture of genteel and generous nobility, until she reveals her plans to steal Claire's heart from Rei. Ultimately turns out to be an act to test Rei's character, and also, she is FAR more interested in Rei than she ever would be Claire.
  • Blackmail:
    • Rei resorts to this in her attempts to become Claire's new personal maid, threatening to expose a less than ethical dealing of her father, Minister of Finance Dor François. It's implied to be quite the serious, title, family reputation, and freedom-threatening sort of dealing, as he is intensely suspicious of who Rei actually is after she casually throws out an exact name, a date, and a not inconsiderable sum of money. After half-an-hour's discussion, he makes a complete 180 on her and now wholeheartedly supports Rei. It makes its return during the "Revolution" arc when Rei has to work to expose it and others to the whole world... until we, the audience, find out it's in support of the revolution and Rei offered a plan to protect Claire from a violent end.
    • Played for Drama in the same arc, when Rei needs to expose the fact that Sein is a bastard child, between his mother and the Prime Minister, Salas Lilium.
  • Blob Monster: The Royal Academy students are attacked by a slime during spell practice. It was quite difficult to defeat, for its size, the inexperience of most of the spellcasters there, and the slime being resistant to everything but Air magic, which only one of the properly trained mages has. After Rei helps defeat it, she adopts its now orphaned offspring and names it "Relaire" (Rei + Claire).
  • Boomerang Bigot: Rei was harassed in school for being a lesbian... by someone who turned out to be transgender man. He was jealous that his childhood friend had a crush on Rei. They later make up as adults.
  • Brick Joke: In the Epilogue of the main story, Rei muses that after Lily comes back from her self-imposed exile, she will ask if she can be Rei's mistress. Several in-universe years later, in the 4th extra chapter, Lily sends Rei and Claire a marriage gift congratulating them on their union, and then asks if Rei still has room for a mistress.
  • Broken Aesop: The lesson that one shouldn't treat homosexual people as if they're going to immediately sexually assault anyone who fits their orientation is an important and good one to learn. Unfortunately, it is slightly undermined by the fact that Rei perfectly aligns with that stereotype up until that conversation occurs. While it is true Claire's behavior toward Rei didn't help the situation, it is also true Rei stalks her, aggressively seeks physical contact with her, openly lusts after her naked body, etc. Even if this was Rei deliberately messing with her, Claire still had good reasons to worry about such actions, completely irrespective of any prejudice on her part; especially since Rei herself mused in a previous chapter that her staring at an uncomfortably nude Claire was unmistakably sexual harassment. Thankfully, Character Development does ensue.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Most of the cast is gay or bi, though they don't necessarily consider themselves such. Claire and Misha, for example, both think that they're straight.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Relaire's shapeshifting ability is first used as a quick, throwaway gag to showcase the depths of Rei's love for Claire. The next time it's used, it was key to uncovering blackmail and a conspiracy to commit regicide, conquer the kingdom, and surrender it to a hostile foreign power.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: Sassal Volcano. It has already erupted once, causing untold, catastrophic amounts of damage to the kingdom that defined an entire period of their history. Rei knows it will erupt at the climax of the game, during the peak of the commoner's revolt, and much of her actions are to minimize or contain the inevitable unrest and tragedy, Claire's potential death especially.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Inverted, As stated in chapter one "Magic [is] a state-of-the-art technology in this world." By the Wham Episode, it's been played straight, revealing that the "magic" is actually just science. (The magic stone are just a collection of nanomachines)
  • Despair Event Horizon: This becomes the case when Claire decides to hand herself over to the revolutionary. Prince Sein and the now Princess Yuu are unable to help, Prince Rod is missing, with Rei believing that no one can help her. Worst of all is when she learns it the hard way that Claire doesn't want to be saved. It takes Manaria of all people to get her back on her feet.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: How the empress of the Naa empire greets the cast.
  • Driven to Suicide: In her past life, one of Rei's friends committed suicide after facing constant rejection for being Ft M trans.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the middle of an important scene near the climax the king is killed by an earthquake that goes off as the nearby volcano erupts suddenly and with no one noticing until it's too late. The consequences are obvious and huge, but the character's death is largely brushed over. It's noted that this was the same way he had died in the original game.
  • Dub Name Change: A few characters had their names changed in the official English light novel translation:
    • Sein Bauer's first name was changed to "Thane".
    • Lene Orso's last name was changed to "Aurousseau".
    • Rei falls more under Barely Changed Dub Name; while Rei's original name was Ohashi Rei (大橋 零), her name in the world of Revolution became Rei Taylor (レイ テイラー). While the unofficial fan translation kept the same spelling of her first name as "Rei", the official translation of the light novel spells the new name as "Rae" instead, presumably in keeping with Revolution being a European fantasy setting.
  • Elaborate University High: Justified: it's a school explicitly for nobles and royals at a time when education was attainable only by them, and it has only recently begun to accept commoners thanks to the magical tool revolution.
  • Elements of Nature: The four classic elements, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth have great prominence in the story, magic and magical tools being responsible for the societal upheaval and civil unrest within the Bauer Kingdom. Most individuals have only one element, others two (Dual Caster), rarer still three (Triple Caster), and only one documented individual with all four, Manaria Sousa (Quad Caster). For specific alignments, see the Characters page.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire, Fire beats Earth.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: The heroes are on the wrong end of a Curb-Stomp Battle against the Demon Queen. Rei is about to be hit by an attack when Claire pushes her out of the way. However, she is saved by none other than the Demon Queen, who gets her out of the way using Rei's version of the "Uplift" spell. Because of this, Claire deduces that the Demon Queen's use of Rei's spell, and more importantly, her protecting Claire even contrary to all other goals, means that the Demon Queen's true identity is none other than Rei.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion: The Spirit Church borrows very heavily from Catholicism, what with the concept of everyone being equal and deserving of a chance to the afterlife especially. However, there is no gender discrimination within the ranks of the church, and females are more often than not the ones in high positions and with miraculous reputations about them, such as with Lily Lilium, one of the cardinals. Even the pope is a woman.
  • Flying Dutchman: Claire and Rei's summer vacation is ruined by an invasion of a ship full of undead.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the Cross-Gender Cafe, Yuu looks exceptionally good and natural in women's clothes, and is not bothered by the cross-dressing at all because he was born a woman, and prefers to be female.
    • Why exactly does Lily conveniently have access to two appearance-changing bracelets, very rare, and very powerful magical tools? Because her father has been using it to disguise his and her identities, whenever they take a more personal approach to attacking and sabotaging the kingdom on behalf of the Naa Empire.
    • How exactly does a revolution financially support itself when the nobility is notably corrupt and hording most of the wealth for themselves? Why, have a noble sponsor them, of course—Dor François, to be specific.
  • Gay Option: In the original VN, there isn't one. That does not stop Rei from chasing Claire.
  • Gender Bender: The world of Revolution features a magical Gender Bender disease, an apparently permanent condition which could be passed from person to person. People with the disease would turn back to their original gender during the full moon each month, but only during the night. In the original otome game, one joke event had the the three princes and Claire become infected with the disease, though they managed to be cured with the "Tears of the Moon" tool before too long. In the story proper this is Played for Drama; Yuu was originally born as a girl, but her mother had her infected with the disease to turn raise her as a prince and gain political power after her twin brother died as a baby. She ended up having to deal with the stress and gender dysphoria of being a princess intentionally transformed into a prince, with everyone around her forcing her to stay that way against your wishes so she wouldn't be removed from the succession line. Rei manages to concoct a ploy to turn her female permanently.
  • Genre Shift: The story starts off as a typical Romantic Comedy set in the academy, but later focuses a lot more on medieval corruption and politics, though the rom-com elements don't disappear completely.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: King Bauer's Meritocracy policy sounds perfectly sensible, allowing commoners access to education thanks to innovations in magical tools that will completely shift every aspect of life, from the military, to industry, and agriculture. It would have paved the way for solving the corruption among the nobility and unrest in the masses by letting commoners assume official positions, and keep the kingdom from falling behind technologically and magically. Until that is, a rival nation uses that same technology and policy to worsen the first two problems, and the entire kingdom is thrown to the brink of violent, bloody civil war.
  • Happy Ending Override: In the epilogue, it's noted that Claire and Rei will most likely never be able to legally marry even though the former is helping to write the new constitution. It's also an uphill battle for women's suffrage and not just due to sexism: Women are typically highly uneducated when it comes to politics, so it's a legitimate question as to whether they can participate.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Lambert Orso goes from trying to kill Rei, to helping her save Claire from execution by the finale.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Specifically averted and discussed. It's said to be popular in stories, but the characters personally believe that anyone with this attitude is a closeted bisexual. The first time the topic comes up, it's noted that without matching sexual orientations, a relationship just can't really work.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: During Claire and Rei's magical duel, Claire gloats over her assumed victory, until it's pointed out that Rei explicitly used only her Earth magic against Claire's Fire, putting Rei at a severe disadvantage. If Rei had used her Water magic also, Claire would have been stomped even faster.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In the climax, Rei manages to successfully help Lily break away from her father's mind-control, by reminding her of who she really is, and what Rei means to her.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Noted to be a constant problem for relationships involving homosexuals, who are vastly outnumbered by straight people. It's overwhelmingly likely that they'll fall for someone who just doesn't match their orientation.
  • In Vino Veritas: In one of the extra chapters, Claire - who had had almost an entire bottle of wine - drunkenly reveals to Rei that she thought the latter chasing after her during their academy days was cute.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In one of the extra chapters, Claire is trying to open up politics to women and facing some pretty stiff opposition from the largely male political body. However, Rei notes that it's not unreasonable: Most women lack the education and background to make informed and meaningful decisions because it's something that doesn't matter to a commoner housewife or whatever, only nobles and a few commoner professionals. However, she and Claire continue with the cause because if they wait until men and women have equal education then women will always be behind.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Naa Empire, and their various agents and plants in the Bauer Kingdom herald the shift into more dramatic, dark plots and conflicts. Up until that point, most of the story boiled down to Rei's Boke and Tsukkomi Routine with Claire, world-building, Order of the Academy business, and friendly matches that ended before serious damage could be done.
    • The demons in the sequel, given their goal is to destroy reality itself. Things especially get serious every time a member of the three archduke appears.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The setting of 「Revolution」, especially prominent with the culture of the Bauer Kingdom where the story takes place.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: Ultimately turns out to be the reason Rei's magic class is attacked. Unfortunately, she notes that there is no reasoning with an unintelligent, already antagonized slime, and they have to put it down. She does adopt its child, though.
  • Multiple Endings: An In-Universe; the original game featured multiple endings, one for getting together with each of the princes. There was also a hidden fourth ending where the protagonist doesn't end up with any off the princes, and instead ends up supporting and becoming the symbol of the revolution.
  • Mundane Utility: A single extremely talented mage can be equivalent or even greater than a non-magical army, having access to incredible spells that could wipe out entire battalions and cities in the blink of an eye. They can also do things like construct toilets (complete with working plumbing) should someone be on the brink of a Potty Emergency.
  • No Bisexuals: An in universe attitude because only Rei really recognizes that they're a thing, but averted in the actual story. Claire and Misha are straight leaning bisexuals. This also implicitly applies to Yuu.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Lorec of the Order of the Academy. He's the ideal military figure for his time, handsome and powerfully built, with a stately air about him, and great skills and experience in combat to back it up.
  • Off the Rails: Rei is supposed to romance a prince in the original game, and Claire's supposed to be The Rival. Since she's not restricted by the options in the otome VN, however, Rei goes after Claire instead. Rei doesn't seem to realize that Claire has been slotted into the new love interest position even as she notices her taking the role in every game event instead of the princes.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: As mentioned below, chapter 17, where the story goes from being a Yuri medieval-political-isekai to Yuri Xeno Gear-style sci-fi.
  • Pair the Suitors: In the game, Rei and Claire are competing for the male "capture targets." In the story, Rei and Claire eventually get together.
  • Poke the Poodle: Rei doesn't take Claire's bullying seriously because nothing she does is a serious inconvenience. She might hide Rei's books, but never destroys them. Or she'll push her, but never in a place where she might actually fall and actually injure herself. The spinoff shows that Claire doesn't really know how to bully: When her friends Pipi and Loretta suggested putting glass in her shoes and setting Rei's uniform on fire, she flinches and goes for something much tamer.
  • Post-Script Season: The story is initially resolved with an epilogue detailing where everyone is after the commoner's revolution with nearly everyone living happily in their new lives. A sequel story was then started, continuing from one year after the ending, revolving around Rei, Claire, their adoptive daughters, and several other characters from the original story transferring to the Imperial Academy in the Naa Empire, the Greater-Scope Villain of the original story, as political hostages. However, it turns out that Revolution has a yuri spinoff staring one of the princesses of the Empire, who Rei and Claire hope to use to start another revolution like in the game to put an end to their aggressive expansion.
  • Potty Emergency: Claire almost suffers one after being accidentally locked in one of the school's massive warehouses, until Rei helpfully uses her dual-casting skills to construct her a toilet, complete with working, modern plumbing.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: She’s so Cheeky for a Commoner!, which is a retelling of the original story from Claire's perspective. It tends to feature a lot of scenes that Rei didn't witness or didn't tell the audience about. There's also significant focus on her friends Pipi and Loretta.
  • "Reborn as Villainess" Story: A yuri take on this genre, where an office lady reincarnates as the protagonist of her favorite otome game, and chooses to romance the villainess.
  • The Reveal:
    • The identities of the Naa Empire's mysterious masked assassins are none other than Prime Minister Salas Lilium and his daughter, Lily.
    • The accident that nearly killed the entire François family was a murder attempt. Dor François has been supporting the revolutionary forces ever since, to both avenge his wife and destroy the system that caused such corruption and careless disregard for human life.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: The titular Commoner Uprising, which seeks to overthrow the current monarchic government in favour of democracy. Shame the Naa Empire is abusing it to install their own puppet ruler and silently conquer the Bauer Kingdom.
  • School Festival: The Founding Festival in the Second Chapter, as Rei muses about the similarity to its real-world counterpart.
  • Scissors Cuts Rock: Rei beats Claire rather handily in their duel despite only using earth, which is weak to Claire's fire. First she makes a shield of a heat-resistant material that can't be burnt through like normal earth, and later uses a game-breaker strategy of just moving all the dirt out from beneath Claire's feet faster than she can get out of the hole.
  • Secret Test of Character: Twofold with Manaria. She never had any intention of romancing Claire, she just wanted to see if A) Rei would have the strength, the courage, and the determination to do anything to make Claire safe and happy, and B) if Manaria would want to continue her pursuit of Rei—Manaria's already abandoned one relationship once, she won't stand to love someone who makes the same mistake as she did.
  • Take a Third Option: In regards to Yuu's Gender Bender affliction, Rei offers two options. Option one would be to keep the status quo, Yuu keeps the affliction, which means she remains male normally, and becomes female during the full moon, which would be the best option for giving the Royal Palace (mainly Prime Minister Salas and Queen Lishe) what they want, a male heir to the throne, while accommodating for Yuu's dysphoria. The second option is to cure Yuu and make her permanently female, passing it off as her being a male afflicted with the disease and confining her to the monastery under the pretext of "researching a cure". This would completely resolve Yuu's dysphoria, but disinherit her from the throne. As the Royal Palace denies both options, wanting a solution that makes her permanently male, Rei goes for the "shock therapy" option: bypass the royal palace and cure Yuu and expose the secret at a popular public event. This forces the palace to reluctantly go with option two, claiming that the disease has affected her mental health.
    • Revolution has an additional fourth route where the heroine doesn't pursue any of the love interests. Instead, she becomes the hero of the titular commoner's revolution.
  • Take That!: Surprisingly averted at one point considering the Author Tract above. Rei's behavior is very similar to certain gay stereotypes (clingy, flirty lesbian, in this case) which is something you might expect her to be critical towards. It's not uncommon for gay Japanese celebrities to take on other stereotypical gay attitudes and she's copying them. However, she says that if this helps someone cope with the social problems and emotional anxiety that comes with the position, then it's fine. Everyone needs a way to cope with stress. She notably tones down the behavior once it becomes clear that everyone is starting to accept her.
  • Title Drop: In-universe, the Magical Tool "Revolution", which caused a gigantic shift in the established aristocracy to a meritocracy. It quickly becomes much more serious once the working class begins to shift towards violence and all-out war.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Relaire, Rei's pet slime, is capable of voluntarily changing into numerous forms, such as inanimate objects, or a highly detailed miniature figure of Claire. It's particularly useful in espionage.
  • Wham Episode: Volume 17. The Truth of the World. The story takes place after the Earth exhausted its natural resources. In order to preserve humanity, a "loop" system was developed where humanity would be converted into quantum data after exhausting the Earth's resources to allow the planet to recover and then restart civilization years later, alternating between a science-based civilization like the real world, and a magic-based civilization that uses up the nuclear waste accumulated during the science-based civilization. Rei and Claire were originally scientists who were working on this system and were originally set to become the human administrators of the loop system, humans who would retain their memories across the loops and maintain the system alongside an advanced AI. However, Claire fell ill and Rei activated the system early in order to save her life, becoming the sole administrator. After countless loops romancing Claire, Rei's feelings for her have started to diminish and she has started to Go Mad from the Isolation. Feeling that a world without being in love with Claire is not one worth living in, Rei became the Demon King in order to kill Claire so that she can pull the plug on the system before her feelings for her completely fade. In order to fight her, the AI managing the loops used Rei's quantum data to try to produce a copy of Rei that could replace the original Rei, resulting in the "spirit's lost children" who share her face.
  • What the Hell, Hero?
    • The first time Claire, Rei and Misha openly and frankly discuss Rei's sexuality, Claire draws away from Rei as though she expects to be jumped and molested at the spot. Misha criticizes her and asks if she'd molest the first boy she saw. When Claire gets offended, Misha responds with "You see? You just said the same thing to her." This doubles as a Take That! to the common treatment of gays in Japanese media, who are often highly indiscriminate or scare the same sex people around them, which is played for laughs.
    • King Bauer when he offers Rei a reward for foiling Lambert Orso's plans to murder the nobility at the Royal Academy, alongside inciting violence and civil unrest within the commoner classes. He and the rest of the court are understandably shocked and upset when she asks for Lambert, his sister Lene, and their family to merely be disgraced and exiled, rather than executed for treason.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue:
    • Rei and Claire are unofficially married, living on the outskirts of the Bauer with two adopted orphans from the Sassal Volcano eruption. Claire is no longer a noble, but she's happy enough, especially since her father Dor has survived the revolution.
    • Rod has left the Royal Family, and instead has become its new top military commander.
    • Sein has become the new king of Bauer, though in a symbolic position than any real influence in administration.
    • Yuu has been released from her confinement in the monastery, and is happily living with Misha (in private).
    • Manaria has become Queen Regent of the Sousa Kingdom.
    • Lene has turned her restaurant, Frater, into a massive success, and has become making new recipes past the ones Rei has given her from modern Japan. She is happily married to her brother, Lambert.
    • Lily was not charged with any crimes, but has gone into a self-imposed exile and disappeared. Rei theorizes it was because of the shame of almost killing and hurting her friends and love interest. She goes on to wonder if one day, she'll be back, asking if she can be Rei's mistress.
    • As mentioned above, Dor François has survived, stripped of his title, but serving as an unofficial adviser to the new democratic government.
    • Salas was supposed to be executed for treason or other severe punishments, but his political expertise and knowledge proved too useful to waste. Like a certain cannibalistic doctor, he is being indefinitely imprisoned and consulted with from time to time.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Rei attempts several times to preemptively stop dangerous future events from occuring, but events always seem to conspire to make something similar happen anyway. Destroy the enemy's dangerous magical artifact? They manage to repair it and use it anyway. Develop a spell to cure a dangerous poison? An even more dangerous poison is made. Expose the Treacherous Advisor? The volcanic eruption that allows him to escape moves up in the timeline.
  • Yuri Genre: The plot is explicitly about the protagonist, Rei, trying to win the heart of her object of affections, Claire.

Alternative Title(s): I Favor The Villainess, Im In Love With The Villainess