We recently published Lucy Zhang’s innovative “I will relax in the next life.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) As you and I (and some other manga/manhwa lovers) know, this story is inspired by the “reincarnated as a villainess” craze — which, thanks to you, I’m now hooked on. What do you find so appealing about these stories, and how do you play off that in this piece?
I’m so glad you’ve gotten hooked on these stories! One of the most appealing things to me about certain genres of anime is watching characters transform from idealistic to “fallen”. In many ways, humans are “fallen” creatures, not because they’ve become “bad” but because as they grow older, they start to empathize with the flawed and see more grey. The “reincarnated as a villainess” genre flips the cookie cutter good-or-bad structure on its head. What makes it more interesting is how the character copes with being a villain: how the story often becomes about survival rather than morals or “following the plot”. I love the idea of a character living outside the creator’s vision. How does a character behave when no one is watching, when nothing critical to the plot is happening? Reality isn’t all melodramatic events. I guess, in a way, these “reincarnated as a villainess” stories are escapist to me (and I am always reading to escape), because you see someone shoehorned into an archetype, trying to conquer not a final boss or demon king but the world structure itself.
2) What really drew me to this story is that you dig so deeply in such a small space — these villainess stories can be a bit surface level, even in a 20-volume series, but here, we learn so much about the character in such a small space. She feels so real. How did you create this lovely person?
One of my biggest gripes with the villainess stories is the lack of exploration into the main character’s previous life. It’s an entire life! Those memories and experiences are going to influence how the character acts after reincarnation no matter what. I want to see what a character leaves behind and keeps from their original world. I thought a lot about the memories I wanted my character to keep and what they would say about her. Death is kind of a big deal. You can’t just brush it off now that you’ve reincarnated into a fantasy world. And now you have to deal with all this baggage as a villainess? My character comes from that exhaustion, coming to terms with not wanting to be a villain but also not wanting to play hero, and that’s where her true desires shine through. If you could shed all expectations of you—in this life and all previous lives, who would you be?