Seeking retribution using indirect and subtle behaviors meant to express hostility.
Aria Roscent, known for her vile and vicious actions against her angelic half sister Mielle, has been sentenced to execution. Even Aria agrees that she deserves this punishment, until Mielle joyfully exposes herself as the true mastermind behind it all. As Aria awaits her final moments, she desperately wishes for a chance to go back and change everything. Suddenly, she finds herself back at the dining room table as her fourteen-year-old self. With knowledge of what is to come, Aria is determined to turn the tables on Mielle.
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The concept of seeking vengeance through rebirth is a commonly used trope in manhwa and manga, although it tends to be an emotionally satisfying one that immediately captivates readers. However, in order to stand out in a saturated genre and warrant further analysis, a story must possess a distinct quality or execute its premise exceptionally well. “The Villainess Turns the Hourglass” shows potential for greatness, with several commendable aspects evident in its first volume.
The most captivating and enjoyable aspect of “The Villainess Turns the Hourglass” is how revenge is strategized through subtle and indirect actions and words. Utilizing her past life experience, Aria cleverly sets traps for her deceitful sister Mielle, causing her to lose her pride and privileged status as a young noble. Simple actions such as tricking Mielle into reciting a forbidden poem or pointing out flaws in her beloved fashion trends bring Aria great satisfaction. While seemingly insignificant, these actions ultimately contribute to her ultimate goal of destroying Mielle’s confidence and reputation.
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This approach works so exceptionally well that the lack of action or comedy often standard in the ‘reborn’ genre does not feel amiss. Thus far, the work thrives in repetition. Still, “The Villainess Turns the Hourglass” does offer slight appeal beyond the recycled formula, as it nails the historical, with many of the customs feeling archaic yet perfectly romanticized for the genre. The series thrives under the order and traditions it puts forward.
Regrettably, there are grounds for mild hesitation regarding the book’s lasting impact. Aria is unquestionably a captivating main character with her meticulous planning for revenge. However, her history as a cruel royal is not redeemed by her new tactics of gaining favor with the nobility. Furthermore, the virtues she presents to others are constantly overshadowed by her internal thoughts of using and manipulating her status to her advantage. Her closest companions are merely pawns to be used in her larger schemes, maintaining her despicable persona. The longevity of the manhwa is constrained by Aria’s cruel nature, a trait that will hopefully evolve in future volumes.
Visually, the art by Antstudio is on the more polished side of digital art. This is particularly true of the fashion in the series, which always looks refined and decadent. Moreover, the team does a great job of injecting personality into the backgrounds, with the girl’s rooms being depicted as luxurious and ultra-feminine. The characters are aptly expressive and radiate the same beauty as the fashion they wear. The palettes are soft and complimentary throughout, and the panel work is well-placed to offer flair through variety.
The captivating appearance and clever incorporation of passive-aggressive manners as a form of retaliation in “The Villainess Turns the Hourglass” may easily captivate readers. However, if there is no significant change in the storyline or unveiling of new information, it is possible that this method may become repetitive. Those interested in collecting the series should proceed with caution, perhaps waiting for a few volumes to be released or checking out the series in its WebToon format before fully committing.