Manta‘s very first audio drama adaptation has arrived, and if this is what an English-language adaptation of a novel originally published in another language sounds like, then fans can feel rest assured. Manta Comics’ popular romantasy I’ve Become a Villainess, the original novel written by Flowing Honey, was adapted into a podcast, courtesy of Meet Cute. Six parts have been released and adapt the first 30 episodes of the webcomic adaptation. Each episode is around 20 minutes long.

The casting for I’ve Become a Villainess is nothing short of brilliant. Rebecca Rose voices Seria Sterne, the villainess who no longer wants to be one anymore, and Shogo Miyakita voices Archduke Rouche Berk. Hao Feng voices Marquis Callis Hanneton while Suzie Rai voices Lina. 

The story follows a young college student who transmigrates into the villainess of a romance novel she was reading, the cruel Seria Sterne, after she dies from a car crash. Knowing that the villainess will meet a grisly end in the original story, Seria does everything possible to be as un-villainess as possible but all that comes to a screeching halt when the saintess Lina makes her appearance and seduces Seria’s fiancé Marquis Callis Hanneton away. When Seria’s life is in danger, the seemingly cold and distant Archduke Rouche Berk steps in and saves her life, but Seria is far from being safe.

Audio dramas have an opportunity to do things that visual mediums like a webcomic and a novel can’t do and that’s injecting tone into the characters and scenes, creating atmosphere. Liz Fields‘ vision as the director/producer along with Eliot Krimsky‘s sound design and editing situates the listeners right in the scene so it feels like they, like Seria, were plopped right into the romance novel. 

All of the voice actors were amazing and their portrayals of their respective characters give listeners a visceral sense of their personalities so that new fans who are listening to I’ve Become a True Villainess for the first time and those who have already read the original novel and/or the webcomic adaptation are fully immersed in the story. It was extremely difficult for me to restrain myself from reaching into my screen and strangling Callis and Lina, or from swooning over Rouche (I wasn’t expecting the British accent but I’m all for it).

The biggest highlight for me, though, was Rebecca Rose. She brought Seria to life in an enormous way with her portrayal of this woman from the modern world who finds herself in the body of a fictional character. She was incredibly funny with her sassiness, her abundant self-awareness, and her conviction, leading to Seria feeling like a very real character. 

One of the downsides to being an audio-only adaptation of the story is that it’s narration-heavy which means listeners are being told what happens. There were a few instances where Meet Cute made some creative choices to tell the story such as warping certain characters’ voices for foreshadowing purposes. One of my favorite scenes is where Seria engages in playful banter with Rouche and interspersed throughout their conversation is her inner dialogue. The way Rose switches between her thoughts and what she says aloud is hilarious especially when she panics and thinks, “Is he flirting with me? AM I FLIRTING BACK?” While this can be done in a visual format, it’s so much more effective when it’s in an auditory format. 

As Manta’s debut into the audio drama scene, I’ve Become a True Villainess is a wonderful interpretation, and everyone who loves romantasy is in for a treat. 

I’ve Become a True Villainess is available to listen on Apple, Spotify, and Amazon Music. The original novel and webcomic are available to read on Manta Comics.