Mr. Villain’s Day Off Volume 3 Review

Evil Supervillains Need Self-Care Too!

The General is the fearsome leader of the Evil League: an alien race dedicated to taking over the Earth and ridding it of humans. However, he is also dedicated to ensuring he takes his days off and spends them peacefully incognito in Japan where he shops in the local convenience store and indulges his passion for pandas by spending much of his time at the zoo. Sometimes he encounters the members of the Earth Rangers – they know who he is, even when in human disguise – but he calmly refuses to enter into any kind of battle with them because he’s on his day off.

The longer the General (Mr. Villain) spends on Earth, the more at home he seems to be. He investigates local seasonal foods such as mochi, takes part in local yearly celebrations (Christmas, New Year, Setsubun) and seems to get on especially well with small children; perhaps they feel comfortable around him as he emanates a kind of child-like wonder when discovering simple pleasures like making sandcastles at the beach.

His subordinate Rooney has discovered another simple pleasure – the kotatsu – and has brought one back to their home planet. Cue a fiendish contest between Rooney and his boss, the General: demolishing a whole box of mandarin oranges and competing to see who can make the most ingenious fruit sculpture.

However, it’s the General’s fascination with cats that ends in an unexpected meeting with Black, the oldest Ranger, who’s feeding a stray cat in a deserted side street. When the cat shows its appreciation for the food by rubbing up against Black, Mr. Villain is overcome with admiration and jealousy; he would love to pet the cat too but it’s never shown the slightest interest in him. As Black leaves, he hands Mr. Villain a tube of ‘Kitty Snack’, telling him, “The little guy loves this stuff.” And so, the General/Mr. Villain achieves his first meaningful interaction with the standoffish feline, thanks to his No.1 enemy.

This is the first time that we get to learn about who the Rangers really are – and how they’ve become Rangers – especially the little twins, Mugi and Sora. For the first time, the story turns to the serious side which it’s only hinted at before, especially given that the current team of Rangers – except for Black – are all young.

It was high time that Yuu Morikawa developed the background story and characters because, delightful as the discoveries that Mr. Villain makes on Earth are, there’s no getting away from the fact that when he’s not on his day off, he’s a truly terrifying, powerful alien warrior. And although it’s quirky and charming to discover that two of the Rangers are infant school-aged twins, it also raises questions about how serious this opposition to the aliens really is. But there’s a distinctly darker, more melancholy tone to these revelations and even though we’ve just met Black, we now see him as the only adult in the Rangers who acts as part-parental figure, part-mentor (and, of course, cat-lover). The tip we got is right, he muses. It seems he really does appear at that convenience store… So the Rangers are fully aware that their arch-enemy is close at hand – even if he’s presenting a very different side to his personality than the one they’ve encountered on the field of battle! The final chapter in this volume ‘The Story of a Boy Who Became a Ranger’ makes for a genuinely moving read – and it’s perfectly conveyed through the mangaka’s delicate yet impactful drawings.

There’s also a return to a thread begun in Volumes 1 and 2 in which the General encountered the spirit of a cherry tree, a little girl – and the little boy (who turns out to be another tree spirit) who was fascinated by her. When he returns to the tree the following spring, he meets the little boy again and finds that he’s utterly inconsolable: the tree hasn’t bloomed and the girl is nowhere to be seen. The General tries with great gentleness to explain that the cherry tree and tree spirit need a year to rest; she’s tired after blooming last year. He resolves the situation with subtle kindness, giving the little boy hope for the future. This story is beautifully drawn and resolved, with little touches of humour to stop it becoming sentimental. And again it leaves us wondering how deep-down his villainy goes…

As the anime TV series continues on Crunchyroll, Square Enix Manga bring us the third volume of six (currently ongoing in Japan) in another very attractive trade paperback edition. The paper quality in these volumes is excellent and as they’re filled with little sketches between the short chapters, this makes a good showcase for Yuu Morikawa’s art. There’s also a colour page at the beginning and some delightful chibi images (not just pandas, although the pandas are undeniably cute). The translation by Julie Goniwich makes for an effortless read, as before, and the lettering by Kelsey Denton delivers all the many different voices, even the devil panda and angel panda competing for Mr. Villain’s attention in the chapter that deals with a very serious dilemma: is it all right to eat cup noodles before going to bed because you’ve got the late-night munchies?

Volume 4 is due out in May 2024 but by then the TV series will have finished and given us an ending. Whether Mr. Villain’s panda obsession will eventually wear a little thin will depend a great deal on the way Yuu Morikawa continues to tell – and hopefully – develop the story. For now, the balance seems just about right.

Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).

9 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

More posts from Sarah...