Manhwa | Depths of Malice — A True Villainess Series

Manhwa | Depths of Malice — A True Villainess Series

Why hello BAYOG Fam~ It’s Minty, BAYOG’s resident manhwa and K-novel trash~ It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper manhwa post, eh? Figured I’d squeeze one in real quick~ Although, do forgive me as it’s been a while since I’ve been able to properly review something. Also doing this in a rush before I go on a trip… Anyway, I know villainess series are all still really popular. Literally my [Villainess Series Recommendations] is my most viewed blog post, and I think the most viewed post on BAYOG overall… Thanks for your continual interest and support~ Anyway…today, I thought I’d talk about another “villainess” series called Depths of Malice. It’s another novel series that was adapted into a manhwa. However, this one is a bit different because this is not only a more mature series, but I would consider it a TRUE villainess series. Let me explain!~

Verta (left), Rita (right)

As we’ve mentioned before, villainess-type series are super popular and common. However… I think there are only a few TRUE villainess type of series. What I mean is in a lot of villainess series, it’s usually someone who is transmigrated (isegye-ed/isekai-ed) or reincarnated as a villainess in a novel or game (90% of the time it’s a novel). However, they’re not really true “villainesses”. They’re generally nice, normal people trying to survive. Oftentimes, they actually act and behave the opposite of the villainess, and they never really do anything that would warrant them to be an actual antagonist or anything like that. Even if they do something “bad” it’s usually justified and within reason like protecting themselves from the actions of trashy “leads” or the actual antagonists. Like you don’t necessarily see them as being bad. The other half of the time, they’re not even bad…they just got set up and betrayed by people.

Novel Cover

Depths of Malice/악의의 농도 is different though. Again, I would say it’s a rare occurrence where the protagonist is truly a villain and does villainous things. Although, it is pretty justified…? Well, I don’t know about saying justified, but I can say karma came hard for her targets. Honestly, I wouldn’t say this is my favorite series. However, I do find it incredibly intriguing because she does do things that can be considered truly villainous, but also it’s hard to really point out what’s right or wrong. Everything is very…grey. It pushes things to be morally questionable. It’s also definitely on the more mature side. So it’s not like cute antics. So if you’re looking for something more mature, revenge, a bit of spice, a true villainess, something a bit more morally grey, and seeing trash meet karma…this might be for you~ But keep on reading if you want to find out more of what the heck I’m talking about.

악의의 농도

Alternatively known as: 악의의 농도, Concentration of Malice
Genre:  Villainess, Revenge, Josei, Fantasy, Historical, Drama, Bodyswapping, Romance, Adult/Mature, Smut, R19, R15, NSFW
Spicy?: I mean it’s mature/smut. Although the “spicy” parts so far are uhhh not the fun kind. Maybe later?
Content/Trigger Warning: Smut, Violence, Assault (Physical, Verbal, Sexual…), Suicide, Self-Harm, Gaslighting

After years of hardship that culminate in the form of a terminal illness, Rita is determined to do whatever it takes to survive. It might be wrong to steal somebody else’s body, but she doesn’t care about what’s right or wrong anymore. Now, she’s Verta, the affluent and beautiful daughter of Count Alberhart. She’s in the prime position to enjoy a comfortable life… but the people around her seem intent on breaking her. Well, she’s happy to crush whoever gets in her way. It’s time for them to learn how deep her malice goes.

Based on a novel: Yes [Ridibooks – Korean]; Not yet available in English
Official Manhwa/Webtoon in English: Depths of Malice [Lezhin (All-Ages Version)] [Lezhin (R19/Mature Version)]

WARNING: There will most definitely be some spoilers ahead

Before we get into it, here are some disclaimers:

All-Ages/R15 Version vs Mature/R19 Version

Now before I get into it, I do have to explain that this is a series adapted from a novel. Yes, the novel was mature and had smut, mature themes and situations, and shit. So, that’s obviously carried into the manhwa adaptation. However, there are 2 different versions of the series, which you can view on Lezhin. You have the All-Ages/R15 version and the Mature/R19 version. If you guys aren’t familiar with those formats, All-Ages/R15 is pretty heavily edited where direct sex scenes and whatnot are cut out or not directly shown. It’s basically more suggestive, but you can tell when mature things are happening. Mature/R19 means it’s in its full unedited NSFW glory. I mean you have the glowy censored “lightsabers” and whatever, but it’s the full version of the series. In my experience, you can understand the series even in the edited R15 version. However, there are series where surprisingly there is a lot of dialogue and story-relevant things going on during those mature scenes that show up in the R19 version. Sometimes it’s a lot where you can feel a gap or something missing from the R15 version. So, if you can handle it and want to experience and complete context, I usually recommend the R19 version. Unless y’all underage…then uhh be good.

Mature/Sensitive Content and Trigger Warnings

Now my second disclaimer, this is a mature series y’all. There is sex and things. However, that’s not the only thing. This series can be pretty dark, there are mature and triggering content and situations. I did put my little content/trigger warning by the synopsis, but y’all know I’m thorough. There’s assault in this series. This includes physical, verbal, AND sexual assault. So please be aware of that. There’s also violence, as well as mention of suicide and self-harm. I also want to say there’s a dude that’s a pedo. Basically, Rita was taken in by mother’s friend. But the friend’s husband is a sick perv who was basically harassing/assaulting the female lead when she was a teen or preteen and most definitely still considered a minor. He had an obsession with her and I’m pretty sure he frequented a place that forced children into prostitution. This part is brought up in the story briefly to explain one of the revenge schemes.

Again, this is a novel to manhwa adaptation. The story is by Doori and the art is by Paldu of AKEO Studio. The art isn’t bad. It’s just ok for me. I’ll put it in like maybe B tier for my personal standards. Like it’s nice, but a bit stiff looking for me at times? That’s just my personal feelings on it though. Although, I do think it’s funny the cover makes you think it’ll be like your typical romance-fantasy series. Maybe, it’ll be sweet and cute. Yeah, nah. It’s not like that bruh. Honestly, the art isn’t even one of the main reasons I found it intriguing though.

Jhope Bts GIF - Jhope Bts What GIFs
Did I expect some drama and messed-up shit? Yah, but like not like that…

So one of the things that made this series stand out to me is that it is definitely a darker and more serious kind of series. Y’all know I love reading my romance-fantasy series. However, you also know I tend to prefer more fluffy and light-hearted series. I do enjoy drama, but it’s usually not overly heavy. Nah, this can be pretty dark cuz there are a lot of trashy characters in here that have definitely done awful, truly awful, and cruel things. While I don’t love reading overly dark and serious things, I did appreciate that it made this stand out from the many villainess series that turn out to be very sweet and fluffy and don’t really give that “villainess” vibe. However, Rita (who is now Verta), is a true villain. In a satisfying way though? She’s selfish but incredibly intelligent, cunning, and so incredibly talented in being manipulative. She really puts thought and preparation into her plans and actions. She’s not like a good character. You can say she’s pretty vile. She can pretty much embody what you expect from a villainess type of character. However, she has been through shit where it’s like “Yeah, that’s not right…and that’s super fucked up…” So you can’t help but want to go along with her journey of revenge. She kinda reminds me of the typical villainess-masquerading-as-a-heroine type of character most commonly seen in otome or reverse harem types of fantasy-romance series. Like Rita uses Verta’s seemingly sweet, innocent, and beautiful looks to manipulate people. The only difference is that you can tell Rita is smart, whereas your other typical types of characters sometimes make you wonder how they managed to trick people or get that far.

Revenge & Karma
Extreme, but well-dealt?

Btsv Kim Taehyung GIF - Btsv KimTaehyung Drink GIFs

While we going on villainess shit, y’all know I love karma. You guys know I love shit-talking trash characters. However, the best thing is the satisfying feeling of revenge and karma getting served to absolutely awful and trashy characters. This definitely checks the list. I would also say it checks in very extreme ways. Extreme, but you can’t help but nod and be like “Yeah, that’s pretty well-deserved though…” For example, remember that pedo guy I was talking about? Yeah, dude thought he was coming for his usual “treat” (ugh…he’s so disgusting)…but he got his junk cut off while he was conscious. Yes, very shocking and violent. Yet at the same time, satisfying and it felt pretty well-deserved. This kind stuff makes me feel like I’m a twisted sadist, but…sometimes irredeemable trash just got what’s coming for them *shrug*. It’s extreme, but it feels satisfying and befitting of the crime? Like it feels like a true punishment and not some kind of bullshit light slap on the wrist. So if that’s the kind of revenge y’all are looking for…this series is probably for you?

Trash is truly trash… So Morally Grey?

Bts Jin GIF - Bts Jin Suga GIFs

Again, I think the other thing that made this so intriguing to me was that it’s morally grey. Rita isn’t a saint or a good person. She stole another woman’s body, granted that woman was looking for death…but still… Rita even went as far as to burn her original body to make sure she wouldn’t be able to go back. She’s extremely manipulative and the things she does are extreme and cruel. However, at the same time… she’s been through some fucked up shit. The men she takes her revenge out on are also legit trash. Like bottom of the depths trash. And in a way, she’s getting revenge for the original Verta too. While Rita does things that can be extreme and cruel, these men did horrendous things. So you can’t even feel sorry for them, nor do you want to.

Leeminho Lotbs GIF - Leeminho Lotbs Heojoonjae GIFs
They all disgusting shit…

For example, aside from sick pedo dude, we have Verta’s fiancee. He’s seemingly perfect on the outside. However, he’s also a sick perv. He’s verbally and physically abusive. Not only that, he gets his knight and Rita’s servant to basically sexually assault Verta, even in front of him, because it turns him on. He goes around promising to let them have their share of her. Ew. EWW. EWWWWW. Gross. Absolutely disgusting. Fuck that dude. Fuck all those dudes. It’s also a game of power. Rita was always looked down upon and mistreated because she was a woman. As was Verta, and Rita experiences Verta’s situations as well. These disgusting men have a power on these women who are viewed to be weaker in or just have no power at all. They take full advantage of that and think that there’s no way these women can retaliate against them. Rita said, “Challenge-fucking-accepted.” It’s also funny to see her use things everyone assumes makes Verta/Rita weak to really fuck them over. Like her innocent and weak appearance. So yeah, she goes all out. Again, it’s extreme and Rita is pretty vile herself, so you want to say it’s morally wrong. However, there’s a part of you wanting to root for the underdog who is a victim of these crimes and unjust power games…and because these guys are trash and you feel like they got what’s coming. They’re not likable at all and have no redeeming features. So yeah, morally grey.

Here for the revenge and shit, not the “romance”…

Dreamcatcher Gahyeon GIF - Dreamcatcher Gahyeon Dreamcatchergahyeon GIFs
Again, the men here are all trash

The series has a romance tag, but I’m here for the revenge and most definitely not the “romance”. Yes, there are bishies in this series. Y’all know how I usually scream about bishies from diff series I come across. However, I’m not doing that here. I personally find all the men to be absolute trash. Aside from being power-abusive, physically-abusive, verbally-abusive, sexually-abusive, disgusting pieces of trash… they all just feel like they’re all only in it for lust, wanting ownership, thinking it’s a game and other bullshit. Simply put, they are all toxic red flags. I would never consider them romance candidates. I don’t see no heart-fluttering moments that make me feel like this is romance. Although, cool that we got a dude helping facilitate Rita/Verta’s revenge. But he’s just so sus and *sigh*…still seems like a toxic red flag somehow. But the focus of the series is more on revenge and how Rita is using her new appearance as Verta to manipulate these men and situations. That’s all we really here for. While Rita isn’t the typical “nice” and “likable” female lead type of character, she’s a character that gets you going, “Yes, Queen! Trample on the trash and get your revenge!”

2skoo 2skoo Run Bts GIF - 2skoo 2skoo Run Bts Taehyung Loading GIFs
I thought I’d think nothing of these series, yet it’s one of the few that I can easily recall

So yeah, personally…this is not my favorite series. It’s not a go-to series for me either. However, I do find it intriguing and find myself reading it every now and then. Again, I think the most interesting aspect is that it feels like a true villainess series. You have a morally grey character and morally grey situations. Things aren’t easily explained or divided in black and white. While Rita isn’t your typical “sweet”, “kind, “well-loved”, “well-liked”, and “naive” female lead…I appreciate that she’s a strong female character who is intelligent and cunning. She knows what she wants, what she has to do, and she goes for it. She also refuses to let bullshit go. So power to ya. The revenge and punishment can be seen as extreme, but it feels like a satisfying punishment to the trashy characters. So it satisfied that requirement for me. It’s not the best story or characters, and not typically the type of series I go for…but I’ll admit I’m intrigued. Especially because it’s one of the few series that still somehow stood out to me. It’s also one of the few series where my focus isn’t on the romance aspect. I’m just seriously all here for the revenge, and I’m enjoying that aspect.

Hwaiting Bts GIF - Hwaiting Bts Bangtan GIFs

Anyway, have you read this series? What do you all think? What are your thoughts on these types of characters and morally grey situations? Let me know in the comments, discord, or hit me up on my socials~ Also, I’ll be out of town for like 4-5 days for another trip… We trying this Epik High concert trip again cuz it got postponed last time… So y’all might not have another post from me til the week after (unless I manage to schedule a Music Monday post before I leave). Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely day! Take care and stay safe friends!~

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I’m BAYOG’s Real People Stuffs expert, K-Novel and Manhwa trash queen, and boba addict. I’ve been a part of the BAYOG Crew since 2017~ I fangirl and like to rant blog about music, live-action movies/dramas, manga/manhwa/webtoons, novels, and anything else I’m interested in~ When I’m not blogging, I’m usually writing/singing Thai-English covers~ When I’m not doing that, I’m usually translating/subbing a Thai drama on Viki~

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