WARNING: The following contains spoilers for So I'm a Spider, So What?, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
So I'm a Spider, So What? is the big isekai hit of the Winter 2021 anime season. The series centers around a class full of students reincarnated as various fantasy creatures -- and the titular spider, Hiiro Wakaba, might just be a potential villainess in the making, whether she wants to be or not.
The first episode starts with her, almost as a gag, being granted the title Kin-Eater for being forced to eat one of her fellow baby spiders for nourishment. This title earned her the Heretic Magic and Taboo skills, both of which have gradually become more and more important. As the anime progresses, it appears as though Wakaba is being set up as a potential antagonist to her fellow classmates' heroes. Considering the roles they played in their past lives, this might very well be a subversion of the typical villain-hero dynamic in isekai fantasies.
Wakaba's Life, Before and After Reincarnation, Seems Geared Toward Villainy
In her human life, Wakaba was a shy shut-in who played a lot of video games. She was an outsider in her own class, acknowledged only as a target of bullying. Whilst her bullies were reincarnated into far more glorious fantasy lives, she became a spider. It seems as though Wakaba's transformation only further puts her at a distance from her classmates, and it might be setting her up to be the instrument of her classmates' destruction.
Since becoming a spider, Wakaba hasn't had it easy. She's fought her way to survive by hunting and running, all the while evading the beasts and humans who are trying to kill her. This has pushed her to focus on overcoming her weak body via ambush tactics and other, more insidious methods more commonly associated with villains and rogues than heroic characters.
In addition, her skills become more centered on toxicity. She develops poison powers, gains immunity to said poisons and learns dark magic. She becomes more dependent on these skills as the episodes go on. Furthermore, in Episode 5, she gains the skill Pride, which raises her Taboo level, grants her dark magical abilities and the title "Ruler of Pride." Wakaba is quick to note how these are the sorts of titles final bosses earn.
Is This All Cosmic Justice for the Bullies?
Obviously, Wakaba is far from the only reincarnated heroine to have an odd reincarnation. Karnatia, daughter of Duke Anabald, was once Ooshima Kanata, a male student. Shinohara Mirei -- now Feirune -- is the other major protagonist in So I'm A Spider, So What? to be reincarnated as an animal, being an Earth Wyrm. All of the reincarnated characters are being steered down different paths in their new lives, so it stands to reason that Wakaba's life as a spider is being directed down a very different, very monstrous path.
Feirune wonders if her reincarnation as a monster is part of some cosmic punishment for bullying Wakaba in life. Considering she is also forced to kill a fellow Earth Dragon -- possibly a relative -- she's also a Kin-Eater, making her seemingly travel down the same path as Wakaba. As we've seen, Earth Dragons are monsters that the heroes slay, so it stands to reason that both Feirune and Wakaba are being turned into the sort of monsters that the students will have to fight. In short, the villains of the typical heroic journey.
This is even reflected in how the other students learn how to harness their abilities vs. Wakaba. While the others are learning in a school setting how to be strong, developing in a controlled environment, Wakaba grows by killing other monsters, often in bloody and brutal combat. The same is true for Feirune. However, unlike Feirune or Wakaba, many of the students are encouraged to kill monsters on sight, without question. There's a moral drive to kill anything with a Taboo skill. In Episode 6, we even see Julius, a paradigm hero, take on a super-powerful spider.
The other kids are being set up to see characters like Wakaba as a potential villain. Ergo, while Wakaba is the hero of this story, it appears as though her arc is that of a final boss, becoming all-powerful while the other characters, surprisingly, lag behind her in progress. It remains to be seen how her classmates will react when they finally all come together. Will Wakaba be able to join them, or will she try to eat them -- and if she does, do they deserve it?