Masamune-kun no Revenge – 04

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Masamune continues to expose the fact all he knows about courting girls is through shoujo manga. Staring at Adagaki throughout class and then lending her his umbrella, all while spouting canned lines, just ends up kinda creeping her out. Yoshino suggests he cool it, literally, by mixing it up and starting to ignore her.

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That turns out to be a lot more difficult than Masamune could have imagined, as he feels he’s throwing away all the goodwill he’s built up with Adagaki. But, despite how badly he’s flailing, it does actually work: Adagaki doesn’t consider him a bug.

She can’t, not when he’s irritating her this much with all the ignoring. When she confronts him roughly in the hall (not at all what he imagined), Masamune can only say he likes “everything” about her before running off…to see Yoshino again. But because of the camera angles, you know Adagaki followed them, and gets the wrong idea about the two.

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While playing hooky for the first time, Adagaki is approached by Yoshino, and tries to play it cool, but Yoshino comes right out and tells her about all her contact with Masamune. “He only has eyes for you,” she says to Adagaki, getting more and more flustered. Before Yoshino can deny she feels the same, Yoshino vanishes.

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It’s while Adagaki is rushing around aimlessly, stuck in her thoughts, that we learn what she thinks of herself, and why it’s so “inconceivable” that she’d like anyone, or that anyone would like her. The Cruel Princess act is an intentional one, designed to keep others away.

She wants to keep others away because, as she says, she ” hurts others to avoid being hurt,” and we see her there dressing down Pig’s Foot. I imagine she did not expect Masamune to leave when he did, and branded him a liar, but also wonders if he left because she drove him away.

To avoid history repeating itself, she’s been aloof and kept her distance from everyone. Whether she’s worshiped or hated, she’s not close enough to anyone to hurt anyone or get hurt.

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But now things are changing. Masamune’s cold shoulder awoke feelings in her, and when he saves her from getting hit by a car, she’s right on the cusp of telling him when the driver of the car gets out…and embraces Masamune.

Apparently, the story of Masamune and Adagaki cannot be so neatly wrapped up so quickly and easily. Whoever this girl is, she’s competition, which is something Adagaki has never had, reigning as she has over all the boys and girls at school. And like class rep Futaba, this girl is someone else threatening to knock Masamune off course.

But what’s the fun of things being too easy? I’m game for the complication New Girl brings.

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 03

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It should come as no surprise that despite this show having “revenge” in its title, it’s looking less likely all the time that Masamune will actually want to dump Adagaki once they become a going concern. He’s had an idea of her in his head all these years as an object of rueful loathing, but actually getting to know her is gradually rewriting that idea.

Despite gaining the tacit support of Koiwai in his revenge efforts, Masamune comes up with something all on his own: a wager with Masamune concerning test scores. Koiwai seemingly abstains from assisting, and Masamune even thinks she double-crossed him by slipping him laxatives during a test, but it turns out he ate bad eggs.

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When the results of the test wager are inconclusive, Koiwai redeems Masamune’s confidence by arranging for Adagaki to go on a date with him out of concern that he’s an emotional wreck. Koiwai is well aware of the immense trust Adagaki has in her obedient maid, but stops short of telling Masamune exactly why she’s helping him out.

Koiwai’s motives aside, Adagaki is very game for the date, and reveals her inexperience with the practice of courtship by arriving in a costume to “break the ice.” She puts up smug airs, but also hides behind Masamune’s broad back when a creep tries to snap a picture of her, and gets all freaked out by a horror movie.

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Adagaki isn’t just inexperienced in dating, but in interacting with people on equal terms. With a maid and an army of servants at school, she’s used to being waited on hand and foot. But as he watches her argue with a small child about why she’s dressed so weird, it dawns on him he’s been letting her get away with the cosplay thing all day, sparing her the embarrasment. He’s going soft!

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Back when Masamune was a little fat kid, Adagaki called him pathetic and urged him to get stronger…which is exactly what he did. After accidentally walking in on her changing and hitting his head, he wakes up to find his head is in her lap and she’s asleep. After tasting her venom, back then and more recently, the date showed her some of her other facets, including vulnerability and kindness.

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Koiwai knows Masamune is “Pig’s Foot”, which means she knows how much Masamune worked to improve himself physically and academically to become the chick magnet he is today. Now she intends to use him to improve Adagaki, and in true tough love fashion, believes getting dumped might do the trick. The only issue is, will Masamune actually do it? I have my doubts.

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 02

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Compared to the seinen drama Kuzu no Honkai, Masamune-kun sports a much more vivid palette and a lot more comedy, but the titular character’s problems feel lighter; somehow more petty. After all, he’s still raw after all these years about how Aki treated him? They were snot-nosed little kids; all kids are terrible; his experience is not unique.

But as this second episode progressed—and Masamune thought he was making progress with Adagaki—I began to realize there’s a good reason Masamune is so serious about this revenge plot, even if it isn’t even in his best interests at his age. Being a former “pigs foot”, and the bullying he received as a result, had a profound effect on his emotional development.

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Masamune may be a much sought-after hottie girls are always fawning over, but not too deep inside, he’s still a little kid, not just hung up by the slights he suffered, but being held back by them.

It’s also made him sensitive to the perceived suffering of others, such as Adakagi’s maid Koiwai Yoshino. He buys her the necessary food for her to deliver to Adagaki, but when he teases her and he sees she’s not enjoying it, he stops. In her he sees another victim of Adagaki’s caustic haughtiness – a Cinderella always gettin’ it from the evil stepmother.

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Predictably, Koiwai still hears it from a very (always?) hangry Adagaki in the storage shed, and as she ducks out for tea, Masamune swoops in and attempts to build upon his heroic act to woo Adagaki. He makes smooth moves and says smooth words, and when he leaves, has convinced himself he’s gaining a “mental advantage” over his adversary.

But is he? Masamune’s no student of human behavior; he isn’t even aware of how ill-equipped he is to carry out his revenge plot. He’s using methods gleaned not from experience courting girls or anything like that, but reading his sister’s shoujo manga.

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His shortcoming are made plain when he’s literally caught in a trap by Koiwai, who first shows Masamune that she’s no Cinderella, but a fiercely loyal servant, as her family has been to the Adagakis for three centuries. The rope, hunting knife, and fact she knows his nickname “Pig’s Foot” indicate she’s a serious threat, and Masamune crumbles almost instantly.

Luckily for him, Koiwai isn’t so loyal as he thought, nor are her actions a threat so much as a demonstration of her skill. She knows Masamune is trying to get back at Adagaki, and she’s all for it. In fact, she offers to help him out. Koiwai is definitely somebody Masamune wants on his side, and it seems like he has a mutual “foe” in the imperious Adagaki.

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In his quest to gain Adagaki’s email address, Masamune volunteers to join the school beautification committee she’s on, which helps get class rep Futuba out of a bind. To Masamune’s dismay, Adagaki isn’t shocked when he shows up, and basically ignores him the same time. This has a profound effect on Masamune, just as her abuse contributed to making him what he is today.

He’s ready to throw in the towel…until a grateful, blushing Futaba, who had been looking distinctly for him, comes in and asks him out to a movie just like that. Again Masamune’s immaturity is laid bare, as he realizes he’s not so worthless after all, but actually quite popular. His confidence is buoyed, but poor Futaba gets rejected, because going out with Futaba, as nice as it sounds, strays from his “main objective.”

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When Adagaki comes in, Masamune assumes she’s jealous he was speaking to Futaba alone. He even thinks he hears it in her voice. He’s riding a high, and ends up going in for the kill way way waaaaay too early, showing that Adagaki isn’t going to be won over so easily.

For his foolishness, Masamune is sent on a wild goose chase of letters that lead him back to where he starts, where Adagaki unfurls—perhaps not for the first time—a large and elegant “I DECLINE” scroll in a semi-public place. Masamune loses his cool and yells out the window, but thankfully for him, Koiwai is now in the classroom, and she’s ready and willing to offer him assistance he’s clearly in dire need of.

This episode revealed the surprising emotional complexity at play in Masamune-kun, showed that his quest to get back at Adagaki won’t be so simple, and most admirably, turned Koiwai into a far more fascinating and intriguing character than last week’s humble maid.

It will be fun to see if Koiwai is serious about helping Masamune or if she’s actually a loyal servant working hard for her master. As she herself says, Masamune is too naive.

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Prison School – 09

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One nice little insidious part of Prison School I appreciate is that it’s not above exposing its high school characters’ ignorance. Neither Shingo nor Anzu knew what Grapes of Wrath was about, assuming it’s some B-movie about giant rampaging grapes or something.

This week no one but Gakuto knows who Sun Tzu is, and assume he’s some telecom guy. But he’s not: he’s a general whose strategic and tactical ouevre will aide the newly-united lads’ last-gasp effort to overturn their expulsion: they must use the mighty Vice President Shiraki Meiko’s strength against her.

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They attempt to do this by appealing to her confidence in her own strength and conditioning, and the arrogance that comes with it. Meiko doesn’t just have an open shirt, she’s an open book, and the countless times she’s demonstrated her strength, either through punishment or intense calisthenics, they know she won’t be able to resist proving naysayers wrong. So they loudly arm wrestle, one of them mentions her by name as being the strongest in the school, and another expresses doubt, because she’s a gurrrrrl. That’s all that’s needed to provoke Meiko.

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Gakuto goes up against her first, and from the prison physique he’s developed, we think he might have a chance, but nope, he goes down in a second. It’s up to the other four to keep her busy for at least ten minutes while Gakuto steals her keys, sneaks into the office, downloads file restoration software, and recovers incriminating DTO emails that will expose the council of sabotaging the boys. If they can publicize that material, they can sway the school, and more importantly the director, into cancelling their expulsion.

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But even with four guys, ten minutes is a lot to ask. Kiyoshi succumbs to her nip-slip far too quickly, Shingo is all talk, and the emaciated Joe gets flung across the room like a dry rubber band, which was one of if not the funniest sight gag of the episode. The only one left is Andre, who must hold up for upwards of seven minutes. 

And while he’s really big, and strong from to the need to lug his weight around all day every day, Meiko probably doesn’t need 100% of her strength to beat him quickly as well…were it not for something completely oblivious to Andre, but which drives Meiko absolutely cuckoo: a very long hair protruding from his nipple.

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This is when things get a little…weird. In a brilliant reversal, Meiko is the one utterly mesmerized by someone else’s nipples. So much so, she begins to daydream of a single tree swaying in the desert, first on a clear day, then during a tornado (when Andre’s breath whips the hair around further). It’s a distraction within the larger distraction of the arm wrestling contest: and it creates a stalemate that is only overcome when she realizes she should just close her eyes, and enough of her spit from yelling excites Tinyface to the point he can’t hold out any longer, and loses.

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It’s a good thing Andre cries out, too, because it gives Gakuto the signal that he’d better get back to the cell, which he does, just in time, holding keys he can innocently say dropped out of Meiko’s jacket while she was wrestling. She takes the keys and departs without suspecting a thing.

If only anything came of the whole enterprise! Yes, despite having time to download and install the restoration software, in the end Gakuto didn’t have any time left to locate the incriminating files, to say nothing of distributing them. His momentary freedom was hard won, and a series of small miracles in and of itself, but it wasn’t enough.

And so, the guys become consigned to their fate, having given it their all. Expulsion is all but certain now, unless they can come up with any other ideas. Sun Tzu didn’t work out, but maybe they can glean a fresh strategem from the telecommunications gentleman’s biography!

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Ore Monogatari!! – 03 (Late)

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From Braids to Boots, the Cute Won’t Quit

To her credit, Yamato does what I was hoping and attempts to tell Takeo about her feelings directly—doing so while looking even more ridiculously cute then usual. She clearly put a lot of effort into looking as cute as possible. But still convinced she likes Suna, Suna is all Takeo talks about, causing the cutie to tear up and flee. “What the hell just happened?” Takeo asks himself.

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I love it when sometimes a character tells another one exactly what I’m thinking, which is that Takeo’s delusions have to be set straight. Suna is the one to deliver those words, which come as a great relief. Suna is a smart, no-nonsense kinda guy who’s not going to let a misunderstanding persist on if he knows about it and has the power to stop it.

He’s also a hell of a friend, and always has been. It may be true that he “stole” all of the hearts of the girls Takeo liked, but that’s only because Takeo is horrible at reading people. All those girls talked smack behind his back, and Suna didn’t like that, so he turned them down out of a sense of loyalty and justice.

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Unlike those other girls, Yamato is different; she’s worth pining for. The only problem is, Takeo’s skull is too thick to notice, and he doesn’t believe Suna’s claim that Yamato really likes him. He really has to hear it from Yamato’s own mouth, so when Yamato comes by Suna’s place, Suna tries to hide him under his bed, in an impeccably timed sight gag that had me in stitches.

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Yamato sits down on the bed not knowing she’s adding a trivial amount of weight to a load Takeo can easily handle. She then helpfully proceeds to reveal all. Takeo thought the best he could be was a friend and confidant to Yamato, but that’s the exact role Yamato herself has assigned to Suna! She cried because she worried for a moment that Takeo’s constant praise of Suna was a roundabout way of turning her down.

When Suna asks her if this means she’ll give up, she says emphatically that she won’t, and loudly proclaims her like of Takeo. Suna has a little fun with the situation, making Yamato repeat herself several times to make sure it sinks into that thick skull of Takeo’s before bringing him out from under the bed.

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Rather than be outraged or mad that she was “manipulated”, though, she’s so glad to see Takeo there, she gathers the courage to confess once more, to his face, knowing he’s there. That in turn inspires Takeo to confesses right back to her. The two turn beet red and gaze at each other, both obviously relieved and elated beyond belief.

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It’s a gorgeous, momentous transcendent scene, made all the more impressive by how soon in the series it happens. Suna doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest as he studies quietly at his desk amidst the practically floating lovebirds. Heck, he was a regular Cupid this week!

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Just like that, Takeo and Yamato are a couple, and not just a cute or novel one, but a realistic one. Here are two people of very different sizes and appearances who both have tender, beautiful hearts and souls within, which they’re both able to see in one another. Once Takeo knows he’s allowed to like Yamato without worrying about heartbreak, they basically just lock into place.

The touching story of the red and blue ogres hews very close to that of Takeo and Suna, and one could say Suna sacrificed himself for his friend’s happiness, but he doesn’t see what either he or the blue ogre did as all that noble or special. He’s a stoic, logical fellow who also happens to want his friends to be happy. Takeo makes him happy, in part, by making him laugh.

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If we assume Yamato is just under five feet tall, that would make Takeo about seven feet tall

It’s no one-sided friendship; what it is is one of the best anime bromances I’ve seen. It’s amazing how much development these two got in just these first three episodes. The very fact you have two guys and one girl has me fearing a resurgence of triangle drama in the future as circumstances evolve, but for now I’m just going to enjoy this…and look forward to watching the Spring’s best couple in action.

The events of this episode more than validate my decision to pick this show up. I heard it was good, but I didn’t think it would be this hilarious and lovely and moving. I’d have done myself a serious disservice had I passed on it all Spring. Thankfully I only have three episodes before I’m caught up. Bear with me!

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Ore Monogatari!! – 02 (Finally)

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Yup…Definitely a butt

This may seem as sudden as Takeo asking Suna about girls, but I’ve decided to drop Mikagura and pick up Ore Monogatari!!. After hearing so many good things, I finally taking a look at the first episode and then the second, and fell in love about as quickly as Takeo fell for Yamada…even if he just as quickly judged he had no chance with her against the mightily dreamy Suna.

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HOLY CRAP THE CRAP MOVES

What’s so admirable and refreshing about OM!! is that as frustrated as I’ve been with Takeo for thinking that in the face of so much overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Takeo is by no means a fool for thinking he has no shot. Not only has ten years of hanging with Suna warped him, but all of society has, as well. Suna’s the one the cuties gravitate towards. He thinks they may accept a gentle giant’s help, but they’ll never kiss him.

Not to mention both Suna and Takeo aren’t all that experienced with girls (Takeo is just experienced in turning them down). This isn’t like the butt tree; girls can be hard to read if, like Takeo has every reason to, you’re not familiar with the language they’re written in.

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Both Suna and Takeo seem a bit unsure of what to do with this tiny, kind. delicate beauty who could probably hold her own as a pastry chef in Shokugeki no Souma, but Takeo goes with the most obvious explanation: she’s hanging with them because she’s interested in Suna, and operates under the incorrect assumption the best he can be is a cheerleader for Yamato.

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YES, She’s super-strong TOO! :D

Watching Takeo do that, and constantly undermine his position, is hard to watch, but I’m enduring because I’m hoping the show won’t stay on this “will he won’t he notice the truth” tack forever. But even when Takeo saves Yamato from an errant steel beam (this is an anime) he instinctively goes to the beam, while Suna goes to her.

The awesome twist is that they don’t just watch from a safe distance: not only does Suna help Takeo with the beam, but Yamato helps as well. Heck, it might’ve been her who broke off from Suna to rush to Takeo’s aid. We’ve heard how Suna has looked out for him in the past, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t help his friend out here, but Yamato was just a step quicker.

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If there’s to be any movement with this Yamato x Takeo pairing, Yamato is going to have to take the initiative, as she did when she came by with a cheesecake thanking him for rescuing her on the train. And thankfully, she does, asking if this time, she can meet with him alone.

Takeo only sees this as an opportunity to hear about the particulars of Yamato’s feelings towards Suna, but I’m hoping Yamato will be able to clear up his assumptions. I’m also heartened by the fact that even if she doesn’t succeed so soon, her feelings for him aren’t going anywhere soon.

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Servant x Service – 03

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The hooks on Yamagami’s bra suddenly break. She hopes nobody notices, but everyone does, and Hasebe suggests she go home and rest. When she returns, Hasebe continues his quest to get Yamagami’s email. He follows her to a bookstore, treats her to dinner, distracts a kid for her, lends her a music player in a storm, and offers to teach her sign language. Even when she asks him if there’s anything she can do in return for all his help, he still forgets to ask for her email.

This week we saw a lot less of the non-adult, non-civil servant Touko (though unfortunately she wasn’t totally absent…why does the series feel the need to have her poke her nose in every day?), a lot more sexual harassment by Hasebe, tempered by several kind deeds. Let’s just say this guy is very lucky Yamagami is either uncommonly patient or uncommonly oblivious; come to think of it, she’s a little of both…and her cowlick (ahoge) is a hoot and a half.

Yamagami doesn’t like relying on or owing people, but Hasebe is determined to show her that it’s okay once and a while. In attempting to get her email, he shows up his many and varied skills, proving that he can be highly capable when sufficiently motivated, which is almost never. In fact, most of the skills he’s amassed all serve to make slacking off easier. Still, we’re hoping his lewd comments are kept at a minimum and he learns to talk with Yamagami without bringing up her not un-ample bust.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)