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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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 01 (First Impressions)

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Summary: Masamune Makabe is a former overweight child who was rejected by the rich, haughty Adagaki Aki. Since then he’s worked tirelessly to become a physically and academically ideal high schooler, irresistible to the opposite sex.

His goal is to make Adagaki (now known as the “Cruel Princess”) fall for him so he can exact his revenge by dumping her. He gets off to a good start by discovering her secret: she eats huge amounts of food alone in the gym storeroom, and by saving her from an attack from another boy she rejected.

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Why You Should Watch: Assuming you’re into rom-coms, this is a choice one, with above-average production values, character design, lighting, pacing, and a very effective score. It’s also an simple yet engaging premise: scorned boy seeks to teach the girl who scorned him a lesson.

While the show presents him as a former victim, it seems to be well on it’s way to demonstrating that two wrongs don’t make a right, and that a rose (i.e. his singular, un-waning interest in Adagaki) by any other name smells just as sweet. He may claim to “despise” her with every fiber of his being, but love and hate are a lot more similar to each other than indifference.

These two outwardly perfect people with inner quirks seem perfect for one another, much like the couple in Kare Kano, my favorite rom-com, which was a great show that unfortunately didn’t really have…and ending. I suspect this will be a more well-organized show; whether its end is something I’ll like, I’ll just have to wait and see.

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Why You Shouldn’t Watch: While I knew eventually that revenge would come up (it’s in the dang title), it was still a little jarring when Masamune, alone in his dark room, suddenly announced his master plan for…what—making Adagaki feel like shit?—while laughing maniacally.

My feeling so far is that their mutual disdain for each other has unconsciously evolved into something else, and Masamune is needlessly clinging to old baggage. He’s much closer to adulthood than that dramatic rejection years ago. Surely he can talk it out with Adagaki and let her know that what she did wasn’t cool….right? Maybe not.

Verdict: MkR is a great-looking, great-sounding rom-com that just pops. It’s got “it”; that being some inscrutable quality that makes me want to keep watching and seeing where this goes. It might not be immediately to a place I might like, but I liked enough of what I’ve seen so far to take that risk. So should you if you’re looking for something in this genre this Winter.

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