HenSuki – 04 – The Desired Outcome

Last week, before I endured a week of high-altitude training, I presupposed that Nanjou Mao has a particular interest in Keiki, but considering she was neither a sadist or masochist, the particular peculiar shape that interest took remained up in the air.

Keiki gets a bit of a reprieve this week when both Yuika and Sayuki independently offer their apologies for “going too far” and urge him to “make up” with Mao. When he confronts Mao after class, she asks if he’ll hang out with her and Shouma at the arcade, like they used to.

There, we get the second hint of Mao’s interest—her first was the very characteristic Stressed Mangaka Girl Look (AKA the School Queen/Home Nerd Look popularized by Kare Kano, but I digress). When Keiki slips and is about to fall backwards, he’s caught in an inadvertent wall slam by Shouma, which excites Mao very much.

Later, while walking Mao home, Mao wonders out loud if he wants to be in a couple rather than a trio. Keiki also notices Mao staring intently at a photo of Shouma, and gets the wrong idea that she likes Shouma. But when he pries too deeply and too directly, she runs off on him, even in the pouring rain, leaving him with the rank of Sex Animal Sergeant.

Having made next to no progress, Keiki seeks advice from Mizuha, of all people, who was previously peeping at his porn stash, puts his head in her lap, and hides an annoyed look from her brother when he discusses other girls.

Still, she advises him to go all out, but act naturally, and if it doesn’t work, she’ll surely will be there to comfort him. When Keiki once more confronts a sleepy Mao after class and apologizes profusely for hurting her feelings, and unwisely offers to do “anything” to make things right.

Mao declares she wants Keiki in a relationship…not with her, but with Shouma. That’s right: Mao is a fujoshi, and her Shortcake series uses Shouma and Keiki as her character models. She wasn’t jealous that other girls were coming on to him; she was angry that they were ruining her image of Keiki as a BL model!

If he refuses to date Shouma, she threatens do everything in her power to impede all of his other romantic endeavors. So now all three of the non-sister girls in Keiki’s circle have some quirk he’s not sure he can live with. If that weren’t bad enough, someone leaves an envelope in his shoe locker containing a photo of him groping Sayuki…perhaps an prelude from one of the yet-to-be-introduced other girls?

HenSuki – 03 – The Third Way

With Sayuki and Yuika declaring themselves masochist and sadist and their intent to make Keiki their master/slave respectively, one thing becomes clear: Keiki isn’t that into this. He avoided dating girls because he felt himself to normal and boring, but now he’s having nightmares as a result of Yuika’s “punishment” last week. He doesn’t even want to go to school, but Mizuha makes him, since he’s not really ill.

Things don’t get any easier for Keiki, as he’s greeted by Yuika’s bra in his shoe locker, followed by a photo of him with his shirt open lying with Sayuki, with the implication it will be distributed if he doesn’t meet with her. When he gets there, Sayuki is dressed as a maid and handcuffed; he must fish the key out of her cleavage.

All the while, the third girl in his life (not counting his sister), Nanjou Mao, keeps watching silently from afar, her gentle blushing going completely unnoticed by Keiki. But when he tells his best mate he doesn’t believe Sayuki or Keiki are the Cinderella, that friend points out Mao’s staring, who it’s directed at, and what that entails.

Mao’s passive role thus far becomes more active by necessity when Keiki is once again summoned to the clubroom by Sayuki, but is intercepted by Yuika, who ties him up and orders him to kiss her foot or she’ll steal his first kiss on the lips. Sayuki barges in to put a stop to it, and the girls, who have known about each other’s proclivities since they met, start to bicker, with Keiki in the middle.

Enter Mao, who drags Keiki, chair, rope and all, into the hall, away from the two warring girls. He blames him for being so nice to both of them and indulging them too much, and in the process betrays that she’s been observing his interactions with them very closely (we dohear a camera click when he’s fishing out the handcuff keys…was that Mao?).

When Keiki asks why this concerns her at all, Mao has no choice but to be more direct: she just plain doesn’t like it when he’s with other girls. That could well be because she’s developed feelings for her childhood friend, but it also means a third girl has decided to try and assert control over him. Perhaps not as a formal master or slave, but it’s definitely possessive and unbidden by Keiki.

Considering how uncomfortable the other two girls’ antics have made Keiki, perhaps Mao is the “Goldilocks” answer, but first he has to determine whether her particular kink (stalking?) is more or less manageable.

HenSuki – 02 – Kohai Master

Keiki flatly turns down Sayuki’s request that he make her his pet—he’s just not sure if he’s into S&M, and probably never thought about it. But that doesn’t stop her from hanging around him, even in the library, where she gets too close and draws the ire of their mutual kohai, Koga Yuika. When Keiki admits he took Sayuki out for a parfait and performed a romantic wall slam, she’s angry, but he can cure that anger by taking her on a date.

Keiki does everything right thanks to some pointers from his little sister Mizuha: Arrive early, compliment often, go to a movie she likes, have a relaxed lunch, match her pace, let her shop till she drops. He even has the opportunity to rescue her from some leering mall trolls. Yuika gives Keiki a pat and kiss on the head as thanks and then falls asleep on his shoulder on the train home. All in all, it’s a wonderful first date for the both of them.

Yuika always kept to herself in the library and was hard to approach (which he chalks up to her mixed heritage, which…okaaay), but he was persistent in his friendliness and kindness, and her suspicion and “ice in her eyes” gradually melted away to the point they’re now much closer. But is she “Cinderella” who included a pair of underwear with her love letter? The jury’s still out.

What becomes painfully clear, however, is that Yuika is not like Sayuki, and she does not want to be his pet. In fact, when she asks him to meet her in the library storage room, she reveals that she wants to be his master, and wants him to be her slave. As an incentive, she removes her underwear and offers them to him. When he doesn’t immediately take them, she punishes him by stuffing them into his mouth. Yikes!

Suffice it to say, this development comes as something of a shock to Keiki. He was so enchanted by their conventional date, he would have been content if he died the next day. Instead, he finds himself passed out in a closet with Yuika’s underwear in his mouth, and a commando Yuika sitting astride him. They’re tricky, those tides of fortune!

Hensuki – 01 (First Impressions) – A Short Leash

Kiryuu Keiki gets to hang out with three cute girls in the Shodou Club (four if you count his imouto, which he doesn’t), but he wants a girlfriend. So imagine his shock when he finally receives a love letter from a secret admirer…along with a pair of underwear.

From there, Keiki tries to investigate which of the three girls (excluding his sister) could be the “Cinderella” to his Prince: the cool, mature senpai Sayuki (Taketatsu Ayana), the adorable blonde kohai Yuika (Hidaka Rina) or the approachable classmate Mao (Nomizu Iori).

In his interactions, the girls exhibit what could be construed as signals indicating they are the culprit, in addition to having feelings for Keiki beyond mere friendship, but nothing concrete until Sayuki happily accepts a date offer he accidentally makes when thinking out loud.

When he asks Sayuki straight up if “she has a secret” she’s not telling him about, she flees, and spends the entire next day at school very obviously avoiding him. Mao suggests he employ the “wall slam” tactic (much more effective in anime than IRL), which he does when he spots her walking home.

He tells her he knows her secret (assuming its the note and underwear); when she asks if that means he dislikes her now, he tells her it’s quite the opposite; after the initial shock, he was glad. Mind you, he makes no mention of what he’s talking about.

The next day, Keiki reports to the clubroom as requested, Sayuki makes him close his eyes, and when he opens them, she’s wearing a collar and leash,  exposed her bra, and asking to be Keiki’s pet. That’s when Keiki knows he’s in for something a lot stranger than he bargained for!

Hensuki is another show that would probably benefit from being 12-13 minutes instead of double that; the “investigation” drags on too long even if it’s also meant to introduce the main players. While a decent-looking, this show is utterly by-the-numbers and generic except for the twist at the end, which doesn’t definitively answer the question of who gave him their underwear.

This will be the story of a guy whose female acquaintances each have their own unique kinks, which they’ll reveal to him because he’s a kind and understanding dude. It is notable that the show so far exhibits a particularly soft touch when it comes to its ecchi element. But where this goes from here—and whether and how the premise can be sustained for 12 episodes—very much remains to be seen.

Imouto sae Ireba Ii. – 01 (First Impressions)

Our protagonist wakes up with his little sister Alice, naked as a jaybird, sitting on top of him. After giving him a sloppy kiss with tongue, he washes his face in her bathwater, wipes it dry with her bra, then sits down to breakfast with her (still naked) and some random other girl. He drinks Alice’s milk(?), eats an omelette with Alice’s eggs(?!?) and she wipes his mouth with her underwear, which he then eats (?!?!?!?1?!!!2)…

But wait! This isn’t the show, thank God. It’s just novelist Hashima Itsuki’s demented idea for a follow-up to his last piece, which had precious little to do with little sisters. It’s a story that’s rudely but mercifully interrupted by a hearty “WTF” from his editor, who summarily rejects the disgusting tale.

First of all, great fake-out, show. You had me going there. I was ready to switch off the TV and go hide in a deep dark hole to get away from that trash. It pushed all the buttons of what a “little sister rom-com” would be in these trying times, then kicked it all up to 11.

The actual show is much more tolerable, even if it suffers from some of the same problems as Itsuki’s treatment, only far more low-key. Itsuki is an unrepentant siscon…but doesn’t actually have a little sister. He does have a very cute, responsible, hard-working, androgynous younger stepbrother in Chihiro, as well as a kohai in the silver-haired novelist Kani Nayuta. His fellow novelist Haruto and friend Miyako round out the group who converge on his apartment for a nice dinner party.

Everyone sits around while Chihiro does all the cooking like some kind of traditional housewife. Rather than help out, the others spend most of the episode having a lot more fun playing a “lateral thinking puzzle” than I had watching it. A bunch of diagrams and graphics are used, but the whole thing seems like a stall, which in a first episode that already scared the shit out of me in its cold open, is…not great.

The game is an opportunity to demonstrate what a dirty mind the silver-haired Kani Nayuta has, as she’s constantly throwing lewd comments Itsuki’s way; a clear indication she likes him, but getting little in the way of a response from the little-sister-obsessed Itsuki.

The two end up alone together, but nothing comes of it, and she retires to the hotel room where she’s supposed to be holed up working. As Itsuki checks out a particular book on his shelf (one written by Nayuta), he recalls when he and Nayuta met; she threw up on him, then later confessed her love for him after reading his work.

Itsuki then reads her work, and can’t put the book down. It’s in another league, and he’s immediately inspired to get back tot he laptop and belt out some work of his own. It seems then, that in addition to preferring little sisters (despite, or perhaps because he has none), Itsuki can’t stand beside someone liky Nayuta until he gets better. More then, of a muse than a romantic interest.

That surprising reveal at the end, that there’s mutual respect and affection below the raunchy repartee, and the fake-out at the beginning, were both nice touches, but the guessing game that dominated the middle really bogged this episode down, and there’s also a disconnect between everyone’s appearance and their age (the adults look like high schoolers, the high schooler looks like a middle schooler).

But it might be worth watching the second episode to see whether those structural choices are repeated or corrected.

Masamune-kun no Revenge – 12 (Fin)

Last week I predicted that Masamune would fill in for Kanetsugu in the Class-A play—a safe prediction, since that’s what came to pass. The show tries to be coy about it, what with showing Masamune arrive in the auditorium to see Aki already on the stage performing, and not immediately revealing his plan. But really, we all knew where this was going.

What I did not know was how much I would enjoy the performance scene, telegraphed as it was. Simply taking Kanetsugu’s place is no mean feat for Masamune in his ill and weakened state, but the well-rehearsed cast (which includes his master) catches on fast, as his fatigue is explained as the result of his “long journey.”

Back to another safe assumption: that Masamune would, in fact, give Aki a real kiss. I mean, how could he not, that’s what the role demands! But when Aki said the kiss would be “pretend” while waiting in her coffin, it all but confirmed to me that it wouldn’t be. It wasn’t a bad kiss at all, and it even compels Aki to do a little improvisation of her own, by decking him for stealing a kiss. Because he’s so weak, he’s out for the count.

Fast Forward to the conclusion of the festival (thankfully) as reps from both classes meet at a karaoke joint for the after-party. This is where the episode kinda stretches out and relaxes, and where it was clear, if it wasn’t in past weeks, that this whole Masamune’s Revenge thing wasn’t going to be wrapped up in just twelve episodes. The last half feels more like a self-contained OVA.

Which, yeah, makes sense. Masamune feels a lot of tension at the karaoke bar, and when his turn in the sing-off approaches, he’s hassled by Sonoka and Kikuon, warning he won’t be able to run away from humiliating himself at the mic in front of their mistress. But it’s Aki who scolds them and sends them off, taking his side. She later regrets it, as Masamune’s singing is so bad everyone looks dead by the end, and quickly clear out afterward.

At least that leaves Masamune and Aki alone together for one last scene, which is as nice way as any to close out the show. They exchange thanks and apologies, and Aki earnestly asks him what she should do as far as tokens of appreciation go. Masamune swings for the fences and asks for a kiss, and to his shock, she accepts.

Aki’s lips do come within less than an inch of Masamune’s, but she stops short and pops a baked yam (I think) in his mouth, provided by Yoshino, who just showed up to feed Aki. Aki feels they got “close enough for now,” and strides off, far more playful than aloof.

Thus, Masamune and Aki end this 12-episode run on pretty good terms. However, obstacles still exist. We know Kanetsugu is deceiving both Aki and Masamune, something Yoshino hasn’t informed her of. Neko doesn’t quite seem ready to give up now that she’s been given a new lease on life. And then there’s the whole matter of whether Masamune wants to actually exact his titular revenge and dump Aki once he’s earned her favor (eh, likely not).

I assume Masamune-kun no Revenge will be back…someday, to resolve these remaining issues. If it does, the show has earned my loyalty, so I’ll be taking a look. If it doesn’t, well…it was a nice, if incomplete, ride.

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 11

I’ll admit I am not the biggest fan of “school play” episodes, but MnR’s wasn’t just an admirably-paced example of the type, but also the most consistently funny and best episode of MnR yet. It’s a joke-laden, increasingly wacky series of unexpected events that build up to a denouement I can look forward to watching.

It all starts with Masamune worried about Class Rep Futaba’s sudden transformation into your typical overbearing director. At the same time, Kojuurou is just about sick of people treating him like a girl (even though he’s voiced by one, the great Hayami Saori), but glad that at least Neko doesn’t, leading to him kinda falling for her.

We also see more of Kanetsugu treating Aki so very nicely, but then revealing to us his true intentions. Obviously, he’s not the Masamune Aki knew as a kid (that’s the thin Masamune), so who is he? A fat kid Aki’s mom mistook for Masamune, assuming he’d never lose weight.

Because Kanetsugu’s once-rich family has fallen on hard times, he’s been tasked with restoring their financial standing to go with the prestige of their name, hence Kanetsugu pretending he’s the boy Aki once knew. It immediately makes his character much better because A.) now we know what exactly his deal is and B.) he’s not perfect, like everyone else in the show.

Everyone…except Neko. Neko is perfect. I guess you could call her health imperfect, but there’s nothing wrong with her personality. Back from her life-threatening illness and surgery, Neko hasn’t skipped a beat, and despite having her heart broken, would still like to be Masamune’s dance partner should he lose to the other play.

She also notices that he’s ill and takes him to the nurse’s office to rest (he spent a chunk of the night outside in his skivvies to prove how hardy he is, then caught a cold). Masamune can’t refuse her offer, should it come to that.

How could he refuse? Fujinomiya Neko is THE BEST, and this warm, caring scene is more proof that she wouldn’t be a consolation girl. KOJUUROU knows what I’m talking about, though his attempt to assert his manliness by speaking in a weird dialect only serves to confuse, not woo, an oblivious Neko. I know it’s a bit late for his development, but I like how Koujuurou is trying to escape his typecasting…even if it’s futile.

Aki’s self-appointed “personal guard” hatches a plan to sabotage Class B’s play, in the silliest way possible: Kikuon kidnaps Masamune, ties him up in a big mattress, and imprisons him in a storeroom.

That’s…pretty lame, not to mention unsporting and even cowardly, which is exactly what Masamune tells Kikuon, who, to her credit, takes his words to heart and immediately starts to have a moral crisis about what she’s doing…until she learns from Masamune’s call to Mari (and his poor attempts to hide it) that their prince, Kanetsugu, has also been taken hostage. Masamune only knows that he’s missing from Mari, but he knows that it was Master Yoshino who nabbed him.

I like how Masamune knows this, and how he’s right that it was Yoshino. They’re operating on the same wavelength, it’s just that she thought to do it pretty much the same time as Mari (who pitches a hissyfit when she thinks she’s bested), while Masamune, who we know is a tourist in these kind of dark dealings, only of kidnapping his counterpart as a tactic once Mari mentioned it had already gone down.

Still, Masamune isn’t all brawn no brains…though Kikuon might be, as he manages to get the slip on her by pretending to leap out at least a third story window.  She leaps out to chase him down, only to fall into a pool below and somehow not break several bones, while he’s hanging onto the window sill. Call it Kikuon’s Wile E. Coyote moment.

But you know what? I’ll allow it, because Kikuon is, if nothing else, devoted to Aki, for without even knowing it, doing something that made Kikuon feel good after a tough loss to someone who cheated: Aki turned the guy down and called him a coward.

Mari and Sonoka doubtless have similar stories that lionized Aki in their eyes…but Aki didn’t ask for their loyalty and devotion; she simply has it, whether it’s in her best interest to have it or not. I say this because she, like Masamune, wanted to perform the plays and determine who would win fair and square. It’s their proxies who complicated matters by playing dirty.

Well, the show will go on for Aki, with or without Kanetsugu (she considers his sudden absence at such a crucial time to be a repeat of abandoning her when they were little kids). I feel bad that Kanetsugu is deceiving her, while loving the irony of Masamune’s extreme physical makeover actually forestalling Aki’s falling for him.

Of course, with Kanetsugu still absent and Kujuurou sick of being treated like a princess, the solution for both Class A and B would seem to be clear: pair up Masamune and Aki. I hope they finally go there (it’s the logical path) and I also hope Aki finds out about Kanetsugu, be it from his being found out or from his own mouth.

Masamune-kun no Revenge – 10

Turns out the mystery fatty isn’t some stunted clone of Masamune, but Gasou Kanetsugu, who is, at least according to an apparently genuine letter, Aki’s betrothed. For now, it appears to be just a coincidence that he looks a lot like our “Pig’s Foot” if he never lost weight (or gained height).

Aki’s household accepts Gasou’s sudden claim, and when the next term starts, he’s a transfer student at the school. Unlike the hunky baseball ace, Aki can’t contain her smitteness for the round lil’ guy, much to the shock and consternation of her fan club, which consists of Sonoka (twin tailed loli) Kikuon (tall and sporty) and Mari (serious/dark glasses).

Even more gobsmacked is Masamune, who just dosn’t understand how this could happen just when he thought the path was clear (in other news, Neko’s surgery went off without a hitch and she’s back at school, though no longer pursuing him).

To his surprise, even his master Yoshino is at a loss regarding Aki’s new squeeze, and feels like she’s let her apprentice down, even though he doesn’t blame her.

There’s a tension that runs throughout this episode, once once accepts the suddenness and coincidence of Kanetsugu’s appearance. On the one hand, I can’t deny I’m on Masamune’s side, even though I know he only wants to win Aki’s heart so he can immediately break it.

Kanetsugu is a huge obstacle to that, but I can’t help but admire Aki not abiding by the typical norms of attraction, confused friends, fans and suitors be damned. Kanetsugu is a good kid, too. When Neko first showed up, I felt like she was hiding a secret, which turned out to be nothing evil.

But Kanetsugu doesn’t give off that vibe. There’s no ulterior motive here, beyond fulfilling his obligation as 17th-gen-whatever. In fact, he holds Aki in such high regard he dare not even entertain the possibility of getting romantic with her, either in the present or the future. He thinks he’s too far beneath her; in reality, she’d be just fine with that!

In any case, though she’s mistaking Kanetsugu for the younger, fatter Masamune, the fact is Aki likes what she sees, and her betrothed seems to have completely usurped thin Masamune from her thoughts. Her fan club, who gets a lot of screen time, also ends up allying themselves with Kanetsugu when he promises he has no intention of touching their goddess.

That alliance is somewhat undermined by Class Rep Futaba, who insists her class put on a performance of Snow White with Masamune and Kojuurou as the prince and princess, respectively. Mari, fan club member, and her class are putting on a Snow White of their own, only with Aki and Kanetsugu.

Masamune helps the two warring classes come to a compromise: both performances will be held, and the school will get to vote for the one they like best. It will also determine which “prince”; which Masamune gets to dance with Aki (though she herself isn’t informed of this wager).

If the pro-BL caucus propels our Masamune to victory in the drama battle, what then? How will he be able to wrest Aki from Kanetsugu’s pudgy clutches?

Masamune-kun no Revenge – 09

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Whether due to her suspicions about him going to Neko’s place, or the fact that Neko being missing takes precedence, Aki completely ignores the fact Masamune said he “chose” her and rejected Neko. The girls (and Kojuurou) pile into the car to go look for Neko, and there isn’t room for him.

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And yet, after nothing comes of searching the immediate vicinity of Neko’s apartment, Masamune and Aki both end up at school. There, Aki tells Masamune she doesn’t want Neko wallowing in despair. She feels bad that he rejected her…which is pretty rich, considering she did the same thing to Masamune years back, which leads him to bring up “pig’s foot” to her.

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That conversation is curtailed by the re-enactment of a scene in the manga Masamune owns which Neko also started reading, in which a girl turns her unrequited love letters into paper airplanes. Only when they finds her on the roof, it isn’t long before she collapses from exhaustion. Clearly Neko is frailer than Masamune ever imagined.

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While recovering in hospital, Neko asks to speak to Aki alone. After that, she has Masamune brought in to talk to him alone, and reveals her plan to him to fall in love before undergoing a risky operation that could improve her condition (or not).

She says he was chosen at random to be her suitor, but a later flashback indicates the two did meet little kids, and were thought by his family to be a good match. Alas, Masamune only ever had feelings for Aki. She thanks him for giving her “lovely memories,” then excuses him.

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Neko’s talk with Masamune about not walking the “same path” as her through an uncertain fog, and he redoubles his efforts to block out “unnecessary thoughts” and recommit himself to his goal: to make Aki fall for him and then “throw her away in the best way possible.” He’s not thinking about what happens after.

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We thankfully also get Neko’s frank talk with Aki. Neko was soundly rejected, so now she sees no good reason why Aki should keep acting tough and denying the love Masamune has for her.

Neko is conceding defeat, and Aki can’t dance around the fact that she feels something…but interestingly, she thinks back to the fat Masamune of her childhood as her ideal of love. After all, Masamune has only showed us his version of their relationship. It’s not a great leap to assume she teased him because she liked him…he was just to thick to realize that.

As for what happens in the end, with a fat little guy who looks like Masamune showing up in Aki’s garden…I don’t know what to think. Did she fall asleep beside the fountain and is simply dreaming? Or is she mistaking this random kid for the real Masamune?

It was a very bizarre and confusing—if mildly intriguing—way to end another solid, earnest, emotional episode.

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 08

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I was right at the edge with Masamune-kun no Revenge, and with the gang planning to hang at the pool, it looked like we were in for another color-by-numbers harem outing. Instead, things got a little more serious…all because Masamune’s photo is gone, and he suspects Neko of taking it—which she did.

While meeting Akagaki at a family restaurant so she can give him back luggage he left at her villa, the photo distracts Masamune to the point where Adagaki is insulted by his distance and leaves. The minute she leaves (without paying for the four sundaes she ate) Masamune gets a call from Neko, which leads to him asking if they can meet so he can somehow bring up the photo she stole.

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It’s here where things get hot and heavy in a hurry, and very unexpectedly so. Neko doesn’t jump his bones like a cat in heat, no; in fact, it’s Masamune who sneaks into her room to look for the photo, then comes across the same romance novel she saw at his house.

Neko catches him snooping, but thinks nothing of it, and before long owns up to the theft of the photo, saying the young him—not the young Adagaki—was just too cute for her to resist. His self-image poisoned by his interactions with Adagaki and others, Masamune never once considered himself cute, but Neko means it.

So what if he was fat? Well, the fact he was once fat means everything to Masamune, both in terms of his present obsession with fitness and his vendetta with Adagaki.

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Masamune is so messed up, to the end he believes Neko is working some other angle, some ulterior motive he’s on the cusp of discovering. So when she advances on him, he questions whether she really likes him, then takes the photo and leaves, telling her choosing Adagaki is his…revenge.

After he leaves, Neko doesn’t seem like her plan had failed. She looks heartbroken, and says as much. For his part, Masamune is pretty messed up too – he just had his first kiss with a girl, and having rejected her out of hand, his stomach hurts something fierce. He’s just not sure whether he did the right thing, only that he can’t get Adagaki off his mind.

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The pool party is an afterthought, both narratively (because the Neko incident takes precedence) and practically (there’s no animation, just a bunch of panning stills). But that’s okay; what matters isn’t what happened at the pool, but who didn’t attend: Neko told Futaba she wasn’t feeling well. And again, Masamune feels frustratingly far away to Adagaki.

While everyone is leaving the pool, Neko’s attendant pulls up, asking what Masamue did to her, as she’s now missing and without her meds. That’s right: Neko isn’t just some vitamin junkie; she’s a very sickly young woman and a seizure risk. Masamune was wrong. So he tells the truth – he went to Neko’s to tell her he couldn’t go out with her because he was choosing Adagaki.

The episode ends there, with us wondering how much those words may have affected Adagaki, and knowing that with Neko who-knows-where without vital meds, this isn’t a game or test of courage. They’ve gotta find her first, then deal with the romantic ramifications.

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 07

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Masamune-kun no Revenge got off to a halfway clever start, but in the last few weeks has been leaning heavily on overused rom-com tropes. This episode is no different, combining three such tropes: The Beach Trip, The Test of Courage, and the Man-Hating Older Woman (MHOW). As such, it’s an adequate but unexceptional outing.

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In an attempt to add stakes, while on the yacht to the island where the Adagaki beach manse is located Koiwai warns Masamune that if he doesn’t make progress on this trip, she’ll spill the beans to her master – all of them.

It spooks Masamune into taking risks, like telling the trip chaperone—Adagaki’s dad’s secretary Yuisaki Midori (the MHOW)—that he’s Adagaki’s boyfriend. He knows Adagaki cares greatly about appearances where other women are concerned, and it pays off…just.

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We know the reason why: on some level, Adagaki wouldn’t mind actually dating Masamune. She’s keeping up appearances, both by allowing the lie and making sure Neko stays away from her man, but also because she doesn’t want Neko sniffing around Masamune anyway.

Masamune later goes to Yuisaki for suggestions on what to do that’s good for a dating pair, and she suggests the dreaded Test of Courage (I like how she considers it childish, but the still pretty childish Masamune is fine with it).

He rigs it so he’ll have to save Adagaki when she’s trembling in fear, and we get another one of his far-fetched fantasies where she says and does things the really Adagaki never would, at least not yet.

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But because Yusaki hates men, and wants Adagaki to become like her, she tries to dispose of Masamune by trying to scare him. Instead, Koiwai (whom Masamune sent in first so she could brandish a chainsaw) ends up scaring Yuisaki, who hits her head and has to be carried home by Masamune. Yuisaki learns that the dating is a lie, but also learns that Masamune is actually a good guy and she feels bad for prejudging him.

I never thought for a second Koiwai was going to spill the beans, so there wasn’t really much in the way of stakes this week. He doesn’t make much in the way of progress, nor do we learn anything more of Neko (oddly we now know more about Yuisaki than her). Here’s hoping the show is troped out and will do something a little more interesting next week.

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 06

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That Masamune-kun’s big grand scheme to destroy Adagaki is put in jeopardy by the mere offer of a kiss is yet another indication that he simply hasn’t thought this through that much, that he’s better at losing weight and keeping it off than relationship stuff, and that he’s very lucky to have Yoshino on his side; otherwise he’d be toast.

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Masamune’s outer timidity around Adagaki belies his tougher inner revenge plotter, and Adagaki seems to make it clear: if he can’t kiss her, he must not really like her.

Watching his plan’s life flash before his eyes, he quickly envisions Adagaki as a piece of meat and goes in for a bite, only for a flustered Adagaki to recoil and delivering unto him a crushing (and physics-defying) uppercut.

This is two people inexperienced in love and romance fumbling around, unable to read or predict one another because they can scarcely predict themselves.

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After an awkward scene in the school courtyard, Yoshino decides Neko needs to be tailed, lest she be up to something that will disrupt her accord with Masamune regarding her master. When Neko ends up at Masamune’s house, both she and Yoshino are snatched up by Masamune’s tiny loli mom.

I’m all for representation of little people in anime, but I’m not sure that’s what his mom is, and it’s kind of irritating that her character design is indistinguishable from that of a grade schooler. It was less of a concern when she was a background, but we see a lot more of her this week.

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In fact, the whole episode kinda grinds to a halt at Masamune’s house when he comes home to find two members of his harem plus the two female members of his family amicably mingling. All he manages to do is complain that Yoshino and Neko are there, that the food is fattening, and that they dress up in yukata to light fireworks after dinner.

Masamune deems all of this a waste of time he could be spending lifting weights or something, but I can’t say I relate to his displeasure with what seemed by all accounts a warm, pleasant weeknight. As for Neko, she’s happy her obsession with health (through more medicinal means) mirrors Masamune’s obsession with fitness. She also steals his photo of him and Adagaki. Not cool, Neko!

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 05

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I’ve found that it’s tricky switching gears from Kuzu no Honkai, an R-rated seinen show, with Masamune-kun’s Revenge, a PG-13 rom-com that’s becoming increasingly harem-y. You won’t see a lot of girls posing with airsoft guns in Kuzu.

The two shows, while ostensibly about relationships between people, go about their business in very different ways. Revenge, even at its most serious, is still a much “lighter” show than the leaden Kuzu. I realize I’m not saying anything particularly groundbreaking here, just noting an observation.

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For one thing, Revenge utilizes an array of familiar, well-trodden elements from its genre as it progresses. Masamune truly wants to get Adagaki to fall for him so he can exact his revenge, but he’s unwittingly finding himself flush with women, due partially to his hot guy status, but also his genuine, if sometimes, reluctant, kindness, borne from once being on the other side.

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Put up against Adagaki, Yoshino, and even class-rep Futaba, so far Fujinomiya Neko is the weakest of the girls now in his orbit, for two big reasons. First, she’s less of a character than a collection of odd quirks (elaborate lies, going commando, fake blood) that doesn’t yet add up to anything. Second, like Masamune we know nothing about her, why she truly respects/admires him, and why she transferred.

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Her most interesting moment comes when she spots her competition, Adagaki (which had me thinking of and comparing her to Akane over at Kuzu, which I really shouldn’t do). But again, because we have no idea why she’s going after Masamune specifically, I’m not really invested in her mission to beat Adagaki.

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Masamune, meanwhile, ends up firmly back on Adagaki’s bad side, for, among other reasons not being more forceful in rebuke her advances. Adagaki is still figuring out what she feels about this guy, but it’s clear she really doesn’t like watching another girl get too close to him, or the fact he does next to nothing to stop it. It makes her think he’s shallow to fall under another’s spell so easily.

The two get to have it out, somewhat, when they’re punished for skipping class by having to clean the pool (which is oddly full of water). Because it’s a pool, Adagaki naturally ends up in it, can’t swim, and almost has to be rescued.

When pressed, Masamune admits he can’t help but want to save her, since he likes her so much. Adagaki wants proof: a kiss. Looks like the turbulence caused by Neko didn’t fully snuff out the flame…unless, like last week, another unfortunate interruption ruins the moment…again!

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