Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
Masamune kun’s Revenge is taking steady steps in a narrative that wants to have completed its circle by the time the cour is over. I am very sad to see that it will probably turn from a ‘revenge romance’ to a regular campus lovey-dovey story, but the ‘how’ is going to be very interesting.
Japanese Title: 吉乃のマジックショー
One of the most beneficial characteristics a revenge mastermind can have is a knack for identifying chances and then grabbing them. One such chance is the upcoming school test: all the students who fail will have to take supplementary classes, a nightmare for any student if there ever was one. Kojuurou and Yoshino are both mediocre students, so their best friends, Adagaki and Masamune, take the role of the tutor and try to up their chances.
At first I thought that the series was going to destroy its tight narrative for a campus anime cliché episode, but I couldn’t be more wrong. In a few minutes we had a plot: Masamune and Adagaki would hold a contest. If Masamune scores higher he would get a date with Adagaki, and if Adagaki wins, she would give Masamune a nickname to wear on a piece of paper on his back until graduation and would pay for her lunch.
The reason that the contest works in favor of the plot is that it has a direct benefit to Masamune-kun’s revenge plan. The next part of the plan is to make Adagaki-san go out with him. This is a perfect opportunity to realize that step, especially since he believes that Yoshino will help him out. In the end it doesn’t work that way, but the whole mini training montage and trivia questions showdown made me care about the result of the contest: Who will win? In the end, no one won, and I was a little disappointed that the contest had no tangible outcome, but having both lose created a dynamic between the protagonists that would have never been achieved if Masamune-kun had gone on a date with Adagaki-san having won the contest. Without it, the date felt more like… a date.
All the tension that started with the contest was climaxed at the date, after the cosplay incident (a custom that was in the Date Rules given to Adagaki by Yoshino) and during a fan-service moment I found somewhat cute. Every little thing, from the rulebook to the calls between Masamune and Yoshino, made sure that the episode was well presented and that everything made sense. Nothing felt out of place. Even this cute fan-service moment, which in unison with the last flashback scene, set the roots of the love that will surely come, and the tragedy that will result from the conflict between Yoshino and Masamune. I am just guessing here, but we still have a few characters to meet before we get to the main juice of the story, character like the huge-boobs-maid that made her appearance in the last scene.
Date Book: If the rule book that Yoshino gave to Adagaki-san had ‘dress as an anime character for your first date’ I wonder what else she had included. Note to Production Company: publish the rule book. I would buy it.
Trivial Pursuit Showdown: You have to excuse my lack for a better word, but whenever I hear random trivia questions being thrown out of the blue, I am reminded of the famous board game. Yet, the sequence was amazing and it had a video-game quality to it: the use of colors and split screens was very game-like. Bonus points for the last question:
Adagaki: What is a way to say in English that your mom has an outie?
Masamune: SON OF A BITCH
Precious anime moments.
Motivation: Thousands of articles and hundreds of books have been written on the touchy subject of motivation. But motivation is not as complicated as it sounds. As Masamune-kun and Adagaki-san prove in this episode, you only need a desired outcome that can only be achieved by fulfilling a certain task. Masamune-kun wants to go out with Adagaki-san to fulfil the next part of his revenge plan => a date can be secured by getting the higher grade => higher grades can be achieved with study. Easy pieasy, right? Actually it’s a lot more complicated than that, and that’s why so many people have tried to tackle the subject in their books and articles, but there is always a common denominator in all of those theories: to be motivated to do something there must be something waiting for you on the other end.
Tokugawa Ieyasu: At one point, Masamune repeats a historical quote by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The quote goes a bit like this:
Give the peasants neither life nor death.
Tokugawa Ieyasu is one of the most famous persons in Japanese history. He was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan that ruled the island from 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
In James Clavell’s historical-novel Shōgun, the fictional character Toranaga is based on Tokugawa. There was a series adaptation of the book in the 80s in which Toranaga was portrayed by Toshiro Mifune! Really good watch if you are interested in historical fiction.
Japanese References: We must never forget that anime are created in Japan by mainly Japanese people and are targeted to a Japanese audience. While Japan has a multicultural approach to finding inspiration for the countless manga, light novels, and anime it produces every year, many of the references you will find in the dialogues will be difficult to grasp by non-Japanese.
Ozaki Hosai: Adagaki threw a lot of trivia questions on Masamune’s face to test his academic skills, but the one that really spoke to my literary heart was the reference to Ozaki Hosai, a Japanese poet from the late Meiji and Taisho period. His real name was Ozaki Hideo and Hosai was his haigo (haikai pen name). He is closer to a Bukowski, an alcoholic who spoke about loneliness, isolation, and poverty. ‘I even cough alone’ (Seki wo shitemo hitori) is one his haikus.
Stereotypes: One of the main themes of the series, stereotypes and its negative effects to the way we see the world were once again depicted on the otaku nerd that wanted to take a photo of Adagaki-san in her cosplay. Fat, four-eyes, and sweaty with a backpack that is surely full of manga, DVDs and videogames, otakus in popular culture are usually depicted as nerdy losers that are wasting their time with their 2D fantasies.
3D girls are so lame
While that is certainly one type of otaku – and not a Japanese exclusive, see Dungeons and Dragons – it is a shame that all people who are interested in Japanese popular culture are usually put under the same umbrella.
‘You like anime? That’s kids’ cartoons, right?’ No, no, no. For the love of the Anime God, no.
Mahou Shoujo: The Magical Girls anime subgenre is part of the fantasy genre and usually features girls who use magic. A very recent example is Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (read here the series review from our otaku writer, Christina), but anime and manga historians (yes, there is such a thing) usually agree on the manga Princess Knight, released in 1953, as the first of the magical girl genre.
I’m not sure if Akagaki’s cosplay is based on an existing show (let me know in the comments if it is).
I like the way Masamune-kun’s Revenge is progressing. It doesn’t seem to lose its focus, it doesn’t introduce more characters than those necessary to advance the plot, and it doesn’t bore us with unnecessary details about things that don’t have to do with the revenge plot. I hope that the writers continue to tight the plot and be on point; with the abundance of uninteresting narratives we’ve seen in anime lately, we desperately need it.
Is Masamune-kun really falling for Akagaki? That would create some unnecessary complications in his revenge plan. And who is the big-boobs maid? A great cliffhanger to hang onto until next week.
Did you like Episode 3 of Masamune-kun’s Revenge? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Winter 2017.
NEXT TIME: The Crisis is Right Here (今そこにある危機)
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