Feelings are sensitive. So sensitive in fact that they can make us feel irreversibly broken, especially when the feeling in question is love. Have you ever been heartbroken enough to find yourselves in a state of shock where changing your very being is the only way to move forward? Quite the pompous statement, but that’s exactly how Masamune-kun felt in the new TV anime Masamune-kun’s Revenge after Aki-chan rejected his love confession. And now the only thing that Masamune-kun wants is to pay her back in kind. Revenge is a bitch.
Japanese Title: 豚足と呼ばれた男
What is this Anime about
Masamune-kun’s Revenge (Japanese: 政宗くんのリベンジ ) is the anime adaptation of a Japanese manga series written by Hazuki Takeoka and illustrated by Tiv. The production of the anime is handled by Silver Link.
The story is more or less a twist on the classical school romance slice-of-life that wants to be the first to be christened with the tag ‘revenge comedy.’ In MANGA.TOKYO we don’t like tags that much and we prefer to leave each title to be whatever it wants to be, but I must say that after seeing the first episode, the words do fit the bill.
Makabe Masamune used to be the fat rich kid everyone picked on, but his soft and mellow heart was devastated by Adagaki Aki, a beautiful but cruel girl who scorned his childish love and gave him the nickname ‘Pig’s Foot.’ The shock was so great that Masamune spent eight years of hard training both his body and his mind so he could go to high school not as the spoiled fat rich kid, but as a handsome, clever stud. His goal is to hide his shameful past as the chubby little crying piggy, and get revenge on Adagaki Aki by fist making her fall for him and then rejecting her. A noble goal (oh, come on, we’ve all been there, haven’t we?) but is his plan going to flow smoothly? Of course not, and that’s what we are here to witness.
The anime is directed by Mirai Minato, with Michiko Yokote and Kento Shimoyama writing the scripts, and Yuki Sawairi designing the characters. Toshiki Kameyama is the series’ sound director while Lantis is producing the music. The opening theme, Wagamama Mirror Heart is performed by Ayaka Ohashi while the ending theme, Elemental World, is performed by ChouCho.
Masamune-kun’s Revenge was the first anime episode I saw from the new Winter 2017 season. Not that it means anything, but sometimes it’s nice to give credit to things that don’t need one. The show was not in my initial to-see list. I wasn’t entirely thrilled by the premise and I wanted to avoid seeing too many anime set at a school, especially if they were of the romance type. What eventually drew me to it was the promise of a different kind of narrative that was going to be driven by revenge instead of passion, or love. To be honest, after seeing the first episode, I still think that this is going to be another feel-good anime that by the end of it the two protagonists will have fallen for each other.
Everything depends on whether you’re hot or not
Most of the episode is spent confirming Masamune’s main motto. Hot guys (and girls) are treated differently. Our inherent sexual drive and programming to be attracted by human bodies have made us illogical beings that can be easily manipulated by someone’s looks. It’s not Masamune who might be peeping on the girls at the tennis court, but the insignificant four-eyes nerd. Every flatter wink, or display of awesomeness from Masamune only helps in building his already outstanding reputation of the incredibly hot guy who is good at everything, a stereotype we often find in romance anime. Masamune goes as far as to say that ‘if you’re not a hot guy, you’re not human.’ While Masamune is vain to a certain extent, he is not blinded by his looks. As a former bullied child, his looks are a product of hard determination. He worked hard to be what he is and his dual purpose (hide his past – get revenge) is what drives him forward. He just has to play the role of the hot stud if he wants to succeed. In every situation he has to think about what is expected of him in the stereotype he has chosen to play. A stereotype that is perfectly portrayed in the blond guy who confesses to our female protagonist. ‘I am used to people looking at me.’ Bliah.
But our female protagonist, Adagaki Aki, is a cruel and almost psychopathic bitch who cares shit about other people’s feelings. He rejects the blond ‘hot-guy-stereotype’ by publicly humiliating him. In the course of the episode she will have the chance to show her cruel nature a few times more, before Masamune drives forward his plan to get close to her and exact his revenge. My only complaint is that Aki’s character was not clear in the episode. For a cold-hearted bitch, there were a few moments that she acted out of character. I don’t know if that’s a hint that she is acting just like Masamune-kun or not, though I highly doubt it. Her strong presence has attracted a few lackeys who are in awe of her magnetizing personality, but the one true lackey is Yoshino Koiwai who will possibly play a very important role in the series. Adagaki is especially cruel to her, but my guess is that her cruelty to her comes out of trust. Sick, I know, but sometimes we can only be in our worst around the people we trust the most.
Other than that, we were introduced to Class Rep Futaba, who is clearly in love with Masamune, and to Kojuuru, the almost-too-feminine male best friend.
Evil Laugh: The show doesn’t have a clear villain, but at some point Masamune does one of those long and disturbing evil laughs we have come to associate with the main villain of a story. BOUHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHA.
Fat Boy: In general the comedy was not very good in the show, but there were a couple of moments that I seriously LOL’d. But the one that was really great was Masamune-kun’s face as a chubby boy: priceless. Just let me know how you react when you see that perfectly round face and incredibly round eyes and inexplicably round head.
Themes & Trivia
Bullying: Bullying is not an easy subject to touch. Masamune-kun’s Revenge is not going to make any huge ripples with the stone it wants to throw on the subject, but even this small superficial stone might be enough for some people to learn more about what bullying is and how it affects the children who suffer from it. Masamune decided to change himself and exact revenge (the first more commendable than the latter) but there are many children who don’t have the same reaction. If you want to have a more serious anime look on bullying, you have to watch Koe no Katachi.
Revenge: This is the theme that will drive the plot forward. Masamune will try to make Aki fall for him, only to step on her feelings as she once did on his. Interesting premise, but until the revenge is exacted, there is nothing but the promise of it. Or maybe the revenge will be exacted sooner than expected so we could have a reversal of roles at some point? That would be interesting.
Stereotypes: Sterotypes are the bread and butter of SOL anime. Masamune though is not our typical stud. He only plays one because his new appearance dictates the role.
Narcissism: In the very first scene of the episode, Masamune’s sister accuses him in a rather playful tone of narcissism. While that is certainly not the case with our protagonist, it’s an interesting concept that many people misinterpret for egocentrism. Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory that refers to the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originates from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. He must have been quite handsome, like Masamune.
Love letter and Love confessions: If you’ve seen your share of anime, then you have probably stumbled more than once on a ‘love letter’ or ‘meet-me-at-the-rooftop-or-after-school’ scene. In Japan this is called kokuhaku and it is the Japanese word for ‘confession of love.’ I don’t want to fall into the pitfall of stereotypes here, but let’s just say that in Japan young people take this kind of thing seriously and such a confession usually signifies the start of a relationship.
Body Image: Another major theme for the anime. I am very curious to see how the story will play with it and what kind of messages it intends to bring out.
Masamune-kun’s Revenge has an interesting premise that I sincerely hope that it doesn’t get too popular. Many people have already started talking about the show introducing a new genre called the ‘revenge comedy’ and the last thing we need is another tag for people to abuse and for marketers to take advantage of. As much as I dislike genres, I understand that there might be some kind of categorization that could make sense. ‘Revenge comedy’ is not part of that categorization.
The animation is fairly standard with anything standing out as extraordinary. At least we know that with Silver Link we will probably get a decent production. The opening and ending themes are both your typical J-pop songs that would certainly appeal to many fans of catchy upbeat tunes, but they are far from what I consider friendly to my ears.
Since Silver Link is also producing Chaos;Child this season, Masamune-kun’s Revenge feels more like a b-project than their main focus. The first episode was flat and unengaging, but there was something that could save it from falling into oblivion: Masamune kun’s devotion to his revenge. If it wants to survive the fate of most cheesy teen romantic comedies, it needs to become a lot meaner and tackle some more serious subjects. Or just become weird enough that we won’t be able to get if off our heads.