Masamune-kun makes serious progress in his desperate attempt to exact revenge upon the girl that hurt his feelings when we was small and chubby and definitely not popular. In the second episode of Masamune-kun’s Revenge, the anime takes our hero (or anti-hero, depending on your point of view) a step further in his quest, but a step that he wasn’t expecting to take, reminding him that things don’t always go according to plan.
Japanese Title: シンデレラは笑わない
I would have been terrified if I were Masamune-kun. Knowing that someone can at any time reveal his secret can mess with your nerves. Especially when you have a purpose as grand as to exact revenge on the girl that hurt your feelings so many years ago. Even if my personal opinion is that his revenge is misguided, I could feel his agony. He feared that exposure of his past would not only foil his plans for revenge, but also bring back all the bullying and suffering. He is terrified by the idea. Justified or not, I can’t say I blame him.
Masamune-kun, despite his transformation to a super popular stud that even the ultra-sexy class rep is head over heels about him, is still a boy full of flaws. His plan to make Adagaki-san fall in love with him consists of carefully selected moves taken from shojo manga and romance anime, and each time he tries to make the cruel princess love the inevitable: a man who would always be there for her. Cheesy, but if we have learned anything from manga and anime, is that in these fantasy worlds it works. The problem is that Masamune-kun is not your typical fantasy world. The ‘revenge romance’ is the focus of the narrative, of course, but underneath it the writers are trying to put more subtle themes about the nature of love, the cruelness of bullying, and the reality check we all have to go through.
In the end, Episode 2 makes sure to resolve last week’s cliffhanger and give us enough info to keep us hyped for the rest of the season. Yoshino is not the innocent Cinderella that Masamune-kun thought she was. She not only knows who Masamune-kun is, but she is also willing to help him achieve his goal. Just like in the famous folktale, this story could easily turn into an unjust oppression/triumphant reward ending for Adagaki-san, and a hypocricy – self-realization ending for Masamune. The latter is more probable since the class rep has already hinted on it by mistakenly thinking that Masamune-kun is a kind-hearted guy. Her impression is driven by Masamune-kun’s hypocritical reactions which are driven by his selfish need for revenge.
If people could see into, they’d see how worthless I am
Lunchtime School Race: I wish we could exchange stories of our own lunchtime school races, because I am 150% certain that it’s a universal thing we’ve all experienced. The sound of the bell, the sprint through the not-yet overcrowded corridor, just to get fist at the school’s cafeteria so you could spend the rest of the break eating your favorite snack instead of waiting in line. Precious school moments.
Manga: Part hilarious and part informative, the scene where Masamune-kun is reading a manga to get ideas on how to approach Adagaki-san is precious. Not only because he is reading a very popular shoujo manga, but also because we are reminded that all stories are written by humans just like you and me and are based, loosely or not, on what they have experiences, what they have read, what they have seen and heard and felt in their lives.
Undercover: In the first episode, it was evident that Aragaki couldn’t recognize Masamune because of his appearance, but I wondered why she couldn’t recognize his name. Masamune was adopted by his grandfather and taken his name. Well, that does make sense and I am glad that the writers thought appropriate to tie a loose end like this. Also: I want to see an episode with a training montage at his grandfather’s farm.
Fan-service: I am not against fan-service. Really. But I am against unnecessary fan-service in unrelated moments, like Yoshino’s panty shots. No. No. No.
Themes & Trivia
Bullying: Bullying is going to be a constant theme throughout the series. It’s the seed through which Masamune-kun’s need for revenge sprouted out. Verbal and physical violence between students can radically change the way children see the world and seriously mess with their capacity for empathy. Masamune-kun may be the victim in this situation (at least until now) but the brutal way his ‘friends’ treated him in high-school have molded a Masamune-kun that is as bit of a jerk as these ‘friends’ were. Bullying is not a circle that starts and ends with an incident, but a chain that is carried on with the victim, probably forever.
Tabloids: When Masamune-kun is overwhelmed by fear that his secret may be exposed, he fantasized a scene where a tabloid has his picture as a chubby boy next to his handsome self, thus exposing the deception. The reason why such a thing would be bad escapes my logic, since I would have admired more a person who spent weeks of sweat to achieve his desired body image. It probably has to do more with him failing his plan than having the bullying return (that’s absurd, but then the cut seems to run deep.) Yet, the scene was spot-on, as yellow press often tries to find similar comparisons in the previous lives of famous people. Angelina Jolie was a fat as kid? Oh my god, TABLOID FIRST PAGE – LOTS OF MONEY. The length people would go to feel better about themselves is unimaginable.
Umbrella Hat Priest: I am still baffled by that scene. Yoshino counts the buns and then asks Masamune if he is some kind of Umbrella hat priest. I think I’ve once heard of a Japanese folktale about a grandpa who used to put hats on priest statues, and it could be a reference to that, but I’m not sure. If you know, please share with us in the comments below!
Cinderella: Did you know that there are thousands different versions of Cinderella worldwide? In most non-English versions, the title and the name of the lead character changes, but in in English-language folklore ‘Cinderella’ is the archetypal name. The oldest variant we know is the story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt. It was published in 7 BCE.
Shojo Manga: The manga that Masamune reads to get some ideas on how to make Adagaki fall in love with him belongs to the shojo genre. Shōjo, shojo, or shoujo manga are aimed at a teenage female readership. They usually employ diverse setting from historical drama to science fiction, but they almost always focus on romantic relationships or emotions. The genre does not dictate a certain style, but is rather indicative of the target demographic. I don’t know if the manga that Masamune was reading is real, so if you know please share a comment below!
Masaamune-kun’s story is different from your usual campus romance anime. ‘Love’ is not so much the focus (though I’m guessing it will be as the story progresses) and Masamune is not the typical hormone-induced shy student that is deeply enamored with the most popular-geeky-weird girl on campus. There is purpose on Masamune’s every move and every word, a revenge that was put on the limelight as soon as the anime started, and will remain there until he succeeds… or fails.
Revenge is Mine!
Masamune-kun found an unexpected ally in Yoshino. Her motives are still shrouded in darkness, but that give us just another incentive to keep watching the anime. Is Masamune-kun’s Revenge going to end on a happy note? We still have a long way to go.