All right, let’s get this party started…
I don’t mind admitting, the New Year’s break from episodic anime blogging comes as a welcome one for me – I enjoy this, but it does tend to wear on you and that’s really the only respite all year long. But time and tide, as they say, and here we are ready to start off a new season and a new year in anime. And the series to kick it off is Masamune-kun ro Revenge (I did try to watch Akiba’s Trip, but only lasted about three minutes – oh, Gonzo, how you break my heart). And as openers go, this is a pretty significant one.
In this largely barren cupboard of an anime season, Masamune-kun is really the only show that I had pegged as a potential sleeper. But I went into it with my eyes open – everything about this premise screams “feast or famine” with me. Not having read the manga I have only that premise to go by, but it seems to be very much dancing on the edge, and going in I could just as easily see brilliance or outright loathing (and just maybe both). And based on the first episode, I see nothing to disabuse me of that notion. The premiere is well-made and engaging, but the act of getting caught up in it feels akin to crawling into bed with a venomous snake.
“Venomous” is a word that seems to fit Masamune-kun no Revenge pretty comfortably. Let’s talk about that premise. A fat boy named Masamune Makabe (Hanae Natsuki, who seems miscast to me somehow) is bullied as a child, and ultimately rejected by the ojou-sama who once saved him from that bullying – dismissing him with the derisive nickname “Pig’s Foot”. Masamune-kun dedicates himself to growing into an ikemen because “If you’re not hot, you’re nothing”. And he eventually succeeds – becoming a hot guy much squeed over by the girls, and when he transfers into a new school he gets a lot of attention.
But there’s a surprise in-store – the ojou-sama goes there, too. Her name is Adagaki Aki (Ohashi Ayaka) and everyone calls her “Princess”. She has a harem of lackeys and has a habit of rejecting every guy who confesses to her with needlessly savage cruelty, dispensing further hurtful nicknames on each of them (and in one particularly revolting moment, ruins a boy’s life by revealing his harmless secrets to the entire school). She has a secret, too – she has hypoglycaemia and needs to eat constantly to keep her stomach from growling in a very unfeminine manner. But make no mistake, based on one episode this is truly a vile person – and it’s not surprising that Masamune should decide to seek his revenge on her (by making her fall for him and then rejecting her publicly).
It’s safe to say that this show is off to a pretty grim start in terms of tone. Anime seems obsessed with weight problems lately, but it goes much deeper that that shallow concern. Adagaki is a nightmare of every awful ojou-sama trope you can imagine, and that’s a tough place to start a character arc because you have to either condone her behavior or set her up for a redemption that will likely stretch credulity. As for Masamune, he’s decent enough to the other students but building his whole character around vanity and vengeance starts him off in a mighty dark place too.
That said, there’s plenty here to make me interested in seeing what Masamune-kun no Revenge decides to do with all that. The episode itself is quite well-directed, with some clever cinematography and excellent music by veteran Katou Tatsuya. The moments that are supposed to be disturbing – like the confrontation between Adagaki and the chubby boy (notice a trend here?) she’s cruelly dubbed “Pudding Prince” that ends in (Masamune’s) blood – definitely are. It’s too early to say whether the supporting class will offer much respite, but the two who seem to matter the most are Masamune’s friend Shuri Kojuurou (Haori Sayami) – who seems to be filling a trap role – and Adagaki’s main retainer Koiwai Yoshino (Minase Inori), who’s obviously going to fall for Masamune herself.
It’s certainly not impossible to enjoy a series where you don’t like any of the major characters, but neither is that an easy sell. It’s a good staff here – Silver Link has done quite well with manga adaptations lately and the well-seasoned Yokoto Michiko is writing this one – and that shines through in an entertaining premiere that makes it hard to look away. But as for predictions, I wouldn’t dare at this point – this thing could just go in any direction at all, including blowing up altogether.