Producer: Silver Link Studio
Director: Mirai Minato
Writers: Michiko Yokote and Kento Shimoyama
Starring: Ohashi Ayaka, Hanae Natsuki, Minase Inori, and Mimori Suzuko
Distributors: Tokyo MX, AT-X, and BS Fuji (Japan); Funimation (North America)
Genre: Comedy, Harem, Romance, School, Shounen
I watched Masamune-kun no Revenge mainly due to the humorousness of its premise. Knowing it would be centered around relationships and fueled by “revenge” on Masamune’s part, I sort of assumed that most of the content and storyline would explore and live in the realm of somewhat shallow themes (which is what it did for the most part, but I’ll get to that in a second).
Originally, Masamune-kun no Revenge was a Japanese manga series titled Masamune-kun’s Revenge, written by Hazuki Takeoka and illustrated by Tiv, that started serialization in December 2012. I don’t typically read manga, so I didn’t have any expectations going into the anime regarding the story or characters. All I knew was that Masamune was going to try to “scheme” his way into a relationship with Aki in order to dump her afterwards (as his revenge), but I guessed that he would actually start to develop real feelings for her along the way.
This type of unlikely love story isn’t anything new, but it’s the differences in the journey and characters that keep the formula interesting. And Masamune’s character sounded very (read: hilariously) interesting…
Spiritual Content: None.
Violence: There’s a scene near the beginning of the season where Masamune stops a classmate from cutting Aki’s hair out of anger. Masamune grabs the scissors by the blade, causing blood to drip from his hand. Other than that, violence is very mild; there are some physical threats and over-the-top, anime-styled slapstick physicality, but nothing that should warrant much concern.
Language/Crude Humor: Profanities such as “d*mn,” “h*ll,” “b*st*rd,” and “sh*t” are used moderately.
Sexual Content: There’s no nudity, but the girls’ clothing is very revealing at times. There’s also a lot of sexual tension, and the girls’ bodies are emphasized physically and discussed through Masamune’s internal monologues (especially during the proverbial “beach episode”). An example of this occurs when one of the girls presses her (heavily-emphasized) breasts against Masamune as she hugs him, while Masamune freaks out about it in his head. Underwear and cleavage are given frequent and unnecessary screen time, such as when Yoshino falls and her skirt flies upward, allowing the camera to ogle between her legs at her underwear. There’s a pretty mild kissing scene between a boy and girl, but the fact that it takes place while the two characters are alone in the girl’s bedroom, on her bed, makes the sexual tension seem higher. There’s also a kiss at the end of the season, as part of a school play. In general, Masamune-kun no Revenge features quite a bit of fanservice. Most of the humor in the series can be attributed to Masamune’s inner thoughts, which sometimes include sexual innuendos.
Drug/Alcohol Use: None.
Other Negative Themes: The anime focuses on worldly values (physical appearance, popularity, etc.) and the concept of revenge.
Positive Content: Masamune-kun no Revenge shows the errors of manipulation, revenge, holding onto grudges, and focusing on status, looks, and popularity (particularly in regards to romantic attraction). Standing in contrast to these things, Aki holds different values than her superficial peers, as her reason for turning down guys for dates is usually based on their characters rather than their statuses and physical appearances.
Masamune-kun no Revenge is entertaining for what it is–a story about a boy trying to work his way “up the ranks” in status and popularity in order to win the heart of Aki… only to get his “revenge” by dumping her immediately afterward. Entertainment is what pushes this story forward, and humor is certainly the strongest draw for keeping viewers tuned in–primarily through Masamune’s hilarious internal dialogues during unfortunate and absurd situations.
Masamune’s schemes are outrageous. He tackles his “mission” with over-exaggerated intensity and severity, freaks out helplessly when he finds himself in unexpected situations, and obsesses over his physical appearance and how to pull off the perfect “hot guy” persona. Viewers watch the shenanigans unfold from Masamune’s viewpoint as every one of his attempts to fulfill his grand scheme are met with success or failure. Masamune’s obsession with getting his revenge is rivaled only by the amount of scheming he’s willing to endure in order to make it happen.
The anime also throws in several interesting “curve-balls” that help and conflict with Masamune’s goal. The first is Aki’s “family servant” of sorts, Yoshino. Because Yoshino wants to get revenge on Aki as well (likely because of how she’s treated as a servant), Yoshino decides to help Masamune, providing him with insider details and advice, since she’s naturally closest to Aki. Yoshino adds a dynamic element to the story, providing a “middleman” that shows the viewer Aki’s and Masamune’s various emotional transformations without either of them knowing it.
With Yoshino’s character added, Masamune-kun no Revenge actually becomes a fairly interesting story. However, the narrative begins to derail from the main plotline with the introduction of unnecessary filler characters, such as Neko.
Neko is added to the plot as a third-wheel in Masamune and Aki’s “relationship,” as Neko immediately falls for Masamune, claiming that he’s met her before and that she’s been searching for him ever since. Her expressions of endearment cause Masamune to question who she is, how genuine her words are, and what it all means for his mission to get revenge on a now-jealous Aki. (Will he fall for Neko instead?)
Neko’s introduction does, indeed, add another interesting element to the story for a while, but the focus on Neko’s backstory forces a departure from the central storyline involving Masamune’s plans for revenge. At this point, the anime becomes more about Neko and her perspective on life, with Masamune’s story being weaved into it, rather than the other way around.
The ending of this “side-story” is abrupt and inconclusive as well, not really impacting the overall plot as much as it promises to. Viewers expect big implications for Masamune as Neko’s story-arc concludes, but things pick right back up in the next episode without many changes made to the plot or characters. Neko’s final “explanation” (details intentionally omitted here) glosses over and de-emphasizes the build-up that justified her existence in the anime. Following her story arc, Neko becomes just another side-character until the end of the season, despite the fact that she is made to seem integral to the plot.
Another character shoehorned into the plot is Kanetsugu, who is basically a “Neko” equivalent character for Aki and who impacts the story in a very similar way. Kanetsugu works out an arranged marriage with Aki, who falls for him immediately because she thinks he’s someone from her past. This obviously causes an interesting dilemma for Masamune, as he now has a “rival” who isn’t quite what he seems.
However, Kanetsugu’s backstory goes in a similar direction as Neko’s–derailing the main plotline while the arc explores his intentions and identity; that said, Kanetsugu’s story arc culminates a bit more dramatically in a battle with Masamune over who gets to dance with Aki (via who puts together the best school play of Snow White).
Following Kanetsugu’s side-story, the season ends with everyone singing karaoke together after the conclusion of the school play “challenge.” In this scene, the anime seems to be trying to emphasize the various tensions going on between rival characters, but overall it comes off confusing as to how the characters actually feel about each other. Likely, this is due to the fact that some side-stories are clearly concluded, yet the show continues to try forcing unnecessary tension out of them.
Apart from the issues with its storyline, Masamune-kun no Revenge features a lot of unnecessary fanservice sprinkled throughout. It’s understandable that a story focused on physical appearances and love triangles would have some form of sexual tension, but most of the scenes used to deliver it aren’t exactly needed to get the message across.
Overall, Masamune-kun no Revenge‘s strongest selling point is its genuine and believable titular character. Masamune’s thought processes, viewpoint on life, and hilarious reactions to situations are both entertaining and true to his character, and it’s truly Masamune who holds this anime together and allows it to be as funny as it was meant to be. His relationships with Yoshino and Aki add an interesting dynamic and substance to the show. However, with the addition of distracting characters and their subsequent detracting plotlines, as well as unnecessary fanservice, Masamune-kun no Revenge ends on a weaker and more confusing note than it probably should have.
The Bottom Line
Although Masmune-kun no Revenge's premise and outrageousness can be hilarious, its storyline jumps around quite a bit, adding in characters and events that don't naturally weave into the progression of the plot. Also, it could do without the fanservice.