Alternative titles: Masamune-kun no Revenge
Manga adaptation by Silver Link
Streaming on Crunchyroll
Masamune-kun is a miserable narcissist who has spent his youth dieting and strength training to become the hottest guy in school. This has all been in service of a long con against fellow terrible person and former crush, Adagaki Aki, to get her to fall in love with him so he can dump her. It’s pretty messed up.
Marlin’s verdict: Revenge of the Terrible Shows
I think the sad thing is that there’s a decent story to be made if there was any kind of satire to Masamune’s outlook on life, but no, it’s played completely straight. Hot people get away with whatever they want, and you are being arbitrarily judged for your looks. Don’t even get me started on the scene where a boy assaults a girl and gets away with a literal pat on the back. The reason I say this could be decent is that I knew a lot of guys who had this kind of mentality in High School, even I will admit feeling like a victim while at the same time being no better in my own mentality. A show that tackles these preconceptions brought on by self esteem issues and social deficiencies would be really refreshing, but it’s clear that’s not what this show is aiming for.
Jel’s verdict: Is This Our Punishment?
We’ve been so spoiled with good anime the last couple of seasons that watching this bad show made me more furious than usual. Most of the righteous indignation comes from how they reinforce negative stereotypes about body image and how supposedly hot people can just get a free pass for anything. Before you can say “But Jel! That’s not really the message!”, I’m not talking about Masamune and the Ice Queen who are clearly meant to be seen as flawed. I’m talking about the mobs of guys and girls that can’t help but throw themselves at them because they are just TOO HOT and they clearly have no choice.
While that’s the meat of my issue with Masamune-kun, what really annoys me just on an enjoyment level is how the show thinks it is way smarter than it really is. The easiest example is how they decide to take a shot at trashy light novels but as you continue watching you realize the plot, dialogue, and even the art style would not be out of place in one. Masamune and Ice Queen’s terrible personalities seem to be an attempt at exploring the dark underbelly of the genre a la the works of Wataru Watari (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Girlish Number), but like all bad satire it simply becomes what it it is trying to subvert. So if you want a male revenge power fantasy that supports the idea that hot people have it easy and that’s the only reason why no one likes you, this show is for you! Otherwise, move along.
Aqua’s verdict: Reprehensible
There’s only one way in which the premise of Masamune-kun’s Revenge could have amounted to anything, and that’s if it became a psychological drama on the dangers of masculine entitlement and the cyclical and ultimately pointless nature of revenge. To quote the great poet, Killer Mike, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth/will leave us all mumbling and blind”, yet in fiction, revenge is hardly ever presented as the terrifying thing it is. Most vengeance narratives serve very little purpose beyond gratifying some of the vilest delusions man is capable of – or woman, but let’s face it, mostly man – and this show is no different. Worse, when you combine what is already a cliché of questionable moral repute with anime’s disturbing hard-on for humiliating uppity girls who “deserve to be taken down a peg” and a permeating sense of romantic entitlement straight out of the deranged ramblings of the Isla Vista killer, you get one very, very nasty cocktail. The Flowers of Evil this isn’t.
Granted, being the insipid anime rom-com it is, Masamune-kun’s Revenge‘ll be unlikely to see its protagonist actually seeing his twisted desires through. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to unpack here, and not just from an ethical standpoint. Most egregious is the show’s incessant tendency to have its cake and eat it too, where it becomes impossible to guess its intentions. Are we supposed to laugh at the title character as he throws his entire life away on obsessive resentment that would make Heathcliff blush, all because some girl rejected him ten years ago? Or are we expected to identify with his alpha male swagger and bizarre hangups about calories and carbohydrates? Does this show honestly want us to think Masamune has any kind of dirt on Aki now that he knows she – gasp – has a large appetite, or is it just trying to convince us how petty he is? And if Aki’s supposed to be such a despicable harpy, how come the show leaves no stone unturned in idealising and sexualising her like any old rom-com love interest?
Chugging, sputtering and constantly stumbling over itself in its uninspired attempts at making any of its characters appear remotely sympathetic, this first episode of Masamune-kun’s Revenge eventually reaches a laughable climax, in which our
stalker chivalrous dreamboat of a protagonist saves Aki from some entitled creep she rejected earlier. After all, threatening a girl with a pair of practice scissors because she turned you down is utterly despicable, but stalking, harrassing, blackmailing her and ultimately conspiring to completely annihilate her social life is a-okay! If irony didn’t already the moment Nigel Farage announced he’d abandon the sinking HMS Brexit and emigrate to the entourage of The Annoying Orange, it’d sure as hell have kicked the bucket now. To once again quote that great poet, “where’s the Excedrin?”