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The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide
Masamune-kun's Revenge R

How would you rate episode 1 of
Masamune-kun's Revenge R ?
Community score: 3.2

What is this?


Eight years ago, Masamune Makabe, who was overweight and boring, changed his surname and turned into a handsome man in order to take revenge on Aki Adagaki, a cruel princess who once treated him harshly. His revenge plan was to make her fall in love with him and reject her. His plan was working, and Aki gradually opened her heart to Masamune; they even kissed at the cultural festival. Time has passed, and the stage is set for revenge during their school trip to France. Masamune finds his heart beating faster while roaming the romantic atmosphere of Paris, and Aki tells him that she thinks it's finally time they have a serious talk. But then, he meets Muriel Besson, a French girl who aspires to become a manga artist. She could throw a wrench in his whole plan.

Masamune-kun's Revenge R is the second anime season based on Hazuki Takeoka and Tiv's Masamune-kun's Revenge (Masamune-kun no Revenge) manga. It streams on Crunchyroll on Mondays.

How was the first episode?

Nicholas Dupree

I can't say I ever expected this series to make a comeback. Six years after the first season and five years since the manga ended, Masamune has returned from the shadows to enact the anime rom-com version of The Count of Monte Cristo, and fittingly that return begins with a school trip to France. I was pretty skeptical going in – especially after the slow and anticlimactic Culture Festival story arc that closed season one – but so far this Parisian excursion has this series firing on all cylinders.

Turns out this show is at its best when it's just piling on twists and lies and weird, over-the-top contrivances. Does it make any sense for an aspiring French manga artist to draft Masamune and Aki into teaching her the ways of Japanese romance? Not at all. Is it funny to watch these two pretend to be in love with her while also pretending not to be in love with one another? Very much so. Seeing the layers of intertwining lies and self-deceptions pile up on these two idiots is the most fun I've had with this story, and it's where both of our purposefully unlikable leads are at their most endearing. It's also fun to see the other schemes and lies from the rest of the cast start to pile up, like the guy who's actually a girl trying to catfish Aki for her fortune discovering Yoshino and Masamune's secret alliance, or Koushirou's earnestly cute crush on Fujinomiya who may or may not still be dying from a mysterious illness depending on whether not she lied about getting surgery. This show is strongest when it's unflinchingly ludicrous, and this is a good way to start things off.

The time away has also helped the visuals a lot. While still not an amazing production, the returning staff have at least gotten better and hiding the rough edges and applying more interesting storyboards. Season one had some incredibly wonky perspectives and tended to melt a lot, and that is thankfully absent here. The designs are still all over the place, with Muriel being actively painful for how over-designed she is, but they're rendered with far more consistency and appeal than before. It's enough to make a serviceable return that, while still recognizable from the first series, sticks in the brain much more easily.

In all, it's a much better return than I was expecting. I still worry that the show will fall back into the doldrums of the previous arc, and even at its best Masamune-kun will probably never be a favorite of mine, but right now it's being its best self, and I can at least appreciate that.

Richard Eisenbeis

It has been a six-year wait since the first season of Masamune-kun's Revenge—although you wouldn't realize it from this episode alone. There is almost no recap of the story so far or any reintroduction to the main and supporting cast. Instead, it jumps right back where the first season left off and plows ahead at full speed. Basically: if you watched the first season back in the day, and haven't seen it since, it's probably worth going back to watch season one to reacquaint yourself with the story.

But while it may not bother to reintroduce the characters and the story so far, it does reintroduce the main theme—the cost of revenge. Everything Masamune has done and continues to do for the sake of revenge is getting in the way of what he truly wants: Aki herself. At this point, he knows she liked the old him—even if she broke his heart for some yet-unexplained reason. After all, she's engaged to marry the person pretending to be him. This screams that there is some kind of misunderstanding at work—the facts simply don't align with his interpretation of what happened. His happiness is within reach, but he's so far into the sunk-cost fallacy of the whole thing that he can't even consider giving up.

This is the tragedy of revenge. He has built his life around seeking the fleeting pleasure that comes from revenge and is, in the process, denying himself much more meaningful and long-lasting forms of happiness—including the happiness that drove him to seek revenge in the first place.

As for the episode itself, it's actually quite clever in its own right. During their school trip to France, Aki and Masamune encounter a French otaku who is attempting to create her own high school rom-com manga without understanding the basic tropes of the genre. What transpires from their interactions is a metacommentary on both the rom-com genre in general and Masamune-kun's Revenge in particular. Muriel perceives the world in a much less dramatic light than Aki and Masamune. Do the characters like each other? Are they single? If so, they should be dating. To her, it's just that simple. And in the real world, it often is.

Of course, in rom-coms, the entire genre is typically built around a will-they-won't-they tension that propels the plot forward. To keep this going as long as possible, the characters must have some problem or dark secret that hinders their union. The joke lies in the fact that Aki and Masamune, as rom-com characters, possess these issues and therefore perceive them as the norm rather than the exception. Muriel, however, functions more as a viewer proxy—someone present to point out (and in the process acknowledge) the "unreality" of the situation. It works well and injects some much-needed levity into the episode.

All in all, the season is off to a good start. Both Aki and Masamune must overcome significant personality issues, but there is undeniably something likable within each of them struggling to emerge. The question remains: Will they manage to triumph over these obstacles before Masamune's ill-conceived revenge backfires and robs him of the happiness he has always yearned for?

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