Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Back in elementary school, Masamune was the fat rich kid everyone picked on. Among those who wounded him the most deeply was Adagaki Aki, a beautiful but cruel girl who spurned his affections and saddled him with the nickname “Pig Legs.” Masamune was so hurt that he fled to his grandfather's house, where he spent the next eight years training to become handsome. Now he's back, and he has but two goals: 1) hide his shameful past and 2) make Aki fall in love with him so he can hurt her as badly as she hurt him. All's fair in love and war, right? There's no way this plan could go wrong…
Few things are as painful as being picked on in school. As an elementary school student, Masamune, who then went by the family name Hayase, was the perfect victim: he came from a prestigious, wealthy family and he was, shall we say, rotund. He muddled through, however, until one day he met Adagaki Aki, an exquisitely beautiful girl his own age. He fell madly in love with her, but when he tried to profess his feelings, Aki spurned him in the cruelest way possible, tagging him with the nickname “Pig Legs” in reference to his physique. For a kid already well aware that he's not exactly Mr. Popular or Mr. Handsome, this was a crushing blow, and Masamune left town and went to his grandfather's. Now sixteen, he's back in town as both Mr. Popular AND Mr. Handsome. He's further disguised himself by taking his grandfather's family name, making him Makabe Masamune, and he's managed to enroll in the same school as Aki. His motivation? Revenge.
Masamune-kun's Revenge's first volume falls somewhere inbetween “revenge comedy” and “tsundere romance,” a mixture that is working thus far. Whether it will continue to do so remains to be seen, largely because Aki's personality throws a lot more “tsun” than “dere” at you. It's easy to see why Masamune wants to revenge himself upon this girl: she comes off as utterly detestable. When we first meet her, she's coming into Masamune's classroom to respond to a classmate's love letter…by ripping it up and giving him the nickname “Pudding Prince,” which is clearly meant to be derogatory. Then she stalks out of the classroom, leaving the boy's ego broken. While it is absolutely her choice as far as who she does or does not date, the obvious delight she takes in being mean to this guy, whose only mistake was to let her know he likes her, is a truly nasty thing to do, and it shows both us and Masamune that her social skills haven't improved since she was eight. Someone who thinks she can behave like this deserves to be taken down a peg or two.
Of course it won't be that simple. Masamune discovers that she does work to maintain her perfect image (although what she's hiding seems a bit laughable from a Western viewpoint), and there are some hints that her poor behavior and nastiness may stem from something other than being a bad person. Given her words and actions, however, the story is going to have to try really hard to make that enough if the shift I'm suspecting, from revenge comedy to romantic comedy, does, in fact, come to pass. Of course, it is also possible that Masamune will find himself with a trio of eligible ladies, as we've been introduced to the class rep and Aki's servant, who is at the moment the most interesting of the bunch. Like Masamune, she seems fully aware of how awful Aki can be, suggesting that this behavior is not just limited to school, and she's almost more invested in the revenge plot than he is. Depending on how this is developed, it could become a very interesting storyline, and it may turn out that yes, Aki is exactly as rotten as she appears to be, potential past traumas notwithstanding. That would be an interesting direction for the story to go, and as of this volume, it seems at least possible.
Masamune himself is an interesting character thus far, devoted to both maintaining his newfound handsomeness and hiding his past while going after Aki. He doesn't allow himself to get distracted by, for example, the class representative, but he also puts effort into forming a friendship with another boy in class. Revenge doesn't seem to be natural to him, nor does popularity; he has to actually think about the correct response for each situation he finds himself in and is shocked when his pretty boy tricks all work. It may not be the point of the volume, but there's definitely some social commentary in here about how much easier it is for the pretty people to get through life.
On the topic of prettiness, Tiv's art is attractive, if not always anatomically correct. She's much better at drawing male bodies than female, with breasts giving her particular difficulty. There's a vaguely generic feel to her artwork, but it works for the story and the pages, while a bit crowded, generally are easy to read. (For those who feel like you've seen her art before, she drew the manga for Kamisama no Memocho.)
While the idea of a guy getting revenge on a girl for being mean to him may sound like a dicey topic, thus far Masamune-kun's Revenge seems like it could be a fair amount of fun. Aki does appear to just be a mean person who is cruel to everyone, not just Masamune, and his uncertainty in his new role of “popular hot guy” keeps him grounded. Where the series goes from here feels a bit up in the air, but that's not bad in an introductory volume. It will definitely be worth taking a look at volume two when it appears.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-
+ Masamune is likable and his motives make sense, potential trouble with premise does not appear to be an issue. Art is nice, a couple of the other girls seem interesting.
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