If you expected a conclusion, you might be in for a surprise. Does the revenge plot come to fruition, or is the pull of the heart too great?
“Don’t Let Go of the Mic, Even If You Die”
Finales are tough. Not just tough on us, the viewers, because we’ll be parting with something that we have come to enjoy, but extremely tough on the creators of a series to deliver on the build-up from an entire season. The dilemma here is that the conclusion to the Snow White situation could be seen a hundred miles away. Of course Masamune would go against his class in order to save the performance of the girl he loves. Although it is passed off as a service to the art of the performance, it’s pretty clear why he would do it – even if he doesn’t realize in the moment. And despite the obvious direction this situation takes, the execution is actually rather good. The comedy around Masamune’s health is played perfectly to offset the blandness of the plot twist.
It was a bad omen that the climactic moment of this episode is the Snow White kiss between Masamune and Aki, no matter how expected that was. It’s quite cute in its own way and at least a little less weird when you know Masamune is completely out of it and forgoes the pretend part of the scene. But really, it’s still pretty weird. All of this does come from the mind of Yoshino Koiwai though, and she is rather messed up in her own special ways. As for the competition at the festival? It ends with a knockout. After Masamune goes to the nurse’s office, Kanetsugu volunteers to play the prince in the other class’ play – which makes sense – but is denied by Futaba for pairing reasons. Seems like an awful waste for the entire class that put effort in to a play, only for it to be cancelled because it doesn’t fit your yaoi fantasies. So what happened to the dance in front of the bonfire? Clearly Masamune is out of commission at that point, despite winning best prince, and losing the overall competition. The episode brushes it off without a word.
Finales sometimes have endings. This one does not. It almost feels like the second half of this episode could have originally been slotted to reveal the true identity of Masamune and conclude the plot, but then it got switched out for an innocuous karaoke after-party when the series became popular enough to maybe warrant a second season. There is a very direct tease at the plot for a continuation, a Paris trip which sounds fantastic, but it still leaves a sour taste when a season ends with “but I’ve only just begun” and no concrete promise of a second season. I’m torn between the prospect for more fun times with these characters and sheer dissapointment of a 12 episode tease. The worst part of all is that it left absolutely every plot point hanging. Kanetsugu clearly hasn’t given up, Aki still probably thinks he’s the real Masamune, Neko is still vying to be the main heroine, and we have no clue if Masamune has any real feelings for Aki after all. This might be one of the biggest anime non-endings in years. Compared to the heavy-hitter from this season, KonoSuba is built for the non-ending. It can afford to feature a number of mini-endings as its overt popularity carries it in to another season and the possible confrontation with the big bad. Here in Masamune-kun, we need an emotional payoff – and not just an awkward kiss that ends up played for comedy.
Summary: Masamune stumbles in to the most obvious set-up for a kiss in the history of romantic comedies, yet still fails to enact his plan. You know, the title of the series? Better luck next time.
– Of course Koiwai would be one of the dwarfs.
– We’ll just end the show with Snow White being dead.
– Only the most obvious twist of the season.
– Just have to “pretend to kiss,” yeah right.
– What was that about consent again?
– And Snow White lives happily ever after, but the prince is totes dead.
– Don’t underestimate the importance of pairings.
Now that we’re a little soured by the non-ending of this season, it may be a little difficult to cast off that issue and look back at all of the good things this series did. The art and animation is wonderfully pleasant and the comedy hits at just the right moments. The concept of fan-service is also handled extremely well, as it features pretty much equal opportunity to see both Masamune all sweaty in his underwear as well as the various female leads in revealing situations. It might be some of the most balanced and tasteful fan-service I have seen in a long time, and definitely does not diminish from the overall character of the series.
The characters of this series somehow manage to transcend the tropes they’ve been written in to. Masamune is supposed to be the smart and plotting MC, yet he consistently displays flaws that put him on a believable middle ground between smart and bumbling. Our tsundere princess, Adagaki Aki, who is actually cast as a princess for the finale of this series, has just enough personality and flair beyond the standard tsundere that she becomes quite like-able for her flaws. This admiration for her character starts to get torn down as the season progresses, but it happens through a kind of humanization that is at least partially believable. Her power and independence wane as she is wooed by the male lead, but she takes control in the right situations to put him in his place. As for the cast of side characters – Koiwai Yoshino, Fujinomiya Neko, Shuri Kojuurou, Futaba Tae – they pretty much stay in their lanes.
The plot of this series is a little difficult to judge with any finality, as the finale is so thoroughly inconclusive. Even though we’ve come a full season and nothing has really happened, the premise still has merit as it did in episode one. The revenge plot is suitably wacky and being handled appropriately so. It’s a little more complicated than just straight up rejection revenge, but we’ve also known that since the premiere as well. Most of the development in this season had to do with distractions from the primary focus – namely Kanetsugu in the later entries. Although the Neko subplot is slightly frustrating as a distraction from the main pairing, Kanetsugu is downright infuriating. Now that we know his origins and how shallow his intentions are it is just sadistic to hold that rivalry over in to a possible second season. The strongest moments of this series were between Masamune and Aki when nobody else was in their way.
Overall, Masamune-kun no Revenge is a fun and light romantic comedy with an odd concept that actually plays out quite well. Characters and situational tension are its strong points, but a completely open ending leaves us wanting.
(Rounded to 7 for MAL)