FEATURE: Head Space – “Masamune-kun’s Revenge” Fujinomiya’s False Love

Predictably, Masamune-kun’s Revenge isn’t going to plan. Turns out spending every waking moment scheming to win the affection of your childhood crush gets you pretty emotionally invested and Makabe’s intentions seem to be turning toward earnestly winning Aki over. Unfortunately, years of calcified self-resentment and social isolation have proven a huge handicap when it comes to displaying affection. Fortunately, he’s got a great supporting cast to aid in his development into a respectable human being who doesn’t obsess over childhood vengeance. Yukino, Makabe’s agent on the inside, his council and Aki expert, and Fujinomiya, who has provided Makabe with a roadmap of romantic pitfalls to be avoided at all costs.



In a surprising turn of events, what was setting up to be a typical harem anime formula in Masamune-kun’s Revenge has been cut short by the sudden and surprisingly final resolution to Fujinomiya’s subplot. Makabe pulled away from the typical laissez faire harem protagonist archetype by firmly rejecting Fujinomiya’s advances. Her aggressiveness in driving things forward finally sealed her fate, forcing Makabe into making his choice in the liminal moment between her stealing his first kiss and indicating she wanted to take the nonstop express line to lewd town. Despite being touched deeply by Fujinomiya’s words, Makabe didn’t feel right going any further. Makabe tells her he intended to pursue Aki, forcing her to finally admit defeat.



In addition to her overbearing approach when it came to Makabe, Fujinomiya’s defeat came, in part, due to his doubts regarding the authenticity of her feelings for him. Although Fujinomiya comes off as an altruistic person and there’s no denying that she genuinely cares about Makabe on some level, every action she takes possesses a certain level of calculation rather than instinctive altruism. In retrospect we see that her medical condition may have been driving her to find some sort of emotional connection soon rather than making sure it works, but Makabe can only sense that something isn’t right. Her words repeatedly find the gaps in his emotional armor to strike at the heart of his hidden insecurities, but in their crucial moment, Makabe can sense that she Fujinomiya doesn’t love him. Despite Fujinomiya’s almost prescient understanding of Makabe, losing Aki as all he can think about when she Fujinomiya tries to push things further.



This feeling us uncertainty is revelatory for Makabe, as he begins to understand Aki’s reticence to accept his own carefully crafted romantic advances. If Aki detects the same subtle deception in his words as he has in Fujinomiya’s then, of course, she would push him away even if she felt genuine attraction toward him as he did with Fujinomiya. Makabe experiences first-hand how he may be poisoning the well with Aki with his schemes as the same approach made by Fujinomiya ultimately drives him away from her. He takes this lesson to heart and almost immediately puts it to use, deciding honesty is his best course of action when Shidou reveals to Aki that he was at Fujinomiya’s apartment and, later, coming very close to openly admitting to Aki that he was Pig’s Foot. Taking their future seriously and approaching it earnestly is the only way he will know if they are meant to be.

 


Fujinomiya’s final words to Makabe revealed her own awareness of the similarity of their circumstances “I thought you and I were exactly alike. You talk about love and affection for the purpose of your goal, but the truth is hidden in fog.” She admits to her selfish reasons for pursuing him, to realize a fundamental experience of life before hers comes to an end. Despite this recognition of the flaw in her approach, Fujinomiya remained deceptive until the end, conjuring an absurd lie about her fixation on Makabe rather than divulging their childhood connection and origin of her affection. Although well-intentioned, meant to coax Makabe and Aki together as a means of making up for her interference, it shows that changing isn’t easy even when you’ve identified a problem. At least in one thing, she was always honest.



Ironically, Fujinomiya might have benefited from following in Futaba’s footsteps. After the unfortunate result of her early attempt to secure a date with Makabe, Futaba still found her way into the circle of friends that is forming around the show’s romantic leads. Realizing that Makabe only had eyes for Aki, she decided the best thing to do was step back and focus on being a friend. Although not ideal, she’s confident she made the right choice since she might have otherwise missed out. While fundamentally a lie, which she has only divulged to Yoshino (and Kanetsugu), her “secret” crush is altruistic in that it makes things less awkward for the group, even though her feelings were pretty obvious to everyone (except Kanetsugu).



Masamune-kun’s Revenge has taken some interesting turns from what seemed like a standard harem set-up. Rather than maintain a level field between Makabe’s female suitors, the series has begun weeding them out while presenting each failed romance as a lesson, not only for Makabe but the entire cast. Their dysfunctional approaches to love will inevitably meet with failure and force them to grow. Rejecting Fujinomiya was symbolic not only of Makabe’s renewed dedication to Aki, but a rejection of Fujinomiya’s methodology and another step toward maturity. With this newest twist in the plot, it may finally be Aki’s turn to finally overcome some of her own hangups and elevate the cast of Masamune-kun’s Revenge to a respectable baseline for high schoolers.

Peter Fobian is an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll and author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterFobian.