“The New School Term Filled with Doubts”
As summer break draws to a close, the gang returns to school – along with some new faces, including Kanetsugu “Masamune” Gasou, who looks suspiciously like a chubbier version of Masamune Makabe. Meanwhile, Masamune has spent his summer toning up, in an effort to seduce Aki, only to learn that Kanetsugu and Aki’s family had pre-arranged a betrothal between them.
With the tonal shift of the last few episodes being of a more serious nature, this week withdrew into more familiar territory of light-hearted humor. The tone isn’t the only facet back-pedaling into previous explored grounds, the introduction of Kanetsugu “Masamune” Gasou also raises another serious issue that Masamune has tinkered with previously: weight.
Despite his slightly pudgy frame, Kanetsugu appears to be a relatively normal weight for his height. While given eastern and western standards are quite different concerning health, consistently highlighting how Kanetsugu’s weight makes him different than other students his age promotes a negative body image. In the same vein, Makabe’s strict diet and exercise regime has returned. While it may be viewed as a rigid, impractical standard meant to garner a few chuckles, some young viewers could be influenced to take Makabe’s unhealthy routine seriously.
Negative body image aside, the entire premise surrounding Kanetsugu becoming Aki’s fiancé through some family connections, along with looking suspiciously like Masamune, is far to contrived. Likely Kanetsugu has some underlying ulterior motive, but why then does Aki seem to be playing into his game so easily? Honestly, it would have been refreshing to witness a few episodes from her viewpoint. Either Aki is extremely naïve, confused, or knows far more than she lets on.
On a complete side note, Neko has reappeared… looking lively as ever, post op. Why her character is necessary at this point, I have no utter idea. After the poignant, symbolic ‘final curtain call,’ I mentioned in last week’s review, no less. Also, there is a new gaggle of girls with an unhealthy obsession with Aki — two episodes before the finale. I am completely done trying to determine the purpose for any of the supporting cast.
Overall, reverting to large doses of humor again was a mistake. It muddles the more dramatic, serious moments by making them seem awkward and displaced from the rest of the series. Sadly Masamune had all the trappings to be a decent series, but the balance between humor and drama was never quite right.
– WeekendOtaku makes a good point about Masamune getting his comeuppance. That is satisfying to behold.
– Return of Neko and a gaggle of Aki obsessed yuri girls… why?
– Reverting to the slapstick humor of earlier episodes makes the more serious content seem misplaced.
Suspension of disbelief is an important facet in the enjoyment of any fictional work, as improbable or impossible elements in a story tend to distract or confuse their audience. This can be as much of a problem in ‘mundane’ themed stories as it can in fantasy and science fiction where characters’ actions require some degree of plausibility to avoid making the story seem contrived. While the entire premise of Masamune is a little wacky to begin with, this week’s episode seems to gloss over the need for realism.
To start, Neko Fujinomiya makes a return in the very next episode after the literal curtain closes on her. While there is a small time skip between the episodes, there was every expectation that that group had said their goodbyes. Her small part this week achieves nothing and further lessens the impact of her ‘parting’ speech last week. I can appreciate her return being lampshaded for laughs, but already we’re off to a bad start.
Technically her reappearance isn’t where the problems start. The yuri group, who seem to get their jollies from watching Aki humiliate men (much the same way as Midori from the beach episode), have their introduction and existential conflict take place within minutes when they see Aki being friendly with the portly Gasou. Their place in the story may be as Gasou’s allies to offset the backup Masamune gets from Yoshino and his friends, but with such simplistic goals viewers have no reason to care about these people.
On the topic of Kanetsugu Gasou, his character isn’t a bad choice to lead the story toward resolving what happened in the past, but his handling is a little awkward. I’m not sure how common Masamune is as a first name, but how Aki wouldn’t at least be reminded of her childhood crush upon learning Makabe’s first name is puzzling. Gasou simply shows up claiming he used to use the nickname “Masamune” and she’s completely on board.
On the other side of things it’s nice to see an overweight character who isn’t a buffoon at sports or socially ostracized, going against every superficial preconception that Masamune holds. It’s satisfying to see Masamune struggle to understand why Aki likes Gasou and, if used properly, he can become the catalyst for Masamune to learn just where he’s been going wrong all these years.
– Masamune’s return to narcissism backfires, which is satisfying enough to see.
– Gasou seems like a decent guy, aside from his obvious lie about being “Masamune.”
– Too many random unneeded parts, like the yuri troupe and Yoshino’s crotch shot.
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party