「死んでもマイクを手放すな」 (Shindemo maiku o tebanasu na)
“Don’t Let Go of the Mic, Even if You Die”
Well it’s here boys and girls, the finale of MnR. Instead of massive fireworks or greater amounts of drama, the show took a more subdued approach, meeting the expectations and leaving just enough hints of more to come. While the Aki kiss was finally realized and Aki’s interest in Masamune was rekindled (mostly) though, little else changed at the end of the day. The revenge plan took a back seat to Masamune forgetting his purpose and saving the day, while Gasou continues floating around in the background as a convenient excuse to jumpstart the drama. At least best
girl guy Kojuurou was temporarily saved from the suffering that comes from Futuba’s ever imaginative mind. Never underestimate the importance of pairings.
Beyond watching a thoroughly fevered-out Masamune being hilariously coldcocked by Aki, the better part of the episode was relegated to the karaoke after-party. I found this scene really ironic because it largely returned everything back to the pre-Gasou point. Aki jealously brooded over Neko’s coat contact, Neko brought up memories with that savage song choice, and the yuri gaggle provided some choice humour with their terrible understanding of the atmosphere. Of course this forgets about Masamune’s singing skills, but I think his solo moment—and the calories burned—speaks for itself.
The issue with this denouement for me is it causes all the problems with Gasou’s existence to come roaring on back to the forefront. If Aki and Masamune were largely “reset” back to pre-Gasou times at the end, what was the point of the preceding arc? Yes, Gasou’s presence—or lack of it—can be excused as the reason for this episode’s kiss for example, but the kiss’ setup could have resulted in other ways too. Gasou may also factor importantly in promoting the release of backstory regarding Aki/Masamune as I expect, but there were no further revelations this week (except for a teaser). Considering this season alone, there’s nothing Gasou has done developmentally which actively helped propel Masamune’s vengeance quest to its conclusion. Too much of the story is missing to see Gasou’s actual purpose.
For MnR’s benefit, however, the show may return eventually to finish the story. While no sequel announcement was forthcoming, the ending was open ended, leaving room for a future season or OVA. Considering all the juicy bits to my knowledge happen after the school festival arc, it would be nice seeing just what winds up happening with Masamune and Aki. After all it wouldn’t make sense leaving a revenge plan unfulfilled, would it?
I’m of two minds when it comes to MnR. Part of me really enjoyed this show for what it was, but the other part was disappointed in how it evolved over time. The split for me largely boils down to MnR’s central premise: revenge. As romance plots go this is incredibly novel and rarely used, mostly because of the difficulty in working a feasible relationship out of such adversarial beginnings. Ignoring the ridiculous nature of it here—revenge for a grade school rejection?—the revenge idea did create an interesting foundation given the characters involved. Masamune broke with romcom tradition by actually possessing a modicum of seduction skill, while Aki’s tsundere personality enabled the development necessary to engender audience adoration. When combined with the revenge scheme the story obtained all the pieces necessary for producing a unique and entertaining romcom piece. Was it all perfect? No, but MnR definitely was on the right track.
The letdown for me was the gradual dilution of MnR’s central premise by conventionality. Masamune’s fantastic skills, pickup artistry knowledge, and confident persona at the beginning slowly fell by the wayside as master Yoshino entered the picture and Neko threw everyone for a loop. By the time Gasou appeared, Masamune seemed the bumbling fool reliant upon others setting up the situations, whereas initially he was creating those moments. When returns to form were attempted later on, lo and behold the existence of obstacles blocking the moves. For me it seemed like forced regression for the sake of a prolonged story, a means of keeping Masamune moving “forward”, but without every catching his prey.
What particularly affected MnR, however, was not this character change as much as Gasou’s introduction. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, MnR had an easy, logical path for concluding this story, all without needing Gasou’s presence. Masamune could have won Aki over at the festival, got her confession, and then rejected (or not) her as planned. Instead we received the imposter, arguably the most divisive arc of the series, and no indication of resolution anytime soon. Gasou for me represents the ubiquitous forced drama aspect of many romcoms/romances, the arc existing just to drag things out. Lovely Complex for example features this in its back half, and even the nominally fantastic Kimi ni Todoke stumbles from overthinking and character misconstruing in its second season. These moments are always expected in these types of shows, but no less frustrating when tacked onto otherwise excellent bits of development. It’s quite funny when the darker and more cynical Kuzu no Honkai is the romance this season actually breaking with tradition.
Nevertheless while I have some issues with MnR, it does not take away from the enjoyment I had blogging this one. The front half may have been the “better” half, but there were always parts of each episode leaving me satisfied. Whether it be Masamune’s seduction attempts, the off the cuff humour, or the running Kojuurou fantasy, the pieces clicked more often than the gears ground together. A huge help in this regard was Masamune’s VA Hanae Natsuki, who definitely made Masamune as great as he was. Without some of those reactions—and accompanying reaction faces—I likely would have been turned off by MnR long ago. Given how well this worked for what it was and the possibility of more MnR in the future, I’m happy enough for how it all turned out. MnR might not have been the best, but for a typical romcom story, it’s hard doing any worse.