Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Young Master's Revenge Vol. 3 gets predictable, but that's okay (Manga Review)

Leo Tachibana and Tenma Tsuwabuki
Volume 3 of The Young Master's Revenge by Meca Tanaka (published by Shojo Beat/Viz) moves the story along its predictable path towards the inevitable conclusion. If you don't like spoilers you shouldn't read this series (let alone this review) because you had to know right from the mangaka's other series, and the story set-up, exactly what was going to happen.

To recap volumes 1 and 2, Leo Tachibana is the heir to a hot clothing line. In childhood, his father asked him to befriend Tenma Tsuwabuki, the heiress to a department store chain. However, one day, she pulled down his pants when he got bitten by turtles and all the other 5-year-olds laughed. Therefore he would devote himself to becoming so amazing that Tenma would fall in love with him at which point he would enact his revenge by rejecting her.

I spoke at length in my review for volume 1 of the ickiness factor of a setup revolving around a man weaponizing a woman's affections. That being said, we knew from the get-go that Leo would realize he's actually in love with Tenma. Volume 3 brings us that realization and the evolution of his care for Tenma.

A dream sequence has a young Leo talking to teenage Leo and pointing out that he's been in love with Tenma all along. The current teenage Leo is pretty accepting of this fact and moves forward to treat Tenma better, encouraging her to move in with an Aunt and stop doing his chores as repayment. A series of quick paced events follow this and fill up volume 3, none of which have much consequence. In short, Tenma begins to realize her feelings for Leo and vice versa. We know where the final volume will lead us when it comes out.

Given the short nature (four volumes) of this series, the side characters we meet tend to serve narrative purposes rather than being fully realized. That's too bad as the president of their new public high-school has some potential to be an awesome character (as mentioned in my review of volume 2). Sadly, she makes only a cursory appearance in volume 3. The same goes for Ise, GG, Tenma's friends, etc... This volume is mostly Tenma and Leo, but even that is fairly anti-climactic most of the time.

Further, we still struggle to get a feeling for Tenma's character. She too mostly serves a narrative purpose in this series rather than being fully realized. Yes, we get some continuing sense that she's oblivious to her feelings and that is played to nice comedic effect in a few brief scenes. We also see her resolve when she pushes against her aunt's wishes for her life. But the story really is from Leo's point of view, and so Tenma's thoughts, motivations, and core character remain somewhat elusive. That's also too bad. We just have to believe that she's really as awesome as Leo is starting to think.

Overall, volume 3 felt perfunctory. We know they are going to progress towards falling in love and this volume does that, but it doesn't offer any surprises or insights along the way. I have no problem with a two-people-falling-in-love story, but it needs (even in a comedy) to offer some meaningful insight. This series hasn't quite been funny enough to get around it's lack of touching moments and thoughtfulness. I know Tanaka-sensei can do it, so hopefully volume 4 will feel like more of a payoff.

I'm giving volume 3 a 6/10. It's going through the motions, it's perfectly fine and pleasant, the art continues to be quality, but there isn't anything that really jumps out from this volume. If you're a Tanaka-sensei fan, you'll certainly enjoy this, but it continues to be middling compared to some of her other works. (I feel like such an ass saying that, sorry Tanaka-sensei <3 )


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