Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Young Master's Revenge vol. 4 follows the script (Manga Review)

Leo and Tenma
Meca Tanaka-sensei's newest work, "The Young Master's Revenge" (Shojo Beat/Viz) wraps up in volume 4. As you may know, I'm a fan of Tanaka-sensei's art and writing, so I have felt a little guilty reviewing this series and not loving it as much as some of her other stuff. Volume 4 brings us the expected conclusion and it's quality is in line with how I've felt about the first three volumes.

First things first, the expected conclusion. One does not go into a Meca Tanaka series with any expectation other than the lead couple will get together in the end. It's the journey we're in to. So yes, Leo and Tenma get together here, no shock. But like with the first three volumes, the journey feels rushed, frantic, contains random plot elements - mostly to create humorous situations, and the characters display a lack of communication that would have made the whole thing simpler.

It's not that I dislike this series. The art is still Tanaka-sensei's wonderfully unique style and there are some beautiful moments:
Leo and Tenma

But the premise of the series was built on shaky roots (revenge due to turtle bite scars on his butt that caused embarrassment in front of the girl he blamed/liked-but-didn't-know-he-liked), Leo isn't very likable nor is his basic emotional state very evolved (and thus how he treats Tenma early on is NOT okay), nor is Tenma a very engaging heroine. I like my shoujo with a strong, self-determined heroine, and Tenma is pretty minimally sketched out and not the agent in her own story. It's also told from Leo's point of view, and I don't really care for him much.

Volume 4 starts with Leo and Tenma having both realized they love each other, but are too flustered by those feelings to say anything (and Leo too guilty to believe it is possible for her to forgive the way he treated her early on). A series or random things happen that causes plot to happen - a retreat, the amusement park, a rumor made up by the other high-school, etc... This leads to a confession and they get together. More or less the end.

I think of all the things I'm saddest about in this series, it's that Tanaka-sensei created a really great character in Tojo, the public high-school student council president, and then totally underutilized her throughout the series. She might have been the one character I would have actually loved to see a whole series around (also, I'm not sure about how her story was wrapped up in the bonus at the end...still processing).

I don't really have much else to say after reviewing the prior volumes. If you love Tanaka-sensei's work, then The Young Master's Revenge will be worth the read. The art is simple but fun and well done (for the comic side of shoujo), especially if you're already a fan. The story is pretty by-the-numbers, but the humor didn't work as well for me here as some of her past work because it felt more contrived and I didn't really care about either lead that much, so it really wasn't that funny.

I'm still really hoping that her series Faster than a Kiss gets translated into English because I love Pearl Pink so much! I even enjoyed Meteor Prince more than this (and wish it has been longer). But at least we're getting some of her works translated into English, that's a good thing.

If you liked the first three volumes or just want to support a wonderful mangaka, grab volume 4. I'm glad I have the whole series, even if it isn't one of her strongest ones. This volume is a 6/10 and the whole series really is a 6/10 (fine but nothing special). It's enjoyable, cute, predictable, with nice simple comic art, but doesn't rise up the way some of her other work has in the past. I feel so guilty...



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