Covers all of THE YOUNG MASTER’S REVENGE by Meca Tanaka What if you had scars on your butt. From being bitten by snapping turtles when you were little. That is the whole premise of this comedy from Meca Tanaka, and for such a quick, silly series, it really is delightful. The revenge that Leo, the boy with the turtle butt scars, wants to exact on his childhood friend and crush Tenma of course turns into true love. You’ve seen all these tropes before, but not quite with this amount of disregard and subtle subversion. Shojo & Tell host Ashley and librarian and manga reviewer Anna discuss their favorite scenes (girls kabedon'ing boys!!), how this slots into the current crop of shojo manga with male leads, and have a very silly shipping corner. A short and sweet episode for a short and sweet series!
Covers all of The Young Master’s Revenge by Meca Tanaka
What if you had scars on your butt. From being bitten by snapping turtles when you were little. That is the whole premise of this comedy from Meca Tanaka, and for such a quick, silly series, it really is delightful. The revenge that Leo, the boy with the turtle butt scars, wants to exact on his childhood friend and crush Tenma of course turns into true love. You’ve seen all these tropes before, but not quite with this amount of disregard and subtle subversion. Shojo & Tell host Ashley and librarian and manga reviewer Anna discuss their favorite scenes (girls kabedon'ing boys!!), how this slots into the current crop of shojo manga with male leads, and have a very silly shipping corner. A short and sweet episode for a short and sweet series!
Click here for a transcription of this episode
ASHLEY: Welcome to Shojo & Tell, where we discuss shojo manga, and tell who’s hot and who’s not, talk about themes, and just generally geek out. Today, February 10th, 2019, we will be Shojo and Telling about the shojo series The Young Master’s Revenge by Meca Tanaka. I’m your host Ashley McDonnell and I am joined by Anna [Neatrour], long time manga reviewer and librarian. Hey, Anna.
ANNA: Hey, how’s it going?
ASHLEY: I’m good. How are you?
ANNA: Good, thanks. Thanks for having me on your podcast.
ASHLEY: Oh yeah, I’m super excited. Can you tell people more about yourself? Do you do a lot with manga?
ANNA: Oh I do! I basically grew up reading comic books. My mom had a stash of 1970s Marvel comic books which I read when I was in elementary school and I’ve been reading manga for a really long time. I think the first series I collected was Mai, the Psychic Girl back when Viz was issuing manga in floppy comic book format flip issues.
ANNA: Yeah, that was way back in the day. So, I’ve really liked shojo and josei manga and I blog on Manga Report which is part of the Manga Bookshelf network of bloggers.
ASHLEY: Yeah, you have been in this way longer than me. I’m just a schmuck who is like ‘hey! I like shojo manga’ and got into it in 2000, I don’t know.
ANNA: That’s okay! I feel like everyone can come to manga at different times in their life and it all works out really well.
ASHLEY: Yeah, always come to manga. Manga is good. Everybody should be reading it. Alright, so, I want to explain, I’ve been pretty bad at this on previous episodes, this beginning part will be a spoiler free section, so if you have not read The Young Master’s Revenge, you can listen to us talk about it as an overview and see if it’s your jam or not and if you should decide to go read The Young Master’s Revenge, it is available from Viz Media in the US in English. I cannot speak to the rest of the world, I only cover things in English. Yes, it is available from Viz. Anna, can you give people a brief overview of what The Young Master’s Revenge is about?
ANNA: Sure! This like a really funny and lighthearted manga and basically the two main characters Leo and Tenma were childhood friends and she was a rich heiress and he was more of a working class boy but they were forced to be friends by their parents. But they have this terrible encounter in a turtle pond where Leo got bitten on the butt by snapping turtles. He is very very traumatized by this. Shortly after this incident, he moves to America and he is gone for like 10 years. Then he comes back to Japan as an heir to a successful clothing business and Tenma’s family has fallen on hard times and she’s no longer rich. So Leo’s determined to make Tenma fall in love with him and then reject her so she will know his pain.
ASHLEY: [Laughter] Yeah, can we agree that that is a very silly premise?
ANNA: Yeah, there are so many references to butt scars throughout the manga. It is a little bit difficult to take seriously.
ASHLEY: Yeah, once you get to the part where he gets bitten by turtles, you’re like ‘I don’t know, sure, I’m about this. Lets go.’ Right?
Ahsley: It’s very early on. I always just think that the second chapter opens and he’s like 'I hate turtles!' [Laughter] And I think of the Zombie Kid Meme where he’s like 'I like turtles.' I’m like, where is the manga of that? Is there a subtle reference to that? There should have been. I don’t know. There really should have been. I really feel this very strongly. Somebody go make me some manga about that. But, yeah, I really loved the chapter two opening where he like 'I hate turtles.' After having a nightmare about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, basically.
ANNA: His trauma is definitely played for comedic effect throughout the series.
ASHLEY: Yeah, but sometimes it’s like, ‘am I supposed to take this seriously?’ He’s like 'I’m an evil person because I got bitten on the butt by some turtles and I have scars from it. Literal scars.'
ANNA: He is. Yes, I really loved the opening chapter where he’s really built his personality around his eventual revenge. Like he is extremely superficially charming. And when the manga opens it shows him being incredibly nice and charming to everyone around him but then all of his internal dialog it’s like 'It’s time for me to start my revenge! I’ve waited so long. I’m going to vanquish the girl who destroyed my pride!' So this interior monologue is running against all these scenes of him smiling at people and smoothing over social situations and just generally being a super popular boy. So I love that contrast and especially early on in the series. It really drew me to wanting to read it.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I just think it’s very funny. This is a manga about personality politics versus character politics. Personality is, you just do things when you know you are supposed to do things to make people like you in a manipulative way. And character is like you truly believe in being a good person. Leo slowly transitions from one to the other throughout, so it's pretty good.
ANNA: He does! It’s one of the nice things you see about the series. You see him slowly becoming more aware of his own emotions versus the story he has been telling himself about what he wants to do.
ASHLEY: What would you say is your favorite aspect of the series? Is it the comedic contrast?
ANNA: Yes, I guess I would. I really do like that contrast between somebody who starts out where he is very blatant with his emotions and then his emotions start to change a little bit. And you can see him still have that interior monologue but it is more about him convincing himself what he wants to do to execute his revenge plan. Even when he is sort of less than enthusiastic about it. There is actually a lot of character growth between all of these jokes about the terror of turtles. All the turtle jokes combined with actual character growth it is really kinda touching. It's a unique combination. It's really why I like this series.
ASHLEY: The series is really short. It is only four volumes. I feel it takes a lot of twists and turns in those volumes and it does rely on you having read shojo manga before. You get all the tropes like they go to an amusement park, there is Student Council and they have a rivalry. Especially from other manga that tackle social class. You get that a lot from Maid Sama!, you get that throughout this. It’s the ‘rich kids versus the poor kids’ and Student Council are the main way they duke it out and they all have crushes on the girl and whatever. It’s fine.
ANNA: I don’t know. There are tropes where, you know, there is always going to be a wacky Student Council President.
ASHLEY: We get two wacky Student Council Presidents.
ANNA: There are! Which I think is a good thing. But I think Meca Tanaka has a way of making everything seem charming, even if you have seen wacky Student Council Presidents many times before. There is something about, I don’t know if it’s the turtle obsession or what it is, but there is something about the series that still seems kinda fresh to me. Even going through all these shojo plot points like sports events, and competitions, and things like that.
ASHLEY: I agree, because it is so short, it relies on you having read shojo manga before to full get the jokes. But also it subverts them sometimes in a lot of ways. Because this is moving so rapidly through stuff, you’re like ‘oh, I thought this was going to go differently’ and it just goes in a totally different way. You’re like ‘oh, I’m pleasantly surprised actually’ throughout these four volumes. That’s a lot of fun actually.
ANNA: Yeah, it is.
ASHLEY: I think it has the shojo manga thing too where it’s this boy getting revenge on a girl who did embarrassing thing to him ten years ago. I feel that by volume two that premise is thrown out the door as it gets more into class politics and other things and I’m like ‘oh, okay, sure.’ shojo manga draws you in on a premise then says we’re going a different way.
ANNA: That’s truel. I think one of the things that makes it more interesting is pretty early on Tenma knows what’s happening and she like 'alright, I'll do my best to fall in love with you so you can get your revenge on me cause I like you and you’re my friend and I want you to feel better.' She’s pretty forthright about accepting the wacky situation. Everything is out on the table really early. That’s another thing that I thought refreshings and is probably due to the manga has to move so fast. You can’t really wait around for two volumes where everybody is hiding their motivations and everything is secret and it comes out in a dramatic revelation. All of that is taken care of pretty early which is unique.
ASHLEY: I think if you, listeners, are intrigued by this silly premise, if you also get sick about all the misunderstandings that happen in shojo manga, this manga is like ‘I’m not messing around with that, we have a misunderstanding for two pages and it’ll be resolved, it’s fine.’ Yes, thank you.
ANNA: Exactly. There’s definitely some series that draw things out like that. It does move at a fast pace and that’s pretty good. It packs a lot of story, it’s four volumes. And it wasn’t dissatisfying. It wasn’t like small series where your like ‘huh, I wish it had gone on for six volumes’ or ‘things weren’t really wrapped up with the supporting cast the way I wanted them to be.’ This is well executed I thought.
ASHLEY: Yeah, this one definitely is pretty well for a four volume series. I feel like, 5 characters got just enough that they deserved and Leo and Tenma get their good ending. It was good. Solid.
ASHLEY: Alright, before we get into nitty-gritty spoilers of what happens in four volumes, I will give a Spoiler Warning. So if you have not read The Young Master’s Revenge and you want to go read about a boy who was bitten by snapping turtles as a young boy and has scars on his butt, as you should [Laughter], then you should stop here before we tell you more about what happens with Tenma and the wacky Student Council Presidents, cause they are great just so you know. Go forth and read. Anyone who has read this already and wants to hear more specifics we are going to go to them now. Okay. So first start real easy, we already mentioned some great scenes obviously, but do you have any other particular favorite scenes that you want to mention?
ANNA: Yeah, I mentioned the first chapter before so that is not very spoliery but it really is one of my all time favorite chapters cause it is very charming. I really like all the times in the manga where Tenma sticks up for herself and her relentless determination to become a veterinarian even though animals seem to hate there, that is just something I really enjoyed throughout the manga. There are a lot of really great scenes.
ASHLEY: This isn’t a scene, but in general I really appreciated in the beginning — I read the first volume when it came out and reread it again for this podcast to read all the way through the series — I remember disliking Tenma when I read only the first volume but then no, I was like ‘Tenma is great’ by the end of this. Tenma knows what she wants and is like 'nobody can tell me no' and she is also very nice and honest in a way that is super sincere. Tenma is awesome.
ANNA: I feel as a heroine she takes a little bit of time to grow on the reader mostly because it is not necessarily from her point of view. Outside you know and what she is willing to do and how she actually really wants to support Leo. As the series unfolds, she is someone who grew up super rich she really has no ego and is kind of naive about a lot of things and she has this really strong inner personality. She knows what she wants, she’s committed to it and her not picking up social cues is pretty adorable. People are being mean to her and she’s like 'Oh, that’s okay, thanks for talking to me.' And she breezes it off so there is all these...when people are trying to Mean Girl her, it has no effect, which is pretty great.
ASHLEY: Maybe part of my turn on Tenma is, well first it’s good cause in the manga Leo starts out hating her and your like ‘yeah, I hate her too’ and when he starts to not hate her you’re like ‘oh yeah, Tenma’s great.’ It’s actually pretty effective in doing the thing that it wanted to do and I’m like 'awesome.' I’ve read Kimi ni Todoke recently for this podcast and that tendency of Tenma, people trying to Mean Girl Tenma and Tenma being like ‘I don’t get it, you guys are nice, I like you’ is very much like the protagonist of Kimi ni Todoke Sawako is like ‘I don’t understand!’ and it’s so sad. ‘I’m just a nice person and it’s confounding! I don’t understand!'
ANNA: Yeah, that’s very true. It is, it’s funny, there are some scenes where she sees how much better Leo is at handling social situations. Sometimes she sitting back and taking notes on how he is navigation the treacherous waters of High School socialization and class and it’s all these things she has never thought of before. That is kinda fun.
ASHLEY: And she’s like ‘what? Food has expiration dates? I don’t know *shuggie*’ Oh, Tenma. My favorite scene is very much toward the end which is when Tenma kabedons Leo. He had done it a couple of times to her before but then there is a very dramatic love confession. It’s when Leo has just confessed to the whole school the scars on his butt, as one does, over the PA that he hijacked and Tenma is like ‘Oh my god no! Leo I want to protect you from this horrible thing that was forced on you and now you’ve confessed this very embarrassing thing to everyone in school.' And is like ‘no, don’t show them the scars!' And then she kabedons him and I’m like 'YES!' More girls should kabedon boys.
ANNA: Yes, absolutely. It’s nice to see the gender reversal of that. It kinda goes with this manga being more male protagonist side. Yeah, It is pretty awesome.
ASHLEY: Yes! This is awesome. This is why Tenma’s great. Tenma’s great. I also really love the character of Tojo, who is the Student Council President of the poor school, Suzaku. Not the rich school, different crazy student council president for that one. Tojo is everything I love, her introduction is ‘I’m swinging a bamboo stick at rich people.’ Excellent. Then she looks real pretty on her not-date with Leo.
ANNA: Actually out of all the supporting characters, I wish we had a little bit more of her. Maybe a couple of more screens would have been cool.
ASHLEY: Yeah! I know. Tojo was not used to the utmost effectiveness that she could have been but she is still real good. I would read a manga about Tojo.
ANNA: Yeah, she has an awesome angry face. She is great at yelling at people which just sometimes needs to happen.
ASHLEY: Yeah, that totally needs to happen. The Student Council is a little gang. Their the best.
ANNA: That’s pretty epic.
ASHLEY: We did just mention that this is a shojo manga from a male lead which I feel is having a little moment.
ANNA: Yeah I think you’re right from some of the things that have been coming out recently. And I think it pulls it off really well actually.
ASHLEY: I think it does really well too. I mean, the only other ones...I read the first volume of Hatsuharu, I mean that guy tries to be bad too but I mean he’s good, he’s fine probably. Wake Up Sleeping Beauty, which I loved, which is great, from the point of view of male protagonist is really good. I would agree this one is pretty good. I really like that it comes around on Tenma. It’s like ‘Oh Tenma, what an annoying girl, JK!’ Not annoying. Is three enough to be a moviedment, am I missing some key ones with male leads?
ANNA: My Love Story for sure.
ASHLEY: Oh yeah!
ANNA: There is one I am not remembering where the main character has to hide his love of crafting and domestic things, I am totally blanking on the title. I’ll remember it eventually. But that was another really good one. [NOTE: it’s Otomen.]
ASHLEY: I guess, technically, is it Behind the Scenes!!?
ANNA: No, it’s like another one.
ASHLEY: Behind the Scenes!! does count though, right?
Anna; Yeah, probably.
ASHLEY: That has a male lead. I’ve only read one volume of that so far but I liked it. It’s good, it’s fine. Or High School Host Club Bisco Hitori.
ANNA: That one was really good too.
ASHLEY: I don’t know, shojo with male leads. I’m okay with it. I’m about it. They’re doing good.
Anna; It’s good to mix things up a little bit. And having a little bit of a different perspective on a love story makes it more interesting.
ASHLEY: shojo is great because it’s more gender equal and stuff then...what, Shonen Jump has one series with a female lead, The Promised Neverland. Come on, Shonen Jump, get it together. Shonen titles step up your game.
ASHLEY: About this manga, I personally always loved stories that are about social class. That feels real to me on a personal level. I was pleasantly surprised by volume 2. ‘Oh, now we are going to move to a poor school’ which makes sense cause Tenma is poor now. She’s like ‘wait, I can go to that doesn’t cost a gazillion dollars? Why didn’t you tell me that before? What’s up.’
ANNA: One thing that I really liked is that she is pretty accepting of her changed circumstances. Again, I think it goes to her lack of ego. She doesn’t really spend a lot of time complaining about how she doesn’t have all of these nice things or the trappings of being rich anymore. She is kinda forthright. She’s like ‘okay, well, my mentions being knocked down. Alright, what do I do now?’
ASHLEY: She's like ‘I can live in a tent now, that’s fine.’ Very shojo female protagonist orphan way of doing things.
ANNA: Oh there is another Viz series called Komomo Confiserie which is very much kind of like this of a rich girl being reduced to being a servant except it is much more centered around food. Have you read that at all?
ASHLEY: I have not read that.
ANNA: Okay. Actually I really liked The Young Master’s Revenge more because it was a little bit less malicious about this social class reversal. Which is generally a much cuter, happier series than that. I think not dwelling too too much on ‘oh you were rich, but now super poor, that’s hilarious’ It kind of makes The Young Master’s Revenge easy, simple, escape kind of read.
ASHLEY: I like how it at least acknowledges that reality but I’m not going to get caught up in it. Similarly, Leo came from being poor to being super rich but you never feel that at all. He has a servant, Isai, through out that he summons at will and all these things. He goes to the rich peoples school, and everyone is like ‘that’s fine’ initially. But in comparison to say Barazono, the Student Council lead of the rich school, you just never feel it with Leo. Leo also lacks an ego for a rich person, expect in the beginning when he is purposely trying to be malicious. He’s like ‘I’m the son of the CEO of Taurus. You’re wearing all my clothes.’
ANNA: He expresses his richness when he starts going to a regular public school. He tries to donate workout gear to everyone. He tends to leverage his richness a little bit more to do nice things for people as opposed to being a snob.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I guess the scene that is a little bit confusing is that because he has so much lack of ego in this way it's harder to be like he came from nothing but he has stuff. He is like ‘oh, I still have a poor person’s mentality about a lot of things’ that is why Tenma annoys him in the beginning where he is ‘you don’t know anything about anything.’ [Laughter] Baffling.
ANNA: And that is kind of irritating. How do you grow up so sheltered and not know basic things about how the world works?
ASHLEY: He’s like ‘how do you not know what a public school is? I didn't think I had to explain it to you’ sort of deal. Barazono comes to Tenma’s new apartment that is a piece of crap and it leaks and the window falls out. Leo is trying to fix the window on his own or whatever he thinks he’s doing. Barazono is like ‘I had the landlord remodel the apartment over night’ and you’re like ‘alright.’
ANNA: That was hilarious. Also the scene was so funny since he is nicknamed the Rose King and all of a sudden Tenma has rose panelling in her apartment. So that was kind of a cute little touch.
ASHLEY: But she is very dense and doesn’t get it.
ANNA: Is she living next to a member of the yakuza? Is that what’s hinted at? I’m not really sure.
ASHLEY: Oh yeah. Her neighbor is [unsure sound].
ANNA: He’s got a lot of tattoos. I always tend to think she is living in a super sketchy neighborhood and she just does not notice it.
ASHLEY: I mean that’s a way to survive. [Laughter]. That’s one defense mechanism, I guess. If he had tattoos, this manga relies on the troupe that tattoos are very bad in Japan. The rumor goes around about Leo.
ANNA: Oh yeah! That’s right.
ASHLEY: Somebody sees, even though he was trying to hide it, in a scene where the rich kids and the poor kids are hanging out in a communal bath, someone sees the scars on his butt and then they spread a rumor that he has tattoos all over his back. Their like ‘oh my god, he’s a member of a gang.’ Oh, Japan.
Anna; One of the things, this whole turtle scar butt thing [Laughter] in the manga, which is touching even though it’s hilarious, is that Tenma is so determined to protect Leo from any further trauma from people finding about his secret. She will really go the extra mile to intravenine to try and make things better for him. That is one of the ways you see, the reader likes her more as the series develops cause she is so committed to doing her bit for friendship.
ASHLEY: Yeah, she forces the lights to go out and is found in a compromising position with Barazono. [Laughter]. Cause he is very frail they fell over and fainted. Something weird happened with them. shojo manga hijinks happened with them. It’s all a misunderstanding.
ANNA: It’s got to happen at some point.
ASHLEY: You got to have your misunderstandings. They exist! But then this manga immediately resolves them, that’s fine, we didn’t drag this out for ten volumes. That’s nice. Thank you.
ANNA: Yes, that is what is really nice about this series, for sure.
ASHLEY: Just with social class, I was like, this did a solid. Acknowledging it as this thing that exists. You can get over. Just be nice to each other. It’s good. I was like alright, that’s fair.
Anna; yeah, and I think that Tenma’s ultimate goal to be a vet cuts across some of the social class stuff cause she doesn’t want the rich princess life that was originally envisioned for her. In some ways this manga is more about you need to grow up and work hard in your chosen profession. Which is a good message.
ASHLEY: Generally, it was the right amount of empathetic to the rich kids being they have tons of stuff but they are never free because they are trapped by their own dumb stereotypes of having to stay at the top. Which is true.
ANNA: Exactly. [Laughter].
ASHLEY: It was good. I still think overall because it’s so brief this is not my favorite series. It reminds me a lot of Maid Sama! and I love Maid Sama! to death. That’s my favorite series.
ANNA: Oh, I don’t like it at all. [Laughter].
ASHLEY: You don’t like Maid Sama!? I love Misaki. Misaki is my patronus.
ANNA: I love Misaki. I can’t get over, what was the name of the main protagonist in Maid Sama!?
ASHLEY: The male one? Usui.
ANNA: Yeah, he was like too mean. I did read several volumes. I didn’t read the whole series to the end.
ASHLEY: Oh, it gets wacky by the end. The end is not good.
ANNA: I think I probably read six or seven volumes of it and I was just like ‘I can’t take it! I can’t root for this couple.’ I just found Usui so unsympathetic. But that’s okay, like one of the nice things about shojo is that there is manga for everyone.
ASHLEY: Manga for everyone!
ANNA: Oh and I remembered the manga that I was thinking of earlier that I couldn’t remember is Otomen by Aya Kanno. That’s about this guy who loves knitting and making stuffed animals and has to hide his inner feminie side. So if you are looking for another shojo series with male protagonist that’s another one I would hold up there as being really good.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I just need to start making a list of ‘Here’s a Thing.’
ANNA: Yeah, it is a thing for sure.
ASHLEY: I would try to say give Maid Sama! another chance but if you read six volumes…that’s pretty far.
ANNA: No, I really tried. I read it when it first came out. Tokyopop was putting it out first. I read it when Tokyopop put it out and I tried again when Viz was rereleasing it. It’s just not for me.
ASHLEY: I accept that. I accept that answer. But I am still in love with Misaki.
ANNA: That’s okay. I can see why. She is awesome. I just, I thought she suffered too much. I could not get into it.
ASHLEY: The second half of that series is more about Usui’s problems but Misaki doesn’t stop suffering. [Laughter].
ANNA: I think I just felt that too deeply. I can’t carry on with this.
ASHLEY: That’s fair.
ANNA: The Young Master’s Revenge is really short in four volumes so it’s much less of a time investment to get into. It’s nice to have a balance between a long running series and a shorter series that are done and self contained. So I have too many stacks of unread series that are sitting around my house and I then feel guilty for not getting to them. It’s nice to be able to read a story and finish it for once.
ASHLEY: Oh no, it difficult. Especially when it’s like ‘this series is still coming out. How long have I been collecting this? 5 years? Oh my goodness, I’m going to die before it.’
ANNA: Yeah, I’m so far behind.
ASHLEY: Did you have any particular thoughts about Tanaka’s art in particular?
ANNA: I think you find this a lot with shojo manga, her art seems relatively simple but she invests a lot of time in facial expressions. So you really get a sense of what her characters are thinking and sometimes that contrasts with the dialog. I really like how Leo’s revenge and the specter of this revenge is manifested as this thorny vine that snakes around all the panels. So having that darkness conveyed sets off sets of the more breeze elements of the manga, like cute turtles that are also terrifying. You have the emotional aspect of the revenge manifested in a symbol.
ASHLEY: We even get the moment in the real time of the manga where, I guess where Barazono has sent Tenma a bunch of roses and she tries to set them up in her new apartment and Leo sees her holding one and is like ‘no, I’m jealous’ so goes over and hugs her. Squeezes her hand but there is a torn in her hand that pricks her and then he feels bad. And I’m like ‘oh yeah, that’s the actual manifestation of your inner turmoil.’
ANNA: Exactly. It’s nice to have those touches of the revenge actually being something serious and contributing to emotional torment. I thought the series does initially seem breezy and on the surface but does kind of head more toward people’s inner thoughts and feelings and that’s really well done with the art.
ASHLEY: I would say even though the premise is very silly, I guess the only thing that ever made me annoyed was when Tenma was like ‘what is love?’ basically and I was like ‘Tenma, come on.’
ANNA: That’s true. She is naive to a ridiculous degree. I feel like you can’t have this kind of board comedic premise without characters being also criminally clueless.
ASHLEY: Yeah. That’s the only thing. Otherwise, even when the moments it gives levity to its silly premise, like when Leo confess to the whole school that he has butt scars, I feel like somehow this was pulled off correctly. [Laughter]
ANNA: I mean it is so ridiculous but then you are like reading it and you get pulled in. I think Tanaka is really good at instilling that suspension of disbelief in the reader where before you know it you have read four volumes of a manga where turtle butt scars come up pretty often and that’s not weird.
ASHLEY: That’s not weird. That’s totally normal. That’s a thing that happens. It totally makes sense. I like when she was in one of her side bars and she was like 'it was supposed to be on his pecker’ but they were like ‘it’s a shojo manga, you can’t do that.’' I was like [Laughter].
ANNA: She actually...she does have some pretty good sidebars. Sometimes the authors have some really lame sidebars, ‘oh, I’ve started collecting hand lotion’ or ‘I’m so tired.’ But she actually has some kind of cool stories about her life and her whole thing where she personifies her issues with her coffee machine was actually really funny. There is a good sense of humor thought out the manga.
ASHLEY: Yeah, that even continues in her sidebars. Her sidebars definitely made me be like ‘oh, this is a person with a decently balanced life’ which I feel like I don’t normally get, ‘I’ve played Final Fantasy sometimes’ or ‘I stayed up till 3am’ which makes me think ‘this is no good. Go outside.’ But all of hers are ‘I went traveling!’ and I’m like ‘awesome! Great job’
ASHLEY: ‘I personified my coffee machine as if he is a mean cat-brat or something.’ I’m like great. Fun.
ANNA: It is fun.
ASHLEY: The art was really cute. Again, as Leo increasingly thinks Tenma is cute the art went along with it. I’m like ‘yeah, Tenma is cute. This is true. It’s like...damn, alright.' [Laughter]. ‘You’re into Tenma, alright.’ [Long sighs]. I guess the ultimate question is, how do we feel...they both get to confess their love to each other at different times and was all the ‘I don’t know what love is’ scenes all worth it, were their love confessions good?
ANNA: I liked it. I think that’s also part of the benefit of having a shorter series. I didn’t feel like I was...you know what’s going to happen at the beginning of this series like in the first chapter.
ASHLEY: Right. You can’t fake love somebody and not have it turn into real love. That’s how the soulmates work. That’s how it goes.
ANNA: Exactly. But with this four volume length you are not waiting around for forever for it to happen. I thought the pacing was really good. And all the ‘I’m getting my revenge!’ ‘I’m not getting my revenge’ ‘okay, I’ll let you get my revenge’ all of that stuff it wasn’t too drawn out. I felt pacing with the story and plot, it worked really well.
ASHLEY: I actually loved how many mental hoops they have to jump through to make their misunderstandings, their pretty funny cause they’re just so mentally confounding. Tenma’s ‘Oh my god, now Leo has confused he has butt scars but only I can see them, [Laughter] I’m like jealous, I have to run and kabedon him so that he doesn’t show anybody’ and I’m like ‘what is happening right now?’ [Laughter]. She’s like ‘I can’t tell Leo that I like him because then he’ll reject me’ and I’m like ‘Oh my god, that's the premise of what he set up for her. Okay.’ And that also somehow that ridiculousness still feels real. Humans are so silly. Anytime where like ‘but do they like me?’ you don’t want to believe the easiest path, it must be some crazy psychological weird thing. ‘They don’t like me, the misunderstanding is that they could ever like me’ sort of deal.
ANNA: It works out well. Both the protagonist are equal clueless about love in somewhat different ways. It’s nice. It’s a good solid ending to the series.
ASHLEY: That’s what I like most about social class issues too, it was really nice to see them outwardly acknowledge, bluntly, ‘the problem with our relationship is we currently do not value each other the same, we are not equals. Tenma is now under my stewardship.’ Leo is taking care of her. He’s like ‘that can’t work, she does not value herself enough and I am not treating her with enough value, this is no good.’ I liked after his confession to her, he didn't let her talk which was rude, but then he was immediately like ‘yeah, I did a bad, I didn’t let her respond to me and that was bad.’ I like that Leo always immediately acknowledges his mistakes.
ANNA: I thought of the end thought that she has more of the weight of being a bigger person, you know? I was a little bit annoyed about. She is kind of doing more of the emotional labor that lead into the final confession and everything working out really well. I also like that she was immediately aware of how she should have been treated but wasn’t. She wasn’t really afraid of expressing her emotions over that.
ASHLEY: She was mad that Leo didn’t let her talk too. Correct.
ANNA: I mean, some of the panels of her having angry face is pretty hilarious. She is almost literally in flames at one point. It’s pretty great.
ASHLEY: It’s nice to see her be mad about it and rightly so; she is so rarely mad. Even when people Mean Girl her she like ‘oh, you’re a nice person, I like you, what are you doing?, what you don’t like me, what?’ She doesn’t understand that, but this time she is like I do understand and I had a thing I wanted to say and Leo doesn’t understand how I feel.
ANNA: I really thought the whole love confession really amped up the emotional content of the manga in the last volume, which is great.
ASHLEY: Obviously Leo and Tenma were always going to be the ultimate endship but we are presented with many other possibilities and other couples that get together so we should express some feelings about them. Just in general this will bring up some characters that have not gotten as much attention, maybe, as they should in this talk. I did feel Barazono as a character was the weakest link in this, because I don’t remember his motivations for sealing Tenma.
ANNA: He is—incredibly rich Student Council president is a generic character, you don’t really have any more. He is more of a generic antanagaist, throwing his money around, showing up to the poor school with people throwing the red carpet in front of him so it’s a little hard to take him seriously. He is used as a means to make Leo jealous, which he was effective at that.
ASHLEY: He was. It seemed in the beginning he was going to be evil...I had some expectations set up from Maid Sama! where the Student Council dude there, I believe his name is Tora, he is super evil and terrible but he eventually SPOILERS falls in love with Misaki too. Obviously, cause who doesn’t fall in love with Misaki. He was actually genuinely bad person but he also has motivations. I just felt that Barazono initially was set up to be evil person, like he kidnaps Tenma. He has some grudge against Leo cuz he is also a rich person and is like ‘I want to blackmail him’ and his reasons just completely fall by the wayside. He is actually like ‘Oh, I just genuinely love Tenma’ and I’m like ‘What? I didn’t see this. I’m not buying this.’
ANNA: I think he is kinda rich and board and is trying to find something to entertain himself, even if that is random romance with girls that are not that into him. You can’t really take him too seriously. I was so glad at the end though that he actual got his own little side romance.
ASHLEY: Yeah, do you support Tojo and Barazono?
ANNA: I totally do! I thought that was cute.
ASHLEY: I saw it coming. I was like ‘alright, obviously the Student Council Presidents are going to get together.’
ANNA: I thought that that was excellent because I thought she would really call him out when he's being an idiot. Really he could not end up with a better person, because he is often an idiot.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I think the amusement park scene that they had—again, it’s just like, a whirlwind of things happen, but there’s always that one scene and you’re like ‘alright, I buy it.’ So like, they have an amusement park—after their date has gone bad, Tojo’s fake date with Leo following Barazono’s real date with Tenma—they have the scene where Tojo is like ‘you're sad, we’re having a moment.’ He calls her at some point to be like ‘I was blatantly rejected by Tenma’ and she runs to him and is like ‘you have nobody to talk to cause you are a rich person, y’all don’t share your feelings, I’m here, talk to me.’ And I’m like ‘that’s cute.’
ANNA: I thought that was cute. I like that part.
ASHLEY: I can buy it. Obviously, I liked the one moment where Tenma hug Tojo and is like ‘I’m kind in to it.’ She’s embarrassed. I can dig it. [Laughter] But no. So Tenma and Barazono was always a no, I was like ‘y’all have no chemistry, Barazono, why you trying. Stop trying.’ The person we haven't mentioned so far is Gamada who was initially was supposed to be Tenma’s fiance. There was supposed to be a marriage meeting between them which Leo foils but then Gamada becomes a spy with Leo.
ANNA: But he is just more creepy though. Gamada is just kind of creepy and lurking in the corner and wanting to collect pictures of Tenma. I’m like, that kind of stalkery behavior you cannot support.
ASHLEY: He’s Tenma-taku to a fault.
ANNA: Yeah. There’s really no way that could actually ever happen.
ASHLEY: Part of me was like ‘obviously he is creepy and I don’t support that behavior as a dude he seemed fairly okay.’
ANNA: That seemed like this serious is breezy and entertaining because he does have these problematic tendences, but it’s not as creepy as it can be in other series.
ASHLEY: As it would be in real life.
ANNA: Yes! It’s more like ‘oh yeah, there’s that guy kind of in the corner being slightly creepy but let move on to the main part of the action here.’ So, yeah, he’s also a character that’s hard to take very seriously.
ASHLEY: He has a moment where he tries to justify, ‘Barazono has me following you, not for anything creepy I think, I don’t know, let me think about it.’
ANNA: He serves the purpose of making Leo worried. He was once Tenma’s intended fiance, that forces him to think about Tenma in a different way which is useful for the sake of moving the plot along.
ASHLEY: We also have Leo and Tojo. Tojo is really into Leo and I thought that was kind of adorable.
ANNA: That was! But you don’t want to be in love with a guy who hates another girl so much it is clearly love. [Laughter]
ASHLEY: Don’t mess with that. It’s too much. Tojo was doomed always, from the start. I actually really wanted Tojo... this guy who had maybe speaking parts, I don’t think he was named, the dude who had very clearly some dyed hair in Student Council, I think they would make a good power couple.
ANNA: Its hard when the Student Council is presented as this random group that is often glaring.
ASHLEY: I liked them. They were fine. Yes, obviously Leo and Tenma have crushed on each other since they were 5, which is maybe weird. But, you know, shojo mango; we’re here.
ANNA: It does happen in shojo manga an awful lot.
ASHLEY: I still appreciate that they leave at ‘I don’t know if this will last, but my present feeling is that I want to be with you forever.’ And I’m like yeah, that’s love. That’s all you can hope for. It’s all about what you feel in the moment and you currently feel that and that’s valid. That’s a valid feeling.
ANNA: It’s good. I like that there is this whole flash forward 10 years after the main storyline ended and that’s pretty cute. I liked it.
ASHLEY: It was cute but I was like, did I need this? I feel like I didn’t need that.
ANNA: You never need it. I don’t know, I kind of like it anyway. You get an ending and an extra ending. Although, it could have easily ended that one chapter earlier without that.
ASHLEY: Yeah, totally, it could have done that. But it's also were you get a clear Tojo and Barazono things too. I’m fine with it. It was fine.
ANNA: it was a nice bonus.
ASHLEY: Unnecessary but fine. [Laughter]. Did you have any other final thoughts about this short, sweet series?
ANNA: Overall, I liked it. I was actually really surprised as I was reading the fourth volume how emotionally compelling it was considering it is a more comedic series. It was really nice, short, refreshing manga to read if your slogging through a multi-volume series. I would recommend this as a nice break or if you have been reading stuff with too much tragedy. It’s a fun series to read.
ASHLEY: If you have been reading along with this podcast and I have made you slog through Fruits Basket AND Kimi ni Todoke and you just want a break, here it is! I’m here for you. I’m always here for you. This is silly but I also really love that because Leo grew up in America—I feel that that wasn’t emphasized. I feel like there were moments where that was emphasized to a degree I appreciated but then the best is obviously when he doesn’t know about Genbu, Suzaku, and the Four Gods and stuff [Laughter].
ANNA: That was hilarious.
ASHLEY: And he’s like ‘wait, we go to a school where the mascot is portrayed as a turtle? We cannot do that! We need to get out!’
ANNA: That was awesome. I loved that. It was a cute in-joke with him not getting this sort of essential piece of culture. That was a nice touch.
ASHLEY: This is the proper way to use ‘I lived in America for 10 years and I don’t know stuff.’
ANNA: And he was so traumatized when he found out his school mascot was the turtle, that was pretty great.
ASHLEY: Yeah, he almost also had to transfer immediately to Suzaku. So there we go. That’s this manga, y’all, it’s great. Thanks for listening to Shojo & Tell. Comments, questions, concerns, need to gush about your OTP? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on shojoandtell.com/youngmastersrevenge or @shojoandtell on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumbler. Anna, where can people find you and your work on the internets?
ANNA: You can find me on the Manga Report blog, Manga Bookshelf blog, and I’m on Twitter @tangognat.
ASHLEY: I assume you tweet a lot about manga.
ANNA: I do!
ASHLEY: So if you want all the hot takes on manga, go follow Anna. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, please leave a review in iTunes or Stitcher. This will help the podcast reach more hearts or at least ears. Thanks again for listening. I’m actually not sure what the next episode will be because I’m still recovering from moving across the country. Yay, me! Okay, it’s either probably going to be My Love Story or Everyone’s Getting Married. But don’t take me at my word though, there’s a lot of possibilities, we only covered 25 series. There is so much more shojo manga to go, y’all! We’ll get there. Stay tuned to find out what it is next time. Till then, bye.