The Young Master’s Revenge
君のコトなど絶対に (Kimi no Koto nado Zettai ni)
Shoujo – Comedy, romance
4 Volumes (complete)
After 10 years, Leo is returning to Japan as a wealthy, well-respected heir. His first order of business? Get revenge on Tenma, the rich girl who bossed him around and humiliated him. He’s has got the perfect scheme: make Tenma fall in love with him and then reject her. And now that Tenma’s family is broke, it should be even easier for Leo to woo Tenma’s heart. But even the best-laid plans can go awry, especially when love is involved!
This is one of those series that’s harder than you think to describe in a blurb. All the short summaries — including my own — make this sound like it’s a clean version of some trashy romance novel plot. Protagonist reappears to get revenge on their enemy, sets out to destroy their lives by making them (knowingly or unknowingly) into their plaything, then love enters the picture, and then usually the truth is revealed but still leads to a happily ever after.
Technically, The Young Master’s Revenge follows this same pattern. But there are some major differences. The first is that Tenma is hardly has anything in common with the female lead in these types of stories. She doesn’t melt at the sight of Leo’s handsomeness, and even when she was young she was hardly a bossy and/or naughty child. Rambunctious, yes. Mischievous, yes. Assertive, yes. But she honestly always considered Leo a friend, not a lackey (which was his nickname). In fact, although she was destined to live as a high-class lady of leisure, the current Tenma puts 100% effort into learning the ways of common folk. Plus, like many shoujo heroines, she’s pretty dense and doesn’t realize Leo is trying to seduce her. (Well, “seduce” is perhaps too strong of a term — this manga is pretty PG all things considered. So maybe that’s the true second difference.)
In addition, in case it wasn’t clear before, The Young Master’s Revenge is a comedy. If you are familiar with some of Tanaka’s previous works, this may not be a surprise. In her author’s notes, Tanaka admits the original plan was to make this a serious story, but that wasn’t her style. Leo’s motives for re-approaching Tenma are hardly pure. But any chance of him proudly proclaiming, “Psyche! I don’t care about you!” is foiled on multiple levels. In the first chapter, for instance, the mood seems to be getting good and…
Leo loses to his own dog.
Another character is bought out by pictures of Tenma. Tenma herself has absolutely no knowledge about doing chores like washing, grocery shopping, or serving food. That’s not even touching upon Leo’s trauma. The reason why he wants to humiliate Tenma originates from a certain incident… a painful, embarrassing, and humorous incident.
Ouch. In more ways than one.
So we have a screwball cast all affecting Leo’s ability to win Tenma’s heart, but none more than Leo himself. While Leo initially insists he helps Tenma out in order to continue with his master plan, deeper feelings emerge. There’s a twist in the first volume as well, so skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know: Leo reveals his plan to Tenma, and she agrees to work hard to fall in love with him so that he can reject her. So his scheme isn’t a long-term secret.
I also find it interesting that at no point do Leo or Tenma misremember or misunderstand this event. A lot of revenge stories turn out to be based on assumptions or lack of communication, but this isn’t one of them. We learn that Leo went to America right after this, so that’s why this aftermath of this event was left unresolved.
The manga pretty much runs on short arcs. There’s a sports festival, introductions of rival characters, and not much else besides the love/hate debate. The events are secondary to the characters themselves. The student council president is kind of irritating, but the other rivals are likable even though they have a 100% chance of getting their heart broken. In particular G.G. is pretty funny, being reduced to an errand boy. The student council president of the neighboring school is also a fairly unique character for her position, and I would like Tanaka to do a series starring a character a school prez like her one day.
For me, though, the real draw is Tenma. Leo is much better than short synopses make him out to be since he does keep sticking up for Tenma, and you can take a look at the cover for the final volume for an idea of how he develops. But Tenma is a great heroine. Yes, she has a major case of Heroine Ditziness and is almost too accepting of Leo’s faults. However, she does not wallow in despair at her current situation; in fact, she actually has her own dream. What she does learn, she takes to heart right away, trying to determine what is most practical to save money. Her upbeat nature combined with her compassionate yamato nadeshiko side that comes out every now and then draws me in.
The Young Master’s Revenge is Tanaka’s latest completed work, and so after 15 (now almost 20) years in the business, the art is very bright and modern. It’s crisp, and the characters don’t look like exact clones of her previous leads. Although, I think Leo looks a little young despite his cool makeover. Still, most shoujo manga readers will likely have read at least one romantic comedy from LaLa magazine (Ouran High School Host Club, Maid Sama), but even if you haven’t, you’ll like recognize some of the standard manga flairs like the rose-blooming school prince, the weak-willed glasses wearer, and more. But with Tanaka’s visuals, everything pops out of the page as clear as day. The character designs are also pretty realistic (no wild hair), which ties into her goal of wanting Leo to be more of a person rather than a character. Plus, I like some of Tanaka’s visual metaphors like Leo confronting his past self. In short, this is just an entertaining manga to look at without having to read a lot of punchlines; the art does most of the talking. I mean, butt turtles? How often are you going to see that?
No honorifics are used. FYI, Leo calls the heroine “Tenma-chan”, it’s “GG-senpai”, “Barazono-kaichou”, and “Tsuwabuki-hime”. The rest have English equivalents, but “Tenma-chan” is just “Tenma”. I wanted to emphasize was that he didn’t call her “Tenma-san/sama”, which I imagine the English adaptation would have shown as “Miss Tenma”. This shows that they were rather close as children and, particularly from Tenma’s perspective. The second volume has an error at the beginning where it introduces Tenma as “Tenma Tachibana”, but her family name is Tsuwabuki; Tachibana is Leo’s family.
The Young Master’s Revenge is much better than its title and summary suggests. One of my most pleasant surprises in recent memory, particularly in the short series category.
VIZ Media also published Tanaka’s Meteor Prince. CMX and TOKYOPOP published Omukae Desu. and Pearl Pink respectively.
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