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I'm not quite sure how to understand what is being said in bold below. The first part is him thinking that he could forgive her a little since she is more beautiful than the ugly girls that have hated him. He then says however, it might actually be ....

頭のどこかで「今まで俺を嫌ってきたブス子さんたちより、そこそこ美人な分少し許せる」と思っていたのだが、逆に一段階ショックかもしれない

Unfortunately 一段階ショック doesn't seem to be a common phrase when googling it, but the hits suggest that it is to do with the "first step/stage" of something. Most of examples I saw on google were describing the first stage of "pet loss" as shock.

Would anyone be able to help me understand what he means?

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Believe or not, this is a comparative expression.

逆に一段階ショックかもしれない
It's actually one notch more shocking/hurting

Japanese does not have a piece of grammar that corresponds to the comparative, but it does have several constructions to do its jobs. ショック is a na-adjective in Japanese that means mostly the same as in English: "to be (emotionally) shocked", and the [numeral] + [counter] + [adjective] pattern implicitly conveys the meaning "[numeral] more [adjective]".

一回り大きい one size bigger
二つ年上(だ) two years older (a related post)
三人少ない three fewer people (= outnumbered by three)

In many cases, you'll see a noun phrase with ~より (meaning "than") somewhere before the expression, which should make it easier to understand. However, you will also see it alone if that element is left out.

Bonus: I think 許せる in this passage is better understood as "acceptable" rather than "forgivable".

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  • Sorry for asking this so late after, but what usage does 分 fall under here? The grammar of it strikes me as odd. – user26484 Jan 22 at 16:24
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    @user26484 Does this answer you? japanese.stackexchange.com/q/61583/7810 – broken laptop Jan 23 at 3:01
  • Yes. So it more-or-less means "Her fairly charming qualities (そこそこ美人な分) makes her that much more agreeable" ? – user26484 Jan 23 at 7:09
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    I don't quite understand the plot, but I'd read "makes me less offended". – broken laptop Jan 23 at 9:34

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