What They Say:
Sōjuku no Kon’yaku-sha
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Maria Holic Alive had an amusing point at the end of the previous episode where Kanako was essentially put down for awhile by not being allowed to speak. Having that gag return for the start of this episode is spot on as she’s berated for it and has a gag across her mouth with a giant X across it, which is seen throughout the episode. It’s little more than the mask worn when you have a cold, but it looks perfect with her cloudy and dreary atmosphere that hangs around her while everyone else carries on as normal, or like Mariya, they have a sunny and brightly lit background around them to provide contrast. With Kanako having been locked away for awhile, silencing her for an episode is even more amusing justice.
To make it even more interesting, a trio of characters take on the role of observing Kanako for the duration to provide the emotional context that Kanako can no longer provide as events play out. We do get a lot from her expressions, but taking a pause for Rindo or God to step in and provide sportscasting style commentary is perfect. Kanako has a lot of good moments as the commentary goes along and she ends up in all sorts of strange and awkward positions that has her frustrated. That she gets to emote a lot just from expressions on her face is quite appealing since she does get things across well, not that she didn’t before, and combining that with the commentary makes for a number of good laughs. It would have worked almost as well without the commentary, but that part is just the added spice to it all.
As Kanako goes through her day, she encounters a fair number of people and some of it is amusing while others kind of fall flat. There’s a piece that’s used a few times involving a character talking about bugs and the like, but there’s also a really fun moment as Kanako envisions a fellow female classmate whose uniform is torn away from her in tiny shreds. She doesn’t cross a ton of characters, but she makes the rounds fairly well and has light but cute interactions with them. But like a lot of episodes in this series, it’s not something that’s going to tie into anything truly larger. It’s all a good bit of fun to watch her being tormented like this and to struggle through it. It has no deep meaning, but it’s good, weird fun throughout.
Maria Holic Alive continues to be the kind of season that feels like it’s made more and more for a really specific niche of fans. The first season certainly wasn’t intended to be a huge mainstream success, but this season feels like it’s targeting things even finer as it progresses. Episodes like this has a lot of good material to it, all done with the wonderful visual style that we’ve grown accustomed to, but it’s still feeling like it’s lacking some true heart to it. The cast continues to delight and I enjoy a lot of the humor, but that missing element is sticking out for me which keeps me from being as overly enthused about this season as I was for the first season. This episode has a lot to like though and plenty of grins as Kanako struggles with being voiceless.
Simulcast By: The Anime Network
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.