What They Say:
If Misaki Ayuzawa didn’t already have enough problems being the first female student council president of the formerly all-male Seika High School and carrying on a secret double life as a waitress at a local maid cafe by night, the fact that she may be starting to have feelings for Usui, the first boy to discover her dual life, has pushed her nerves to the breaking point. But fate certainly won’t leave it at that, and now she has to deal with a new guy who is not only extremely anti-girl, but a hypnotist as well!
Toss in an organized crime cartel that wants to replace the maid cafe with a butler bistro, some very annoying new transfer students, and the inevitable trip to the hot springs and everyone is guaranteed to end up in hot water one way or another!
Contains episodes 14-26.
The audio presentation for this release is about what was expected with the original Japanese language track as the only track here encoded in stereo at 224kbps. Maid-Sama is a pretty straightforward romantic comedy type show where the mix is all about the dialogue and some of the wacky antics and over the top mayhem that happens so it pretty much dominates the forward soundstage with some minor moments of directionality. Mostly it’s meant to just be a big piece when it goes in that direction while the rest of the time it keeps to the usual play of dialogue between characters. There’s some placement to be had at times but there aren’t any surprises here nor are there any problems as we didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing starting in the spring of 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The thirteen episodes for this set are spread across two discs in a seven/six format (with the 27th half length episode on the second disc) as is fairly standard for Sentai Filmworks releases. The show has a pretty good color palette to it where it uses normal school style colors and some bright but not garish or overpowering in nature. The series is animated by J.C. Staff so it has a good look about it with solid designs, clean animation and plenty of fluid animation when required. It’s not a budget production but it works things smartly so it has the right amount of detail without looking cheap or overdesigned. The transfer captures this well with smooth animation, minimal noise in the background and no cross coloration or problematic aliasing.
The two disc set comes in a standard single sized keepcase that holds both discs with a hinge inside and it goes with a lot of pink to the front cover that’s still a bit surprising. The layout is pretty nice and eye-catching with it as it features the elegant looking along the sides with the pink while the middle has a lot of white background and a bit more pink that’s obscured by the character designs. Within that framework we get a bunch of the girls together from the beach episode where they wore their maid aprons over their swimsuits, which is doubling the hotness of it overall when it comes to the fanservice side of things. The back cover is yet another angled piece with the basic layout from the front cover is replicated but the center has the summary, split into two columns no less, angled with a great shot of Misaki and Usui together sort of dancing. There are some decent small shots through the middle strip while the bottom has the production information in black against pink and a clean technical grid done in black and white. It’s all very cleanly laid out and looks very good while being easy to read. No reversible cover is included nor are there any show related inserts included.
The menu design for this series is pretty simple as it uses the same design elements from the packaging with the pink backgrounds with the white and frilly aspect to it all. The static screen lest the left side showcase various pieces of character artwork and each volume has a different main menu piece with some nice detail and colors to it that gives it some pop while still having a soft appeal that fits with its shoujo nature. The right side has the episode selection section with the numbers and titles and the cursor is cutely done as a blue heart. The first disc has a couple of extra things to it with the extras itself which has the trailers and credits as well. Being a monolingual release, player presets are essentially a non-issue.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Maid-Sama in its first half gave us a fairly cute show that largely worked because of the way Usui was dealing with things. Part of what made it work for me was that you could envision it as a whole “Garfield Without Garfield” premises and just pretend that Usui doesn’t exist and is just a figment of Misaki’s mind. It certainly tweaks the series in an amusing direction and in a way fits her very controlling, nervous and almost paranoid mind about people discovering where she works and just how poor they are. In reality though, Usui does exist in the show and his kind of laid back and almost smirking attitude gives it a fun flavor.
As can be expected of a series of this nature, the second half brings in some new characters over the course of it. The first one introduced is Kanou, a somewhat quiet and reserved young man who doesn’t have much care for Misaki and ends up working a plan to hypnotize her. It turns into a curious game where he gets the drop on her but she has to resist by staying awake for twenty-four hours. What makes it amusing is that he believes she can’t do it, but since Usui isn’t affected by his hypnotism, he helps her survive it. And it’s one of those moments that brings the two together a bit more since she’s beyond exhausted at that point and has to rely on him. And make some questionable choices as well. Kanou’s an amusing character to some degree, but he lacks a real personality to make it work, even when he’s brought in after all of this to help out with an open house in the school.
Maid-Sama also runs with some time at the beach which isn’t a shock at all as they have Misaki and Usui join the Maid Latte crew at Satsuki’s sisters place on the beach. There’s plenty of frolicking on the beach here, though Misaki takes a step further by wearing her school swimsuit since it’s all she can afford and seems to think it’s stylish, as well as some maid time to be had. The girls all have fun and Usui definitely garners plenty of attention since he his an attractive young man. But what the show does is go with the familiar where they can’t spend too much time without having some maid stuff going on. With Nagisa’s beach house not doing good business because of location, the girls opt to help out on their own by wearing aprons over their swimsuits to do some work and attract customers. Usui is really hilarious here when Misaki does the same with a real swimsuit and he gives her a hickey on her back to stop her from doing so. He does have a jealous streak that manifests in comical ways.
The series does run some simple stories here and there in the mix that plays to the tropes well, such as having an anime themed day at the cafe where the girls get to dress up as magical girls. It certainly has some fun with how far Misaki goes for her job and the cosplay is utterly adorable. Aoi also gets some good material here that works through the way he has to deal with his cross dressing side and how he’s treated. This is also something that plays into a two part story involving the Maid Latte cafe being potentially up for sale to Yumemishi and a few of them try to go through the open auditions to be footmen in the new butler mansion restaurant they want to set up there. It’s not bad stuff, but it’s just simple and at times only moderately interesting at best.
Where things start to move forward a little is the introduction of a new catalyst character in the form of Shintani. Shintani’s an old childhood friend of Misaki’s that they two had some fun back in the day with some amusing quirks to it, especially since it changes it up with him saying he’d wait for her even though he was the one that left to go off to the country after his parents died. But he’s come back in order to find her and see if he can rekindle things since he never stopped being into her. He’s a little dense, a little oblivious and utterly and completely a nice guy which has him kind of all over the map at times. He gets into a bit of a rivalry with Usui who watches him in a way that’s really amusing since he doesn’t trust Shintani and knows what he’s after.
And therein lies the crux. For the bulk of the series, Usui has considered Misaki to be his but rarely really acted on it. They have a lot of moments where there’s movement on both sides about things, mostly a lot of denials from Misaki that are understandable but never really click well. Usui’s interest in her is obvious from the start and he takes an odd way of showing it, but that lessens over time and you see him more as an unusual protector more than anything else. Shintani’s arrival nudges all this forward, but it’s really not until the last main episode that they really get anywhere with it and even then it’s not exactly the most concrete thing. Even the epilogue episode, the half length episode twenty-seven, doesn’t address much of anything in the end.
Maid-Sama has its fun throughout the run but this second half is basically more of the same. It’s not a show where you’re going to get a resolution but it’s also one that doesn’t really maximize its humor and what it can do. There are a lot of fun moments to be had and I like the cast and the fact it doesn’t really overdo the fanservice. What it comes down to is that Maid-Sama is the kind of show that scratches the surface but that’s about it. It has some good ideas and could have a lot of fun with what it has to offer, but it never really capitalizes on it. The humor makes you smile at best and the relationships are fun but they never really connect in a deep way. While some shows come right up to the edge and don’t quite make it, Maid-Sama gets about halfway there in a leisurely form and is kind of okay with that. It’s a show that you can rag on but it doesn’t deserve it. It’s just simple fun without any heavy comittment.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 2nd, 2011
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.