What They Say:
As Mahoro’s life timer rapidly approaches her two hundred and fiftieth day, a more joyous chronological observance occurs to distract her: the 120th anniversary of the founding of the town of Hiryushi. As part of the celebration, Suguru, Miyuki, Hamaji, and several other friends have come up with the perfect tribute: a Maid Cafe! Unfortunately, their Maid Cafe may end up completely Maid-less, as Mahoro and Minawa are attacked by Management forces under the command of Feldrance!
Created as a two part OVA series, this release has a pair of audio tracks with the English track being presented in a stereo mix but because of a botched mistake somewhere along the line the Japanese version is only present in mono form. Despite this handicap the Japanese track was still used for the review as after 24 TV episodes as well as a previous OVA release the switch to watching this release in English because of the familiarity with the original presentation wasn’t as feasible as it would have been with a standalone property. With this flaw taken into account, the presented mono material is free of dropouts or distortions but it comes across as flat when compared to the English stereo track and while it is hard to say this one aspect of the presentation is “make or break,” it certainly doesn’t help the release in the least.
Originally created in 2009 as a two part release OVA special around six years after the end of the sequel television series, the OVAs are presented here in 16:9 ratio with an Anamorphic Widescreen encode. The material comes off without any major issues as the colors largely are well represented and look well though there are issues here as well. Present on the disc is a bit of banding, as well as noise which isn’t uncommon for anime DVDs but additionally there are a few places where colors are not exactly solid and look to be moving at times and some come off as almost washed out as well.
The DVD comes packaged in an ecoDVD case which unfortunately allows for the chance for damage to happen during shipping to the cover artwork (which in fact happened in the case of the review copy received). The cover for the release features a large image of a brightly smiling Mahoro in her maid outfit hanging out laundry set against a gorgeously deep blue sky with a leaping family dog at the lower portion of the cover and the series logo up near the top of the cover which overlaps one of Mahoro’s arms, an image which is cut a bit and then also used for the DVD label. The spine uses a very clean white color with a small stylized Mahoro from Something More Beautiful with a pastel series logo and release subtitle below that with a smaller close up image of Mahoro at the bottom.
The back cover uses a starkly white color on the left which becomes more colorful toward the bottom and right of the cover with the upper right using a more pixilated appearance of mixed colors. The right side also contains several images from the OVA in various sized hexagons while the right side has the series copy with a simple logo at the top of the cover and the extras, copyright info and technical specs at the bottom along a small beaming portrait of Mahoro.
The menus are a bit on the basic side when it comes to design as they all use static images with various images of Mahoro present while the options are stacked horizontally as a portion of the opening theme plays for the main menu and portion of the closing theme plays on the two submenus. The highlight icon is where Sentai gets a bit creative as Sentai uses a mix of either a five point star or an icon that uses the logo for VESPER as the cursor though the Language screen adds an image of the sleeping family dog to show which option is currently engaged. The cursor is quick to respond to changes in selection and the various options respond when selected with a minimum of delay.
The only extras present on this release are the almost industry standard clean open and close.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Created almost seven years after where the special would fit chronologically into the early episodes of the Mahoromatic second season ~Something More Beautiful~, the OVA special I’m Home brings back the beloved cast and returns them to their roles without missing a beat. The production opens on a nominally typical morning as new to the household maid Minawa attempts to wake a slumbering Suguru but isn’t quite able to which requires Mahoro to step in. Of course being the series that it is, things go wrong from the start as a bit of clumsiness on Minawa’s part leads to trouble for Suguru as the disapproving Mahoro discovers one of Suguru’s hidden adult magazine stashes by accident.
Starting off with that mainstay of series humor, the series then returns its characters to action after a quick recap of how Mahoro came to live with Suguru as the familiar group of friends invade Suguru’s house with the announcement that they have made plans to open their own café during the cities upcoming 120th anniversary festival. The plan is to have the guys put together some of the tables that will be needed in the back yard as the girls rely on Mahoro’s experience as a maid to learn the proper behavior for their café. Things go a little outside their plan though when Mahoro insists that the girls learn to make the food for themselves rather than relying on Mahoro’s skills but they are willing to accept this accommodation with a modicum of complaint and hesitation.
Things pass largely as fans would imagine from there as the preparations pass with the somewhat standard for this series amount of cute accidents, character catchphrases, reactions and fanservice until the night before the festival arrives when part of the group needs to visit the school to collect the silverware needed for the cafe. This opening allows for Management to launch an attack on Mahoro at the mostly deserted school which creates trouble for the few members of the cast who know what is going on. With trouble at hand VESPER’s number one combatant will again have to take up arms but will the battle have untold consequences on her in the near future? And will the disruption stand in the way of everyone pulling off the café and whatever secret plans that have been cooked up for how Suguru will spend his time during the festival? In any event the answers may turn out to be secondary as the cast reunites to bring the Automatic Maid back to fans screens one more time and remind fans about the good times they shared in the past.
Mahoromatic was a series that I jumped on from the time that the first DVD was solicited so many years ago (and I have the LE paper dolls to prove it) and which I really enjoyed as it went through the first season, sequel and even the Summer Special (which I bought with the figure and box). Throughout the run I found myself enjoying the vast majority of events and I reached the end of the second season with a bit of a heavy heart at seeing it go. When this OVA was originally announced I was excited to revisit with an old friend as it were and see what was in store but in retrospect perhaps the ship has sailed.
Watching through the OVA one can’t help but be transported back to the days of the TV series as the production company nailed just about everything directly from the animation, acting and writing environment of the time to create a release that could fit perfectly into its place in the series timeline. The problem is though that so many years have passed since then that perhaps some of the luster has worn off. Even during the initial run of the two TV series some of the gags were running the risk of being played out (if not already there) and somehow the passage of time hasn’t helped that any.
Maybe it is that the series so perfectly recreated the atmosphere that it brought back the old feelings or just that the series success inspired imitators as well as those who would surpass what it created but what felt entertaining years ago-if not exactly overly fresh or unique- today feels almost a bit worn out and overplayed. Perhaps watching this in its proper chronological order in either a marathon fashion or as part of a complete collection playing of the entirety of the series would work to really bring in some of the texturing that was created as opposed to generating a feeling that the OVA is relying heavily on what feels almost like generic character traits. With so many years in-between jumping right back into events without missing a beat kind of comes across as more of a cynical attempt to remind fans of something they loved (and spent money on in the hopes they will again) rather than a genuine story that looks to expand the characters the audience may have loved, even if just a little. Somehow this OVA series feels like it just doesn’t stand on its own and is more an expanded scrapped episode plot than its own tale and that is a shame as there is probably some life still in the franchise, though perhaps at this point that will only come either from a reboot or when the series gets pulled off the studio’s shelves and remastered to celebrate some major year anniversary down the line.
The Mahoromatic gang returns for the first time in years and they slip back into their roles with ease in this two part OVA series set early in the days of the second TV series. With so many years gone by it is kind of amazing how well this release meshes with its forbearers but that isn’t necessarily great news for those who had either reached the point of being OK that it was finished as the series was pushing some of its gags to the limit and those who had grown weary of those gags won’t be any happier as they almost all make a reappearance here. The release is perfect for those looking to recapture a bit of what they recall about the series (as long as the Japanese mono issue doesn’t interfere) but others may find that a the light bit of fluff really doesn’t hold up so well on its own with the years of separation from the original material.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: D* (Japanese track flaw)
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Running Time: 50 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.