What They Say:
When you’ve got acute gynophobia, even a pretty girl can be like a malady, and as the sparring partner for his family of female wrestlers, Sakamachi Kinjiro has the worst case ever! Just one touch makes his nose bleed, so school’s a bloody nightmare even before Kanade, the principal’s twisted daughter, deduces both Kinjiro’s “feminine issue” and that his name contains the sounds “Chi” and “Kin” back to back. But Chi-Kinjiro’s female troubles don’t totally redline until a wrong turn in the men’s room exposes the secret Subaru, Kanade’s manservant, has been hiding in the water closet. (Well, to be fair, SHE is still a servant.)
If Subaru’s cross reactions concerning her cross-dressing aren’t enough of a drag, Kinjiro’s girl problems also include a haunted martial artist (with ghosts), a cat-eared fetishist (meow!), and his own sister, who’s interest in “wrestling” a certain incorrectly packaged butler may result in an unexpected ending!
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release contains only the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The series is one that features a lot of dialogue as one might expect but it also acts out a lot with of silly action sequences and expanded sound effects to give it some bounce and life. The character dialogue is pretty well handled since it runs the gamut of what it wants to do. The quiet scenes have a good sense of balance about them and when there’s more people talking at once during the busier sequences it all comes across quite well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this thirteen episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The release is spread across three discs in a four/four/five format that has a decent amount of space allotted to each and the overall look is pretty good. The show has a good budget to its animation and it shows through with color, detail and design which the transfer captures quite well. The colors are strong, detail is well handled and the fluidity of the animation comes through well. There’s little in the way of grainy noise or anything problematic outside of a touch of noise in a few solid backgrounds, but even that’s fairly weak. The overall look of the show is strong and the transfer captures that on DVD as well as it can.
The packaging for this release is a standard sized keepcase with a hinge inside to hold all three discs that are included. The front cover is pretty nice if with a bit more shadow than you mgiht expect as it has Konoe taking up the center spot as she hangs onto Jiro. It’s the shadows from Jiro’s hair and the look of his eyes that adds a little weary resignation to it, but it’s not how he often looks in the show. There’s some good white space here and the logo is one that I do find strangely appealing, especially with the colors. The back cover goes for a brighter green along the bottom while the majority of the cover is done in white. This works very nicely as it means a good, clean and easy to read summary and the shots from the show and character artwork along the side has a lot more pop to it. The disc and episode count is clear as are the extras. The production information is solid and we get a good,c lean technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Mayo Chiki works with a good layout for the menu design as it uses a lot of white space for the background, grings in a few lightly colored yellow circles to break it up a bit and binds it together with stronger yellow borders and a good helping of green along the episode numbers and logo. The whole thing is colorful without being glaring or obnoxious. We also get different pieces of character artwork along the left for each disc and that helps to change things up nicely, giving it a feeling of a little more effort put into it. The episodes are listed clearly by number and title and the show naturally is in Japanese only with just English subtitles as there’s no language menu, though you can turn the subtitles off.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences on the first disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Hajime Asano which ran for twelve volumes during its run before it included in the summer of 2012, Mayo Chiki is a twelve episode series with a bonus DVD episode that brings it to thirteen that plays with familiar concepts. With this being one of the few shows that didn’t simulcast during the season that it ran, I have to admit some disappointment at the time because the promos looked fun and it had a sense of energy about it that was appealing. While there are some fanservice shows that just don’t work well, there are others that hit at the right time with the right combination of elements to make me grin and enjoy the heck out of it. Mayo Chiki has proven to be just one of those shows, even as it works with butlers, rich girls and overactive younger sisters.
The series takes place in the present day and gives us a standard cast of characters. The male lead comes in the form of Kinjiro, aka Jiro, a decent young man in high school who certainly has his perverted moments but generally is a bit outside of the mainstream. He doesn’t have much in the way of friends of his own gender and even less so when it comes to women. The big reason for this is that the touch of a woman causes his nose to bleed, so he keeps his distance pretty easily since it’s embarrassing and he doesn’t want anyone to know about it. His home life is straightforward in that he only lives with his younger sister who has a possessive attitude towards him and can back it up with some strong physical violence, something she puts him through on a regular basis.
His school life has little of note, but there’s something that his school have that stands out in that there’s a daughter of wealth there named Suzutsuki. She’s definitely smart, definitely beautiful and has a playfulness about her in that she likes to manipulate situations for her own ends. She’s ably attended to by her butler, Konoe Subaru, a young man that comes from a family line of butlers that serves her family. This is a standard tradition to be sure and it factors in big here as Konoe is the last of the line at the moment as his father serves Suzutsukis’ father. Konoe is training and working to be the same for Suzutsuki for her life and is intent on fulfilling those duties. Unfortunately, Koneo has the problem of really being a she instead of a he and the butler line can only be men. But she’s been given the chance if she can serve Suzutsuki in the role of butler for the length of high school without anyone finding out her true identity as a girl.
Naturally, the situation has to turn in a way that has Jiro discovering Konoe’s secret and Suzutsuki works things in her own favor to put the two of them together in order to keep Konoe’s secret. The reasoning does make sense as Konoe, who takes her job seriously, has not had a life that Suzutsuki thinks that she should. She wants her to have something of a normal life and have friends, which has been impossible with how guarded she is due to hiding her identity. Suzutsuki also finds that it’ll be fun and a challenge to try and help Jiro to get past his girl fright issue with the nsoebleeds and more. Jiro and Konoe don’t have a hate on for each other to be sure and it’s not a love fest, but it’s something where we get a really good friendship that does slowly develop along the way here before it can be something more.
Though that’s part of it, a lot of what we get is just plain fun and silly comedy stuff that doesn’t go over the top. At least for the most part. There’s some of the usual silliness that comes from Konoe trying to hide her identity and getting caught up in situations where it’ll be revealed. There’s competing fanclubs over her since they find her to be quite the young man to desire and go after. And there’s even some beach and hot spring material that works very nicely without being completely obnoxious fanservice fests. In fact, outside of one minor supporting character that has little impact overall until the bonus episode, every girl even has normal sized chests. So there aren’t a lot of gags towards that. Even even hiding Konoe’s identity, which is there in each episode, avoids being all about hiding her chest on a regular basis.
With animation by Studio Feel, the series really comes together well because it’s pretty polished and has a very strong sense of self. While it works with the familiar ideas and you can map it out well enough, there’s a certain energy that comes from the animation that keeps it fresh and vibrant throughout. With shows like this, execution can be the make or break part of it and it really hits everything just about right here. It doesn’t come across as a series that cheaps out on the budget and knows exactly what kind of work it wants to be. The style is there, the detail in the animation is there and the characters are just quirky enough without being exaggerations (well, except for the hiccups piece) so you can connect with them well enough and feel there’s some real emotion coming through as it progresses.
Mayo Chiki is the kind of anime series that takes familiar character ideas and story concepts and executes them well. While it doesn’t do anything really new in a way, it does it with a good sense of humor, pacing and animation to make it a lot of fun to watch. The central relationship between Konoe and Jiro is where the main fun is and it’s really good to see as it plays out and each of them grows and changes along the way. This comes from their interactions with each other to be sure and their own internal changes, but they also get a bit of help from the supporting cast. It’s a rare instance where I liked the younger sister and the manipulative “master” that we get. Bringing everything together with a good bit of humor, lots of smiles and some really enjoyable animation and character designs. The show worked a lot better than I thought it would and left me smiling almost constantly.
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: October 2nd, 2012
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p 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.