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Maria Holic Complete Collection (Bilingual Edition) Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Maria HolicBeing a lesbian in an all-girls school should be heaven for Kanako Miyamae. As you might expect, though, it never works out that way.

What They Say:
It’s not easy to find the perfect girl, even when you’re the same sex! Kanako thought attending an all-girls school would be the perfect way to meet the girl of her dreams, but after her hot new roommate turns out to be a guy in drag and catching the eye of the most popular girl in school only brings down the wrath of all the other similarly obsessed girls, she’s not so sure!

Complicate things with a cat-eared dorm leader, her roommate’s rude-mannered maid and identical twin sister (who attends an all-boys school, of course,) and way too many attractive girls of questionable persuasions and the question becomes whether Kanako can die from frustrated nosebleeds! (Life would be SO much easier if guys didn’t literally give her the hives!) Will Kanako ever find a non-polar opposite of a compatible non-opposing polarity?

The Review:
Audio:
For this viewing, I took in the English 2.0 dub. The Japanese audio is also available in 2.0. As always, I lament the lack of a 5.1 mix, but as this series is all about dialogue and silly gags, it doesn’t really detract from the experience. The audio is clean with no dropout on the tracks, and while dialogue stayed centered, there was some directionality across the two channels.

Video:
The transfer for this release looks pretty clean. I did not notice any particular technical flaws, and the colors show up bright and colorful. There were some really nice, differing designs throughout this title, and the characters all had unique looks. I have nothing really to complain about here.

Packaging:
The three discs come in a single amaray case with center insert. The front cover has a cast photo with Kanako inset along the top looking anxious. Along the back are some screen shots and a series summary, with a chibi version of Kanako having a nose bleed along the top. It’s a nice design that shows an accurate portrayal of what you can expect from watching.

Menu:
The menus have a basic, but functional design. Along the left are a couple of the girls from the series with the episode options and submenus set to the right. It’s clean, and the selection cursor is easy to see.

Extras:
There are a few extras on this release besides the standard clean versions of the OP/ED. There are a series of commercials from Japan and a promotional video. There is also a 20 minute interview with the three main Japanese VAs that’s a lot of silly fun. Finally, there is another 20 minute feature that shows highlights from a Christmas festival where they showed the first episode of the anime and had a Q&A after.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When I first started watching Maria Holic, for some reason I had in mind a series that was going to be funny, but more along the lines of a sweet humor. So when it basically went Excel Saga on me from the outset, let’s just say I was caught a little off guard. To be honest, because of this, it took me a little while to warm to Maria Holic. When all was said and done, I found a series that had some really great moments and characters, but ultimately got lost at times in its repetitive humor.

Kanako Miyaname is transferring to an all-girls school and couldn’t be more excited about the prospect. See, Kanako is a lesbian, and she dreams of finding her one true love at her new high school. Her first day on campus could not have started better, as she meets the lovely Mariya, a new first year student who displays every womanly virtue a person could ask: she beautiful, kind, sensitive, and demure. From the outset, Kanako is sure that she has found the one true love she was seeking.

So imagine her surprise when she walks in on Mariya later that day changing and discovers that Mariya is really a boy just pretending to be a girl. And he isn’t just pretending to be a girl: that winning personality is also a total lie as in reality he is rude, manipulative, and completely self-serving. He quickly deduces Kanako’s secret and holds it over her to protect his own interests as their school is a Catholic school, and her sexuality would cause a scandal. At first, Kanako shrugs it off, knowing that since Mariya is a year below her, she should be able to avoid him, but when Mariya cons his way into being her roommate, she knows she’s in for a long two years.

As I said above, the tone of Maria Holic took me completely by surprise. I’m not entirely sure why, but it did, so it took me a little while to get into it. But once, I did, I found that it was a pretty fun show. Kanako is an interesting protagonist as a female in the traditionally male harem protagonist role. The way she acts around the girls at school should make it completely obvious that she is a lesbian, but they are all oblivious to her preferences. And like a male harem protagonist, she has a tendency to strike out constantly, though for her it is because the other girls at school do not have those tendencies, and therefore misinterpret Kanako’s actions.

Mariya is a lot of fun too, as he switches back and forth between the sweet female and the asshole male as it suits his purposes. The fact that Kanako has no will power to reject his feminine wiles even though she knows the truth makes these instances even more hilarious. There are hints sprinkled throughout that Mariya might not be quite the jerk that he makes himself out to be, but to this point we don’t really have anything more than just those hints. It’s a nice bit of added depth to an already enjoyable character.

My favorite character, though, is the simply named Dorm Leader (she has no other name that we know of, though she prefers it if the students call her God). Dorm Leader is a little girl who is, as you might expect, the matron of Dorm No. 2, the Dorm that Kanako lives in. While cute on the outside, Dorm Leader has a dark personality that comes out whenever needed to keep the girls in line. She often sings songs about death and violence, usually to hint the circumstances of the girls stepping out of line, and is very open about the willingness to be bribed for just about anything. She also has a habit of acting as a bit of a Deus Ex Machina: anytime something needs solving or explaining, she’s usually the one to come along and take care of it. Frankly, though she has just a bit part overall, she’s easily my favorite part of the series.

But while Maria Holic moves at a good pace and has a really likeable cast of characters, the show ultimately fell a little flat for me. It wasn’t that I hated it; it just wasn’t as good as it seemed like it could be sometimes. The problem is that the humor quickly started to get repetitive as it quickly revolved around Kanako having major nosebleed at the sight of cute girls doing cute things. While funny in spurts, overall, I found it a bit overbearing and would have liked to have seen some variety. When the series stepped away from that aspect of her personality, there were some real flashes of brilliance, but then it usually came back to that and relied on it as a crutch. I wanted more.

In Summary:
Maria Holic is a wacked out series that’s partly hilarious and partly boring. I really enjoyed the characters and some of the humor is fantastic, but its over-reliance on Kanako’s character quirks often got old. The general result is a series that I enjoyed, but I feel like I could have enjoyed more. If wacky humor is your thing, then there’s probably a lot for you to like here. I certainly wouldn’t say that I regret seeing it. Mildly recommended.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Club At-X Interview, Special X-Mas Night – Amenokisaki Holy Night Festival, Japanese Commercial Collection, Japanese Promotional Video, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 4, 2014
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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