Who knew that acute gynophobia was a real thing outside of anime?
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.
This release is sub-only and is offered in 2.0. The mix is fairly basic, with some directionality in the sound effects and the dialogue balanced in the center. The channels were clear with no dropout among any of the tracks.
This is a nice release, visually. I liked the character designs, as each person has a unique look. It’s is a colorful series which shows nice range along the palette. Technically, I didn’t notice any real issues with the transfer. My only real concern is with the sub-titles. There were a lot of typos and just poor translations (particularly with roman words), and in situations where multiple people were talking at once, I had trouble sometimes keeping track of who was saying what and which lines I was supposed to be paying attention to. Just a sloppy effort on that front.
The three discs for this release come in a single amaray with center insert to hold two of the discs. The front cover has a picture of Subaru in her female school uniform hugging around the back and neck of Jiro and looking angrily protective. The back has a picture of Nakuru sitting in her uniform with some screen shots and a series summary. It’s a nicely designed set, though I’m a little surprised they went with feminine Subaru on the front since she is rarely seen in that outfit. That’s not a complaint; just an observation.
The menus for this release are fairly basic. There’s a picture of a couple of the characters to the side with the selections offered to the left against a green-themed background. The selections and cursor show up well against the rest of the screen, and the menu transitions are zippy.
The only extras on this release are clean versions of the OP/ED, which are on the first disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For this review, I watched the original Sentai release from October 2012, which is offered as sub-only. Hybrid releases for both DVD and BD are planned for August of this year. As a fan of dubs, I watched this with the intent to figure out whether or not to double-dip later this year. While I wouldn’t call Mayo Chiki brilliant, it was certainly a lot of fun, and I do plan to upgrade to the hybrid at some point down the road.
Jiro Sakamachi has a problem: he suffers from acute gynophobia. Just the mere touch from a girl gives him a nosebleed; prolonged exposure can lead to further issues such as nausea and fainting. As such, he finds himself avoiding all contact with girls where possible—made difficult since his wanna-be pro-wrestler younger sister insists on using him as a sparring partner—and it has led to rumors that he is gay.
These rumors are enhanced with the introduction of Kanade Suzutsuki and her butler, Subaru Konoe, to his school. Subaru’s genteel personality immediately makes him the most popular person in the school, but on the very first day, Jiro walks in on Subaru in the bathroom and discovers Subaru’s secret: he is really a she! She comes from a family that has long served as butlers for Kanade’s family, which is usually just the responsibility of the males of the family, but she has grown up wanting to serve Kanade the way the rest of her family has, and so she must pose as a male while still in high school. Should she be discovered, she will lose her position as Kanade’s manservant, which neither of them want, so suddenly Jiro finds himself wrapped up in their secret plans. This would generally be fine, as Subaru adjusts to Jiro in no time, but Kanade loves to meddle, and her constant manipulation of Jiro’s life might drive him insane.
By the end of the first episode, I didn’t have a good feeling about Mayo Chiki. I think my issue at that point really lay with the introduction of Kanade. Sweet and pure on the outside, she has a bit of a sadistic streak that threatened to derail whatever fun the series might try to have. I liked the concept, but she was threatening to ruin it.
However, it didn’t take long for my opinion of her to flip, as she really became my favorite character in the series. She loves her intrigues, and—like many kids brought up in luxury—she is used to using people to get her way. But underneath her schemes lies a desire to help her friends, and ultimately, to try and hook Subaru up with Jiro. Ultimately, she was consistently the most entertaining member of the cast and was often the reason the story moved forward.
But, of course, the crux of the story was the relationship between Jiro and Subaru. Subaru’s secret is one that isn’t exactly a new one in anime, that being a woman having to pose as a man for reasons. What’s interesting in the way she comes at it, though, is how her personality will change depending on who she is. As the male butler, she is subservient to Kanade, but also quick to act and quick to fight when situations demand it. When she (literally) lets her hair down, she becomes much less sure of herself and is afraid to assert herself. Her entire personality is shaped by her job.
As the series progresses, however, and she slowly comes more to grips with Jiro, first as a friend and later as a love interest, the female side of her begins to learn to be more assertive. Because of his condition, Jiro is very slow to respond to his own feelings for Subaru, and so she learns that she must take the initiative if they ever have the potential to advance beyond the friendship stage. Granted, some of her willingness to press forward is driven by Kanade, but by the end of the series, she is making her own strides to find her true end. It’s a very nice character arc for a series I figured would be fairly flat in that respect.
Mayo Chiki was a series that started a bit slow for me, but I found that I ended up enjoying quite a bit once it settled into its conceit. It isn’t particularly original, but it more than makes up for that in charm. It has a lot of good humor, and it doesn’t try to hide from what it is by shoehorning in some sort of new plot at the end like others of its ilk, which is a point in its favor. It’s just a lot of fun from beginning to end, and I certainly can’t complain about that. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: D
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System