What They Say:
Yoshitaka Nakabayashi may be young, rich, and not unattractive, but as runaway sisters Izumi and Mitsuki Sawatari quickly discover upon becoming Yoshitaka’s new maids, he has some SERIOUS issues. Like his insistence on being called “Master,” and dressing the girls in costumes he creates himself. Unfortunately, Izumi’s personal net worth is in the negative digits, and with Mitsuki and her pet alligator to support, she’ll just have to grin and bear whatever comes out of Yoshitaka’s twisted closet! But the costumes are only the beginning, when Anna, a third au pair with obsessive issues of her own, joins the party, the situation will go from bad to perverse. The rules of dealing with domestic help have never been so completely abused as when the madmen at Gainax (Evangelion, FLCL) unleash their most demented series ever: HE IS MY MASTER!
Although this series was originally released by Gainax over ten years ago, the audio presentation for this show still holds up compared to current anime standards. The Sentai Filmworks compilation has a Japanese only Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps, which is satisfactory for this show since a majority of the sounds are fixed dialogue, including Izumi’s screams or Yoshitaka as he wails in pain for being punished for his perversity.
Although the upbeat classical and contemporary Western music within the show is used very sparingly to accent a sequence or introduce a new contest, the real message is conveyed via the lyrics of the opening and closing themes. Masami Okui’s opening song Trust can almost be seen as Izumi’s song – the J-Pop accompaniment drives forward the message that she will always have faith in her dreams while still remaining optimistic. And the closing song Aijō no Katamari sung by the female seiyū is also another positive anthem, stating that even if girls can look sweet on the outside, they can still be tough and dream of the moment they fall in love. Both are very complimentary towards the otherwise crass treatment of Izumi within this ridiculous anime.
This series is broken down into two disks of six episodes each, encoded in the standard DVD media MPEG-1/2 video format with a 720×480 resolution. The playback is very acceptable considering the age of the source material and obvious lack of computer generated scenes. But the best part is that the animation studio Gainax weas able to stay true to the original mangaka’s artistic portrayal of the series; they kept all of Asu Tsubaki’s humorous nods as close to possible from her manga: from the ruddy shadowing to accent the characters’ cheeks through the floating cloud overlooking all of the chaos with Hamster and Alligator gods (who were Asu and her writer husband Mattsu), all of those quirky jokes just add to the quality of the anime. And top everything off, copies of her work are shown in both the opening and closing credits, it just doesn’t get any better.
Sentai Filmworks option to make this show one of their Sentai Selects, an anime which has withstood the test of time to remain popular and memorable works of their genre, is shown off in the packing of this collection. The most obvious indication of the status is the reversible cover: they have a contemporary side with the three maids framed within a pastel green background all seated on a Victorian sofa and then within have a static manga influenced side, the girls lying on a picnic cloth surrounded by candies and dolls. But the cuteness doesn’t end there since we are treated to disk artwork with more pastels surrounding the girls as they pose for the camera. It just doesn’t get any better if you want fan service to promote the collection.
The same decorating scheme used on the packing is also used in the menu selection screens: the girls are shown in comical poses on the right side with the episodes listed on the left, while a generic selection icon has been replaced with a semicircle of lace to reinforce the Victorian influenced maids uniforms. However, the annoying flaw in this area is the repetition of the first minute of Trust blaring in the background; while this may have been done to get the viewer ready for the show, it quickly gets tiresome once it restarts at the end of the cycle. Sentai should have given us an option to switch off the music, but they might not anticipated the viewer to spend that much time in this area.
While Sentai Filmworks did try to add to the Sentai Selects extras selection by giving a better selection of bonuses aside from the regular collection of property trailers, clean and closing animations plus Japanese promos, the addition is not up to the standard of the collection. Although the option of seeing an interview with Gainax Producer Hiroki Sato from the Animation Creator 2005 program might seem intriguing, it falls short with any relationship to the series; even though he is one of the producers of this show, the majority of the thirty minute segment concerns his merchandising background and the future of anime as a genre. Though he does talk about his involvement and the problems of turning the manga into an animated series, it toward the end of the interview and most viewers might not have the patience to watch the build up to hear those ten minutes of information. It might have seemed pertinent at the time, almost ten years ago, but now, most of the information is out of date.
Izumi and Mitsuki are two middle school students who have just run away from home and with evening falling, they are in desperate need to find a place to stay for the night. Although they spent most of the day looking for jobs, nothing was suited for a fourteen year old girl and her sister who is only a year younger. Now they are almost out of options and with their money running out, the two siblings do not know what to do next. As they are making their way down the road, a strange job notice catches their eye: posted on the wall surrounding a large mansion, the owner is looking for a live-in maid. Intrigued by the prospect, they decide to inquire within and find out the estate is owned by Yoshitaka, an obnoxious fourteen year old who freely admits that he has more money than he could ever spend. When he got bored of the previous house staff always telling what to do, he fired them – that is why he is looking for a new help. Amazed by this boy’s gall, Izumi vehemently tells him they will not take the job; disappointed by their choice, he allow them to take a hot bath before they have to return to the cold outside.
As the girls are warming up, the young owner finds the enormous bag that the younger Mitsuki was carrying; she had warned him not to open it, no matter the circumstance. However, curiosity get the better of his judgement, and the satchel’s fastenings are released to reveal … nothing. As he peers into the darkness within the case, two beady eyes stare back followed by large maw which begins to consume him. Screaming in panic, a large reptile begins to chase the horrified child around, causing the girls to return dressed in the only clothes they could find – maids’ uniforms. Once Pochi the alligator’s owner calms him down, the employer speaks to his prospective tenants and tries to convince them to accept the job; however once he elaborates on his demands, the most outrageous insisting that they call him Master, Izumi once again denies him their services. The sisters now have no other choice than to return outside and try to survive the chill until morning.
After dawn breaks, Izumi and Mitsuki find that they had been camped on Yoshitaka’s the entire time. He greets them with a sly grin and once again demands that they serve him as his maids. However, this time he has an offer which they cannot refuse: it seems while they were sleeping, a certain pet had been swimming the river dividing the land and had dined on the koi which had been living there. Normally this would not have been a problem, but these carp were extremely expensive – one hundred thousand yen a piece! Stunned to hear the news, the sisters now have no other choice than to work for this diabolic manipulator; until the debt has been paid, they are at his beck and call, having to fulfill his every request, no matter how perverse it may be, but of course, not without a painful retort from Izumi! What more could he do to them … but if you have to ask, you do NOT want to know.
On the surface, He is my Master! may seem like any other show which would fall into the gag comedy/harem genre. The concept also echoes many anime which involve a witless person who is blackmailed into repaying a bottomless debt by any means necessary, for example: Hayate the Combat Butler, Ouran High School Host Club or Himegoto. As such, it would seem like something which would fall flat after the first few episodes, since it follows the same formula: Izumi complains about but Yoshitaka’s tyrannical rule and perversion, somehow part of her dress is torn away, Pochi see her nakedness and begins to chase her down, Mitsuki chimes in and comes up with a challenge to either embarrass her sister even more and/or gain an advantage over their Master and finally a beaten and bloody Yoshitaka retreats to his room, plotting revenge while designing even more depraved clothes. While it may seem this is all the show has, once you begin to enjoy the jokes and the outrageous revenge which the elder sister inflicts upon their employer, you begin to see that there is something else lurking underneath.
As the series widens its scope and begins to add new actors, you start to realize that everyone has an underlying need of wanting something from the sisters, all shown by their level of infatuation; but as the show matures, these dependent characters are showing, in their own unique way, that they all love and support Izumi, even if that method may seem to be bordering on the edge of compulsive obsession. While this technique may seem very strange, it does suit the premise of the show: a maid serves her master but as time goes by and the rapport begins to deepen, it can lead to another level in the relationship – love. However, there is one glaring error in this series and one which is overlooked by everyone once the beginning episode glances over it – the main characters Izumi and Yoshitaka are still in middle school and therefore, only fourteen years old! Although it may ignored due to her voluptuous figure and his need to spy on her any chance he may get, how they forget this? I guess age in this anime doesn’t matter as long as there is a laugh?
If you forget the age restrictions and see He is my Master! as the hilarious comedy wrapped within an obsessed and perverted otaku wanting a middle school aged harem, then the show has succeeded. The endless gags which all result in Yoshitaka getting what he deserves for his need to see Izumi naked will put a smile on your face and a sense of satisfaction as you watch as she beats him silly. This fan service anime does not take itself seriously and you shouldn’t either if you want to enjoy this gem in the raw.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Reversible Cover, Japanese Promos, Interview with Producer, Clean Opening Animation & Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i mpeg-1/2 video codec
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player