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, and 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!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo only but it’s a good improvement as it’s done using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. It’s not a radically different show or anything but it’s welcome to get it a bit cleaner and richer than the 192kbps Dolby Digital mix we had previously. The show has a pretty good forward soundstage mix to it with some nice directionality during some of the busier scenes but also some of the quieter dialogue pieces that do exist at times. There isn’t anything really over the top here or impressively done, but it’s a good busy action-comedy kind of series that makes good use of the audio for what it needs. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78;1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series is kept to a single disc with plenty of room as it uses the AVC codec well compared to the MPEG-2 piece from a decade ago. The bit rate averages around ten with spikes upward a bit but the combination of a far better tool and the lack of worrying about space means it gets more to work with. The show has a lot of bright colors and fast motion which is really handled well here as it looks vibrant when it should be as it avoids any serious breakup and noise during regular playback and shifts to the soft scenes well. He is my Master has a very good look to it and while it is a bit rough in places intentionally, it has a lot of charm and the transfer captures that well. It may not be a high definition presentation but what we get gives it a stronger look than our previous edition.
He is my Master makes it very apparent from the front cover what you’re going to get and that’s a wonderful thing. The main focus is on the two female lead girls, all dolled up in their detailed maid uniforms, with soft smiles and a fair bit of blushing going on as well. The colors are good, the layout is spot on and if you’re still liking the maid concept, it’s a solid piece overall. The back cover has a whole lot going on here, almost too busy in some ways. The top provides for a nice tagline between the two sisters in their uniforms while the rest of each side features lots of fanservice oriented shirts from the show. The center strip going down has a lot of text to it as it covers the premise, using a smaller than usual font, as they go over a lot of what the basics are. The bottom of the cover is rounded out with the production credits and the technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is a little problematic because of the nature of the show itself and an uncertainty of how to circumvent it after all these years. Done as a static menu, we get what’s almost like a scrapbook for a background visual that has a slew of photos of shots from the show spread across it. It’s cute and works well, allowing the logo along the top to not look too out of place or stand out too much. The left side has the episodes by number and title with some cute elements just under it like doilies. But the problem is that the episode titles are a small font and even still a couple of them run the length of the screen – for two rows. It’s just ugly looking in how it comes across here and breaks the dynamic of it all. Everything does load quickly and getting around is easy as the top menu, which is a big plus. Once you get into it, you have little reason to go back thought
This release gets the standard extras in the form of the clean opening and closing sequences but it also does a bit more than other recent releases by including a decent little interview piece with the Japanese producer along with some of the promotional videos for the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Mattsu and Asu Tsubaki, He is my Master is a twelve episode series that had just a little bit of a controversy when it first came out. The whole master aspect certainly has its fans but also its detractors, especially the age group involved here, but this feels a little silly after seeing it. It does play to rather normal stereotypes for this genre and while it does engage in some demeaning activity, it doesn’t stray from the formula that any number of shows use in different ways. If anything, He is my Master surprised me because it turned out to be a lot more enjoyable and fun than I thought it would be, and tamer as well, since I’ve felt completely played out with the maid genre.
He is my Master revolves around a few characters but the initial catalysts are fourteen-year-old Izumi and thirteen year Mitsuki. The two sisters have run away from home and are looking for employment so they can get a decent place to live. Their luck hasn’t been all that good, age considered and all, but they have a strange turn when they stumble upon a very expansive property owned by someone very rich. When you see the residence and the property from the sky, you’d imagine it would cover about half of Tokyo itself.
The mansion is the residence for fourteen-year-old Yoshitaka, a young man who has lost his parents fairly recently and inherited everything from them. Because of the spacious mansion and grounds that he has, he’s got an ad out looking for a maid but he never expected a pair of very cute teenage girls to drop into his lap, almost literally. Using various pressures and knowing their need, he manages to swindle them into a contract where they now serve as his live-in maids and attend his every whim. Yoshitaka is the epitome of a horny fourteen-year-old kid as he designs very detailed and sexy maid uniforms for them to wear and spends his time setting up menial jobs for them while also peeping on them regularly.
Not everything is roses for Yoshitaka in this situation. Izumi really has little interest in all of this and only sees danger from Yoshitaka. Mitsuki is far more playful about it all as she’s enjoying it, loving the costumes that get designed for her and she sets up elaborate contests in order to settle issues between the other two. What makes it even more difficult for Yoshitaka is that Mitsuki has a pet alligator that she brought with her, which is a big part of the back story of why they ran away. The alligator, named Pochi, is quite the character himself as he adores Izumi and spends his time tearing her clothes off and just being… rough with her. Yoshitaka and Pochi do come to a fairly decent deal with each other, since they realize they both have similar goals in a way which often leads to Izumi being chased and stripped down to varying degrees.
As the show goes on, Yoshitaka sets the sisters up at his school so they can attend him there. They try to keep it a secret at first, but it gets out after a bit and causes a new wrinkle. One of the girls at the school, the very lovely young Anna, has a huge crush on Yoshitaka as she sees past his huge flaws of lechery and perversion. When she discovers that Izumi is a live-in maid, she’s about to flip out on her but instead switches camps and falls head over heels for Izumi, going so far as to sign a maid contract with Yoshitaka so she can be close to her. And so he acquires yet another teenage maid for his little harem. The group thankfully doesn’t expand much beyond that, though we get to see the sisters family which includes a father much like Yoshitaka and a cute little sister, but they add nicely to events rather than being a constant focus.
Watching a show like this does require a certain kind of humor because Yoshitaka is quite clearly cruel in a number of ways to her. Actually, just about everyone is cruel to her to varying degrees, which is sad in some ways because she is such a good person and a good character. While the idea of the alligator being the motivating factor is certainly unusual and outlandish, they have a lot of fun with it because Pochi is a great foil for things and he has a great sense of humor as well. There’s a ton of fanservice in this, which relies on you liking the character designs of course, and they run with it pretty well while actually not overdoing it. The Gainax Bounce is in effect at times, but it’s not a constant. And skimpy the costumes may be, they aren’t actually flashing panties on a regular basis. This gives it a bit more room to be cruel and teasing in other ways which I can’t help but to find quite amusing. The show may slow down a bit towards the end when it gets a little serious, but overall it has a great balance of humor and fanservice with quirky and fun plots for each of the episodes.
It’s been ten years since Sentai Filmworks first licensed and released this series and that’s just kind of a surreal realization. Revisiting this release proved to be fun as the show definitely still hits all the right notes for me with its humor and characters. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it has a lot of fun with things, especially if you can get into the way Mitsuki in particular plays everyone against each other. There’s a lot of great designs here, it’s filled with fanservice that’s quite appealing and the short form stories that build throughout it are quite enjoyable. I’m definitely glad that this got a new SDBD release so that it might get into a few more people’s hands to check out, but it’s unfortunate that there’s no proper high definition release in Japan – which I suspect is what’s holding this title back from getting a dub that would be an awful lot of fun..
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Interview
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p AVC
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.