Other Names: Kaicho wa Meido-sama, Misaki is a Maid
Episodes: 26 (English dub version)
Maid-Sama Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, IMDB, Hulu
Genre: Shōjo + Romantic Comedy + School Life + Drama + Gender Bender
Due to issues with my internet over the last week, the anime review for this week was slightly delayed. Given that I was going to watch the intended series online, I also had to change to a different series that I already had available. Hence, Maid-Sama, the series that was second in the review list. I would point out before I get stuck into the overview and review section that I watched a little bit of the English subtitled version a few years back. However, I am not familiar with the manga apart from light research that I did after I completed this series late last night.
>insert usual warning about spoilers here<
Seika High recently became co-ed after being an all boy’s school for many years. After clawing her way to the position as the first female student council leader, Misaki Ayuzawa, has a lot on her plate. To help out her mother, she works a maid at the Maid-themed cafe in a nearby town. Her life gets complicated when she is discovered by serial confession-rejector, Takumi Usui, along with three delinquents from her school. So begins the rather odd relationship of strongly independent Misaki and a rather bizarre young man.
So, where to begin? This anime is one of the more unusual Shōjo series that I have watched, for a number of reasons. Off the bat, the series gives me an Ouran High School Host Club vibe, because of some of the elements. Admittedly, this might be a tenuous connection at times, but these connections are noticeable nonetheless. I will discuss the male and female leads of both series for the sake of comparison.
Both Misaki from Maid-sama and Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club are poor and have single parents. Misaka’s father left her mother and his two daughters when Misaka was little, giving the girl a negative view of men. She becomes somewhat dependent and hesitant to trust males as a result. Contrast this with Haruhi’s situation, wherein her now cross-dressing father lost the love of his life when their daughter was young. Unlike Haruhi, Misaki didn’t get a scholarship to a prestigious school like Ouran and somehow get roped into the whole host thing. Instead, Misaki went out and got a job in a neighbouring town in order to help out her mother that works long hours at a hospital. Misaka has friends at school and work compared to Haruhi’s social life being nearly completely related to the host club. Haruhi is oblivious to her romantic feelings, whilst Misaki tries to push them away. Unlike Haruhi, nobody has an issue identifying that Misaki is female.
Both Usui from Maid-sama and Tomoe from Ouran High School Host Club are blonde and have developed odd interests as a result of being lonely. Both are popular with the ladies, though Usui is tired of the numerous confessions. In contrast, Tomoe sees his interactions with females (predominantly as the club) purely as a part of his host game. Both come from rich families, the product of relationships that are frowned upon by the head of their family due to how it might affect the reputation of the family. Tomoe’s dad had a relationship with a commoner and the Matriarch loves to pile on the bitchy guilt over it, but both parents are alive. Usui’s married mother had an affair with the butler, dying in childbirth. Unlike Tomoe, Usui’s rich family is trying to hide his existence from the world for some weird reason. Maybe something to do with protecting their potato chip fortune. Okay, maybe I made up the bit about the potato chip thing. Usui lacks a circle of friends, unlike Tomoe. Usui doesn’t have an issue identifying and showing his feelings for Misaka, unlike the rather daft Tomoe. Both are idiots.
With that bit out of the way, it is time to discuss the plot. The premise itself feels somewhat generic, the Tsundere Versus Prince. However, it twists those character archetypes and tries to explain more about the psychology of the characters compared to some other Shōjo series. Whilst the series itself doesn’t extend past the point where Misaki finally accepts the fact that she is in love with Usui. This doesn’t feel as impactful as it could have been and doesn’t resolve the issue with Misaki’s childhood friend Minata either. It felt abrupt and left things up in the air, perhaps in the hope of there being a second season that never arrived. The end certainly was a big let-down for me as a viewer.
Back to the characters, the series did manage a growing list of characters quite well. Most contributed to the story in some meaningful fashion as well. Take the trio known as “The Three Idiots”. The lads were an issue to begin with but soon transformed into starry-eyed reformed delinquents that went above and beyond comic relief on several occasions. That being said, one character in particularly irked me, Tora Igarashi, the head of the school council for nearby snob-school Miyabigaoka. He is a character that never really suffers any real consequences for attempting to rape Misaki around the eighth episode. That was a simple enough problem, but when we see him again later in the series, it is via a lame plan that never really goes anywhere. It felt weak story and character wise. I have a few other pet peeves, but that is one of the more notable ones. I also had some issues with some of the story being disjointed at times as well. Also note that the series does not follow the manga progression all of the way through, hence we don’t see some of the characters from the manga in the manga adaptation.
To the art, the mix between watercolour style backgrounds, chibi and the angular faces was oddly appealing. The bright colours for the characters contrasted well with the other elements such as environments such as the school. However, I did have issues with some of the characters looking way too similar to each other. This wasn’t anywhere near the issue that I had with the art in the Biyaku Cafe manga. You can also expect slight changes to the representation of characters such as Misaki, in line with the growth of her character.
To the audio, the intro and outro music struck me as somewhat odd and better attached to other series as the single intro and two outro songs didn’t feel like they fit that well with the series. As for the voice acting, that was a little strange as well. Initially, I found the choices for Misaki and Usui off-putting, but the two voice actors slowly began to grow on me. I suspect that some of the dialogue wasn’t necessarily the best, even cringe-worthy at times. The cast tried to make do with what they were required to read for the English adaptation. I feel for them. That being said, I did hear a few familiar voice actors and actresses in this English dub version. An example is an actor that played one of the two “Brotherly Love” characters in Ouran. That dude sure does get around. Could the casting have been better? Yes. However, it was still quite good.
In conclusion, the anime was enjoyable in spite of the numerous flaws throughout. I can say that I did enjoy Ouran High School Host Club more because of how well the story held together comparatively. However, OHSHC is more of a parody of a sort-of-harem drama rather than the romantic comedy of Maid-Sama. Apples and Oranges? Perhaps. In any case, if you are willing to overlook the flaws of the series, then jump on in and give it a watch as it does have some genuinely funny and surprising moments.