Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful: Maid in training

Gainax have shown time and again that they can take a genre and create something that plays fast and loose with the rules and Mahoromatic is one such series. In this case, the show takes the conventions of the “Magic Girlfriend” genre and subverts them in a number of ways. The most prolific of which being the time limit on Mahoro’s life displayed at the end of every episode, the ever-present promise of tragedy that hangs over the show’s otherwise comedic proceedings.

This is the second season of Mahoromatic and, as such, let it be known that if you choose to watch this first, you’re going to be awfully confused about why the main character, Suguru, has a maid (Mahoro) and why that maid can fire missiles from breasts that she’s ashamed of because they’re too small when compared to those of Suguru’s buxom teacher who’s trying to seduce Suguru. (It’s because she’s a Battle Android who has a limited lifespan and wants to live the rest of her life, approximately a year, as Suguru’s maid for reasons that are omitted here for the sake of spoilers.)

The second season of Mahoromatic starts with the introduction of Minawa, a combat cyborg created by The Management, a previously unheard of faction that takes its cues from the likes of SELEE and The Patriots and threatens to upset the balance of the cold war between Vesper and Saint. This, in turn, threatens to flare into a catastrophic conflict with Suguru slap bang in the middle of it all. However, there’s a ways to go before that war becomes an issue and a whole load of silly nonsense to be had before that.

Minawa is a character whose basic design plays with tropes with Moé (a subsection of lolicon fandom that fetishises female characters who are weak, lack intelligence, and so on) to turn the whole idea on its head in a manner that is eerily similar to the characters and themes presented in Higurashi, only without the rampant criminal insanity that occurred in that show. Of course, the use of Moé as subversion always has the problem of the more questionable factions of the fandom taking the character at face value – but that’s the risk that is run with this sort of subversion of character tropes and credit should be given to Gainax for taking that risk in the first place.

The most noteworthy episode in this set of five is the frankly bizarre third episode “Dreams Should Be Grand” In which Mahoro, ashamed of her undersized chest, tries every trick in the book to make her chest bigger, culminating in a scene that will leave the viewer wondering “What the hell did I just watch?” even after it’s revealed to be a dream. Whether the writers were trying to critique the mindset of what the female form should be, or trying to get as much of their silly out of their systems as possible before proceedings started to take a more serious turn, was honestly beyond me – but let it be said that I had to pick myself up from the floor as it was utterly hilarious.

I don’t care much for Derek Stephen Prince’s miscast portrayal of Suguru. His voice is not suited to harem lead roles and is better suited to more emotive roles like Ken from Digimon Adventure 02 and Ishida from Bleach. Bridget Hoffman’s Mahoro is decent and the other dub cast members (a lot of them having worked alongside Hoffman and Prince on the various Digimon series) do not raise any complaints. Laura Jill Millar’s (Kari – Digimon Adventure) performance as Minawa is the best of the bunch, pulling off the quiet young woman act very convincingly. It has to be noted that hearing Tai’s sister recite a poem about “oobie-boobies” is both hilarious and highly disturbing in an “Oh, god, this is so wrong” kind of way.

Ayako Kasumi catches Mahoro’s eccentricities well in the Japanese audio and I really had a blast listening to Asami Sanada take food fanatic Chizuru and run with her. Her extended scream in episode five deserves a medal. Suguru’s voice work is stereotypical young boy voice acting provided by Fujiko Takimoto and isn’t anything of consequence.

This first disc of the second season is the lull before the storm. Gainax and Shaft have done a very good job with these first few episodes, whilst not going overboard in the show’s lull period. The action scenes are animated well but the big guns are most definitely being kept in the holster for this volume. The other two volumes that make up this series should show how successfully the two studios work together to produce the more action-packed sequences.

In Summary
If you’re looking to return to the madcap yet melancholy world of Mahoromatic after the small eternity it took for MVM to pick the second season up for a UK release then this will do the job nicely.

8 / 10