Misaki's plans to attract new female students are now going to go ahead, as the speed bump presented by Soutarou Kanou's attempt to derail the Open House end in failure. Punishment of a unique sort awaits. Then, it's time to head to the beach for summer vacation! Expect swimsuits.
What They Say
Soutarou is shocked to find out that Misaki was able to stay awake until the 24-hour time limit. As punishment, Misaki forces Soutarou to help Sakura, Shizuko, and the girls at the upcoming Open House's cafeteria. Then, it's summer vacation and the Maid Latte crew have been invited by Satsuki's sister Nagisa to her beach resort, with Aoi tagging along; and Usui recruited as a bodyguard by Satsuki, chagrining Misaki.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Just as Kanou comes around to gloat over his victory, with Misaki seemingly asleep and bound to hate Usui once she awakens, Misaki, while it looks like her eyes are closed, speaks. It appears that Usui's sweet nothings whispered into her ear right as she was about to fall asleep had the effect of making her angry, so she was able to stay up the additional 5 minutes to finish out the 24 hour period. Thus, Kanou loses and Misaki forces him to pay a penalty: he has to help out the girls who are going to run a cafeteria on the Open House day that the school runs to attract new students.
So, the Open House comes. Misaki is very busy trying to do her best to make it a success, making sure that the visitors, especially any visiting junior high school girls, feel welcome and comfortable at Seika High. During the preparations, she had to keep a constant eye on Kanou, who was frequently tempted to run away from the group of girls who are running the cafeteria. This provided one of the funnier montages, as Misaki, with an aura of DOOM about her, appeared in the escape path of Kanou every time he was tempted to run.
On the day of the event, Misaki herself leads a group of prospective students on a general tour of the school, all girls as it happens. While walking around the school, she checks up on the various events to make sure they are progressing well, though she notices that the sports clubs are not having much success recruiting anyone. As she happens upon Usui at this time, she basically orders him to go and help the sports clubs in their efforts. Though he has no desire to do so, he does it for Misaki, and, of course, he turns out to be a natural star athlete in every sport that he tries his hand at, from soccer to baseball to ping pong to kendo. To call Usui an overly idealized abstraction of the perfect boyfriend at this point would be something of an understatement, and is one of the weaker parts of the overall story. I'm sure we will see him have a humanizing weakness at some point, and no, his love for Misaki is not a weak point as it's already well established that while Misaki is a flawed human being, she is also someone with admirable character qualities in addition to her physical attractiveness.
The main point of this episode, however, is to explain the strange aversion to women of Soutarou Kanou, and we get that explanation in an internal monologue and flashback from him: apparently his mother left his father when Soutarou was just a young boy, his father explaining to him that women were weak and delicate creatures, fragile and easy to break. Soutarou has been under the false impression since then that if he got too close to a girl, he would somehow break her. As strange freudian excuses go, sure, fine, whatever. His experience, however, working in the cafeteria manages to change his feelings, since here he sees up close that the girls of Seika High are not such fragile creatures, but are instead capable of hard work and effort, even in close proximity to boys. Just to push the point harder, the writers insert a female version of Kanou among the junior high girls visiting the cafeteria, a girl who has only ever been to all-girls schools and is afraid of boys. Misaki gives her a little pep talk and even drags Kanou over to show the visiting junior high girl that boys are not so scary (it helps, of course, that the Cafeteria girls made Kanou wear a bunny-eared hood over his waiter uniform. No one with bunny ears on top of their head is scary, in general).
As is common for episodes of this show, we end with Usui and Misaki alone. Usui got tired of helping out all the clubs and at the end of day, he drags Misaki off to a quiet spot to talk to her, asking her to thank him for his help and complaining about her not checking up on him even once. She does finally thank him, though it's only on attempt no.2 that she does it with some sincerity.
In the next episode, it appears that we're headed to the beach. Summer vacation has started, and we open with the Idiot Trio coming to Maid Latte, intending to spend the entire summer break there, but we they arrive, they find a note informing them that the cafe is closed for a while.
That's because all of the staff of Maid Latte have joined the owner, Satsuki, on a trip to the beach house (cafe) owned by her younger sister Nagisa. They're there to have fun, as who wouldn't want to go to the beach during the summer? In addition, Usui was asked along by Satsuki to act as their bodyguard, while her nephew Aoi (the one who likes to dress as a girl and became a popular net idol attired thus) is also there, having been dropped off by Satsuki and Nagisa's brother, hoping that time at the beach would somehow make him more manly (good luck on that).
Unfortunately, Nagisa's beach house is not doing too well, as it is in a poor location on the edge of the beach. The girls of Maid Latte decide that there's only one thing they can do to help Nagisa, and that's to use their regular method of customer service to drum up business. So, donning aprons over their bikinis, they stroll up and down the beach drumming up business, and then turn the beach house into a maid cafe. That seems to get the ball rolling, as the beach house gets more business in one day than it looks like it has had since it opened.
Now that the work part is over, it's time to move into the summer vacation cliches. The area has hot springs nearby, so the girls plan to head off to one of the them. One of the girls from Maid Latte also tells a ghost story that freaks out Misaki, but doesn't seem to affect the others. Of course, a contrivance is created to prevent Misaki from going to the hot springs with everyone else, but then an excuse comes about to force her to try to find them (they forgot to take the free entry coupons for the hot springs, so Misaki heads out to find them). Naturally, Misaki gets completely freaked out by being alone in the dark, thinking that the ghost that was talked about earlier is out there. At this point, Usui suddenly appears, and he winds up comforting Misaki who is limp with fear. The romantic mood is spoiled, of course, by Aoi showing up (in drag, naturally). And the tickets that Misaki thought Satsuki had left behind forgotten were actually spares, meaning her trip was unnecessary.
It looks like this is how things are going to be, with the romance dragged out over as many episodes as possible, moving forward by only fits and starts. While it is pretty obvious that Misaki has feelings for Usui (in this episode, Aoi, when he runs into them in the dark, says that he assumed they already were a couple, and states that it's obvious that Misaki likes Usui), she does not seem willing to admit those feelings to herself. One wonders how long it is going to be before she is willing to openly do so.
With this pair of episodes, we continue to get somewhat entertaining stories while also watching the relationship between Misaki and Usui develop at a snail's pace. While it has been pretty obvious for some time now that deep in her heart, Misaki does have feelings for Usui, who himself has made no secret of his love for her, it would appear that instead of rival suitors the main stumbling block to the two of them becoming a couple will be Misaki's continuing refusal to admit that she finds Usui attractive. While at the beginning, there were some good personality reasons that justified that initial refusal, by this point, it's more a matter of self-delusion than anything else that is holding her back. While keeping them apart is what fuels the show at a certain level, there comes a time when that fuel begins to run out, or has other negative effects from being used too much. So, it remains to be seen when they will decide to end the charade and move on to the next stage in their relationship.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard