Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful Vol. #1: Maid In Training (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, August 28, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2003
What They Say
Who’s Minawa? Just as life finally returns to “normal”, a new girl shows up spying on Suguru. Who is she? Another combat android?! Who could she be working for? A new mystery besets our friends as Sugur and Mahoro try to determine whom this clumsy and shy android could be. In the meantime, Mahoro has adopted her as a little sister and a maid in training. Unfortunately, for our new maid, Minawa gets to experience Suguru’s frenetic lifestyle, which includes Mahoro’s plan for a larger bust-line…
After a rather fun if fanservice heavy first season, everyone’s come back for Something More Beautiful, which ratchets up the fanservice several more notches and starts bringing more background plot into play.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. While the show has a few dynamic action moments, it actually features quite a number of dynamic dialogue moments where the directionality across the forward soundstage comes across perfectly as there are a number of characters and jokes running at any given time. The pro-logic mix here sounds very good and we noted no dropouts or distortions on either language track.
Much like the first season, this season of Mahoromatic continues to sport a gorgeous anamorphic transfer that has fantastic colors with no noticeable bleeding, cross coloration or aliasing. Throughout the four episodes on this disc, I could find no issue that distracted me from its presentation.
The front cover for the first volume of the new season does a nice job of showing off the main trio, with a happy blushing Mahoro, a somewhat frantic Suguru and the almost emotionless Minawa. The back cover provides the episode numbers and titles (and the spine contains the volume number, a nice plus) as well as a small summary of what this disc is like. The discs features and extras are nice and clear as well as the usual production information. The insert provides another shot of the front cover without the logo, showing off more of Minawa. The insert opens up to a nice image of Mahoro and Minawa hugging that looks more like a manga version than the anime. Continuing the tradition of the first season, there’s a reversible cover here as well. The image is one that I think works better than the primary one with Minawa and Mahoro in schoolgirl outfits with the teacher giving them a dirty look from behind.
The menu layout is an interesting one this time around, using what I believe is the Saint style monitor system as it shows various locations playing in an animated fashion with the selections down the middle. The design is nice, but a lot of the animation looks choppy, giving the menu a sluggish feel even though the actual movement of the cursor is fast and efficient. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast.
The extras for this installment are pretty slim, with the new opening sequence getting a textless treatment and a small art gallery that features some nice shots from the show as well as cover style artwork.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having enjoyed the first season of Mahoromatic and the way it tried to balance the small romance, the outright fanservice, the comedy and then the action, I’ve been anticipating the second season having heard that it ups the fanservice and gets much darker. So far, that’s pretty accurate right out of the gate with the first four episodes.
Life in general has returned to something resembling normalcy at Suguru’s household with Mahoro doing her chores, him focusing on school and Slash just being annoyed with most everything. There’s some very amusing moments early on here where Suguru and his friends get busted by Ryuga, who continues on in his role as a teacher here, for having an adult photo book (signed no less!) by their favorite adult idol on school grounds. They’re beside themselves when he confiscates it, but the great part is watching Ryuga take it and flip through it, trying to understand humans because of it. Even better, Shikijo finds him reading it and finds out that it was Suguru’s, resulting in an extremely fluid piece of animation where her entire body just… goes… wild.
The main change in this season is the introduction of a new android named Minawa. She’s not quite what Mahoro is like, being a bit stiffer and not anywhere near as emotional, but she does share some similar traits. The big difference with her though is that she’s not a part of Vesper but rather of a group called the Management. The Management, as we learn through the voiceover, is a group of people (there’s an allusion to “not quite human”) who have guided humanity throughout the countless years in all forms and is now dealing with the arrival of Saint.
There’s a lot of information brought up in regards to the Management group, including some power struggle going on between two of the scientists over who is better. One of them has used his methods to send Minawa into Mahoro’s arms, so that he can force events into his direction and discredit his competition. The Management group provides a lot of interesting aspects to the backdrop of the series, and it looks like they’re going to be a major focus of this season as they wax poetic about how the plans that Saint has for walking hand in hand in peace and harmony with humanity goes against their plans for the future.
This hand in hand part is actually one of the best parts of this volume. The main rivalry continues to be between Slash and Ryuga, since Slash in no ways trusts him. Mahoro is letting things go as they are, but Slash considers her foolish for letting Ryuga continue to be a teacher. With Minawa now introduced into things, and with Slash knowing her connections to Management, he finds Mahoro even more off her rocker to take the girl in. His distrust coincides with Ryuga’s, and the two find themselves awkwardly on the same side. The way they interact just plays out very nicely and comical, done with just the right amount of exaggeration in the animation.
One aspect of this season that seems to upset people who’ve seen it is the amount of fanservice. It’s definitely gone up a few notches in various areas here, particularly the bath house sequence with a number of the girls. There’s lots of talk about boobies throughout the episodes as well, particularly one where Mahoro actually buys one of those infomercial kits that are designed to “suck out” what you have and expand it. If I hadn’t just seen a piece on these kits and the fact that they ARE effective, I would have found this funnier. Even knowing it, watching it done in outrageous anime style is just perfect, including what happens to Suguru. And it’s all topped off by the combat bra, shown in shadow form. I’m pretty sure some people must have been offended by it, but it just reminded me of some old black and white comic series I used to read years ago. I couldn’t stop laughing.
If there’s any downside here, it’s that the episodes themselves don’t have all that much going on. There’s the basic plot being moved forward with Minawa being involved and Ryuga getting into things, but as the episodes are fairly standalone in nature, there’s nothing really outstanding for the most part. They’re enjoyable, I laughed at a lot of it and enjoyed the action sequences, but the individual episode stories aren’t all that much to write home about. The characters continue to make the show and hopefully the next round of episodes will have them in more interesting situations.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Art Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2