Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful Vol. #3: All Good Things (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, December 16, 2003
What They Say
The time has come for all cards to be placed into play as Minawa is called upon to fulfill her duty to Management and begin a three-way battle: Management vs. Vesper vs. Saint! Mahoro must use all of her wits and skills to withstand Management's combat androids, Feldrance and Minawa, even at the cost of shortening the brief time remaining to her. In this battle between superpowers and combat androids, what can Suguru, one human boy, do? Or is there more here than meets the eye?!
With the final five episodes of the second season, Mahoromatic manages to become the most Gainax-feeling series to me since Gunbuster.
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. With five episodes on the disc, the show looks great through and through.
Giving the two leads their time together for the finale, the main cover has a good image of Mahoro falling into Suguru’s open arms. 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. The insert has a more action and angst oriented image with Feldrance in the center and the other primary characters ringed around him. The insert opens up to a two panel shot of Suguru’s girlfriends in the open air baths, so that means skin, skin and more underage skin. The back of the insert just has the chapter listings for each episode. The reverse cover for this volume is really nice as well, though nowhere near as naughty looking as some of the earlier ones. The reverse side front cover has all the girls except Shikijo in their hot springs kimono’s looking all nice and sweet while the back cover is a soft image of Mahoro in her maid outfit waving with “We’ll see you again…” written over her.
The menu layout is an interesting one this time, using Saint style monitor systems 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.
For the final round of extras, we get the non-credit ending sequence for the episode that shows the retrospective on the series, complete with the Japanese dialogue over it. The final art gallery has thirteen pieces, about half of which look to be from the show itself while the other is artwork used for covers and advertisements.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the biggest complaints that I’d heard about the second season of Mahoromatic was that it was darker than the first one and lacked the fun and humor. While I agree that it’s definitely darker in tone, there’s still a good amount of fun and humor throughout the show, it’s just not as prevalent in the final batch of episodes.
While watching these last episodes, I was struck by how similar in some ways that this series has moved in this season to being close to Gunbuster in nature as it moves between the light character moments and then the brief “big galactic epic storyline” moments. The progression is more natural here since there are nearly twice the episodes to play with in just this season alone, so it wasn’t as striking right from the start. It just felt even more “right” when they hit the last episode and vaulted ahead twenty years in time, giving it a very strong Gunbuster feel.
The opening arc of the show brings to a close the problem with Minawa as she finds herself being told her job is about done in collecting data on Mahoro. Since the data isn’t enough, the good doctor is going to send Feldrance to deal with her by dealing with Suguru, something that Minawa becomes really uncomfortable over. But her desire to have a heart, the reason behind everything she’s done, continues to be overpowering for her due to the promise she made before her companion died.
Feldrance’s acquisition of Suguru in effort to draw Mahoro to the Management base where the good doctor is working to learn more about her works perfectly and she naturally follows to rescue him. Through this series of events though we do get to learn more about what makes Mahoro tick and that she’s definitely more than what she seems, but at the same time she’s also less. It’s amusing that they bring in something as simple as nuts and bolts being part of her makeup even though the majority of her is Saint in origin. Meshing together two technologies isn’t bad, but when the visual of just one bolt coming loose ends up opening up her guts to everything else falling out, it’s almost comical when it’s supposed to be darkly serious.
The bigger storyline that’s been nipping around in the background for so long really becomes prominent in these episodes. We start to see much more of the Management organization and start to follow their plans for almost an entire episode as they phase shift a huge aircraft carrier into space to crash into the Saint ship. The effort is useless on an actual attack scale, but it proves the working of their equipment and gives them leverage in what they could do next, thereby allowing them to try and work out some kind of arrangement with them. But in order to bring Saint under their control, they have to take out the Vesper organization, something they’re able to do with relative ease as they’ve known everything about everything for millennia.
This shift to the large scale and the epic nature as it moves along is fantastic. I’ve enjoyed the Mahoro character and all that comes from it, but when they shifted away from her to this for a bit, it helped flesh out a lot of what’s been going on in the background. It will probably feel too sudden to a lot of people, but the shift goes back to the Gunbuster feel for me, where every episode of that show basically tackled a different genre so each episode had a strong shift to it. While there’s been action in previous episodes, that shifts up to violence in some quarters here as the stakes rise considerably.
For Suguru, these are definitely tough times. The character, as noted by others, has definitely grown throughout these episodes and even more so after he was abducted by Feldrance. There’s a great reflective moment he has after having to leave Mahoro behind to fight where he thinks back about how alone he’s been all these years of his life until Mahoro came, but that even with being so used to it for so long, it’s a pain that is always there when the situation comes back again. It’s simply something that you don’t really get used to no matter what.
With the time shift that’s done, I absolutely loved the way it plays out in going forward and presenting a different situation. Taking characters and aging them properly, showing that while Suguru is a cute looking lad that he doesn’t necessarily grow up to be a stud among men and that his chosen path has led him down what seems to be the wrong way. I can so easily see this section of the series being hated quite a lot, but it’s these kinds of radical movements inside a series that seemed to be more common in older shows that I love. Rather than characters and situations basically staying the same from start to finish, Mahoromatic plays with some fun for most of the series and lets you love the characters and then forces you to accept that things won’t turn out rosy.
The final three episodes here are so chock full of revelations and information and radical changes that they’re the most engaging of the series. Then again, when half the series felt like it was taking place in either the kitchen or hot springs, that’s not saying a heck of a lot. There are a lot of trademark Gainax moments throughout these episodes and some fantastic visuals, action elements and more. This was a great way to end the series to me, though I can easily see how it will throw others into convulsions.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Textless Ending
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Maniac Grade: A+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2