He is My Master Vol. #1 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, June 16, 2005
Release Date: Friday, June 10, 2005
What They Say
Izumi Sawatari and her little sister Mitsuki decide to run away from home. They look for part-time jobs, but no one is willing to hire them, until they happen upon a job posting for a live-in housekeeper. The master of the house is Yoshitaka Nakabayashi, who lost his parents in an accident. The girls feel sympathy for him and decide to help. Unknown to them, Yoshitaka is a pervert who has a cosplay fetish and dresses them up in uniforms of his design. With a pervert, maids, and Pochi the alligator under the same roof, things will never be the same.
This volume was viewed with the only audio track, a Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 track encoded at 448kbps. No distortion or dropouts to speak of, and dialogue is crisp and clear. There's some nice directionality in the mix, with attention given to the sound effects and things like Pochi running around.
The visual presentation is good, with an 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that's a treat for widescreen television owners. Colors are vibrant and linework is sharp with little aliasing. Unfortunately the video suffers from an overly-compressed look at times, with blocking and noise in areas of solid color. It's easily noticed in the show's logo and eyecatches.
The front cover features an adorable shot of Izumi and Mitsuki in their maid outfits against a green plaid background, illustrated by character designer Kazuhiro Takamura. The back has an illustration of Izumi by manga artist Asu Tsubaki alongside screenshots and episode summaries and a staff and cast listing.
First edition extras include a sturdy artbox to hold the series' six volumes illustrated by Asu Tsubaki, a clear file with the image from the DVD cover, two calendar cards for the months of July and August 2005, a sheet of event stickers to use on the calendar cards, and a clear plastic stand for the calendar.
The only menu available is all you need, with animated episode thumbnails, a full chapter listing, and direct links to the extras. The illustration from the DVD cover is used as the centerpiece, and the off-vocal version of the ending song is played in the background.
The on-disc extras are skimpy, with only a clean opening sequence and trailers for a few of Geneon's music releases.
Content: (may contain spoilers)
Gainax goes back to the drawing board and returns with another maid show. Based on a manga of the same name by Mattsu and Asu Tsubaki, He is My Master brings back a number of people who also worked on Mahoromatic and Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai.
The first characters we're introduced to are two sisters, fourteen-year-old Izumi Sawatari, and thirteen-year-old Mitsuki Sawatari, who leave their parents and home behind. They apply for various jobs to try and make ends meet on their own, but are unsuccessful with all of them until they see a job posting for a live-in housekeeper on the gate of a mansion. The property is enormous, and even features a large waterway running around the place stocked with expensive koi. Izumi falls into the water, and is changing when a teenage boy opens the door and gets an eyeful. Almost as if by reflex, she hurls him into a tree with maximum prejudice.
Not the best first impression by far, especially considering the recipient of the abuse is the master of the house, fourteen-year-old Yoshitaka Nakabayashi, whose parents recently died in an accident and left him both the house and an immense fortune. He seems like a pretty nice guy at first, but we find out he's quite the pervert and arrogant to boot. After bathing, Izumi and Mitsuki put on standard-issue maid uniforms and meet with Yoshitaka. He tells the girls that he likes the situation he's in with tons of money and no parental supervision. Izumi decides she's heard enough and leaves with Mitsuki.
However, Mitsuki's left her bag behind, which Yoshitaka opens to find an alligator inside. Pochi is Mitsuki's pet, and clamps his jaws around Yoshitaka's head to say hi. The girls come running back after hearing Yoshitaka's screams, and Pochi gets hearts in his eyes and chases after Izumi, doing a nice job of shredding her skirt in the process. More Yoshitaka arrogance and Izumi abusing him follow, and the two sisters leave the house and camp out on the edges of the property for the night. As the first episode comes to a close, we see Yoshitaka furiously sketching up sexy new maid outfits while mad scientist music plays in the background.
The following morning, Yoshitaka plots to get Izumi and Mitsuki back, and looks out the window to see Pochi breaching the water like a whale with one of the expensive koi in his mouth. The sisters eventually bump into Yoshitaka, who acts like a brat but says he wants them back. Izumi and Mitsuki head off to take a bath in one of the spectacular bathrooms, not knowing Yoshitaka had installed cameras throughout to peep in on them. Various bits of scenery frustrate his plans, but the new outfits he has laid out for them take care of his (and our) fanservice requirements.
Izumi is livid with anger at the ridiculous outfit, but Yoshitaka presents her with a bill for all the damage caused by her and Pochi the day before. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Izumi seethes with anger at having to work for Yoshitaka and call him "Master." The always-cheery Mitsuki comes up with an idea for a contest between her sister and Yoshitaka " whoever can catch Pochi first wins and gets their way. Izumi chickens out as soon as the contest starts and runs away from Pochi again. In a "what the heck is she doing" moment, she starts chucking expensive items at Pochi, who also gets in on the act.
The shenanigans continue all over the house, and Izumi grabs a really expensive vase to smash Pochi with. However, she loses her balance and starts falling backward down a tall staircase. Yoshitaka saves her from falling and actually looks worried about her, despite the vase crashing into the floor and breaking. Unfortunately Izumi hits her head on the railing and passes out. When she comes to, Yoshitaka is by her bedside and is concerned about her well-being. Izumi thinks he isn't so bad after all, that is until she gets out of bed and spies the see-through nightie he dressed her in while she was out. After all, it wouldn't be any fun if Yoshitaka went soft this early in the show.
Things are off to a promising start, with energetic and upbeat opening and ending sequences, a healthy amount of fanservice, and a male lead who despite being a bit creepy and lecherous, isn't a total wuss in the vein of Love Hina's Keitaro. Pochi the alligator is good comic relief but his schtick could wear thin quickly if overused. There's a sense of familiarity about it all, but maid shows are like comfort food: you know what you're getting but are occasionally surprised when what you're used to is done particularly well.
Japanese 2.0 Language,Clean opening animation,Geneon Music commercials
Sony KLV-23M1 23" LCD HDTV, Toshiba SD-4900 progressive region-free player via Acoustic Research component cables, Sony STR-DE897/S receiver, Sony SA-VE367T 7.1 channel speaker system.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C-
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Geneon Entertainment, Japan
Running time: 48
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: He Is My Master