Hanaukyo Maid Team Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Translated by:Alex Glover
What They Say
Yashima Sanae, second in command of the Hanaukyo maid security division, returns from overseas to watch over the mansion. She has a secret crush on Konoe, so when Konoe goes on a trip to train alone with Taro, Yashima fears the worst and follows along to prevent anything from happening between them.
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Once again, Ironcat gives us another helping of Morishige's fanservice maid romp. Ikuyo, the slightly devious scientific genius maid in glasses, decides that what Taro, the young master of the impossibly wealthy Hanaukyo family fortune needs is to find out what it's like to be a maid first hand. With some makeup and a clever voice modifier, she dresses Taro up as a maid and sends him on his way for a day of chores around the mansion. Unfortunately for him, there is a new member of the security division, Yashima Sanae. She's a diminutive but exotic beauty with dark skin, short-cropped white hair, and ruby-red eyes. She's been away training, but has returned to her place as second in command of security under Konoe. She doesn't recognize Taro, and he's forced to flee her. After several blunders, including walking in on the amazingly statuesque Konoe as she's dressing, he's finally rescued by Mariel, the head of the maid division.
After things return to normal (except that all the maids now believe he's a cross-dresser), Konoe decides it's time to undertake some extensive training in the mountains to regain the form she lost after the injuries she suffered in the last volume. She decides it's worthwhile to bring Taro along to help toughen him up. Yashima fears the worst and decides to follow them. Yashima is in love with her "Konoe-shama" and will do anything to protect her. Taro has no idea what's going on, he only knows this strange maid is doing her best to make his life hell for him. In the end, though, he's able to convince her he's not such a bad guy, and the three of them share a nice moment at the end of their training.
Because Yashima abandoned her duties to chase after Konoe and Taro in the mountains, she is punished by being removed from the security division and assigned to the regular maid staff that attends Taro. Once again, Ikuyo spices things up with one of her inventions. She's decided that Taro is just too wishy-washy and hits him with one of her ray guns in an attempt to make him more assertive. It doesn't have the desired affect and instead, Taro turns into a raving lech pouncing on every girl in sight. What's required to help him regain his senses is a lot simpler than what might be imagined.
While exploring under the mansion, Ikuyo discovers a monster. A full assault team is readied to find it and erradicate it, but in the end, it isn't nearly so frightening as everyone thought. However, in the course of the expedition, Konoe discovers something extraordinary. Enough that she quietly seals off the area and tries to consult with Grace, the computer expert. What Grace tells her isn't terribly reassuring. The seriousness of what she's found is evident in the fact that she's keeping it secret from both Taro and Mariel until she can learn more.
Meanwhile, Taro is dealing with his feelings about Mariel and her apparent lack of free will. The closer he gets to her, the more distant she seems to be, even while seemingly offering him everything he wants. The final chapter is a big fanservice fest with Yashima bathing with a few of the "personal service" maids. After seeing her amazingly sexy body and discovering just how sensitive she is, they attempt to recruit her into their division. Their recruitment drive falls short when the magnificent Konoe slips into the bath with them and puts the personal service maids to shame, much to the delight of Yashima.
Hanaukyo Maid Team is the maid/harem genre taken to an extreme, and is successful because of it. It's great big silly fun with a bunch of fanservice and likeable characters. The introduction of Yashima with her mad crush on Konoe just adds to the fun. The larger story surrounding the mystery of Mariel gives the story the extra drama it needs, but never threatens to overwhelm it. Morishige's best at throwing around gags both visual and written. Taro's inability to figure out the correct order of Yashima's name (Sanae is more commonly a given name and Yashima is more commonly a family name) is a great running gag in this volume. His art style can seem somewhat amatuerish at times, but he somehow manages to draw the most incredibly sexy girls. While no one would ever describe his artwork as beautiful, it's effective and comic.
The English adaptation reads smoothly, though it's still a little awkward at times. I like the fact that all honorifics are retained, including Yashima's "-shama", a cute version of "-sama" she uses with Konoe's name. All the sound effects are left in place, but translations are included right on the page, usually in the gutters between panels. Also, important cultural and translation notes are included right on the page. They even went so far as to find a unique way to spell Konoe's name in the last chapter just to try and replicate a joke from the original Japanese. There are 7 pages of character profiles spread throughout the book with vital info, including the Japanese spelling of the character's names, measurements, hobbies, and even notes from Morishige about the characters, how they developed, evolved, etc. Unfortunately, the art reproduction is as poor as ever. Screentoning is awful, thin detail work is lost, and despite all that, it still looks too muddy. The cover has the maids under a tree enjoying the sunshine, and the back cover is mostly white with Ryuka and Grace both looking rather unhappy. The Japanese logo has now completely disappeared from both the cover and the spine, meaning this is the third different looking spine artwork in only three books. While continuity of spine artwork isn't that important to me, it will drive others nuts.
With an 11 month gap between the publication of volumes 1 and 2, it was a surprise to find volume 3 coming out only one month later. However, at the time of this review, it's been another 6 months and there's still no sign of volume 4. It's a shame, too. Ironcat's continuing financial difficulties leave every release feeling like it will be the last. I certainly hope not. I'd like to see Ironcat work through their troubles and return to a regular steady publishing schedule so I can see more of the great titles they've licensed. Hanaukyo Maid Team is a favorite. Yes, it's silly. Yes, there are better artists out there. But the combination of comedy, fanservice and story make this a title I always look forward to.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: All
Released By: Studio Ironcat
Orientation: Right to Left