Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite

Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     November 26, 2004
Release Date: January 04, 2005


Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
With the death of his mother, a nerdy third-year middle school student, Taro Hanaukyo, traveled to Tokyo to meet his grandfather. What Taro saw there was a huge estate that was so immense he couldn't see from one end to the other, as well as countless number of beautiful maids. Taro was the grandson of Hokusai Hanaukyo, who amassed the Hanaukyo Family's fortune single-handedly. However, Hokusai was absent from the estate and, all of a sudden, Taro was handed the family's inheritance and ended up being the head of household for the Hanaukyo Family - a family so wealthy that it even has the power to divide the country of Japan. The maids Taro ends up living with are such characters as Mariel, the head of the maids; Konoe Tsurugi of the Security Department; Ikuyo Suzuki of the Technology Department; and Grace, the computer expert. Each of those characters possesses a unique talent and they comprise a group of maids with different expertise called the "Hanaukyo Maid Team." Taro spends his days at the mercy of those maids' antics, whose top and only priority is to "serve the head of household, Master Taro!"

The Review!
With the loss of his mother, Taro moves in with a grandfather he's never known only to find himself surrounded by the ultimate in evil – maids.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Like a lot of other shows we've been watching recently, this is a dialogue driven show and a very lightly spoken one at that for the most part. With it being filled with subservient maids and a quiet lead male character, it's not a loud or boisterous dialogue track outside of a few exceptions. The music and ambient effects do a good job of handling the stereo channels and providing a full feeling to the audio track. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being such a recent series, it has some really good animation to it, when the characters actually move about that is. The transfer here shows off the strengths of the program well with a wide variety of colors, lots of bright vibrant uniforms and richly drawn and detailed backgrounds. Other than a bit of softness here and there that may be intentional, this piece looks pretty much flawless. I didn't see any problems with color gradation issues, cross coloration or even anything noteworthy with aliasing. This is just a very clean and clear looking transfer that's easy to just sit back and enjoy.

Packaging:
Using artwork that doesn't look to have been used in the Japanese release, or at least as a front cover, the artwork here is a good looking shot of Mariel and Taro together in their regular attire that uses the same logo as the Japanese but just translated. They also include some of the Japanese text from the Japanese covers in the soft pastel colored background. While the character design's aren't overly detailed, they look good here and Mariel's definitely one that will capture some attention. The back cover is very nicely laid out with a very detailed summary of the shows premise along the top and then a breakdown of the four episodes with multiple pictures for each episode. The discs features and production information is listed below in a bit tighter fashion and I continue to wish they'd list the aspect ratio here as well when they're full frame. The insert has a sketch version of the character artwork from the front cover with a listing of the episode chapter stops while the other side shows a sketch of Grace and Cynthia. The cover for this release is reversible with the main cover having a very cute picture of Grace and Cynthia together. The back side is the same as the other back side but they use different shots from the show, some a bit more suggestive at that.

Menu:
Though a good portion of the beauty of this menu is with the character design, the layout style used here only draws that out more and provides a great looking piece. With Mariel set to the side with her eyes closed and enjoying the breeze, a light bit of the opening song plays along here as blossoms flow by behind her. This just looks really great and I wasn't surprised to find that Nightjar was behind it. For some reason their menus just strike me as the best there are out there. Submenus load quickly, access times are nice and fast and the disc properly read our players' language presets allowing us to skip an entire menu.

Extras:
The extras are pretty light for the opening volume here, which makes me wonder how light they will be for the entire series, as the only thing we get here is the textless opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the last few years, the maid genre of the anime series has become so prevalent that it reached a saturation point that started pushing away a number of fans. There'd been so many of these kinds of shows, even ones where maids make no sense in being involved, that you felt like you couldn't shake a stick without hitting a character in a cute maid outfit. It's even worse if you watch hentai series as well. The fetish for maids in anime continues to be fairly strong, especially if you go by what gets licensed these days, and we're seeing a lot of them these days. Hanaukuyo Maid Team is just the latest.

And while I'm leaning more and more towards finding maid shows to be the spawn of the devil, this one surprised me by being just a bit more charming and appealing than I would have expected it to be. In a way, it does constitute the harem anime origins that most maid shows have their basis in but they manage to really keep the potential harem small. And while the lead does fall into the fairly wimpy category, his age gives him excuse to not really make a choice. Then again, he only seems interested in one of them unlike other harem shows that seemingly leave it open enough for a number of women for the male to go after.

With a subtitle of "The Truth" for the series name, Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite is an oddity in itself. It's a remake of the Hanaukyo Maid Team show, but this version is supposedly better animated and it's filled with more nudity. And nipples. The all important nipples to some fans are most definitely included here in a number of scenes. It's rare that an anime series actually gets a remake, and I can think of half a dozen more deserving ones off the top of my head, but this one getting one had me a bit more interested to see what it would be about. If the story is worth telling again, surely it's good enough for watching one time.

Skewing young again, we're introduced to third year middle school student Taro Hanaukyo. He's just lost his mother to the grave and has been told that he'll be living with a grandfather he's never met before. His brief quiet time at his mother's grave is interrupted when the attractive blue haired Mariel arrives and informs him that she's now his personal maid and that she'll be bringing him to the mansion. As it turns out, the elder Hanaukyo has left the mansion and turned over everything to Taro, making him the new master of the household and the head of the family. This is of course shocking to Taro but it doesn't start to settle in until he sees the massive mansion in the middle of the forest and the hundreds of maids that are now at his service.

There are a wide variety of departments for the maids; Security, food, medical, research, personal and more. Each of them performs distinct duties in their efforts to serve their master and forward the Hanaukyo family and its holdings. It's holdings are quite vast as we come to learn, with some speculation that the family name controls roughly half of Japan from behind the scenes with its power. Much of this is kept to the side though as something that exists and something that Taro must deal with, but it's not the focus of the show. The focus is on Taro and how he runs the household and deals with the maids. And his growing affection/crush/love for Mariel.

With so many women and no men around, Taro's life certainly isn't easy since he's more of the laid back do it yourself kind of kid as opposed to the kind that will rule the house with an iron hand. So he's often on the run from the various servants and trying to keep himself chaste as well. One of the more amusing parts of his Personal Staff of maids is the trio of Melon, Lemon and Marron, three very attractive and busty women who are his personal bed warmers. They argue over whose breasts their master should lay his head on for the night. When one of them kisses Taro first, the others fight for "first deep kiss" and "first lay". Even more amusing, though not done nearly as much, his personal bathers is a series of young women who lather themselves up, strip Taro down and proceed to rub their breasts and bodies all over him to get him clean.

Naturally, there's a wide cast of amusing and interesting characters that Taro gets to deal with. His head of security, Konoe, is the darkly serious type who doesn't believe Taro will make a good head of the household with as much as he plays around. So you know he's got to spend time working her over to his point of view and that she'll find him more interesting after that event. Konoe has an assistant in the overly energetic Yashima. She also provides some of the overt lesbianism towards her boss which is played out pretty innocently for the most part. The head scientist type is an amusing character named Ikuyo who loves to make up stories and generally mess with Taro's head while also providing him with bad toys that cause more trouble.

The real competition comes with the more adult women though. With Taro falling hard and fast for Mariel, he's rather shocked when he learns that as the head of the family, he's already been promised in a way to another woman. Rukya's the daughter of the Jihioh family and in order for her to claim the position of head of the family, she has agreed to her fathers demands that she marry the head of the Hanaukyo family, which will then bring the two most powerful families together and solidify their control over pretty much everything. Rukya's pretty much set to do whatever it takes to achieve that position but she can't believe that Taro is the head of the family. She ends up in instant competition with Mariel once she realizes that's who Taro is really falling for and Rukya goes into hyper mode to defeat her. What works really nice with this character is that, at least so far, she doesn't decide that in order to win him over she must move in with him and become a maid to serve him like Mariel does. In fact, other than the episode where she's the focus, she doesn't reappear in this volume. That alone makes this a significant change over other similar shows.

The character designs in this show are naturally quite attractive. Since fanservice is a huge part of the appeal, the designs have to be good and they do pay off nicely here. Mariel's the natural winner but there are some really good designs throughout, from the trio of bathers to Konoe. Even Ikuyo is amusing in her design. The series also forces the characters to deal with a lot of wild takes over the course of these episodes and that helps to humanize them well. There's a lot of stripping going on as well so fans of that will certainly appreciate it. The look and feel of the show is very distinct here with the sizeable mansion and the numerous maids and divisions with which they belong to. But combined with the pacing and the general good naturedness of Taro, it avoids being overly hyperactive on a continual basis. Things do happen, but the down time is more common than the up time, allowing for a chance to get to know the characters a bit. Some of it's clichéd, but for a maid show that's almost like a starting point.

In Summary:
I went into this show with very little expectations since I've been burned by so many maid series in the last few years. While it does play with a number of clichés, from the pre-set marriage to his grandfather heading out before he arrives, there's some sort of charm to this show that just sneaks up on you. I didn't go in set to hate it but I ended coming out of it impressed that I was actually interested to see how it was going to play out as well as liking a number of the characters. I don't think it really brings anything new to the genre but it handles the genre just right and doesn't try to be too far over the top too continually.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Limited Edition Pencilboard with the box

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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