Mania Grade: B-
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- 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
- 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. #2
By Chris Beveridge
March 25, 2005
Release Date: March 22, 2005
What They Say
Things are never the same for Taro when Ryuka joins the maid team at the Hanaukyo mansion after the incident at "Comic Manga Market" - the world's biggest exhibition and sales convention of fanzines. Ryuka takes control of the personal attendant department, and frantically tries to lead her team to the number one spot in the annual budget contest. Meanwhile, Cynthia suddenly disappears from the Hanaukyo Family and Taro gets lost in Kamakura with a mysterious beautiful woman with a red sport car. Can Konoe find Taro before it's too late?
Each DVD contains 4 complete episodes, has 2 fan-friendly subtitles (English Dialogs & Signs, Signs only), a clear keep case with special dual DVD Cover, and a special limited edition pencilboard! This DVD also features the non-credit closing animation as a DVD extra.The Review!
Turning into a "getting to know you" phase, Rukya essentially moves into the residence so she can keep an eye on Taro.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:
The artwork used for this clear keepcase has a cute looking shot of Yashima leaning up towards Konoe with a very happy smile on her face while Konoe simply does her best to look imposing. They also include some of the Japanese text from the Japanese covers in the soft pastel colored background. While the character designs aren't overly detailed, they look good here and the coloring comes across really well. The back cover is very nicely laid out with a 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 Ikuyo and Rukya. The cover for this release is reversible with the main cover having a very cute picture of Ikuyo and Rukya 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 good looking piece. This one lets Konoe take the center stage and while not as flowing and detailed, it does have a light bit of the opening song plays along here as blossoms flow by behind her. 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:
With hardly any extras on the Japanese release, it's not surprising that the only piece here is the textless ending sequence.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hanaukyo Maid Team continues to be a series that in some ways baffles me. I'm certainly not a great fan of the maid genre in general and the way of harem series since that particular genre has been so nailed into the ground over the years that it's become a truly hollow shell of what once made it entertaining for the most part. But now having finished eight episodes of Hanaukyo Maid Team, I find myself being easily amused by it and simply enjoying the way it messes around with the characters and I can't quite pin down why.
The show doesn't really explore anything new with this set of four episodes but it continues to expand the relationships of the characters in how they interact with Taro. While the first volume focused mainly on the staff becoming used to how different Taro is from their previous master and adapting to the way he wants to run things, this volume brings it a little bit closer to Taro by just having one character really be the focus, though thankfully she doesn't overwhelm things. The disc actually opens with Ikuyo's latest big plan and that's the conquer the Comic Market with her doujinshi. She's quite crafty in that she brings several of the maids and others with her and dresses them up. It is so rare these days to see gags like this due to copyright problems, but having the cast dress up as Chii from Chobits, Alucard from Hellsing and Sugar from Sugar is just priceless. The best being Taro as Mahoro and his uttering the "doujinshi are dirty" line. Though brief, it's just a beautifully played out sequence.
Having seen so many comic market episodes over the years this one hits up the consistency of those well enough that you feel like you could walk in cold to one and know all you needed to know. Where this one turns interesting is when Rukya, who is continuing to spy on Taro so that she can defeat him, discovers military doujinshi with all kinds of things inside it that appeal to her. Taro learns of this after running into her and she can't believe that someone has discovered her secret, so she takes it upon herself to ensure that Taro doesn't tell anyone about this little pleasure of hers that's unbecoming of a young woman in her position.
And what better way than to move into the residence? Under the premise of getting to know her future husband better, she goes through the motions of applying to the various maid departments and trying to get a toehold there so that she can be close to Taro to ensure he doesn't rat her out. The best part is that everyone keeps turning her down for the job but she ends up with the Personal Staff in the end, which means she's one of those responsible for making sure Taro doesn't sleep in a sense and is constantly taken care of. With the triplets taking her under their wing, it's very amusing how Rukya goes from feeling successful to scared out of her mind. Of course, with her personality, it's not long before she subjugates the entire staff and takes over, which leads to some concern among the other staffs.
Rukya's being around constantly now, though not overwhelmingly thankfully, means that she's more involved in the competition around the mansion. One of the competitions that Taro wasn't aware of was that other than a couple of key staff areas like Memol and those working for Mariel have to compete each year in a baseball tournament to ensure they get the level of funding that they need. Konoe's team has pretty much won continually which is why the security folks are always up to date with the latest gear but she finds herself challenged this time around as Rukya is whipping the Personal Staff into shape and the other staff groups are eager to take advantage of the confusion, particularly Ikuyo and her group.
The entire baseball aspect is just a lot of fun and they play it up for laughs without treating it too seriously. The competition side of it just amplifies what normally goes on around there but it's just so much fun to watch them playing around like this and having a good time that it's really addictive in its own way. It keeps coming back to everyone realizing that while Taro is fairly oblivious, his good natured personality is what allows him to do some strange things or to make odd suggestions that in the end work towards bringing them all closer together or at least understanding each other more.
At the end of the day though, this is a show that's built around all the women serving their master and trying to please him. This part of it is definitely a constant throughout the show but it's toned down from even what it was in the first volume as the people who interact with him the most continue to get more and more familiar with him. It's quickly changing from a boss/employee kind of relationship that someone like Konoe would want into something that means much more to her and is closer to what Mariel seems to always have. And overall, while the various women do seem to care for Taro, it hasn't really approached the kind of overwhelming love that most other series end up with, with the exception of Rukya but that's plainly intentional.In Summary:
The first volume of the series caught us off-guard since by all appearances it looked like more of the same and would probably bore us to tears. It instead proved to have a bit of heart to it and some fun naughty comedy that helped it feel and play out differently than a lot of other shows along the same lines. This set of episodes expands the show overall but gives its focus to Rukya so that she can become a more key member of the growing family. There's some really fantastic visual gags in this volume as well as some very enjoyable sports moments which carry things along well. The series isn't making anything like huge waves with us, but it's proving to be more enjoyable than I expected for the fluff that it is, considering we're already two-thirds of the way through it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Ending Sequence
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.