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. #3
By Chris Beveridge
May 11, 2005
Release Date: May 24, 2005
Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite Vol. #3
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
As Usual, Taro procastinates instead of taking Mariel out. Learning of his plan from other maids, Mariel asks him out for a date. They enjoy their time together, but soon after, Mariel collapses and goes into a coma. Then Taro receives a surprise visit from some maids serving his grandfather, Hokusai. Taro does his best to keep them from taking Mariel away from the Hanaukyo mansion, but receives no help from Konoe and the other security staff. She says the will of the previous family head overrides Taro's command and reveals Mariel's secret. Can Taro get Mariel back?The Review!
Bringing the series to a close before it can get into a rut, a surprising revelation is made and the cast wears their hearts on their sleeves as they prove just how close they've all become.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 the final volume has a simple but sweet shot of both Taro and Mariel holding hands and almost twirling each other around as they smile from being in each others company. 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 Mariel. The cover for this release is reversible with the main cover having a very cute picture of Mariel deep in thought, almost praying. 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, the last installment finishes things out with the original Japanese opening and closing sequences as well as a clean version of the "series ending" sequence which is mostly just recapped images from the series.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the course of the last six months, Geneon's managed to release a number of shows that weren't exactly high profile and weren't titles that a lot of people were really raving over. These were titles that were just under the radar of most fans either because of the lack of word of mouth or just from what you could see by the designs. Each of them in turn has really been much more than I had expected, from Popotan having more emotional depth than you'd guess by the covers to the sheer insane fun of the Daichi's. One other show that falls into this category is Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite.
With its being dose of maids as everyone who serves in the house wears a specific kind of uniform, from the security personnel to the women who keep him soft and warm at night and the young looking lead in the form of Taro, this show just screamed that it would be bad right from the start, or at the least a symbol of the continuing trend of awful shows coming out of Japan in the last few years. But just like the other two series mentioned, especially like Popotan, Hanaukyo manages to have quite a lot of heart and emotion to it and it tries so hard to avoid a lot of the usual pitfalls and pratfalls that would take down a lesser series. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it's much more relaxed for a good part of its run, letting the characters actually talk and try to figure each other out instead of constant action.
Not that there isn't action. The inclusion of a character like Rukya who finds herself slowly being charmed by Taro and his ways as she sees how he interacts not only with his staff but also with her rival in Mariel brings a lot of the wild moments to things since she knows she's got some serious competition. As she goes through the motions you can see how she's realizing that she's got the short end of the stick this time around and does her best to compensate for it. Even better though is that once she realizes that she can never be what Mariel is to Taro, she doesn't turn it into an even bigger match or tries to eliminate Mariel but instead accepts things as they are, but not without revealing some of her own true feelings about the matter.
With these last four episodes, we get some good material that helps to round things out and essentially ends what you could call the first chapter of the storyline. Taro's trying his best to find time alone with Mariel so that he can talk openly with her without being disturbed and this leads to them sneaking out of the mansion and going into the city. The time the two spend alone is nicely done as it's essentially just a simple date and it's fun to watch them playing around town and just having that quiet time together. Taro's finally able to start asking the questions he wants about feelings, liking people and the usual awkward ones of the age, but the revelations he gets are heartwarming at first but then disturbing and awful as he realizes what's really going on.
With her answers setting him up for a fall and his own reaction to it, Mariel ends up in a state where she's out of the picture, which after some initial time allowing for her health to be restored she's kidnapped by the elder Hanaukyo's lead maid as he wants his prize possession back. The story gets kind of twisted at this point as it turns into action/rescue fiesta but it's done with such great combat sequences as Taro leads the closest members of the group deep into the facility where Mariel is being held. Rukya in particular comes across extremely well here as she has some good growth and the rest of the characters are spot on. It all felt out of place in its own way but it just managed to click right I think.In Summary:
This series managed to prove itself over the course of its twelve episodes, though it had certainly had us interested in the first volume, and again gives merit in my mind to actually spending time with shows to see just how they change and evolve. Unfortunately, audiences today need to be wowed or hooked right from the start (and it's why I no longer bother with prime time TV series since anything I like barely lasts more than a few episodes) and something like this that looks so much like every other maid series on the shelf will suffer. With its short length and overall lack of filler, each episode worked its way well towards expanding and understanding the interesting cast and the unique situation that they're in. In the end, the show lets is characters evolve nicely and show their true feelings and desires. It won't change the world but it certainly brought a smile to my face with each episode.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Series Ending,Original Japanese Opening & Closing
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.