Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Text/Translatin Rating: B-
- Age Rating: All
- Released By: Studio Ironcat
- MSRP: 12.95
- Pages: 208
- ISBN: 1-929090-71-4
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Hanaukyo Maid Team Vol. #01
By Mike Dungan
November 22, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2003
Hanaukyo Maid Team Vol.#01
© Studio Ironcat
Translated by:Richard S. Kim
Adapted by:What They Say
Following his dying mother's wishes, Tarou has gone to Tokyo to live with his grandfather. When he finds his new home it's a giant mansion full of specialtist maids, instructed to dutifully serve the head of the family! What wil happen to Tarou, now master of this mansion, as he begins his strange new life?The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tarou Hanaukyo's mother has just died, but before she went, she asked Tarou to live with his grandfather who lives in Tokyo. When Tarou arrives, he finds an enormous mansion full of hundreds of beautiful maids, all trained to serve the master of the house. The leader of the maids is Mariel, a beautiful young woman with long flowing light-blue hair. She's kind and caring, and everyone answers to her. Unfortunately for Tarou, serving the master means doing everything for him, right up to including unzipping and holding him while he uses the toilet. A video message from his grandfather explains a lot. He is a grade A lech, and this is exactly how he likes to live. He's decided to retire to some place warm and exotic, and now Tarou is the master of the house.
He tries to continue to live his own life, including attending his own middle school. The maids go to work, improving his position with teachers and classmates with clever subterfuges and crazy plans. Back at the mansion, we get to meet a couple more maids. One is Cynthia, a cute little blonde who rarely speaks, and the other is Ikuyo. Ikuyo wears glasses and is something of a mad genius when it comes to inventions. One of her inventions unfortunately malfunctions and explodes inside the castle.
During the rebuilding of the castle, they have a visitor. Ryuuka Jihiou is the daughter of the Jihiou family, another financial combine as wealthy as the Hanaukyo. She's proud, arrogant and beautiful, and she knows it. She's come to see the new head of the Hanaukyo family. Her family has played second fiddle to the Hanaukyo for years, and when Tarou accidentally smacks her in the face with a steel beam, it's the last straw. However, he finds a novel way of defusing the situation.
Next up, everyone heads to the beach to relax. The relaxation doesn't last long, as Ryuuka arrives, looking rather fabulous and stirring up a bit of trouble. At night, they spend some time at the hot springs before putting on yukata and playing with fireworks. Tarou is starting to warm up to Mariel, and realizes he has feelings for her.
A new character is introduced in the next chapter. Konowe is tall and dark, with long, flowing hair. She's the captain of the mansion's security. Her demeanor is perfectly suited to the task. She's stern and demanding, instilling fear in everyone around her. She's also as devoted to the head of the Hanaukyo family as the other maids, and immediately puts restrictions on what Tarou may and may not do. He convinces her to accompany him to town so he can do a little shopping, which forces her to wear civilian clothes for once. The little black dress she wears makes me wish she wore civilian clothes more often. It's a chance for the two of them to talk, and she does her best to advise him on his feelings for Mariel.
The next chapter shows us just how difficult his life can be, even on a day off. Finally, we meet another member of the maid team, Grace. Grace looks just like Cynthia, because she is Cynthia. Cynthia has two personalities. Grace is acerbic and somewhat mean-spirited, and only comes out when needed. She happens to be the family's computer expert, and when the mansion's computer comes under attack, everyone tries like mad to bring the Grace personality out of Cynthia.Comments
Hanaukyo Maid Team is one of the more extreme versions of the genre I've ever seen. One middle school-aged boy and hundreds of maids at his command. Mariel is a bit of an enigma, as she seems to have no will of her own. Whatever the master wills is what she wills. This is a bit of a hindrance to Tarou's romantic intentions, as he wants to know if she truly likes him or is simply doing her duty. Ikuyo is good comic relief. She starts out as a fairly standard clumsy girl who wears glasses, but by the end of the volume, she starts to exhibit some of the deviousness that makes her so much fun. Konowe could have been a fairly stock archetype, but her abilities and command presense make her interesting. Most intriguing is Cynthia/Grace. She appears to have the most potential for future stories. The story isn't anything outstanding, but there is a good amount of genuine humor to go with all the fanservice. And there is plenty of fanservice. There's almost no nudity, but there are plenty of accidental gropings, pantyshots and cleavage everywhere. Morishige's art is fairly standard for the genre, but I do like the expressions on his characters, as well as his gags.
Ironcat has published this book in a smaller than B6 format, but priced at $12.95. A lot of people find it had to justify the extra $3, especially in a smaller than standard-sized book. But Ironcat's financial situation is forcing the higher price. That's a tough row they're trying to how. The cover of the book is a large image of Mariel with images of Tarou, Ikuyo, Konowe and Cynthia/Grace around her. The original Japanese logo is retained, with the English title underneath it. Even the spine shows the Japanese logo. The back cover has several small images of the main characters spread about it. No sound effects are translated, but there several pages of a sound effects index at the back. Signs and cultural notes are translated in the gutters right on the page, which is welcome.
With a popular anime series airing in Japan based on the manga, it was a wise decision by Ironcat to acquire the license. As of the time of this review, only three of the 8 volumes have been published in a year and a half. Considering Ironcat's current financial difficulties, every time a volume comes out, I have to wonder if this will be the last. Fans of the series will just have to hope for the best.