Hand Maid May - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: F
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
  • Released By: Odex Private Limited
  • MSRP: SG $65.90
  • Running time: 270
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hand Maid May

Hand Maid May

    May 11, 2002


Hand Maid May
© Odex Private Limited


What They Say
Satome Kazuya, a university student obsessed with mechanical reserch, was working on his pet project – Ikariya, an inteligent robot octopus. One day, his boisterous rival gave him a mysterious CD-ROM that contained a computer virus, created to destroy his computer and corrupt his research data. But somehow the virus directed Kazuya to a mysterious website where he accidently ordered Handmaid May: a 4-inch robotic maid designed to help out around the house. The arrival of May brought a new dimension to Satome’s dull and boring life and he started to realise that he had so many wild possibilites out in front of him…

The Review!
(Note: This R3 release has no region coding)

This 3 DVD set was an impulse purchase for me. Getting the whole series for about less than one and a third the cost of the region 1 DVDs sounded pretty good to me. I had a fair idea about what to expect in this show after reading some of the manga in AX magazine. I new it had fanservice and wasn’t exactly politically correct, but I expected the anime to have a whole lot more plot and story.

Audio:
We only get the Japanese track on this disc. You would think they would include the US English dub as well, but for some reason (maybe due to licensing issues) its not here. Odex have released at least one English dubbed VCD in the past, but yet none of their DVDs have English dubs. I didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions in the audio at all, and the track sounds quite decent for a TV series.

Video:
It looks really nice. I could not see any real problems with it what so ever. Being that it’s a recent show helps I guess. All the original openings and closings are kept intact in their original language which I’m sure some people will really like. Only problem is we don’t get translations of the cast and crew. The English subtitles will probably take some getting used to if you have only watched R1 subtitled anime. For those who have watched Odex’s “Boys Be…”you know what to expect. I’d say they’re on par with that release. For those who haven’t seen Odex’s other releases, some of the dialogue contains odd phrases and slang from Singapore. “Fellas” for instance seems to replace “guys” a lot, and who can forget the “Yaps”! Some of the wording they’ve chosen seems a little odd at times, and in some rare cases the dialogue seems a little too literal. The only other problem I had is Odex only use one colour for their subs and no “-” mark to distinguish when two people are talkin!
g at the same time. This makes it a little hard sometimes to figure out who is talking. But for all it’s minor faults and sometimes odd localised dialogue, the subtitles are easy to understand and overall quite good.

Packaging:
The cover has a very purple and has a nice shot of all the cast members on the front with a “Ikariya” border. The back has a large shot of May, but is covered with smaller shots of the main cast, which is in turn covered with an English synopsis of the show. A tad busy, but it looks alright. We also have a cast list, but it’s in Japanese. At the bottom we have the usual DVD information ‘box’ that you see on most Asian DVD releases, with info about what subtitles, languages, ratio, runtime (which oddly states 90 mins), and region coding (yes, it’s region free) the discs have. On the reverse of the sleeve we have various shots from the show. The three discs themselves are screen printed with shots of May and Kasumi. The thing most people will probably hate is the actual packaging. Odex have managed to fit three discs into one clear Amaray keepcase. We have the first disc on the actual Amaray hub, and in the middle of the keepcase is a white “filiper” which holds the second disc.!
That’s two DVDs, so where’s the third? On the inside front cover. It’s held there by one of those spongy white hubs you that you find on those free AOL CD-ROM promotional discs (well the ones that I’ve seen in Australia are like that; a spongy white hub stuck on a piece of cardboard, and the CD-ROM sits on the hub). I suspect a lot of people will hate this, but I don’t really mind. The disc never came off in transit and that’s all I care about.

Menus:
Each menu contains a static picture from the show with the options laid out clearly. Somewhat dull but it serves it’s purpose. There aren’t a great deal of chapter stops on the discs. Only one for each episode, which is a real pain if you watch a few episodes in a row and want to skip the open sequence each time.

Extras:
Absolutely nothing except trailers of other Odex titles.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Satome Kazuya is a university student studying engineering. He is working on a prototype artificial intelligence squid-like robot named Ikariya. Upon hearing about Kazuya’s partially successful robot, Kotoro Nanbara, Kazuya’s sometime friend, sometime arch nemesis gives him a DVD-ROM which he claims will improve his computer. In reality the disc contains a virus. Nanbara is jealous of Kazuya and wants to cause some damage. Instead of destroying data, the virus somehow takes Kazuya to a website where it accidentally orders a cyberdoll maid. The package arrives within minutes. Inside is a 1/6 scale cyberdoll maid named May.

A few days after registering her, the company who made her, Cyberdyne (I can hear James Cameron’s lawyers leaping into motion), send over another cyberdoll, Sala (Sara in the US translations) to get the $1.5 million off Kazuya for purchasing May. She eventually teams up with Nanbara, who wants her to help him make Kazuya’s life miserable. Of course Kazuya and May are beginning to get on really well with each other, and he will do almost anything in his power to let them both be together.

Well let’s face it, this type of romantic shonnen type show has been done a million times before. Love Hina has shown that you can make something different and entertaing out of this overdone genre, but Hand Maid May is stuck firmly in anime cliché mode. Aside from lazily borrowing from Tenchi Muyo, most of the story and plot seems to be lifted from Saber Marionette J, especially the Kazuya/Nanbara relationship, which is incredibly similar to the Otaru/Hanagata relationship in Saber Marionette J.

Predictably Kazuya gets a cyberdoll girl for his harem every other episode. Well actually they mostly come from the company to retrieve May, but all end up staying with Kazuya (reason which become clearer towords the end of the series). Rena the childlike but cute doll, Kei the intellectual but sexy doll, Mami the perfect housewife doll, the usual female stereotypes in shows like these. We also have Kasumi, literally the girl next door and daughter of Kazuya’s landlord. Naturally she’s smitten with him as well, and feels she’s in competition with May (who Kazuya is falling in love with), but of course she seems unable to tell him how she feels.

The one thing that annoys me about this show is the amount of fanservice. I don’t mind a little fanservice but in this show at times I felt it replaces plot. I don’t think any woman would wear skirts as short as Kasumi, and have any of the women in this show heard of bras? Obviously in the world of Hand Maid May they don’t exist. The other thing which got to me was the fact the script writers thought it would be funny if everybody fights all the time and shouts at each other in a comic way. No it’s not funny, just bloody annoying.

There were a few good points in this show which almost made it worth while. Episode 8, which provides some backstory to Kazuya and Kasumi's relationship is an absolute gem, and makes up for most of the mediocre episodes which precede it. I also liked the fact that May tries to do all the housework that full sized person would do, but ended up failing sometimes due to her small size. The character designs are also nice, there are some very cute scenes and set-ups along the way (I particularly liked the two kids from the baseball team Kasumi was coaching, and the trip to the fireworks festival), but they can’t quite make up for a rather lackluster script.

Overall it was an OK show, but definitely not something I’ll watch again in a hurry. The main problem here is that we’ve seen it all before, and there has been much better shows produced in this genre. For what it cost me (about US$37.00 including postage) I think it was decent purchase. I’d recommend this DVD set for any “sub only” non-US residents who can’t really afford importing the region 1 discs. Those who want English dubs or absolutely perfect English subtitles might want to get the US release. But if you like this type of genre and plenty of fanservice, you can’t go wrong with this set.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Chinese Subtitles,Malay Subtitles


Review Equipment
Toshiba SD-2019Y DVD Player (PAL/NTSC, Region Free), 60cm Panasonic TC-59R62 TV set (PAL/NTSC)

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