Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden Full Metal Maid Collection - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Sentai Filmworks
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 700
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mahoromatic

Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden Full Metal Maid Collection

Double down on robotic maids with two seasons of Mahoromatic

By Chris Beveridge     December 09, 2009
Release Date: August 04, 2009


Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden Full Metal Maid Collection
© Sentai Filmworks

Atoning for a past sin, Mahoro becomes a maid to a young boy who has lost his parents.

What They Say

Troubles you can only dream of... Suguru's horrible cleaning skills have his friends calling his home the "haunted house," and being an orphan, he needs help! Enter Mahoro, a beautiful 19-year old that catches bullets in her fingers, claims to be an android, and who wants to be his maid!

Now, his school friends are suspicious and his well-endowed teacher is going over the edge with jealousy. How will he react when he discovers that Mahoro only has 398 days to live and has chosen him for a reason?

Contains both Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden and Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful.

The Review!
Audio:
The bilingual presentation for this release mirrors the previous one by Geneon Entertainment with a pair of stereo tracks encoded at 224kbps. The mix for the show is pretty good as there’s a fair bit of action throughout along with some very good sounding music as well. The action scenes make out the best with directionality and placement, but there are some good ones with dialogue as well where there are various characters placed across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001 and 2002, the transfer for this twenty-six episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The discs here are the same as what we got with the two individual sets that were released before, which was two discs for season one and three discs for season two. The bulk of the show looks quite good, even if the animation is looking a bit dated and old now, but there are a few small problem areas. The main areas come in the dark blue or black backgrounds where we can see a fair bit of noise, particularly in the first episode. This eases off as it goes on a bit since it tends to work with brighter colors and those come across very soft and pleasant looking as intended. There’s a bit of line noise in a few scenes as well but overall it’s a solid if unexceptional transfer.

Packaging:
Combining the two seasons together into one package, the “Full Metal Maid” release plays on some popular naming conventions in a way that works rather cutely, though obvious. Done in a stackpack which is just awful in my view, the actual artwork is decent with a cute picture of Mahoro sitting down with her knees together as she wears the maid uniform with a bit of blush to her cheeks. The green background feels too dark for this kind of show as I think it would have worked better with something brighter, even pink, which is usually the death knell of a release. The back cover has a decent layout to it with a notebook style where the right side has a user manual of sorts for Mahoro and the left has a bunch of photos from the show. The bottom rounds things out with the large amount of production information for both seasons and a good clean technical grid that lists everything. They make good note of the episode count and the inclusion of the OVA and the few meager extras. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design is very simple and straightforward with a piece of static artwork of Mahoro for each volume with soft pink background. Each volume has an vertical listing for episode selection for each of the six on the volume while to the right it has the other selections, such as extras and languages on the first volume and trailers and languages on the second volume. Submenus load quickly for what little you need to use them, especially as the extras are listed at the top level with no submenu, and each disc correctly read our players’ language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The only extras included on this on release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences for each season which can be found on the first disc of the first season and the third disc of the second season.

Season 1 Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga which began its run in 1998, this 2001 series from Gainax was part of their big push to become relevant again when they decided to launch a number of shows. At the time, the maid fad was hitting a high so having Gainax come in with their particular style, nipples and all, only reinforced the vigor with which many fans went after such shows. Maid shows have thankfully abated heavily since then, even in the adult genre, so revisiting this title some seven years after its original airing is an interesting thing.

This first season, which runs twelve episodes, certainly plays better the second time around for me. The maid aspect doesn’t feel as though it’s everywhere since few shows released now do it and the collected format helps the show feel a bit smoother in its narrative. Mahoromatic revolves around a combat android named Mahoro who was created nine years earlier by the organization known as Vesper. They’re engaged in a secret war with a race of creatures known only as Saint. The reasons for the war are eventually given towards the end of the season and it does leave a lot of vague aspects to it, but for those on the human side, they only know the warring side of Saint and have been working hard to combat it. Mahoro has been something of a crowning achievement for them and has accomplished a lot, but her lifespan is almost up if she continues to serve as a combat android.

Because of her past performance, she’s given the option to either serve out her remaining thirty-seven odd days in combat mode or to retire and spend about a year as an ordinary person of sorts. Mahoro’s choice is easy as she has something she feels she must atone for. Some time earlier, in an encounter with Saint, she was forced to kill the Vesper commander Misato as he was taken hostage and destruction was ensured if she didn’t shoot through him to get to the Saint operative. Mahoro’s felt guilty about this ever since because the commander’s son, Suguru, lost his mother a few years earlier and now she’s taken his father as well. So she takes the option and heads to Suguru’s home where he lives alone in his parents house.

Taking on the role of a maid as a way to atone for things, she’s able to get into his life fairly easily by pretending to be an eighteen year old young woman who has spent a lot of time abroad and is quite excellent at cooking and cleaning. Mahoro is also rather prudish in some ways as she chastises Suguru’s interest in large breasted pornography, but some of that may come from her design which is smaller than average. Yet even as she chastises him, she’s very open about herself physically, partially due to the way she likely doesn’t think about such things since she’s an android. Suguru is unsure of her at first, but the idea of living with such a cute girl who will take care of the house certainly is appealing. And their first encounters point to both of them being more than they seem, which in some ways intrigues him in a subconscious way.

Mahoromatic takes on a fairly predictable route during a good part of this after the introductions. Suguru’s classmates are interested in her to varying levels with the boys all agape and the girls not all that happy. Well, except for the one that completely adores Mahoro’s worldly cooking skills. The one most upset by Mahoro’s presence is a teacher named Shikijo who has huge breasts and is all interested in shaping Suguru’s sexual future in a very creepy way. That aspect was bothersome the first time around and it’s still creepy here as she has ideas of how she wants to treat him and she wears the skimpiest and tightest of outfits as she tries to gain his attention. In fact, she had a lot of his attention until Mahoro showed up and that has led to her resenting Mahoro even more, especially since Mahoro is so small chested.

With the decent sized cast, we get plenty of basic school days material such as summer trips, a fall trip to the mountains, the fun of school and events where the teachers get involved. But amidst all of these things there are some really interesting elements that come into play. Mahoro has a fair number of flashbacks to when she had to deal with Suguru’s father, both positive and negative, which has shaped how she views the world. Her training is amusing but it’s even more amusing to see how she came by the maid idea. And into this we also get the introduction of Slash, a panther-like companion of Mahoro’s who aids her in her fights. Thankfully, there aren’t too many fights, it’s not like a Saint monster of the week kind of series which is a big plus in it favor. When we do get something like that, it’s almost surreal but very interesting to watch, especially in retrospect.

The one main Saint character that comes into play in the second half of this series is Ryuga, a combat android himself. He’s been given a different mission of sorts by the leader of Saint, Matthew, and he intends to have a rematch with Mahoro since he was so badly beaten the first time around. Ryuga goes for a different approach this time as he tries to understand what Mahoro is doing, so he becomes a teacher at the school and asks a lot of questions about Suguru. That puts Mahoro on edge and Suguru picks up on it all since he’s instantly distrustful of Ryuga from the minute he met him. The trio does bring everything to a conclusion at the end of the series, but it’s a nicely done story arc as it brings together a lot of things in a fun and engaging way, particularly with the origins of Saint.

Season 2 Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the popularity of the first season, particularly during the big maid boom fad of the time, it wasn’t a surprise that a second season would come along. Something More Beautiful follows the second half of the manga fairly well by all appearances outside of the ending which is rather quite different here. For the bulk of this season however, what we get is essentially what we had in the first season but with a bit more edge and an additional maid. It follows the model of why tinker with success, but then throws a Gainax curveball at the end to give it all a little bit more.
Something More Beautiful deals with some larger issues overall while still keeping to the core storyline of having Mahoro and Suguru living together as she spends her final months of operational time. As the two are living happily together and dealing with their friends, the background organization known as the Management is moving to secure their plans for the future. Management has been involved in guiding human history for quite some time and they’re now in the position of manipulating both Vesper and Saint for their own ends, mostly in that they want to use both to spread out into the stars and to guide the galaxy at large much as they have humanity. Of course, neither of those two organizations know what Management is really up to and they’ve been locked in their own back and forth for nearly forty years as they sort out what Saint really means to humanity.

Within Management, there’s various power plays going on and one particular doctor/engineering type has decided that he’s going to try and rise up in the ranks by acquiring the data that makes Mahoro such a skilled combat android. His own androids haven’t measured up but he’s intent on using them to secure his goals. To do this, he sends one of them, a younger model called 370, off to where Mahoro lives to move in with her while acquiring the data. 370 ends up being taken in by Mahoro and Suguru rather easily, though Mahoro realizes it’s probably a trap of some sort, and the give her the name of Minawa and she becomes a strong member of the family and of those around her. Minawa is doing all of this for a promise she made to a fellow model of hers where they both want to live to gain a heart so they can truly understand the world. With her superior telling her he’ll give her that, she’ll do whatever she has to.

Much of these episodes revolve around the introduction of the soft spoken Minawa and her integration into the group dynamic. She fits in well enough and she has that younger sister feeling going on with Mahoro, made all the stronger when she’s enrolled in school. It’s there that the amusing relationship plays out as a minor subplot with Hamaji falling for her and she learning the ways of social interactions with him. Of course, they play up her pratfalls and clumsiness in cute ways to make her more endearing, but the relationship between the two is certainly fun to watch as it’s much sweeter than all the other relationships that are trying to establish themselves overall. Minawa doesn’t really bring much new to the show, but she’s not the disastrous kind of addition that she could be when such characters are brought into an established show.

Something More Beautiful has a very similar feel to the first season when it comes to the amount of action in it. The first season focused on the back and forth with Saint and some of the flashbacks to past events, but here it’s more into working the angle with Management and those that are manipulating them to achieve their goals. This tends to become more involved as the season goes on as the stakes get higher, but there are some decent moments early on, particularly when they first set up the meeting between Minawa and Mahoro. And much like the first season, a good chunk of this season focuses on the character relationships. Some of it is viewed through Minawa’s eyes, but there are also explorations of how things are growing and changing. The three girls who are friends with Suguru talk about how they know they can’t really get to him like they want, though it doesn’t stop them from wanting to. And even Shikijo has some minor moments of growth here as she deals with the ever changing situation and the way Suguru is growing up.

Watching this series after so long has certainly been interesting. The first thing that struck me about it was that it does look like an older show with its softer look and the character designs. It’s hard to remember that at the time of its release, this was really fluid and vibrant looking, it had that newness about it that you would expect. It’s also interesting watching shows like this after seeing follow-up series by Gainax. Some of the things that Mahoro does in combat reminded me a lot of Yoko from Gurren Lagann, just with smaller guns and a smaller chest. I was also surprised that the maid aspect of it didn’t bother me as much as it once did and it felt like it fit in better when watching it over the course of a day. The series holds together better in this way than it did when we originally saw it as three bimonthly DVD releases.

In Summary:
The two seasons of Mahoromatic were shows that I had some fun with back during their initial release but were part of the whole maid boom that was turning me off from large chunks of shows. And it was also a show that had me feel like Gainax was slumming after some of its earlier works. Revisiting it now some seven years later after its original broadcast, both seasons have proven to be a bit more fun than I remembered and I found myself appreciating it more without the wait between volumes. It’s not high art to be certain, but it is good fun storytelling with some solid character designs, plenty of cute fanservice and nipples. Gainax doesn’t skimp out when it comes to that and I certainly appreciate it. This release and the first season from Sentai Filmworks is worthwhile as this is a show that should be kept on the market and available for those who haven’t seen it before.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Closings

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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