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?
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.
Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The release is done with a two disc format so we get six episodes on each disc and not much else, so there’s enough space for it to work with. 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.
This release is nicely compact as it’s a standard sized single disc keepcase with room for two discs inside with no fuss. The front cover artwork is a very cute picture of Mahoro and Suguru together with an indistinct background to it. The logo is the same as we saw on the Geneon release and beyond mentioning that it’s the first collection, the only other thing here is the Sentai Filmworks logo. There’s a really nice simplicity to this with its design and colors. The back coer uses the same soft off white color with a obscure background of Mahoro and Suguru together while the right has a small section of screenshots from the show. The left fills out the basic summary of the premise while the bottom lists through the discs extras, production information and a solid technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
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.
The only extras included on this on release are on the first disc with clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
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.
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.
With this being Sentai Filmworks first release, they’ve basically taken what Geneon did and ported it over. The video aspect of it is identical in that it has the English language opening and closing credits and the original English language credits which has all the Geneon production credits in it. It also of course includes the original dub that Geneon had created as well. The subtitles appear to be the same, but ported over into the font that ADV Films uses with a few additional spelling mistakes along the way which were distracting at times. Overall, this isn’t a bad collection and one that should certainly be out there, hopefully Sentai can tighten things up a bit more in the future as well.
Revisiting Mahoromatic after all these years was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. While I recall enjoying parts of the second season more, I don’t have too many fond memories of the first season because it was in the midst of a maid blitz. While the show is predictable in a lot of ways, they avoid going the really formulaic route of having a Saint critter of the week showing up and instead focuses on the character comedy side of it. With lots of nudity, plenty of nipples and a healthy dose of action, Mahoromatic is a pretty fun series from Gainax. It just didn’t feel like it fit in with what they had been know for in the past which added to the awkwardness of it since it seemed like they were just riding a fad instead of creating something more. This collection is short and fun and welcome back on the shelves as well as being a good first step for Sentai Filmworks.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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.