When you have a winning show centered around a combat android maid, you can only make it better by adding another one, right?
What They Say
Who's Minawa? Just as life finally returns to 'normal', a new girl shows up spying on Suguru. Who is she? Another combat android?! Who could she be working for? A new mystery besets our friends as Sugur and Mahoro try to determine whom this clumsy and shy android could be. In the meantime, Mahoro has adopted her as a little sister and a maid in training. Unfortunately, for our new maid, Minawa gets to experience Suguru's frenetic lifestyle, which includes Mahoro's plan for a larger bust-line...
Contains 14 episodes plus the summer special.
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 2002, the transfer for this fourteen 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 three disc format so we get five episodes on each disc because it also includes the OVA on the final disc, making it fifteen in total. 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, but it does feel less so than the first season did. This isn’t as strong throughout as the bulk of these episodes tend 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 designed the same as the first as it’s a compact standard sized single disc keepcase with room for three discs inside due to the use of a flippy hinge. The front cover artwork sets up the emphasis of this set nicely as it has Suguru and Mahoro in the background while the image of Minawa is in front of them as she has a full on big blush going on. The logo is the same as we saw on the Geneon release and beyond mentioning that it’s the second 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 cover 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 one of the characters 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 third 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 third disc with clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
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.
While the series in general is fun, more so this second time around than the first time, I continue to like the way that Gainax runs with some of their shows in how they flash forward. The anime version does differ from the manga, and while I liked this anime ending the first time I saw it since it paints a very different future than one would expect, I’ve grown to really appreciate the manga ending more. What makes it all the more palatable this time around though is that we get the Summer Special included afterwards, whereas before we had to wait a few months for it to be released. Going from the darker and more ambiguous ending to a side story that’s all about the fun, silliness and naughty thoughts does help to ease the ending. The summer special is simply good fun that fits into the middle of this season and doesn’t cause any sort of continuity issues or problems. Nor does it really go overboard with the fanservice either, which is good since the main series itself already went further than some would probably care for.
Mahoromatic and this season 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.
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.