I find myself eating humble pie, which doesn't happen very often. I've often held this volume of Mahoromatic up as a prime example of the curse of GAINAX endings striking again, and I'd maintained that view through several viewings. This time around, though, something "clicked", and while it's still not as good as some previous volumes, I have to say it's still a good 'un...
What They Say
The time has come for all cards to be placed into play as Minawa is called upon to fulfill her duty to Management and begin a three-way battle: Management vs. Vesper vs. Saint! Mahoro must use all of her wits and skills to withstand Management's combat androids, Feldrance and Minawa, even at the cost of shortening the brief time remaining to her. In this battle between superpowers and combat androids, what can Suguru, one human boy, do? Or is there more here than meets the eye?!
11 - A Wish, the Colour of Cherry Blossoms
12 - Annunciation
13 - End of a Dream
14 - Na-Geanna
Summer Special - All Dirty Thoughts are Bad!
Audio is provided in English and Japanese, with both tracks being 2.0 stereo efforts. The show is quite creative with its use of audio, particularly during more frenetic scenes where the soundstage is used to good effect to separate out what's happening on the screen. The occasional battle scenes get equally good treatment. DIalog comes across clearly, and there are not obvious problems.
Video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and looks pretty damn good. The transfer is sharp & clear, with colours bright and vivid and no visible defects. Definitely one of the better-looking shows that I've seen lately.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
We get a static screen, with Mahoro, Minawa and the Triomatic, set against a cheek background with the show's opening theme for accompaniment. Options are provided for Play All, Setup and Episodes for scene selection. There are no transitions, so it's all quick and easy to use.
Whaddya know, we have extras this time around - clean opening and closing sequences from the Summer Special episode, and a 45-image gallery of production art, screenshots and cover artwork.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
We'll deal with this as it was released in the US, in two sections: the final episodes of the TV series proper, up to Na-Geanna; and then the Summer Special, which was released some time later. There's an advantage to getting these things after a long delay sometimes..!
Just like at the end of season 1, ~Something More Beautiful~ makes the stylistic 180 from fluffy fanservice comedy to serious action flick - and if they'd ended it at episode 13, you would have had an ending that was bittersweet but that didn't create the controversy that the final episode has always generated. GAINAX isn't like that, however, and so we get a flash forward to the future, where we're shown us how things have turned out for Suguru, and that's where it gets controversial. He's just not the cheerful person he once was, and how you react to that can make the difference between enjoying the ending and being completely alienated by it.
The key is to pay attention to what's happening at Saint, where we're finally given the lowdown on their interactions with humanity and on how those interactions connect to Suguru. That makes the episode a lot more interesting, for starters, and makes the final few scenes actually make sense - I think my failing on previous viewings had been that, by that stage, I'd completely lost interest and hadn't been paying full attention to what was happening on-screen. As they say in my part of the world, that'll learn me...
Over the course of the 5 episodes there's plenty of other good moments - Minawa's redemption, Mahoro's final fight to protect the person she loves (even though she's a machine), and confessions on the part of both Mahoro (her role in the death of Suguru's father) and Suguru (his feelings for Mahoro, despite what she's done). Up until a week ago I would have said that all this good had been undone by the bad - but mmm, this pie tastes good.
As for the Summer Special... In short, it's Pure. Comedy. Gold. While in many ways it's like any other comedy episode of Mahoromatic, without the constraints of the TV series it's been pumped up to another level, in both freneticism and fanservice - and it's amazingly good fun to watch as a result. I can't help but think how much better the TV series would have been if it had stuck to this kind of episode instead of getting into the Management-led angsty stuff - but that's another conversation. With the episode being essentially a long chase scene between the boys and the girls, there's not a hell of a lot to write about, but what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for in enjoyability. A word of advice, though - don't watch it with your Significant Other around, as the (un)healthy levels of fanservice may not always be appreciated. In general, though, while this release it only 1 episode it's a must-buy for any fans of the TV series' more ecchi side. Classic stuff.
I've thoroughly enjoyed Mahoromatic, and while I may be onside with Na Geanna now I still realise that there are a lot of people who aren't or wouldn't be. Fortunately, the series ends conclusively without it and it can be safely ignored if you prefer - it's up to you really - but even taking that into account, I can still recommend the series. The characters have been a joy to watch & it has had a good mix of fluff & action, especially when you add in the Summer Special - if you can handle some fanservice, go for it.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English subtitles, creditless opening and closing, art gallery.
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.