Mahoromatic Vol. #1: Combat Maid - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mahoromatic

Mahoromatic Vol. #1: Combat Maid

By Chris Beveridge     January 04, 2003
Release Date: January 28, 2003


Mahoromatic Vol. #1: Combat Maid
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Created by GAINAX (Evangelion, Wings of Honeamise, FLCL, His and Her Circumstances), scripts and direction by Hiroyuki Yamaga (Wings of Honeamise), character designs by Kazuhiro Takamura, featuring an English dub by Bang Zoom (Vandread, X).

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 Review!
It’s been a bit since the last maid anime series came out, and you would think that we’re getting tired of the genre. Well, we are, but when it comes from the creative folks at Gainax, you know it’s not going to be typical.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. While the show has a few dynamic action moments, it actually features quite a number of dynamic dialogue moments where the directionality across the forward soundstage comes across perfectly as there are a number of characters and jokes running at any given time. The stereo mix here sounds very good and we noted no dropouts or distortions on either language track.

Video:
This is going to be the year where I get totally spoiled with transfers. Mahoromatic, originally airing in the fall of 2001, sports a gorgeous anamorphic transfer that has fantastic colors with no noticeable bleeding, cross coloration or aliasing. Throughout the four episodes on this dual layered disc, I could find no issue that distracted me from its presentation. If this keeps up, this will become one of the easiest sections of the review to write.

Packaging:
Presented in a white keepcase, the front cover for Mahoromatic certainly feels inviting and wholesome, though you can just sense the evil fanservice lurking below. We get a nice shot of Mahoro with her skirts laid out and Suguru taking a pleasant afternoon nap in her lap. The back cover provides some very faded looking animation shots that don’t help show off the series all that well. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed (and we get volume numbering on the spine) and there’s a brief summary of the shows premise .The features, extras and production information is all clear and easy to read. The insert has a nice shot of Mahoro and Suguru together again while it folds open to have a large shot from the beach episode. The back of the insert provides the episode numbers, titles and chapter stops. Included as a pack-in extra is a Mahoro cardboard standee, which I’m guessing will have clothing you can dress her up with in future volumes, as this one has her in her undergarments.

Menu:
The menu layout for the show is done up in an in-show theme with one of the military aspects being used as the central piece. Selections on the main menu are quick and easy to load and there’s only a brief transitional piece to the submenu. Returning from the submenus may be tricky at first, since you’re supposed to click in the direction where the main menu is – but there’s no real indication to do that. For example, in the extras menu, you click left to return, but there’s no pointer or icon to indicate that. I can imagine that being frustrating on both a standalone deck and a computer player.

Extras:
There are a couple of extras included here to kick off the release. The first is an anamorphic version of the opening sequence in textless format, which looks fantastic. There’s also a brief eight-page art gallery included.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the number of maid-style shows that have been released in the market, there’s been at least one advantage with most of them, and it’s that they’ve all pretty much tried different approaches to presenting the imagery. Either Taisho era or high tech robots, there’s been enough variety that it’s just the uniforms itself that get tiring.

Mahoromatic is another such entry in the genre, though there are more than enough times that the show completely manages to skewer itself, but not quite sending up a parody of the entire concept. We’re introduced initially to Mahoro, a combat android who has been defending the world from invading aliens that pretty much only the military and political higher-ups know about. We get a fantastic opening sequence of her dealing with a particular nasty. But after that’s all said and done, her commanding officers have decided to offer her a choice. If she continues as a combat android, she has 37 functioning days left. But if she chooses to follow a dream she may have had over the years, she can function for almost four hundred days.

So, she becomes a maid. And while that seems completely silly, it truly does require some patience because there’s a couple of simple moments late in this disc that give complete payoff for the reasoning, as opposed to dragging it out for the entire series.

Having been given an assignment by the Vesper placement section of the military branch, she heads off to take up the duties of a maid for the client who requested such services. That client turns out to be eighth grader Suguru Mistao, a young lad whose lost both his parents but lives on his own, takes care of his schoolwork and attempts to keep house. That part is obviously failing since he decided to hire a maid. There’s an amusing bus/hostage sequence that initially introduces the two, but it really works to set up what kind of basic characters they are.

When the two meet again later at Suguru’s house, there’s some amusement between them about having met earlier in such unusual circumstances, but Mahoro simply works hard at impressing him with her cleaning, cooking and other skills to convince him she’s right for the job. But she’s also honest with him and reveals her background to him, something he’s not entirely sure is possible but can’t dismiss either after what had happened on the bus. So the two start off the new chapter of their lives together.

There are plenty of things going on at Suguru’s house, such as it going from a complete mess to pristine cleanliness as well as the massive improvement in his diet, but there are also repercussions at school, where we have a sizeable cast of characters that deal with Suguru. Several girls have noticed the changes in him, such as the really delicious lunches to his uniform being ironed daily. His male friends have been keen on meeting the new maid as well, as she sounds really young and sexy on the phone. Suguru tries to keep them all at bay, but when Mahoro arrives at the school on one occasion, they all become stunned by what’s going on. And they give him comical grief to no end.

While we can expect the typical romance to blossom between Mahoro and Suguru, as well as the potential one from a cousin who also attends school there, the surprising addition the usual comes in the form of Saori Shikijo, Suguru’s teacher. Yep, the teacher is hot for students here and is completely offended when Mahoro becomes the apple of Suguru’s eye instead of her. She starts her campaign of visiting Suguru a lot and ending up in many of the same places, such as at the beach when everyone goes during summer break or to the local bathhouse. She’s also waging war on Mahoro directly, especially over breast size as Saori’s are, well, more than a hand full to be sure.

This also plays strongly throughout the episodes in general, as there is a lot of nudity in the episodes, more than I expected. And unlike a lot of recent productions, there be nipples matey! Some of these jokes and gags are just blunt and hilarious, such as when Saori, in a Cher-thin swimsuit rubs herself all up and down Suguru that she’s falling out all over the place. Or when she simply props her breasts on top of Mahoro’s head. It’s not hentai, but it was very surprising.

We also took in all four episodes listening to the dub done by Bang Zoom and I wish that I could listen to English tracks during regular playback for some reviews, because I’d love to listen to this in English again with future releases. The entire cast did a fantastic job with this show and managed to really capture the manic energy and nature of it, especially with all the gags and on-screen text jokes that show up. I just wish Pioneer had credited the actors individually so I could know whose performances I really liked. Unfortunately, watching things in English with a three year old around means I would miss far too much of the dialogue.

Going into the show, I really wasn’t sure I was going to like this based on some past experiences. But once we got past the first episode, things really kicked in and by the end of the volume, we were hooked on things here. I can’t wait to see more.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Color Line Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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