Mahoromatic Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphice Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mahoromatic

Mahoromatic Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     January 03, 2005
Release Date: October 18, 2004

Mahoromatic Vol. #1
© ADV Films UK

What They Say
Suguru is a young man with problems many others his age just might kill to have. An orphan, Suguru lives on his own, but his housekeeping skills are so poor that it's becoming painfully obvious he needs help. Enter Mahoro, a buxom 19 year-old who offers to be Suguru's maid. Possessing some superhuman abilities and claiming to be an android, Mahoro elicits some suspicion from Suguru's friends and causes him some grief, but Suguru can't say no to a girl who looks like Mahoro and cleans so well. Unfortunately, Suguru has no idea that Mahoro is scheduled to live for only 398 more days and has more than a few reasons for choosing Suguru for an employer...

Episodes comprise:

1. In A Hydrangea Garden
2. Lady Teacher Saori: Age 25
3. How Shallow The Grave
4. I Will Shoot Him Through The Heart

Based on the manga by writer Bunjuro Nakayama and artist Bow Ditama, Mahoro's adventures are brought to life by a talented team headed up by director Hiroyuki Yamaga (Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Wings of Honneamise) and character designer & animator Kazuhiro Takamura (Steel Angel Kurumi, FLCL). Additional character design is supplied by none other than Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cutey Honey)!

The Review!
And here was me thinking I'd like this show...

I listened to the Japanese stereo track while watching this disc for my review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself is your standard fare for a TV series, with the music and dialogue coming across nicely.

I spot-checked the English language stereo track, and I noticed no technical problems from the sample. The dub sounded really interesting, and I may well find myself listening to the next volume in English given that it's also from Bang Zoom!, one of my favourite dubbing studios.

The transfer is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and looks really nice. I noticed no aliasing or other problems during regular playback, so this was a disc I could just sit back and enjoy without having to worry about the video quality at all; it's as good as most recent ADV transfers.

Subtitles are yellow, but in the Geneon US style font, which is smaller and curvier than ADV's usual.

The front cover features Mahoro and Saori in their bikinis at the beach, with a small image of Suguru in the corner. It's a nice piece of artwork that I suppose really gives a good indication of what to expect in the content. The show's logo is at the bottom of the case, with the BBFC logo slightly obscuring Suguru. The back cover features a description of the show (pushing the Gainax involvement), as well as some screenshots and the usual ADV information boxes that make it easy to see the disc's technical specs.

The four-page insert features artwork from the US cover of volume 1, and folds out into a mini-poster with more fanservice artwork of all the characters.

The menu is as simple as you'd expect. It's static, featuring an image of Mahoro on the left, and the show's logo and the options on the right, with some of the opening theme playing. Submenus are also static with artwork and a different piece of music playing. As I've come to expect from ADV, there's no scene selection from the menu system. It's not an exciting menu by any means, but access times are fast and it's functional.

This looks to be another series with a sparse selection of extras, as all we have here are your standard clean opening and ending, a very short artwork galley (that consists of several screencaps as well as artwork) and some ADV previews.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Mahoromatic is a series I've been wanting to see for some time. It's been available in the US now for nearly two years, and I was very tempted to buy it at the time, before eventually holding out for this UK release. So it was with a great sense of anticipation that I put this disc in to watch the first four episodes. And by the end of it, I was left wondering exactly why I bothered.

This series obviously isn't my thing, at least from the look of these first four episodes. I've never been much a fan of maid shows, but then I tend to avoid them. And this one coming from Gainax, I thought it'd be different. But how wrong I was. It turns out that the series is not only derivative of many others, but it contains little to get excited about in terms of a hook to keep watching. There are a couple of things that could prove interesting going forward, and provide just about the only hook this series has.

Mahoromatic opens with a combat android called Mahoro carrying out some heavy-duty destruction. She's then brought up in front of a board of her commanders, who give her a choice. She can either carry on fighting for her world, in which case she will function for only 37 more days, or thanks to her exemplary service, she can live out 370-odd days fulfilling a dream. So naturally, she chooses to become a maid, which ordinarily I'd say is absolutely ridiculous, but in this case it holds merit once a revelation comes about in the third episode. It's pretty unsurprising from here, as we switch focus to a high-school boy called Suguru, who lives on his own in a big house as his family have passed away. He's hired a maid, but is caught on the way home as the bus he's on is taken hostage. As it happens, Mahoro is also on the bus, and she ends up alleviating the situation thanks to her combat skills. Then, when Suguru gets home, he finds the maid waiting for him, and of course it's Mahoro.

This whole first episode was pretty by the book, and it wasn't really hard to know exactly how it'd play out as soon as Suguru first showed up on screen. But being the first episode, I was more than prepared to overlook its misgivings simply because a show needs time to develop the premise and its characters. But then things just started going further downhill.

The second episode introduces Saori Shikijo, Suguru's teacher at school. She has an unhealthy obsession with the children, to the point of ridiculousness. But its even more stupid in that she realises that Suguru is no longer paying her much attention because he has someone at home, so she makes it her mission to go round his house constantly to thwart Mahoro's supposed advances. She also has ridiculously huge breasts, and uses that as a point against Mahoro, whose are much smaller. Of course, Mahoro begins to cotton on and so we end up with both Saori and Mahoro wanting to bath Suguru, and other such situations.

The third episode starts by almost wiping out any hope I had that this series would go for anything other than the aimless fanservice route, as Mahoro, Saori and Suguru go to the public baths, and it becomes and endless parade of breasts, both smaller and large. Which wouldn't be the worst thing ever, if there seemed to be a point or plot hidden away somewhere.

But it ends on a higher point as Suguru visits his parents' grave, but the flower girl who usually comes on the anniversary of their death isn't there this year. Mahoro makes some excuse as to why she might not be able to come, but it turns out that she is actually the flower girl usually, because she has an inherent guilt as she was the one who killed Suguru's father. This is really the main point that I found interesting throughout the whole disc, as it's the one point that is obviously going to lead to some heartache at some point when Suguru inevitably finds out. It was handled pretty well though, and shows why Mahoro would actually pick such a stupid thing as to be a maid, because she feels the need to look after Suguru.

The fourth episode sees the whole gang (yes, including Saori for the usual inexplicable reasons) go to the beach, opening up the opportunity for plenty more fan service. There is another little ray of hope though, as an anti-android robot arrives at the beach to take out Mahoro. While how it played out and was resolved (with Suguru's heroic help) was about as clichéd as you can get, it was another small light of hope that this series could go beyond the endless ream of fanservice that it currently seems to be.

We also get the other typical moments, such as Mahoro finding Suguru's porn stash, and him worrying about it only to get a lecture. But one other thing I did like was the handling of Mahoro almost telling everyone where she's from. Because she actually realised that Suguru was trying to hide it, so came up with a cover story. There were a few other moments of hope in a similar vein, but overall they didn't amount to much.

Really, outside of the point about Mahoro and Suguru's father, and the glint of hope that flashes up at the end of every episode in the number of days Mahoro has left until she stops functioning, there just wasn't much for me to enjoy in this series. The endless fanservice just became annoying and distracting, and there just seemed to be no motive at all for Saori's actions. Honestly, the whole teacher following student thing wouldn't fly around these parts.

Those two hooks, along with the fact that the ending theme "Mahoro de Mambo" is extremely catchy and funny, are the only things that saved this disc from a lower score. I do like the character of Mahoro in a lot of ways, mainly because despite having the usual maid traits like jealousy and a need to serve, she also has some common sense and shows a little bit of intelligence, and even Suguru is an interesting character in a lot of ways, despite the usual teenage boy trappings. But then Saori comes along and kills many of the good points that the other characters bring, and any semblance of a plot goes out the window when she's around. There just seems to be no point to her whatsoever.

The animation for the series is pretty good, and the music is decent, but dang, I just wish there was more plot in there. While Gainax can often screw up their shows as they go along, this is really one where I hope they did something to make it a bit better.

In Summary:
While there are a few points to like about Mahoromatic, almost any positive is negated by the presence of sheer stupidity and pointlessness in terms of the characters, plot and endless fanservice. The inclusion of Saori, for instance, is just unfathomable to me in her current form, as she's so needless. But with this being an adaptation by Gainax, there's hope that they can pull something out of their hat. The series certainly isn't a lost cause at this point, and it wouldn't be impossible to turn it around, but with the way things are set up in this first volume it looks like it could be an uphill struggle. While Mahoromatic will probably sell well anyway, I'll reserve final judgment on the series until I see more, but for now I can't honestly see myself recommending this, unless you're just out to see some fanservice.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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