Mahoromatic Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mahoromatic

Mahoromatic Vol. #2

By Dani Moure     March 03, 2005
Release Date: December 20, 2004


Mahoromatic Vol. #2
© 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.

These episodes find Suguru tracking down ghosts during a nighttime school assignment and eluding the vicious Saint organization who wish to destroy Mahoro.

Episodes comprise:

5. 634 Of 8 Is Doing Fine
6. Moon, Flowers, Feeling Of Autumn
7. The Maid Chased By Her Past
8. The Owner Of The Perfect Heart

The Review!
Well, colour me surprised that I didn't hate this volume. Quite the opposite in fact...

Audio:
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 enjoyed the performances from the actors, especially Ayako Kawasumi with her tender and heart-warming performance as Mahoro.

I spot-checked the English language stereo track, and I noticed no technical problems from the sample. The dub sounded really good, and it's definitely a disc I'd like to watch again in English.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The front cover features Mahoro and one of the girls in the foreground, with Suguru in the background, all dressed in their yukatas for the summer festival. It's a nice piece of artwork that matches the tone of the episodes on this disc. The show's logo is at the bottom of the case, with no volume numbering or titling on the front. 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 2, and folds out into a mini-poster with some fanservice artwork of Mahoro.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
Another series with a relatively sparse selection of extras, we have here are a Japanese TV commercial, a couple of nice Japanese promo trailers, 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)
I was pretty hard on Mahoromatic in my review of the first volume, and with good reason. It was hopelessly derivative for the most part, bringing little to the table but fanservice and one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen in anime. Interestingly, this volume is essentially more of the same for the most part. Except this time it's really starting to grow on me. I can't quite place my finger on exactly why; there's still an awful lot of fanservice, some of which grated with me but I was able to laugh it off more this time. Likewise, Saori still appears with next to no purpose (other than the size of her chest), but this time she seemed more tolerable and I was able to laugh her off more.

It's certainly not a change I was expecting, but it made for a nice surprise, and made me think that the series is certainly salvageable at this point. The difference between this batch of episodes and the last volume's is two-fold. First, the two episodes starting out this disc are really nice, sweet episodes, and second the plot is advanced and actually takes some interesting new twists.

The first episode opens with the military council on Vesper discussing the incident with the insect robot attacking Mahoro and co. at the end of the last disc. Apparently it was sent by Saint's forces, and they aren't sure what their next move will be. But they also report on Mahoro's progress, and then read a letter from her. Back on Earth, Suguru is preparing to explore the school at night with his group, and Mahoro asks if he believes in ghosts. He tells a little story about the possibility of ghosts existing, so Mahoro decides that if they exist, she wants to see them, and joins them on their outing. At the school, the boys start telling Mahoro some ghost stories, which end up seeming to come true thanks to the intervention of the girls...

I quite liked this episode, believe it or not, and it really helped me warm to these characters quite a lot. The interplay with the three girls making things scary for the others was quite funny, and Mahoro herself was great, as knowing there were no ghosts she still played along anyway for the experience and I felt that really showed a nice aspect of her character. Despite it seeing a bit throwaway in terms of it doing little for the semblance of story that exists in the series, I thought it helped us learn a little bit more about the characters and I liked that. We saw them having fun as a group of kids and there was a lot of energy there. The things happening on Vesper also made things a bit interesting and showed how highly the people there think of Mahoro as their warrior.

In the next episode, Saint continue to make some moves, but Vesper don't consider them a major threat yet, though Mahoro's reputation as a well-known Vesper agent being known by Saint has them a little worried. They did send her Slash though, a robotic, talking cat, to protect her. It just happens to be the time of the Summer Festival, which plays host to the Dance of the Dead. The Town Counsellor visits Suguru, and tells him and Mahoro that the town have selected her for the dance. She's reluctant initially, but on realising that Saori is next in line, she'll do it. So after much practice, she takes her stage as the festival begins.

Much like the first episode, there were some really nice character moments, particularly for Mahoro, that made me enjoy this episode a fair bit too. The first half with her preparing for the dance, her modesty and the appearance of her old friend Slash helped flesh her out character-wise, as we see more and more aspects of her character. It's one of the comments from Slash, about her becoming less and less of an android every day, that really make you think about her situation and how she's changing, and it's all put into perspective bluntly when Suguru comments that they should come back next year, and she realises that it isn't possible, and we're reminded that she stops functioning in 327 days. It's really setting things up for a bit of a tragedy. The only annoyance came when Saori interjected herself into the sweet proceedings, but even then I found parts of what she did funny, which I assume was the point.

The third episodes on the disc reminds us even more of the plot that's running throughout the show, as we're introduced to one of Saint's warriors, Ryuga. He takes the role of the new school teacher, and after making a dramatic entrance saving Chizu from getting run over by a car, he takes up residence as stand-in for Suguru's teacher who recently fell ill. As soon as Mahoro hears his name, she wonders of it's her old rival, and sure enough there's a showdown on the streets. But what makes it most interesting is that warriors of Saint shouldn't act on personal issues, but he's come to take revenge on Mahoro.

The final episode follows on from the last, and with Suguru keen to find out what the connection is between Ryuga's appearance and Mahoro acting strange, he organises a barbecue and invites him along, to try and find out more about him.

The introduction of Ryuga to the story is the main focus in these two episodes, and it works well for the story by bringing the past back to Mahoro. As she notes herself, it's finally catching up with her. It's clear that as the series went on, the writers wanted to introduce a bit more to the plot than the threads that they'd dangled throughout the first batch of episodes, and thankfully the story is intriguing, as we find out over the two episodes why Ryuga has come after Mahoro, though we still don't really know the bigger plot that he seems to be a part of.

I liked how these episodes introduced a different slant to the Mahoro and Suguru relationship, as rather than be blind to her actions, he knows something's up with her and goes out of his way to find out what the problem is. Of course, thanks to Mahoro's memories giving us a reminder of why exactly she's in Suguru's life, we know that if Suguru finds out about what she did (and let's face it, it's obvious he will) it'll bring him quite a bit of heartache. The final moments of the last episode on the disc give Mahoro a lot more depth, as she contemplates whether or not coming to Suguru was actually a good thing. Likewise, Suguru's conversation with Ryuga, and his threat, show how much Mahoro has come to mean to him, and it adds a bit of a bittersweet feeling to the duel that is coming up.

These episodes even gave Saori something a bit more meaningful to do (not that it's hard), although she still manages to bring a lot of stupidity and annoyance to it. She's definitely far more tolerable in the episodes on this disc though. The main area that suffers as a result of the focus on the plot is the supporting characters, who are mostly sidelined to getting questioned by Ryuga and Suguru, and slumping around at the barbeque, but given that the plot really gives the show a bit more meat, I think it's a fair trade-off at this point.

In Summary:
While much of what annoyed me about the first volume is still present, such as Saori being mostly annoying and the fanservice being completely pointless and mindless, I found it a whole lot more tolerable this time around, and the inclusion of some plot development really helped make things more enjoyable. The main characters also come along quite a way, not acting as stupid as they did in the first volume. While it still hasn't completely won me over, I'm at least enjoying it now, and I'm hoping that as it surges towards the end of the first season, the creators pull out the stops to make it worth while watching. I'm still reserving final judgment on the series until I see the next disc, but for now I remain firmly in the "it's OK but I'm not quite convinced" category.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Japanese Commercial Spots,Japanese Promo Trailers,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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