We continue with more adventures of Misaki and Usui and there never-ending quest to never, ever admit that they have feelings for each other. Since apparently the world would come to an end if they did. Just kidding.
What They Say
From J.C. Staff comes the story of the most unlikely class president...ever! Ayuzawa Misaki is the hard-boiled, hard-nosed, boy-hating class president of a former all male school, recently turned co-ed. A beacon of hope to the female students as well as teachers, she rules over the boys with an iron fist and a heart of ice. When a popular male student stumbled on to her secret double life, she's forced to make a deal: spend some time with him, or have her hard earned reputation destroyed by revealing her embarrassing secret: working part-time as an upbeat and cheery waitress at a maid cafe!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Picking up where we left off last time, Misaki and Usui find themselves now paired in the Footman Competition, as their partners were revealed as being not qualified to participate. The next task assigned them is to prepare a table for a high-class afternoon tea. They only have 10 minutes, so the contestants rush about. Usui, however, very calmly thinks about it and then pushes Misaki, always frenetic with energy, in the right directions. Of course Usui would seem to know what is required for English-style High Tea. Again, Mr. Perfect to the (boring) rescue.
Of course, things cannot go entirely smoothly. Misaki manages to injure Usui rather foolishly, which puts them at a disadvantage during the final competition, which is to attend to one of the judges as if they were a real customer. Misaki tries to cover for Usui's injury by doing all of the heavy lifting, but this only arouses their judge Maki's suspicions even more. Usui tries to cover by playing the violin, but this only serves to temporarily mask his injuries. Misaki finally tries to end the masquerade by revealing that Usui is injured, though Maki says that so long as he wishes to serve, he should. Misaki, however, cannot accept that a footman should just carry on as if nothing is happening when their fellow server is injured and in pain. They should all support each other. The speech oddly seems to touch Maki, who seemed otherwise rather heartless and cold. The upshot is that Toru Igarashi decides to drop the plot to destroy Maid Latte, telling Maki there is another property then can use.
Misaki visits the still recovering Usui at home, for the first time seeing the apartment that he lives in alone, his parents nowhere in sight. She tends to him the best she can, even though she can't help but be angry with him for some reason.
The next episode is largely an excuse to see a cute little girl (Yukimura's younger sister) act silly, as she develops a crush on the "prince" Usui. Yukimura himself desperately pleads for Usui to take his younger sister out on a "date" (she's only 7), mostly to try to restore his image as a big brother to her. That's for the first half. The second half follows our middle-school cross-dresser Aoi in his quest to make a performance video for "her" website, as he is a popular net idol in his drag form. It's not an easy task, as he constantly runs into people he knows and the location scouting does not go entirely well. Eventually, though, Yukimura, Kanou and the Idiot Trio wind up being "her" film crew. They wind up having fun, and this pair of side stories provides a welcome break from the main plot.
The next episode introduces a rather strange new character, transfer student Shintani Hinagata, who does weird things such as eat grass. That's because he's basically hungry all the time. Of course, the author of this story likes to load it with annoying people, and so it's no surprise that this latest entrant happens to be both annoying and yet another rival for Misaki's affection. It turns out that Shintani used to live in the area, and when he was much younger, he was chubby and once fell off a tree. It so happened that Misaki, who was in his school, helped him and visited him at the hospital, so that he has been carrying a crush all of these years. He decided to come back to this area in order to find his childhood love. He does not recognize Misaki at first, because of how much she has changed, but by the end, the two have recognized each other. Usui, of course, is none-too-pleased by this turn of events, and neither should the viewer be. That's because Shintani just presents another annoyance.
The only interesting thing about this episode is that Kanou turns out to be the only sane man around, questioning why Usui and Misaki, who clearly like each, do not openly express those feelings to each other and just make it official that they are a couple. I guess that doesn't happen because the author likes jerking us around.
In the final episode of this set, the second-years all set off for the famed forest excursion of their school. Led to believe that it's a mountain paradise, it's instead a hard time in the woods at a temple, cleaning up the place and engaging in standard purification rituals like sitting under a waterfall. The girls have it slightly easier, as they make dinner. Of course, things wind up with Shintani and Misaki somehow trapped together alone in a storehouse. Shintani panics and spazzes out, his head filled with false notions of adult encounters taken from manga, while Misaki takes it all in stride, since she does not think of Shintani that way. The forest training results in the boys getting all riled up in the end, since three days of privation and being lectured at will do that to 16-year-old boys. Misaki tries to fight off the boys alone, but gets some help from Shintani and Usui, who seem to sort of get along now. Usui and Misaki, even now after all these episodes, still can't quite talk to each other honestly.
So, at the end of it all, we continue to see zero progress, not one bit of it, in the relationship between Usui and Misaki. True, it would remove the whole purpose of the show to a certain degree to bring them together as a couple, since this show is based upon the whole "will they, won't they?" premise. Yet, it is also a very good example of why that basis for a show is one of the lamest ones there is. While the unresolved sexual tension can provide for some entertaining drama, there comes a point at which it is established that the "official" couple really are made for each other, and all other contenders are just wasting our time. Because at this point, that is what this show is doing, wasting our time. Instead of resolving the tension, the author seems instead to prefer to have the two leads continue to move ahead in the most stubborn and dense manner, while foisting upon us ever increasingly odd and annoying potential love rivals. The way to have a good rival is to present one who is a credible challenge to the male lead. We do not get that. Of course, the author has already painted herself into a corner by making Takumi Usui so near perfect, that only another near perfect male could be a credible rival to him. So, instead we get either super rich creepy assholes or childhood friends who stuff their face constantly.
After getting off to a decent start, this show has become a conveyor belt of monotony.
In this set of episodes, we have the conclusion to the story of the evil Miyabigaoka Student Council President's attempt to strike back at Misaki, who embarrassed him earlier, by having his stooge and Vice President take over the building that houses Maid Latte. Though Misaki is not able to win the Footman Competition in the end, she does impress her opponents enough to convince them to relent. Then we have an all-too-brief interlude of side stories revolving around Yukimura and Aoi, which provide some much needed levity. Sadly, the comedy break comes to an end with the introduction of yet another rival for Misaki's affection, this time an old childhood friend who had moved away many years ago, but is now back in town: Shintani Hinagata. He's just a food freak, who is constantly hungry and can never seem to fill his bottomless maw. So, yet another non-credible, but annoying, rival suitor appears, to continue the endless unresolved situation between Misaki and Usui. This is getting tiresome.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard