Return to the world of the lusty lesbian high school student who wants her woman. But gets stuck with a cross dressing man.
What They Say:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a successful first season, SHAFT gets its first simulcast series with the second season of Maria Holic with this. The show again revolves around Kanko, a second year high school student who has transferred herself into an all girls school because of her abject fear of boys, a problem so bad that it ends up causing her to break out in hives. Her intention is not only to get away from the boys, but also to find herself a real lover there. The first season showed us her initial acceptance there and the wackiness she found, particularly when she discovered her ideal lover in Mariya, a young woman that was actually a cross dresser. That lead to a variety of amusing situations but also allowed her to mellow some when it came to the boys.
A lot happened in those first few months, as this series picks up two months after she transferred there and is still on her quest. Kanako's life hasn't gotten any easier as she's regularly abused verbally for things as others toy with her and she finds herself coping with the usual stresses of high school life. Kanako makes it even harder for herself with her absolute adoration of so many of the young women in the school that she wants to seduce, which leads to her having numerous nosebleeds since she is a virgin. With the opening episode, it focuses on her goal of getting into the special girls dormitory, something of which she gains help from a few friends so they can make their way in to see what trials await them in a place that has been built up to be like an Indiana Jones movie with traps and the like.
Making it through the challenge of Girls Dorm 1 is amusing as the group of them makes their way in. In true SHAFT form, it uses a lot of creative angles, very detailed backgrounds and a healthy dose of CG application to the rooms to give it a very emotive feeling. Some of it tends to feel a little surreal, which when combined with the music adds some great atmosphere. Like a lot of shows of this nature, and from this production studio in general, there's a lot of strange things that occur as they work their way through it. Full orchestras, unusual locales inside a dormitory and even a strikeout game that could end things entirely for them. While the gist of the episode is clear, what the show really does here is to remind us what the tone of the series is and what to expect in that anything is possible. Kanako continues to be a fun character, one where I really enjoying having an outgoing woman that's a horny goober instead of the usual male lead being like that, and though that's weaker here in favor of other things, it's still a fun point.
When I saw the first season of Maria Holic all in one sitting, I found myself really liking it for certain reasons and having difficulties with it because of others. Kanako's personality, the setting and the great animation really sold me on it easily. I'm a mixed fan when it comes to SHAFT properties as some of their works really hit me right while others feel too forced. They actually do tone down some of their oddities with this series but there's still a lot of what makes their works what they are, and sometimes it can feel like a bit too much. The opening episode here does a decent job of re-introducing the world, but largely it focuses on Kanako and a few friends as they go through the Dorm 1 trials, which has minimal impact overall, but is a nice mood setter. The gags are fun, the characters are exactly who we saw before and it all comes together much as it did. I'm actually hopeful that I'll get into it more on a weekly basis than marathoning it all, especially once the usually awkward season opener episode is done and over with.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.