Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Sentai Filmworks
- MSRP: 39.98
- Running time: 300
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Maria-Holic
Maria-Holic Complete Collection
Maria-Holic Complete Collection DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
February 23, 2010
Release Date: February 23, 2010
Maria-Holic Complete Collection
© Sentai Filmworks
The perspective changes as Mariaholic revolves around one very perverted young woman who acts like a man and a man who dresses up as a woman.
What They Say
It's not easy to find the perfect girl, even when you're the same sex! Kanako thought attending an all girls school would be the perfect way to meet the girl of her dreams, but after her hot new roommate turns out to be a guy in drag, and catching the eye of the most popular girl in school only brings down the wrath of all the OTHER similarly obsessed girls, she's not so sure! Complicate things with a cat-eared dorm leader, her roommate's rude-mannered maid and identical twin sister (who attends an all boys school, of course,) and WAY too many attractive girls of questionable persuasions and the question becomes whether Kanako can die from frustrated nosebleeds! (Life would be SO much easier if guys didn't literally give her the hives!) Will Kanako ever find a non-polar opposite of a compatible non-opposing polarity? Let's just say that the quest for true love will not run straight.
Mariaholic has only one language track on it with the original Japanese track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. Like most shows of this nature, there isn't a lot here that's noteworthy when it comes to the sound design as it's a straightforward dialogue piece that has a fair bit of shifting as it moves between the characters. When several are on screen at once there is some good placement to be had and occasionally the depth works out well but by and large it's a rather plain but problem free stereo presentation that handles the dialogue well. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions of this track during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This show is twelve episodes long and is spread across two discs in a six/six format, plus extras that take up a good bit of space on each volume as well. Mariaholic has a pretty distinct look to it and the animation is solid so the transfer is key to making it look great and they did a very good job here. Colors are strong, very vibrant throughout when required while black levels look to be well maintained as well. There's are a few gradients that pop up at times and some mild noise in a few backgrounds where some colors break-up more than others, but by and large it's a very good looking show that has nothing significant wrong with it.
Mariaholic has one of the more appealing covers I've seen since it plays it serious but with a bit of comedy as well when you realize what it is. There's the overall cross theme to be had here through the center as well as the one within the logo itself, so it gets that element laid out clearly and quickly. The pairing of Mariya and Matsurika with their hands pressed against each other gives it a good sense of definition and space. The middle though, with Kanako in her school uniform and only a little of her upper body showing, feels odd yet perfect. She's blushing, she has an odd look on her face and it's not quickly apparent that it's blood that's spurting out heavily from her nose. I adore it. The back cover is the same basic layout with the red background and the cross as well as a smaller pairing of secondary characters along the top sides of the cross. The summary runs across both of them with three pictures on each side as well from the show to add a bit more color to it. The disc and episode count is clearly listed above a cute pint-sized Kanako and the tagline is perfect for selling the show. The bottom half of the cross is given over to the usual items such as production credits and a technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover here.
The menus for Mariaholic are simple but they have some good detail and layouts to them with the background using the church architecture design elements. Each side is given over to a different character across the top level and submenus on both discs where they almost act as pillars for the background. The center of the menu has a good looking episode selection piece with the special extras features section below there. There's some good consistency across the menus on both discs and the layout is simple and effective. There's no language selection option but subtitles can be turned off on the fly and with only one language defaults are pretty pointless.
There's a good selection of extras on this set with both discs featuring things. The first disc has a twenty-minute feature with the three primary characters voice actresses, Mariya, Kanako and Matsurika, talking about the show in a fairly informal and silly manner. The second disc has more extras which really stand out considering how few shows seem to have significant extras these day. The first is the Christmas night special which runs for twenty two minutes where people watched the first episodes on Christmas night together in a church and then had a Q&A session with the voice actresses afterward. They do have some cosplay in it which is cute. Also included is a TV commercial collection which runs a couple of minutes and shows it from before it aired and after it started which is good to see. The original promotional video is also included which runs just over two minutes and sells the show in a rather stylish fashion that's very appealing. And last but certainly not least are the clean versions of all twelve episodes which runs over eighteen minutes. Each of these is filled with so much detail that it really does help to have them in this form.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Minari Endo which is five volumes strong and still ongoing as of this writing, Mariaholic is a twelve episode series that brings animation studio SHAFT together with Akikyuki Shinbo who has a solid collection of series under his belt. Like a lot of SHAFT series, there's a very certain kind of style applied here but it's similar to Hidamari Sketch more than Pani Poni Dash in that it's fairly restrained with the background gags and strange visuals that creep into it. But the distinct SHAFT style works well here because of their use of detail and layout design that helps to make this look unique and intriguing and far more polished and professional than it would be under most anyone elses hands.
The story of Mariaholic is a very simple one that we've seen numerous times before, albeit with a very mild but specific twist that really works well in its favor. It revolves around a second year high school student named Kanako who has come to a private Christian school. Her life has been decent overall but she's not found what she's looking for, which is really true love. Transfers into this elevator school are rare but her parents met here so she had a bit of an in there. Amusingly, her parents were a student-teacher relationship since it's an all girls school. That Kanako is looking for the same is different, but it turns even more when we find out that she's looking for her true love among the student population as she swings that way and prefers the term yuri instead of lesbian.
All of this gets revealed very early on when she meets a first year student named Mariya whose residence is actually on the schoolgrounds as her grandmother was the former chairwoman. Mariya makes friends with her easily and the two seem to get along, but when Kanako goes to meet up with her for a tour later the first day they met, it all turns to the worse when she discovers that Mariya is actually a man dressing up as a woman. What's good about this particular aspect of the show is that we don't spend a huge amount of time on it. Mariya uses the fact that Kanako knows as blackmail against her and she binds herself to her by rooming with her as well. And even better is that it's not a regular plot point where Mariya is trying to avoid getting caught in each episode. It's there and it's an element that gets to Kanako since she doesn't like men and gets hives from being touched by them, but it's played up that way rather than a secret to be exposed regularly.
With that as the basics to the series, it's easy to see how it'll play out as fairly standard Christian school material as Kanako tries to fit in. With her rooming with Mariya, who is the big popular new girl that was the student council president in middle school she elevated from, there's a lot of derison cast her way so she doesn't fit in well a lot of the time. She tries to make friends but it's difficult because of that and the way certain other popular girls end up befriending her. What makes life really difficult for Kanako though is that she's essentially a guy trapped in a woman's body. Kanako is the real rarity of a lustful, desirous young woman in a sea of beautiful girls that she wants to experience. She has nosebleeds so massive it turns a swimming pool red and various other moments get turned into a Seven Wonders of the school routine.
Watching Kanako act out like a boy in a lot of scenes is simply a whole lot of fun, especially since it often turns to nosebleeds. She's very much wanting to be intimate with most of them, to find a potential true love, but all of it builds toward the goal of the week where they have swimming lessons before summer break and she gets to see everyone in swimsuits – teachers included. In most shows, we do often see a character like this in male form. Sometimes as the leads, more often as a secondary best friend character, but it's always common. It's very rare to see a female character like this and they play her well here. She's trying to keep it a secret but she also wants to savor everything about the girls she makes friends with, the one she wants to know more intimately. Kanako's really a fun character to watch here, especially as she runs the gamut of emotions and expressions like most male characters do.
Mariaholic is a series that could have gone down very familiar paths but because of how Kanako is portrayed it becomes something more. It's a fun show where she's both trying to restrain her nosebleeds as she drools with desire over various girls as well as enjoying the fact that she has such strong reactions to them. She's lustful with many of them and trying to figure out who would be her perfect match so she can have something of what her parents had. Though she doesn't want to come out of the closet, there's no real shame here or an attempt at portraying it as wrong or finding ways to change. Add this in to the really detailed and extravagant looking designs we get from SHAFT and numerous little quirks and nods in the animation and this was far more fun than I expected it to be. It ends at a good spot, gives you plenty to laugh at and lots of fanservice of different kinds for the viewer. It's not a great title but it's not a bad title. Mariaholic is a show that I'm feeling will be a real guilty pleasure of an almost trashy show.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Club At-X Interview, Special X-Mas Night - Amenokisaki Holy Night Festival, Japanese Commercial Collection, Japanese Promotional Video, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.