The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kaichou wa Maid-sama!

Title: Kaichou wa Maid-sama! aka Class President is a Maid!
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 2 Apr 2010 – 24 Sep 2010

Synopsis: Ayuzawa Misaki is the student council president at Seika High School, but she’s had to take a tough path to get to the top.  Seika was, until recently, an all-boys school and Misaki, annoyed at seeing the second class conditions dealt to her fellow female students, still by and large a minority, spent her high school years winning approval from her teachers and respect from the students to land in her position of power.  Misaki is particularly tough on male students, who fear and obey her.  However, as her family is poor, she needs a high paying part time job, which is why she works at a maid café.  She’s also aware that if any student at her school were to find out about this, her reputation would be in tatters.

The Highlights
Main characters: Strong, intriguing and sympathetic; so where did this anime go wrong?
Plot: Terribly loose; too many pointless distractions.
Romance: Sweet and romantic at the end, but takes way too long to get there.
Formula: Way too many instances of Misaki needing to be saved by Usui.

There’s been a dearth of good shoujo romance titles this year, and after Kimi ni Todoke, which had its share of misses, I can’t really think of too many others that were worth the time.  I’d only really recommend Kaichou wa Maid-sama to hardcore shoujo romance fans, desperate for a fix.  I enjoyed it, but it’s so riddled with flaws, especially when it comes to the pacing.  There were something like eight episodes that I considered to be completely pointless and unnecessary, and another four or five that could have been cut down and spliced together, to get rid of the fat.  I can’t see any conceivable reason why Maid-sama’s story, as we saw in this anime, needed 26 episodes, especially considering the end point their relationship reached screams that there’s still more to be told.

If there’s one thing that I’m unabashed about liking in Maid-sama it’s the lead pair, Misaki and Usui.  Misaki’s a strong, independent, feminist type and her misandry, which is generally treated with tongue-in-cheek and rarely becomes overbearing, is justified by her background.  Unfortunately, being a competitive, headstrong female lead, the plot constantly needs to put her in precarious situations (usually the last stage of a contest of some nature) where she requires saving by a capable man, and this is where Usui comes in.  I’d be a little more annoyed by the innate sexism of this oft repeated formula except for two things: firstly, it’s anime, and seeing so many otherwise capable women turned into damsels-in-distress in order to bring them down a peg has numbed me to it, and, secondly, Usui’s enigmatic nature makes him strangely likable.

Usui is refreshing compared with other male leads in anime romances.  He’s wily, mysterious and something of a romantic predator.  Which is why it’s annoying that he’s just as enigmatic at the end of the show as he is at the beginning.  It’s clear that Usui is hiding something, and the parallel between his and Misaki’s secrets would have been an interesting aspect of their relationship to explore.  Instead we get arcs about butlers, and episodes about beach volleyball and sports days and one love rival after another that amount to meaningless distractions.

I can only justify so much negativity towards a show I ultimately liked from the perspective that it could have been so much more.  As far as I’m concerned, when an anime has good characters, it’s halfway there towards delivering a good story.  Maid-sama’s terribly loose script ruined any chances it had of reaching its potential.  The romanticist in me thoroughly enjoyed the ending, but I feel shortchanged, because I didn’t see the need to wait 26 episodes to get it, and there’s still a crapload of Usui’s character that remains obscured.  To put it into perspective, Maid-sama’s two main characters are far more sympathetic and intriguing than Kimi ni Todoke’s primary pair… but Kimi ni Todoke is a far superior shoujo romance because of better writing and execution.  And that’s not a very flattering comparison for Maid-sama.

The Rating: 5
5/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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