The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Maria-sama ga Miteru ~Haru~

Title: Maria-sama ga Miteru ~Haru~ aka Marimite ~Haru~ aka The Virgin Mary is Watching You ~Spring~
Genre: Drama
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 4 Jul 2004 – 26 Sep 2004

Synopsis: The holidays had been, for the large part, boring and lonely for Fukuzawa Yumi, who was missing her Onee-sama, Ogasawara Sachiko, but New Year’s provided a highlight for Yumi with a gathering of the Yamayurikai for a party at Sachiko’s place. The students of Lilian have now returned to school for the new term and the Yamayurikai is busily preparing for the graduation of the senior class, including the three Roses.

The Highlights
Characters: Characters we know are developed and analysed to an even deeper level.
Plot: Same pace as the first season, but never totally stagnant.
Animation: Decent for the most part, but a few noticeable glitches.
Ending: One significant unresolved matter.

It’s easy enough to identify which section of the audience will enjoy the second season of Marimite: those that enjoyed the first season. Being a continuation of the Marimite story, it’s almost obvious that any fan of the first series should close to automatically find themselves watching Haru soon after. And while I would argue that the first series is better, if only slightly, Haru makes itself an invaluable addition to the Marimite narrative with even deeper analyses of its characters, as well as a plot that doesn’t remain stagnant.

Haru plays to the same strengths as its predecessor, remaining in the same vein as the slow-paced character-driven drama original. However, Marimite refuses to make the same mistake as other character-driven franchises like School Rumble, and keeps the plot in its sequel series constantly ticking over. While we are given the opportunity to learn more about the current cast, new characters are also introduced concurrently, and new relationships are formed. The impact of this on the character development is profound… movement of plot in a series like this demands that the characters grow, and none of it is executed in a way that is trite, let alone disrespectful to the character development we’ve seen thus far.

Don’t expect Marimite’s renowned melodrama to go away, though. While a lot of it is forgivable thanks to the fact that the characters are so charming, the plot does share a few awkward plot points that are difficult to swallow, such as characters pretending to be antagonistic to bring other characters together, or, as happened in one particular instance, to get them to publicly confess secrets because they think the guilt is weighing them down (like it’s any of their business…). Another sticking point is the animation. It inconsistently swings between outstanding and mediocre, and while it spends the majority of the series tending to the former, there are numerous moments where it’s obvious that shortcuts have been taken, including one entire episode where the character designs are inexplicably, yet noticeably changed.

While Haru’s ending wraps up most of the character conflicts, unlike the first series it concludes at a point where it is obvious that there is still more to the story. However, ignoring one major hanging plot point, the final arc is an absolute highlight as we follow Yumi through an emotional rollercoaster… and all the right storytelling techniques, such as lots of introspection and character waypoints, are employed in this section to make the audience follow her on this ride and care about her plight. In the end, Haru is an absolute must for Marimite fans, doing justice to the first series and continuing the story admirably. The flaws are minor, but if you’re willing to put up with more melodrama and a few glitches in animation, the reward for doing so is a chance to see more of this charming cast being explored even deeper than in the first series.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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