“You know, you always talk about how much you like romance, yet you never talk about romance anime! Do one of those!” …’kay.
I… should probably have clarified that I usually prefer a nice romantic subplot to an all-out romance anime. But I’m not opposed to the latter. And this is one example that stands as to why. You may be surprised as to how little I have to say about this (is what I thought when I started writing this). But that shouldn’t take away from what I do wind up saying. And I’ll open by noting that I do absolutely love this. But. The reason for that is as basic and simple as it gets. Put plainly… it’s funny and it’s cute. So. So cute. Now, with that being said, let’s get into some specifics.
J.C.Staff is a studio that needs no introduction. They’ve helmed a lot of anime I Absolutely. Love. And even the ones I’ve seen that I haven’t felt overly strongly about, I walked away with an overall positive experience. Of late, I’ve seen them kinda catching a lot of shade, and I don’t really get it? But, hey, I’m not one to care what mass opinion of anything is, anyway. Clearly. That said, one thing I really want to give them credit on, here, is the visual style of the show. The colors are vibrant and the character designs are just really aesthetically pleasing to me. The style also lends itself well to the overall style of humor that the series leans on, which does a lot with cartoonish, rubberband-like character deformity and slapstick, made possible through the use of chibi style, in places.
Speaking of humor, the show also has really weird comedic timing. Yet it works pretty well. The pauses linger just long enough to prevent the dead air from becoming awkward. Or maybe it’s that the pauses linger so long that the atmosphere does become awkward, but just enough that when the punchline actually comes, it makes the joke feel funnier because of the release of tension. Either way, the show really struck a comedic chord with me.
Moving away from the comedy a bit, I don’t watch a ton of Shoujo unless the word “Mahou” is in front of it. But that mostly just comes down to iffy past experiences. Lots of Shoujo romances that took themselves way too seriously for my liking, mostly. Obviously, they aren’t all like that. But even amongst the more dramatic love stories, I’d like my share of humor, adventure, or whatever to break up all the drama and whatnot. Getting me to go “Awwww!” only works so much. Eventually, I’m gonna wanna laugh or marvel at some awesome spectacle. But while Maid-sama does definitely deliver on the former, it more than fulfills the “Awwww!” quota.
The best part about Maid-sama to me, funnily enough, isn’t even the romance. Don’t get me wrong. It’s adorable. And we’ll come back to that. But I honest-to-god think that this series could stand up pretty decently even without it. Why? Because the characters have such great chemistry in general. And not just the main pair. Usui and Misaki are fantastic and feature some of my favorite (albeit usually one-sided) dialogues in anything, lately. Usui, in particular, is such a bloody troll. I love him. But the side characters, while not especially delved into, are fun and fill the show with a lot of life. They feel like they exist as more than vehicles for the leads in that they live their own lives outside of them, while also helping them out and providing them with significant life lessons and such – especially the staff of Maid Latte. There are other shows out there that definitely do this better. But for having just two cours and not being an ensemble cast, it gets the job done a satisfactory manner.
But, let’s be honest, Misaki and Usui are the stars. And they really make the show what it is. When I first turned it on, I was a bit leery of Misaki. The “man-hating” thing seemed a bit weird and weakly explained. But as you get to the core of the character, which they do an excellent job of setting up, by the way, you kinda get what’s really going on. She doesn’t actually hate guys, so much as she’s just wary and distrusting of them. Her Shounen-inherited hotblooded nature just translates this into an exceptionally vindictive and authoritarian streak. But I liked getting to see her gradually mellow out, even if the “devil” side was still forced to rear its head, when necessary.
And, really, Misaki is the strongest character in the series (the anime, anyway), by a country mile. In writing, that is. Though she’s fairly close in the literal sense. Sure, she’s a strong female character and all that. She doesn’t need Usui to save her in most situations. And when she does, there’s a very clear and evident reason that doesn’t come down to her being incapable of something “because she’s the girl.” Half the time, when things go wrong, it’s honestly her own fault or something so far out of her control that she wouldn’t be able to do anything, regardless. And her strength comes from a place of genuine concern for others and the wellbeing of those around her. She’s not a selfless paragon by any means, but a life of rough circumstances and struggling for that which she’s been able to acquire does make her highly empathetic. So you get why she wants to help people and why the attitudes of the guys around her drive her up the wall.
And then there’s Usui. Amusingly, going purely by the anime, he’s probably the overall weakest character in the thing. I know what his deal apparently is from the manga, but the anime never got around to that, so… yeah. As he appears in the series we have, so far, he’s just Mr. Perfect with an aloof personality and a love of teasing Misaki. He’s even actively referred to as “her knight.” Multiple times. But, despite this lack of… really anything to go on, I greatly enjoy his character. His motivations are murky at best, his past an utter mystery, and there doesn’t appear to be a blasted thing he’s incapable of.
He’s certainly not perfect in personality. He’s possessive and prone to jealousy, has the people skills of a potato (until he doesn’t, for the sake of plot convenience), and is generally pretty crass. But Misaki puts up with him because he’s a walking Deus Ex Machina. And, for some reason, I am entirely okay with this. Ordinarily, it’d annoy me. But there are two things keeping me engaged. On the one hand… this is a comedy. And the second you attach that tag to anything, I become about a million times more lax about certain things. That’s one of them. The second reason is that, honestly, he’s just entertaining. His blase attitude and witty retorts kept me thoroughly amused and his ability to suddenly hit the charm button nearly made me swoon for Misaki, at times. He’s like if Sakuta from Bunny Girl Senpai wasn’t… well… kind of a loser. Except this guy came first. Put plainly… he’s just a fun character, even if (based on the anime so far) he’s not an especially deep one.
So with all that said… how’s the romance, itself? Honestly? I’unno. That usually takes a bit of rumination time for me to determine. Like I said, I thought it was cute. It hit the “Aww!” button on several occasions. The romantic chemistry between the two was genuinely very engaging. Usui actively pressing Misaki’s buttons to trigger her sweeter (dere) side, was both adorable and funny, depending on the scene. Misaki constantly fretting over it all and why she can’t make heads or tails of her own feelings was also pretty sweet. For someone so used to having things figured out, here a new element enters her life where she simply loses that certainty. And, really, it’s a fairly effective example of how love can indeed be enigmatic, overwhelming and, above all else, bloody confusing.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this show was its pacing. Every episode. Every episode felt absolutely full. Let me note something. I watch a lot of seasonal anime. I don’t cover all of it for the site for reasons I’m not gonna get into, here. But one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of it feels really, really breezy. That’s not an inherently bad thing. Quick watches make for a very binge-able and easily digestible viewing experience. But the way this show is paced, each episode felt like it packed in the absolute maximum amount of content it needed to feel completely full and thus lead to really satisfying individual experiences. They felt like long episodes without me wanting it to get on with things. A lot of the time an episode might’ve felt like it was ending, but nope. The show must go on. And, in this case, that was a good thing. Because I wanted more. Despite its pretty rapid comedy, the series was very laid back and took its time. That’s what I’m getting at.
And all that just brings me to the conclusion of everything. This anime is perhaps the single best example I’ve run into in a while where I can just say… READ THE DAMN MANGA. Alas, that second season (which this totally deserves, and they know that) pro’lly ain’t gonna happen. But the story continues and I’m honestly interested in reading more. So I’ll off and do that, at some point. As much as I’d love to say “Read the Damn Manga” is the rating, it obviously isn’t. But Kaichou wa Maid-sama is definitely Super Effective.
So. What are your thoughts on Maid-sama? Are you keeping your fingers crossed for a second season as much as I am? Let me know, down below. That’s all I’ve got for ya here. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Keep up the Awesome.