Sorry for the delay, folks. It's due to a combination of a game night at the local game store going far longer than anticipated combined with a friend loaning me one of my greatest video game weaknesses: an Ace Attorney game. Damn you Phoenix Wright! Why must your games be so addictive?
Nonetheless, I'm here to finish off this maid month, and this final one is a rather apt follow up to He Is My Master. Both are about maids, both were turned into animated series by Studio Gainax, and both are utterly terrible.
MAHOROMATIC: AUTOMATIC MAIDEN (Mahoromatikku), written by Bunjuro Nakayama & drawn by Bow Ditama. First published in 1999, and first published in North America in 2004.
For years, a secret agency known as Vesper has fought against alien forces, and their greatest weapon is the battle android Mahoro. One day Mahoro is given the chance to retire from battle peacefully, leaving her with roughly one year's worth of operational time. She chooses to spend her retirement serving others - specifically, by serving Suguru, the orphaned son of a Vesper commander. Neither Suguru nor his classmates can believe his luck - not only does he have a beautiful girl living with him, but she cooks, cleans, and takes care of him. Still, Suguru will need all the luck he can get to keep Mahoro's true identity a secret, and Mahoro in turn will need it to fend off Suguru's lecherous teacher and outside forces as well as dust and grime.
"Battle android turned maid" is not exactly the most intellectually stimulating story concept out there, but god knows that I expected more action and less fanservice and slice-of-life action out of Mahoromatic.
I almost had some hope, as Mahoro's first act upon leaving Vesper is to save a busful of people from hijackers. There were even some attempts at tenderness near the end, as Mahoro hints why she chose to specifically serve Suguru. The rest of the time, though, the volume is nothing but fanservice-laden high school slice-of-life pablum. You'd think that with such a large cast there would be some variety, but all of Suguru's classmates are all one-note jokes instead of fleshed-out characters. Worse of all, that cast includes Ms. Shinjuko, Suguru's mad cougar of a homeroom teacher who inexplicably sees Mahoro as competition. Thus, she makes it her business to hit on her UNDERAGED STUDENT at every chance, stopping just short of stalking him. She's meant to add conflict to all this fluffiness, but she utterly fails; Ms. Shinjuko is painfully unfunny and deeply offensive to boot.
There is honestly so little to talk about when it comes to story. Mahoro suprises Suguru at school! They go to a bathhouse! She makes him lunch! All this, and no excuse is too feeble to have either Mahoro or Ms. Shinjuki get naked, nipples and all. It's weird that there's so much flesh on screen, but that Tokyopop's translators were so oddly prudish. You see, they left 'ecchi' untranslated, using it as a synonym for 'dirty' (as in thoughts) or for 'porn' (as in magazines). I know that the word can serve this dual purpose in Japanese, but when left in an otherwise normal English translation it looks like Tokyopop was either being a bit lazy with translation or trying to find a way around using the word 'porn.'
If I haven't made it blatantly obvious, I did not like Mahoromatic at all. When I wasn't disgusted with the naked (pun not intended) excuses for fanservice, I was bored to tears by its bland uneventfulness.
The character designs are unremarkable. Sure, everyone looks distinct, but with little personality beyond a single gag, they still seems to blend together. The only remarkable thing about them are the lovingly detailed breasts, which is such an oddly explicit touch to an otherwise innocuous story. Expressions are big and broad, although I'm not sure how much of that is due to the limitations of the art and how much to the limitations of the story. Panels are packed tightly on the page, but the presentation is otherwise straightforward. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by how little there is to say about the art, considering how little there was to say about the story it illustrates. If it weren't for the fanservice, it would be completely forgettable.
There are some color splashes pages in the front of Mahoro, and the first page of the manga proper is also in color. There's also a couple of bizarre pages at the end where Mahoro and Suguru comment on the creation of their own manga, and the writer clearly isn't clever enough to pull off a joke this meta. There are also some creator's notes and more black-and-white splash pages.
This series was published by Tokyopop. All 8 volumes were published, and all are currently out of print.
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