School President is a Maid Episode 3 – Sister Time
Obligatory intro: Hi, I’m threeheadedmonkeys, and I’ll be taking over blogging duties for The School President is a Maid, and a couple other shows this season. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu (that’s Japanese for “Please don’t flame me”).
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t quite as happy as my co-blogger was about the previous episode, which seemed to stick a little too closely to the formula of “Have Misaki overreact to the out-of-control boys of her school, get shown up for being too uncompromising, and then learn to be more forgiving”—a formula I might have more sympathy for if the guys of the class weren’t so completely incorrigible and deserving of contempt. As things stood, it looked like this would be a show where Misaki would slowly be shown the error of her ways by the ever-perfect Usui, and eventually fall into his arms. In short, it would become a show where you forget why Misaki was such a great heroine to begin with.
Fortunately, that impression was completely wrong. This episode not only highlights all the things that make Misaki such a great character, but also shows that’s exactly why Usui is interested in her.
Our plot for this episode centers around another thing I’ll have to explain for the audience, the sister-complex (sis-com for short), specifically as it is exploited in otaku products. In short, a common archetype in dating simulation games, and thus romance anime and manga based or inspired by them, is the little sister: an incredibly cute girl who lives with the protagonist and either dotes on him or scolds him in a secretly affectionate way. Nearly always the sister character isn’t really related—thus allowing for a (somewhat less disturbing) relationship opportunity—or isn’t technically meant to be seen sexually at all. Even without the sexual connotations, however, it’s meant, like most otaku relational fantasies, to provide the protagonist (and by proxy the reader/player) the opportunity to interact and live with a lovely and loving girl under extremely non-threatening circumstances.
(There are variations on this, of course. KissXSis, which my co-blogger was brave enough to cover for an episode, has a more overtly sexual take on the subject; there are other shows where the sister’s over-the-top affections are shown to be creepy and disturbing, which can either be seen a clever inversion or, depending on how cynical you are, an attempt to have a sis-com relationship depicted without really admitting that you the audience are meant to enjoy fantasizing about it. Not that we here at antiotaku are at all cynical. (Editor’s note: Ignore 3HM’s sarcasm: we totally are))
Since this is a show for girls, however, we aren’t going to see an actual sis-com relationship being highlighted. Instead we are treated to Misaki having to learn to act like a little sister for the latest special event at her work, a role for which she is completely unsuited. Merely getting the subservience required for her role as a basic maid right is already a bit of a stretch for her, and the level of childishness required for the little sister character is far outside her standard range.
This is pointed out by many of the characters, but Misaki, challenged by her fellow employees, throws herself into training with the same effort she puts into everything else, reading source material, questioning friends, and trying to get a handle on what would best please her customers. In the end she manages to put on a passable impression, accomplishing by sheer willpower and effort something not at all natural for her.
Until Usui shows up, of course. He immediately levels a stream of insults and provocations at her (all while maintaining the older brother/little sister conceit in the conversation) until she finally snaps at him, breaking character and causing him to leave. If that were the end of the episode, it would just be another indicator of who Usui is: an obnoxious—if cruelly funny—jerk who is the designated romantic partner by author fiat alone.
What comes the next day indicates otherwise. Usui gets another confession from a girl, but his attention is wholly directed on Misaki first chewing out some male students for (as usual) engaging in dangerous and destructive behavior, and then saving one of them when that behavior backfires. After a perfunctory and rather hilarious rejection of his admirer, he then makes sure Misaki gets some medical treatment for the injury she got playing the hero, noting that, despite her reputation for hating men, she’d help anyone who needed it, just because that’s who she is.
What Usui wants more than anything else, we discover, is authenticity; he has no shortage of women willing to do anything or be anything in order to be with him, and Misaki may well be the first he’s met who is always going to be true to herself, regardless of the situation. She might also be the first who seems immune, or at least resistant, to his charms. His behavior at the cafe, while in keeping with the low-level harassment that seems to be his standard flirtation style, was also meant to get her to act true to herself. As much as he enjoys watching Misaki act like a maid, what he really enjoys is watching Misaki act like Misaki.
A common problem with male-oriented romantic comedy anime is that the male romantic lead is either bland or unlikable, and is more a device on which the audience can project themselves rather than a realistic character. (This is particularly pronounced in harem anime, where there simply is no compelling reason to believe an otherwise unremarkable guy would have every woman in existence fall for him.) A common problem with female-oriented romantic comedy anime, however, is that the male romantic lead is either too obviously perfect or … well, still unlikable, but more in the jerk-who-walks-over-women sort of way. Up until this episode, Usui seemed to be aiming to fall into both those traps himself. From the beginning, Misaki gave us a likable heroine; now, we’ve finally seen that her designated love interest might actually deserve her.