Home > Episode Reviews, School President is a Maid > School President is a Maid Episode 4 – Role Reversal

School President is a Maid Episode 4 – Role Reversal

It seems that School President is a Maid and Mayoi Neko Overrun are between them trying to cover every romantic comedy trope out there, and the latest episode of School President is no different, with not one but two standard plot devices debuting. The first is “idol.” An idol is any celebrity who is one for the sake of being a celebrity: maybe because she’s a model, or because she’s a singer, or some other reason, but someone who has gathered popularity and fame, basically, for being cute and possibly somewhat talented. Think of someone who, through the power of mass media and the internet, is currently having her fifteen minutes of fame. This role can also extend to any sufficiently “popular” girl at school.

Idols, in classic anime cliché, affect a friendly, sickly sweet or well-mannered persona in public, but are actually manipulative, two-faced, and obsessive about being loved by everyone, and seen as better than everyone else. Typically they exist to serve as a rival for the female romantic lead, being the dishonest beauty aiming to steal away the guy from our honest if outmatched heroine by a combination of feigned innocence and outright seduction.

The show begins with Misaki talking to her manager at work, Satsuki, who conveniently happens to mention for the first time that she has a brother just in time for said brother’s child, Aoi, to come bursting into the cafe looking for a job and a place to stay. As the net-idol Aoi-chan—a role of which Aoi’s father/Satsuki’s brother does not approve, and which triggered the sudden eviction—Aoi is instantly recognized by the maid cafe’s inhabitants, which doesn’t make Satsuki any more happy at the prospect of letting a 14 year-old middle school student work in the cafe. Given Aoi’s penchant for speaking very disparagingly in private about how men are so easy to win over and manipulate, Satsuki’s reluctance is understandable.

Seriously, if you knew a 14-year-old who was posting pictures like this online to be viewed by strangers, wouldn't you be worried?

Aoi drops that request, however, upon seeing Usui, with the new intention to try to win him over, and only becoming more aggressive when he ignores any and all advances. What particularly infuriates Aoi is that Misaki—a girl who doesn’t even try to be feminine and cute—seems to be succeeding so well with him. Eventually losing all patience, Aoi finally embraces Usui in a hallway and forces a confrontation, only to be shocked and flustered when Usui reciprocates in full force, leading to both of them being on the floor when Misaki comes in.

Misaki, of course, after dealing with Usui in her customarily violent manner, then slaps and rebukes Aoi for going so far over a contest about about who’s cuter. Aoi, Misaki admits, clearly wins over Misaki in cuteness, even though he’s a guy. So why try to prove it by competing with her over Usui?

The funny thing is, he could probably still pass for a girl without the wig

Here we introduce the second term of the day: “trap.” A trap is a cross-dresser, specifically a guy who dresses like a girl so well that he fools people into believing he is a girl. (Girls who pretend to be guys are called reverse-traps, and are somewhat more rare.) Traps serve different narrative purposes depending on the genre and target audience; for everything from emphasizing the beauty of the man involved, to providing a way for the male protagonist to attend an all-girls school, to any other reason that has absolutely nothing to do with real life.

For the show to introduce either an idol or a trap was probably a given; this is not a show that is defying its roots. To introduce both, in the same episode, and in the same character: that’s something a little more daring. Here the narrative purpose of the Aoi is to introduce a guy who’s the opposite of Misaki, a guy who excels at traditionally feminine roles even as Misaki excels at masculine ones. (He’s probably also there to give the segment of the female audience who write gay porn fuel for their fetish, which serves as the subtext of all traps found in anime and manga written for girls.)

Someone has made porn based on this scene. Probably several someones

Aoi’s in-character reason for cross-dressing is that he just really likes cute things; his reason for becoming an idol was to show up the kids at school who laughed at him, showing that being cute is popular. (It’s possible he also intended to mess with their heads a bit more directly, given his tendency of gloating over how easily men are manipulated.) His targeting of Usui was simply a challenge, and because having Usui nearby would, he thought, make him look cuter.

As it happens, both Misaki and Usui figured out he was a guy earlier in the episode—as would astute watchers, who noticed how flustered Aoi was when he saw Misaki changing—and Usui was just messing with Aoi as a bit of payback. (He offers a nobler-sounding reason for it, but I don’t buy it.) The rest of the episode is Aoi and Misaki interacting, with Aoi alternating between explaining his motivations for his behavior and complaining about Misaki not looking and acting properly feminine.

There’s a certain irony in having Aoi the cross-dresser berate Misaki for not following traditional gender roles (particularly as Misaki is fairly supportive of Aoi’s habits), although it can’t quite be called hypocrisy as Aoi is just a defender of all things cute. It also shows that, at the end of the day, he has a bit of a crush on her, and like any 14 year old boy can only express it in the most clumsy and self-defeating way possible.

Aoi upon hearing that Misaki "likes" him. Naturally, he follows this up by insulting her

Ultimately, I suspect that’s where Aoi’s role really lies. He provides (technically) another romantic interest for Misaki, which again will appeal to some segment of the fan-fic writing audience—probably different one than the Usui/Aoi segment, but you never know—but he’s safe because of his age and his habits and won’t provide any real competition for the show’s one true pairing. It does introduce an element of a harem following for Misaki, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing her acquire more “admirers” as the show continues. (She already has three from the first episode, but they are minor enough characters that they get by with the equivalent of cameos every episode.)

It’s a testament that School President is a Maid manages to take rote concepts and make them somewhat intriguing, but I think the show functions best when it allows the Usui/Misaki dynamic to take full effect. Whether introducing Aoi will help with this, I can’t say (Aoi, like just about everyone else, has figured out that Usui’s affection for Misaki isn’t feigned like Misaki thinks it is, so maybe he’ll bring this up at some point), but this episode seemed something like a distraction from that. The show’s leads are good enough that they should be able to carry this show through by themselves; anything else is just padding.

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