School President is a Maid Episode 9 – Fantasia in F Major
There’s something in manga called an “omake” chapter. Ranging from just a few pages to being the longest chapter in a volume, an omake chapter is a bonus story or comical revision of one told already. Very rarely these bonus stories will explore a side character, but for the most part omake chapters are meant to be humorous and non-canonical diversions from the main plot.
I bring this up because the current episode of School President is a Maid is based on an omake chapter, and it shows. Ostensibly retelling the Japanese folk tale Momotaro with the show’s characters filling in the roles (with Misaki being the hero, of course), it soon devolves into a blended fantasy, including at least two other bits of Japanese folklore, plus pirates and a circus master (played by Usui) who owns the talking animals found in the original story.
Momotaro/Misaki seeks to rescue a village beset by oni (Japanese ogres), who have stolen all the women away. The village is named after Seika and is now occupied by slovenly men, who can’t cook or do their own laundry and have fallen into a Lord of the Flies-like existence. She then seeks to travel to the island where the oni have taken the women, but is distracted by blah blah blah. Suffice to say that it’s far too pointless and absurd to recap in entirety.
The episode ends with Misaki making it to the island, and with Usui’s help disguises herself in the official garb of the island, which happens to be a maid outfit. It turns out that Usui is also the oni in addition to being the circus master, but the women came willingly to get away from the worthless men of the village. Usui then urges Misaki to join him, something she doesn’t take kindly to … and then the scene shifts back to the real world, where Misaki is sleeping in the student council office, wearing headphones Usui has put on her so she can listen to the story he made in her sleep.
There are occasions where American TV will do something like this. A recent episode of Fringe, for example, was based on a story one character was telling to a child, so it could have all the actors take part in a film noir musical (I am not making this up) as a diversion from the main plot. I think it was added in order to balance out the episode count. Other examples would be any episode occupied by a fantasy of one of the characters.
I think the attraction of such shows is that they let the actors play a different sort of role than they normally do. If you’ve been playing the straight-laced investigator, sometimes it might be fun, and good practice, to try being the clown for a change. Sometimes it can be used to reveal things about the storyteller: how he “casts” the other characters is a way of showing what he thinks about them.
Having said why this happens, however, doesn’t mean I’m giving it a free pass. In the Fringe episode mentioned above, for example, the point of the story was to reveal the guilt of the storyteller over the actions he had taken, and that his hope for finding forgiveness was almost gone. While it didn’t advance the plot, it did reveal something meaningful. In the episode, we don’t even get that: We find out the fantasy is a story Usui is feeding to Misaki in her sleep, in the hope of subliminally influencing her to like him more.
Not only is this over-the-top even for Usui (he plays mind games, sure, but not that dirty), but it doesn’t advance, in any way, the development of any character or the plot. I’m not buying that this was a delaying tactic to make the episode count work out because there is still plenty of material from the manga that hasn’t been used, and the adaption has been willing to play fast and loose with story order before to make things fit in a televised medium. (Miyabigaoka is introduced in volume two of the manga, for example, while Aoi is introduced in volume three—and this omake is in volume four. There are still volume two stories that haven’t been animated yet.)
I’m also not buying that we needed a break for a comic relief episode. I’ve noted with some of the other series I’m covering that I tend to dislike such episodes if they don’t serve another purpose in the plot (or completely fail at the purpose they were trying to achieve), and this one, like the others, isn’t even particularly funny. I’m certain that there were many, many stories in the manga that could have been done which would have been more amusing and which would have made things happen. This is a comedy series, after all.
If this show has any consistent problem, it’s the problem all romantic comedies have: trying to develop the relationship of the leads while at the same time keeping the story going for as long as possible. This means what growth there is has to be slow or occasionally subject to regress, just to keep from hitting the “they start officially dating” development that typically signals the end of such a series. Any show with that problem, can’t test the audience’s patience with completely random filler, particularly when such filler isn’t required because of shortages of money or original material. This is the first School President is Maid episode I think is genuinely bad.
Of course, there are fans who no doubt will eat this up—I’ve seen fansub groups translate bonus material even more meandering and pointless than this—so if you like absurdist fantasy, go ahead and give this a try. Just keep in mind it’s not very good absurdist fantasy.