School President is a Maid Episode 12 – On and Off Track
Since so few of the shows antiotaku has covered this season involve normal high school life (“normal” being an odd term to use whenever anime is concerned, but bear with me for a moment), I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s taken this long for a sports festival to come up. Like school festivals, these are staples of Japanese high schools—or their animated equivalents, at any rate—so it was only a matter of time where one popped up here.
Briefly put, a sports festival is a school-wide athletic competition, with both easily recognizable events like sprints, relay races, high jumps matched with some more esoteric ones (scavenger hunts pop up often in these shows). Seika’s festival fits all of those requirements with two odd exceptions. First, winners in each event get a particular prize, like being able to pick what TV channel is shown in the cafeteria. Second, although each class competes as a unit (which is normal), all the girls are placed into a separate team.
This of course makes no sense whatsoever, but it does mean that Misaki, as the obvious athlete among the girls, winds up being the vanguard at most events. As she knows full well that the men of the school will use the privileges granted by victory to make life uncomfortable for the female students, she commits herself to competing, and winning, in every event she can join.
By this point you can tell that everything is going to go exactly according to formula: Misaki will demonstrate her skill and competence (by winning in all the events she enters), someone will engage in unfair play to put her at a disadvantage (and, in this case, she just gets tired out), Usui will come in to save the day, and everyone will go home happy, even if Misaki is still somewhat miffed at Usui. And that is exactly what happens—so much so that I don’t need to go into details.
Of course, the show hasn’t been following this outline for the last month, and it wasn’t doing well for itself by going off the beaten track. And there is a certain charm to the basic formula, particularly in Misaki’s violent determination and Usui’s quasi-perverted nature. The first half of the episode isn’t the best story this series has told, but it’s hardly the worst, either.
However, that’s only the first half of the episode. The second half concerns a special event, a costume race, that I’ve never seen before, and which seems to be an oddity unique to Seika. Basically, in involves grabbing a bag, running to a changing tent, changing into the costume the bag contains in the dark, and then finishing the rest of the race dressed up. It’s rather bizarre, and not well respected by anyone (and the prize is worthless), so only the nonathletic or slacker students participate in it, just to have something to say that they did.
All except Yukimura, the student council vice president whom readers might remember getting lip-raped by Usui back in episode seven. Unlike just about everyone else participating, he’s happy to be taking part of his first high school sports festival (he was sick last year), and while not an exceptional athlete, he takes the costume race very seriously, as it’s a place he can actually compete.
As his role, it seems, is to become the show’s new official butt monkey, he winds up getting a very well-crafted maid costume after a mix-up with Misaki, who originally drew it. (The costume was made by the three delinquents who have become Misaki’s biggest fans at the maid cafe, who wound up contributing it to the costume race by accident. The “idiot trio,” as they are known, are the show’s original butt monkeys.) What’s worse, with the obvious quality of the costume combined with the earnestness at which he is competing, everyone assumes that he made the costume himself, and start throwing jeers his way.
Misaki, of course, doesn’t take kindly to one of her subordinates getting harassed, so she and Usui (who also decided to compete in the event, probably just to follow Misaki around) make equally ornate costumes out of, well, something, and then show up to support Yukimura. With the always popular Usui and the terrifying Misaki making it clear that the consider the costume race to be Serious Business, the crowd quiets down. Score another one for Misaki and Usui.
Since “the formula” would insist on Misaki getting the maid costume, I suppose I should be happy that there’s a break with convention. But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why this scene is included. Aside from showing off how effeminate Yukimura is—something it wasn’t hard to pick up on—and giving Misaki some inspiration to improve the costumes in the race next year, what purpose does it have? However predictable the first half of the episode was, at least it managed to hit all the right notes, even if we really should be moving on to bigger and better things with the plot by now. This … doesn’t really do anything, as far as plot progression or character development or even (God forbid) romance is concerned. It just is.
I could also complain about the various plot holes (Where did Misaki and Usui get the material for their elaborate costumes? Why is it that even with the lack of enthusiasm, none of the other participants even made it to the changing tent?) but honestly these don’t matter in the grand arc of the show. What matters is that after a great opening sprint, School President is a Maid is now contenting itself with a slow trot, counting on the distance it’s covered thus far to keep it in the lead. If it keeps this up, it’s going to lose the race.