Home > Episode Reviews, School President is a Maid > School President is a Maid Episode 17 – Lovers’ Quarrel

School President is a Maid Episode 17 – Lovers’ Quarrel

Hear that sound? That’s me cheering. I was hesitant to say it before, but after this episode I feel quite safe in declaring that School President is a Maid has escaped its mid-season slump for good.

The central problem with romantic comedies, particularly romantic comedies where one party refuses to admit love for the other party, is that the show faces a constant temptation to make a god out of the status quo. School President fell into that, hard, over the past few months, with practically no advancement of Usui and Misaki’s relationship. The last two episodes showed some indication of breaking out from that trap, but it isn’t until now that the show has cleared it.

I was right to predict that Aoi would be the source of starting up the serious plot advancement again, but for the wrong reasons. It’s not because he’s jealous that Usui and Misaki grow closer (although he is increasingly jealous), but because he does inadvertently what Kanou tried and failed: put Usui and Misaki on opposite sides of a fight.

As this picture makes quite clear, Aoi's still jealous of Misaki and Usui's relationship. And perhaps Usui is jealous too

The battleground is the beach volleyball contest that is a feature at this particular vacation spot. The challenge is from Nagisa: Win the contest, she tells her nephew, and I’ll let you cross dress all summer. Aoi, jumping at the chance, shows enough enthusiasm to inspire Misaki to help. Together, the two of them plow through the competition and make it to the final round.

There’s only one complication. Coming from the other bracket is Misaki’s co-worker Erika, and Usui, who ostensibly is just there because Erika asked but has reasons of his own for wanting to win. The winners of contest are declared the king and queen of the beach, with accompanying photo attention in beachwear. Whether because he knows that Misaki will be uncomfortable from the attention, or just because he wants to save her for himself (probably both), he needs to make her lose.

Misaki's psycho fighting spirit, last seen at the sports festival, seems to be contagious. That, and Aoi really wants to wear frilly dresses

Misaki is completely caught off-guard by this challenge. Sure, she’s been annoyed at Usui for most of the show, but he’s always helped her when she needed it, and certainly never opposed her. After it becomes clear that Usui is seriously out to defeat her—which, omni-competent Marty Stu that he is, he looks set to do without breaking a sweat—she starts getting really mad.

All this only serves to remind her of how many times Usui has bailed her out over the past semester, how much she’s been grateful for his help, and how she’s almost starting thinking of him in a positive way. (As usual, she’s not completely honest with herself.) She doesn’t have a clue to his motivations, and can only think that he’s doing this to toy with her and Aoi, in spite of all the effort they’ve put in to win. Frustrated, she cries out a plea to no one in particular asking why Usui is fighting her.

The crowd doesn't know what Usui and Misaki's relationship is, but I'm guessing they're all really curious now

That outburst alternatively shocks and amuses Usui, who then sets back to doing what he set out to do. It’s unclear if he deliberately held back on the next serve as a result, but Misaki is so out of sorts anyway that she botches the return and even with a beautifully executed save by Aoi it’s clear the ball won’t make it back to the other side. Misaki swoops in to knock it all the way, but in the process loses her footing and almost crashes into the referee perch.

She doesn’t only because Usui gets there first—adding teleportation to his list of known skills, because there’s no way he could have cleared the distance by natural means. In a rare concession to realism, however, he’s actually injured in her place, and his team is forced to forfeit. It’s a sort of cheap way to allow Misaki and Aoi to win without Usui either taking it easy on them or being shown to be fallible, but it works.

Even after having been slammed into two hard objects, Usui still has the presence of mind to keep the ref from tipping over. No, there is nothing he can't do

That night, Misaki is mulling over the day’s events with Usui, and finally learns why he signed up for the tournament. She points out that Aoi’s issues were greater than that, but still seems appreciative that Usui rated her concerns higher. When Usui makes it crystal clear that his affections for her are not a joke, and leans in to kiss her, she moves to respond.

They don’t kiss, of course, because a well-timed firework distracts them. With the next attempt at romantic contact making it clear that Misaki is still a bit too shy to comfortably reciprocate anymore, Usui backs down—for the moment. But another milestone has been crossed in their relationship, and unlike the stolen kiss in episode six, Usui isn’t going to try to downplay the significance of what happened.

Unfortunately for the two of them (and us), the fireworks interrupt rather than complement their mood. Maybe next time

Real romantic advancement between the two of them has been sorely lacking since that stolen kiss, so it’s great to see the incremental gains made in the last couple episodes built upon in lasting ways. Another great thing about this episode is that it ties all the development before this together, as Misaki reflects on all Usui has done for her. Dealing with Kanou, Misaki started to admit to herself how helpful Usui had been; now she’s publicly admitted it.

There’s no attempt to backtrack either. Misaki wakes up still flustered about her moment of weakness in Usui’s arms last episode, but unlike last time Usui doesn’t try to pretend nothing happened for her sake; he just goes on being himself. This might have had something to do with the fact Usui is allergic to mornings, and thus was too tired, but he’s not going to soft peddle the night’s events either. He’s reached the point where he’s no longer going to back down just because Misaki isn’t ready, and it looks like Misaki might be ready anyway.

I think this is the first time Sayu and Gon (far left in front) have been officially introduced, but they also work in Maid Latte as waitresses

So, yes, I really liked this episode. It gives me some hope that the writers are ready to take the last two months this show has to bring Usui and Misaki’s unconventional romance to a satisfying conclusion. I’m still waiting for the point where Misaki gets to save Usui for a change (and I might be kept waiting on that), but with that option off the table at the moment, this episode manages to do everything else I care about right. Next time Igarashi makes his return, so I have no reason to believe that will be any different.

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