School President is a Maid Episode 18 – The Measure of a Maid
It’s been ten episodes since Igarashi (the underhanded student president of the uber-rich Miyabigaoka Academy) failed in his attempt to buy off and/or rape—not that he would acknowledge the difference—Misaki into becoming his loyal servant, and ever since then the question hasn’t been when he would return, but how. With his nature exposed, he can no longer try recruiting Misaki, but that doesn’t mean that someone with his financial capability doesn’t have other means of harassment at his disposal.
That being said, his most pressing goal isn’t to destroy Misaki, but to use her as a means to increase his own amusement. He is perfectly happy not to outright ruin her life, so long as he can force her into unpleasant situations. This time, he doesn’t approach her directly, but introduces a challenge that—thanks to its nature and the results of it—manages to capture all the major themes of the show.
It’s another normal day at the maid cafe (and that I can write that sentence without the slightest sense of irony is another sign of how far we’ve come) when Miyabigaoka’s student council VP, Mika, makes an unexpected visit. As the heir to a major restaurant conglomerate, he’s decided to open up a butler-themed restaurant as his first personal project, and want to take over the block where Maid Latte is located to built it.
He’s going to each business on the block in turn to convince them to sell (as the landlord of area refused to evict his tenants in just because some rich boy asked him to), and invites them to the restaurant’s footman auditions to show how serious he is in creating the proper atmosphere. With Satsuki completely intimidated by the show of wealth in front of her, Misaki decides that she should encourage her boss not to cave in. That, plus a not so subtle challenge from Igarashi, causes her to try out for the auditions, to prove that Maid Latte already meets the need that Maki claims his restaurant will fill.
There’s just one catch: the auditions are for men only, and they have to be with a partner. So Misaki and Subaru (the other maid who can to a passable job faking as a man) enter in disguise, and do quite well with the rather ridiculous sets of challenges that Mika has set up. It’s only with the speed changing test that Subaru gets caught and is disqualified.
This also leads to Usui and Aoi’s team (Yes, Usui figured out a way to participate. Are you surprised?) being singled out, and Aoi being disqualified for being too young. Technically, this should disqualify Misaki and Usui as well, as they’ve lost their partners, but here Igarashi chooses to intervene again, suggesting to Maki that they must be exceptional candidates to have gotten as far as they had with “weaker” partners. He further suggests that the two of them should be allowed to continue paired together—so long as they prove they’re both men.
It’s unclear exactly how involved Igarashi has been in this power play from the beginning. He claims to be doing nothing more than supporting his subordinate in the latter’s first business venture, and for the most part is content to play spectator. But it’s points like this which demonstrate that he clearly is calling the shots at the end of the day, and is milking this opportunity for maximum enjoyment.
Misaki is still determined to continue, but needs to figure out a way to prove she’s male, even when she’s not. Ultimately, her method comes down to trusting Usui in a very personal manner, as she strips to her undershirt and pulls his hand to her chest, relying on him to lie. As it turns out, he doesn’t have to; with some disappointment he announces that she’s “flat as a board” and that serves as verification to the masses.
Of course, Igarashi knows exactly who she is, and very likely Maki does as well. But the former, and therefore the latter, are willing to continue the deception so long as it proves entertaining, and Igarashi has yet to be unentertained by the proceedings. The episode ends with our power couple continuing to the next stage in the competition.
Two-parters are always frustrating to review, as just about everything important about the arc is going to happen in the second half. Still, it’s interesting to see all the themes of the show get brought up even in what’s happened so far. There’s the latent misogyny of Igarashi, running a contest that holds the unstated opinion that women are too weak to compete with men. There’s the implication that Misaki is acting out of more than a simple sense of loyalty, and that she really has been converted into seeing Maid Latte as a good institution and that she wants to help it succeed at its mission.
And, although it hasn’t had a chance to take effect yet, the constant theme of the show that as great as Misaki is, she is unstoppable with Usui as a partner. This episode, I am happy to report, doesn’t make Usui into Misaki’s rescuer; he’s a necessary element in her staying in the competition, but aside from not revealing her secret he doesn’t do more than go along with the ride. (Of course, I doubt he’d ever object to having an opportunity to cop a feel on Misaki, even given her minimal endowment.)
Of course, the plot is ridiculous as only anime can be. Not only is the wealth of Mika and everyone else at Miyabigaoka exaggerated beyond all reason, but the entire challenge presented is unnecessary. A simple “no” from Satsuki would put a block on Mika’s project, regardless of results; and the terms of the buyout are so reasonable that it’s likely that Satsuki could accept it and relocate Maid Latte without too much trouble anyway. Nothing is really riding on this contest—except pride. As it happens, that’s enough for Misaki.
I can easily guess what next episode will look like, and hope Igarashi is OK with his games accomplishing nothing besides drawing Usui and Misaki closer together. (Actually, I don’t hope that, because Igarashi deserves some comeuppance.) While I’m slightly annoyed this episode was all set-up and no pay off, I expect the closing of this contest to deliver on all counts. It’s nice to be optimistic about a show again.