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School President is a Maid Episode 26 – Love’s Trials

September 29, 2010 3 comments

Well, when Erika acted as a writer mouthpiece and predicted that Usui and Misaki would need to overcome a serious obstacle in order to make a romance between them possible, I wasn’t expecting something as literal as what actually happened. I was thinking, “Oh, Usui will need to overcome whatever block forces him to dominate Misaki so much, and open himself up in a meaningful way to the vulnerability that comes with the intimacy of a relationship.” I was not thinking, “Oh, they are going to do an obstacle course.” Vague prophecy this was not.

While the overt aspect of it had the potential to be trite and hamfistedly moralizing, the show manages to avoid the trite groanfest this could have been. This episode, the finale of the show, doesn’t officially renounce Usui’s more aggressive manipulation techniques or dominating tendencies. But it does create a situation where those elements are naturally displaced by honesty, partnership, and indeed love.
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School President is a Maid Episode 25 – Learning New Tricks

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Rather than offering a climax, this episode of School President is a Maid instead offers multiple distinct vignettes, advancing the growing conflict between Usui and Hinata in only incremental amounts before setting up for the next episode. Were I in a less forgiving mood, I might take a page from my co-blogger and complain about the lack of direction and the failure of this episode to stand on its own.

Even still, that the parts of the episode don’t quite gel together doesn’t mean the narrative isn’t advancing, or that we aren’t seeing some serious character development from the leads. This is mostly notably the case with Hinata, who gets several flashback scenes exploring the depths of his obsession with Misaki, but also in a crucial—and necessary—way with Usui.
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School President is a Maid Episode 24 – Breaking the Spell

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Has it really been this long since we’ve had a special costume day at Maid Latte? Perhaps realizing that there are still quite a few known fetishes for the staff to run through before the series ends, we get the first cafe-centered episode in over a month. This time, the maids are going all out with a matching a Sunday morning magical girl show, which involves lots of short skirts and ridiculous incantations.

The moment I realized the premise, I was bracing myself not to like the episode, but once again the show manages to freshen up old genres and plot devices. As surprising as it is for me to admit, the stolen lines from the made-up magical girl show are surprisingly well-integrated into the storyline as a whole.
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School President is a Maid Episode 23 – Rooting for the Underdog

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s difficult to understate what a game changer Hinata’s introduction has been to the series. Not only has his appearance started the first and only real multi-episode arc (even Igarashi only could justify a couple paired episodes), but simply by existing he calls into question the equilibrium that the series has cultivated until now.

This is episode is on the surface a repeat of one that has occurred on several occasions, with Misaki trying to conceal her work as a maid from her admirers and/or enemies, with Usui stepping in to help because, well, he’s Usui. But it’s completely different in tone than the prior events, and leaves with a very different feeling.
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School President is a Maid Episode 22 – Seeking Renewal

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Anime is so cliche ridden that certain tropes seem unavoidable. This is particularly the case with fan-service tropes, as the “beach episode” or “hot springs episode” manages to cover the same bits of 2D exploitation every single time. The “school trip episode” is often a variant of the hot springs episode, in that it pretends to be about something other than girls commenting on each other’s breast sizes and feeling each other up (while the guys the next bath over listen with complete attention) for portions of it, but really that’s all it’s about.

School President is a Maid, however, is a show aimed at girls, so the particular cliches it falls prey to are unrelated to all that. This does grant it a certain leeway in executing what should be regular tropes, and this one is no exception. It’s fair to say that this is one of the most unique takes on a school trip I’ve every seen in an anime, which makes it all the more amusing.
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School President is a Maid Episode 21 – Falling in Love All Over Again

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

I mentioned a few episodes ago that most of Misaki and Usui’s relationship problems would be solved if he simply asked her out on a date like a normal person, rather that resorting to quasi-stalkerish (or overtly stalkerish) antics to show his affection. Usui, frankly, has not been all that honest, and with Misaki in deep denial about her own growing feelings, the relationship is completely stalled.

Soutarou Kanou, however, has noticed their warped interplay, and is getting rather frustrated about it. He asks Usui the same question I just did, only to have Usui blow him off in return. I’ve complained about Usui being depicted as perfect, but here we see a real flaw on display: Usui isn’t capable of lowering his guard enough to have a real relationship with Misaki. And even his current relationship is beginning to wear on him.
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School President is a Maid Episode 20 – Spoiled Princesses

Despite the fact that they are both inherently visual mediums, there are several problems with adapting manga into anime. Long conversations that on the page can accompany a single panel require multiple different shots on the screen to remain engaging. The “gaps” in an action scene that a manga reader is expected to imagine have to be filled in when animated. But the most pressing problem is the time restrictions; anime episodes are 24 minutes with 90 second opening and closing animations and a new episode preview. That’s 20+ minutes a show must cover, regardless of what its source material is like. Normally, this means that two or three manga chapters get put into each anime episode, which perhaps some shuffling around to ensure that the break points seem natural.

School President is a Maid has done a fairly good job with making its episodes feel like unified stories—until now. This episode is quite obviously based on two unrelated stories. And while the result isn’t bad, exactly, it does seem I was premature in calling an end to the show’s stalling on the main plot.
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