Maid Sama Review: Part 1 (Anime)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work at a maid café? Are you a fan of shoujo? If so, then boy, do I have the perfect anime for you! Maid Sama brings viewers an exhilarating combination of moe maids and ferocious warriors. So come on in, sit down and enjoy. Will you be having the cutesy omelette or the special lunch set today, Master?

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Maid Sama is a shoujo series created by Hiro Fujiwara. It was first released as a manga in 2005 through the Japanese magazine, LaLa. The manga was later published in English by Viz Media. So popular is Maid Sama that in 2010 it received an anime, one that has now been picked up by MVM Entertainment for the benefit of English-speaking fans! MVM Entertainment will be releasing a complete Blu-ray collection and DVD collection in spring 2016!

 

Plot

 

Maid Sama centres around a high school girl called Misaki Ayuzawa. The school has only recently become co-ed, and so the population of male students far outweighs the female ones. As student council president, Misaki makes it her mission to attract more girls by whatever means necessary. Due to her strict, seemingly anti-male attitude, many of the male students see her as their enemy. One student though, Takumi Usui, takes an interest in Misaki after finding out her secret… Misaki works part-time at a Maid café!

 

Gender and gender identity is a popular topic throughout the anime. From the get-go, Misaki is depicted as a very ‘masculine’, man-hating individual. She is literally shown to be a frightening monster that eats men for breakfast. Basically, Misaki embodies a wrongly stereotyped version of feminism… and the boys in her school hate her for it (surprise surprise!). One could argue that the whole point of Maid Sama is to teach Misaki that a woman should be ‘feminine’, that actually men aren’t so bad and that she should accept her ‘natural’ ‘feminine’ nature. There are plenty of examples of this, one obvious one being that her job forces her into a position that serves men. Another example is the ‘young girl suddenly feels faint and falls into the arms of a strong man’ trope.

 

 

Curiously enough, the image of an ill Misaki being held in Takumi’s arms is paired with light-hearted music. In all honesty, the harsh black lines and Usui’s shadowed expression makes the scene look rather sinister to me… On the other hand there are many examples that seem to support the ideology that gender and sex shouldn’t dictate a person’s personality or social standing. Misaki regularly holds her own in both physical and emotional fights, and she protects the people around her whether they are men or women. Cross-dressing isn’t a topic that Maid Sama shies away from either. Misaki often wears ‘masculine’ clothing, telling a young boy who likes to wear cute clothing that ‘this is just who I am’.

 

 

So which is it? Does Maid Sama support gender stereotypes or does it challenge them? There is evidence to support both cases but, as this review only goes up to episode 14, it is perhaps too early to say definitively. It will be interesting so see what stance the anime does take, if it takes one at all, once its ending has been reached.

 

Characters

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Misaki Ayuzawa is a hardworking student who has a grudge against males. She is very strong and is a black belt at Aikido. She lives with her mother and younger sister inside a slightly dilapidated house, and ever since Misaki’s father left, the family have been struggling to manage financially. Misaki thus takes on a part-time job at a maid café.

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Takumi Usui is the most popular boy in school. He constantly has girls confessing their love to him, which almost always leaves the girls crying when he turns them down. This puts Takumi on Misaki’s radar, viewing him as a troublemaker that needs to be disciplined for bringing girls to tears. Takumi becomes infatuated with Misaki after finding out she works at a maid café. He helps Misaki from a distance and enjoys embarrassing her whenever he can. His personality is actually rather passive, only ever showing interest in things that involve Misaki. Little is known about Takumi’s background at this point, so it will be interesting to find out more about this mysterious character in future episodes.

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Dubbed the ‘idiot trio’, Naoya Shirakawa, Ikuto Sarashina and Ryuunosuke Kurosaki were once bullies at the school who disliked Misaki in particular. After finding out that Misaki works at a maid café (and after a stern word with Takumi) however, the three quickly become Misaki’s biggest fans and give up their rebellious ways. Naoya and Ryuunosuke have known each other since middle school where they used to be part of a gang. Ikuto is later revealed to be an otaku.

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Sakura Hanazono and Shizuko Kaga are Misaki’s best friends. Sakura is a bubbly girl who is quite popular among the boys. Shizuko, in contrast, is a rather quiet girl who is very good at maths. Both of them rely on Misaki for protection against the boys.

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Misaki’s co-workers: Satsuki Hyoudou, Honoka, Erika and Subaru. Satsuki is the manager of the café and Misaki’s boss. She’s a very cheerful thirty year old woman who often speaks her mind. Honoka has a dark side and initially dislikes Misaki for resisting her role as a maid. Her nickname is ‘Black Honoka’ due to her cold honesty.

 

Maid Sama Review: Part 1

 

Aoi Hyoudou is Satsuki’s nephew, but fans know him as the female internet idol, ‘Aoi’. He loves cute things and enjoys crossdressing. Aoi adores being the centre of attention and is prone to mood swings. Although initially hating Misaki for not being ‘feminine’ enough, he later finds some solidarity with her when realising she faces judgment from others for not being typically ‘female’. Aoi faced this same judgment while being bullied at school for liking ‘girly’ things.

 

Art

 

Maid Sama has a pleasant art style with common shoujo traits. Expect to see flowery backgrounds and floating hearts when watching this anime. That being said, you would be wrong to assume that such traits must make the anime overly sweet or only direct at a specific audience. Indeed the anime can be enjoyed by both men and women, with Maid Sama offering a subdued form of fan service that’s sure to attract a variety of viewers. Expect conversations about what kind of undergarments Misaki could be wearing from the ‘idiot trio’, whilst also looking at an unexpected BL kiss between Takumi and another male student!

 

 

 

Sound

 

The opening song to Maid Sama is called My Secret by Mizuno Saaya. The song is cheerful and upbeat, with guitar and drums playing alongside Mizuno’s uplifting voice. The closing song is in sharp contrast to the opening. Slightly darker, the song is called Yokan by the J-rock band .heidi. The songs are meant to resemble Maid Sama’s two main characters, with the opening song featuring Misaki and the closing song featuring Takumi. For those of you who prefer to watch your anime in English, you will be happy to know that Maid Sama can be watched with English voiceovers or English subtitles.

 

Conclusion

 

As we are only halfway through Maid Sama, I can’t really form a firm conclusion on the anime yet. So far the anime has brought up many interesting topics in regards to gender and crossdressing. The way in which it deals with such topics initially put it on shaky ground, but further episodes show that it is not without its positive points too. I look forward to watching the second half of this thought-provoking anime and its many entertaining characters. Hopefully these future episodes will dive a bit deeper into characterisation, most especially in regards to Takumi, who we have yet to know much about.

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