From combat android to maid.
Yet the fight for her new life continues.
Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden is a series that I began watching a couple of months ago thanks to my discovery of The Anime Network’s video on demand. I was looking to try anything new, and when I heard that this series was in English (back before I fully embraced sub-only anime) I went with it. However, the video on demand anime channel doesn’t provide a lot of information about the shows it offers, so I was completely caught off guard when I experienced my first full-on fan service episode. Things only got worse from there.
The gist of the story is this: Mahoro is a combat android solider whose service is up. She requests to spend the rest of her days working as a maid for Suguru Misato, the orphaned son of Mahoro’s late superior commander. Mahoro cleans up Suguru’s messy house while adding gentle chaos to his life. Suguru’s friends all adore Mahoro, who is sweet and kind, the ideal picture of a Yamato Nadeshiko, or Perfect Wife. The only person in Suguru’s life who has conflict with Mahoro is Ms. Shikijo, his school teacher with an extreme shota complex who is constantly trying to seduce Suguru. Mahoro, who believes in propriety and good manners, is a steadfast foil to Ms. Shikijo’s plots and plans. Despite Mahoro’s attempts to leave her combat life behind, old enemies and former allies keep popping up to spoil Mahoro’s newfound domestic bliss.
My Western objections to the “perfect wife” figure and the unsettling Ms. Shikijo aside, I found this anime to be one of the worst yet. (Yup, even worse than my first anime flop, Rumbling Hearts.) The storyline and overall feeling of the series are muddled to hell and back. One episode will focus on Mahoro’s combat guilt and refer to the death of Suguru’s parents. The next will have everyone going to the beach and a giant robotic crab snipping off girls’ swimsuits, whee! Then the next will be about Mahoro and Suguru slowly developing feelings for each other as they go out on a first date. Is it intense action sci-fi? Is it zany fan service-filled comedy? Is it tender romance? The creators of the show tried to be everything at once, and the series suffers greatly from the schizophrenic pace.
In particular, I found Suguru to be a dud. I did not care about him, despite his tragic past, and overall thought that he was a flat and unsympathetic character, especially as one of the main two. Mahoro was better, though again I had trouble with the happy little wifey who just adored cooking and cleaning for her man. Even when she put on her armor and fought, it didn’t feel as satisfyingly ass-kicking as it should. And why does she eat or bleed if she’s an android? That was confusing. Ms Shikijo… just, ew. I didn’t think she was funny or even necessary. (For the record, I have nothing against fan service in general, though I don’t go seeking it out. I mainly dislike when it feels forced and/or excessive, both of which apply to this anime.) The only three characters who showed any promise were Miyuki, Suguru’s tomboyish childhood friend, Chizuko, the cute blonde friend who loves food, and Slash, Mahoro’s “support mech” with the form of a panther. But none of these characters were enough to save this sinking ship.
Even the English dub was bare bones: while the voice work was in English, none of the signs or written words on the screen were translated. This was especially noticeable in an episode that centered on Mahoro writing down a wish and tying it to a tree. It was obvious that there was some sort of joke involved, but since there was no translation of her wish and it was never verbally read aloud, the entire point of the episode was lost on those who don’t read Kanji. So why did I continue to watch the show if it was so bad? Well, at the time I was just watching any anime that came my way. I kept hoping that it might get better, but around episode five I figured that it wouldn’t. And I was right. But I have this nagging persistence about seeing things through before making a judgement call, so I did, and I now feel fully justified in giving this series a thumbs down. The second season, called Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful recently became available on demand as well. I’m fighting my usual urge to see it through because I know for a fact that there is much better anime to be seen out there.