Top Ten Ways I Killed Myself While Watching Maria+Holic
10. I shot myself.
Maria+Holic is a twist on the harem anime genre, and any decent harem anime has a decent gimmick. Maria+Holic is no exception as it has a stroke of pure genius for its gimmick: instead of a typical loser harem male character like Keitaro or Yoichi who are just somewhat perverse, why not amp up the pervertedness to megahyperultrazomg levels? And why not amp up the nosebleeds (I gotta love how it’s an euphemism for arousal) to megahyperultrazomg levels? But that’s not the stroke of genius. The genius is making the typical loser harem male character… into a flaming lesbian! Brilliant! Genius! Rhodes Scholar material!
The lead, Kanako, decided on attending the all-girls Ame no Kisaki (Queen’s Heaven) school because she’s intensely into other girls. Other than that, she seems like a bad parody of every possible typical loser lead in the harem genre. She’s got Love Hina‘s Keitaro’s perchance for causing wardrobe malfunctions. She’s got Girls Bravo‘s Yukinari’s anti-opposite sex disease. She’s got Chaos Head‘s Takumi’s delusion abilities. She’s got Hayate the Combat Butler‘s Hayate’s overthinking mode. She’s got Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei‘s Itoshiki-sensei’s despair (though somehow I think this one was forced upon her). She’s a mashup of the generic male loser lead, only she’s a she, wears the shortest miniskirts, and has big honkin’ hopes and dreams.
Hopes and dreams! Hopes and dreams!
And the emo facial distortions. Oh the emo facial distortions.
So we have a 100% certified lesbian (or lez onna) as the typical loser harem lead! And she’s not shy about her attraction to other girls! I can’t stop using exclamation marks! It’s not like Otome wa Boku, which, famously, still has a penis involved (though, good luck finding it). It’s not like Strawberry Panic or Marimite, other series that tried the all-girls school love-love formula and tried being cute and subtle. Maria+Holic is as subtle as a 8.9 magnitude earthquake, a level 5 tornado, or a Barack Obama visit to Europe. It’s just an in-your-face amount of Kanako getting hot and bothered because she’s visualizing the other girls in megahyperultrazomg not-so-innocent ways.
I’m delighted. Or, at least, I should be.
As awesome and as fist bump worthy as Kanako might be, I like the other gimmick more. Any harem anime has that end girl or at least an alpha haremette, be it Belldandy, Nagisa, or Kozue-chan with her own gimmick, be it goddess, sickly girl, or MPD. These are the characters who end up stealing the show… I mean… seriously… when was a the last time you watched a harem anime for the typical loser main character? Did you watch Happy Lesson for Hitotose’s banter? But you must be asking yourself (you know already since I wrote about this half a year ago, but play along with me nonetheless), what could possibly top a Naeka-class lesbian fanservice machine? What alpha haremette could possibly more interesting than that?
Mariya is the alpha haremette of Maria+Holic. On the outside, Mariya seems like the typical cute and sweet girl. Even has an uber-meido at her beckon call. Gentle, nice, and a model student for a Christian academy. However, that beauty is only skin deep as Mariya is an megahyperultrazomg evil, vile person with a heart that’s darker than any Gundam villain, more twisted than any Minami sister, and more hideous than the RIAA. Mariya wants nothing but to use others as objects and playthings and to make Kanako’s life a living hell. Mariya teases Kanako, bullies Kanako, and threatens Kanako as often as the Hibiya line stops by Akihabara. How does that sound for a role typically reserved for the Belldandys, Nagisas, and Kozue-chans of the world?
But even being treated horribly, Kanako can’t stay away from Mariya because Mariya is a top tier haremette, and Kanako is shallow enough to ignore the black heart for the hawt body– those Kyon-killa ponytails, lovely melonpan, and a slender moe frame. Mariya has the sweet coating but bitter innards of a tsundere or a chocolate-covered espresso bean, and Kanako can barely keep her temptation in check. The perfect idol of the school, surpassing Hinagiku’s popularity level, Nagi’s inherited elitism, and Maria’s unique smile. So Kanako puts up, to some extent, with Mariya’s bullying, and eventually, kinda enjoys it. Until, well, she remembers that Mariya has a penis. The sick, twisted, broken alpha haremette has a penis, and I find Mariya more interesting than the well endowed lesbian. Dear mother in heaven all right…
… and that’s when I went upstairs, took a pistol out of my gun safe, pointed it to my left temple… and… *BANG*!
9. I closed all the windows, opened all the natural gas valves, and then lit a match.
Nanako isn’t bad in her pajamas. She’s in them almost constantly, and I applaud this move… except they’re flannel. I’m still shaking my head at that decision. Though they’re always different… does her wardrobe consist only of her school uniforms and 365 different flannel pajamas? Or does she burn each one as Mariya touches and sullies each one? Still, it’s a nice touch to see her in varied pjs. Though I do expect a megahyperultrazomg pervert to do better– I don’t think Maria+Holic has addressed the “Kanako gets off with cute girls with big boobs… but she’s a cute girl with big boobs!” issue.
Still, as impressive as Kanako’s flannel fashion show might be, she’s outclassed by Mariya’s own get-ups. Mariya takes a lot of pride in picking outfits, delivering fanservice, and dressing up as a girl “because the fans demand it.” Um… do we demand it? Mmm… let’s see…
KEEP THINKING OF MORE!!!
SIGN ME UP FOR MORE!!!
FEED ME MORE!!!
KEEP GOING! MORE!!!
DEAR MOTHER IN HEAVEN! MORE!!!
NEED MORE VESPENE GAS! MORE!!!
I DEMAND MORE!!!
8. I dropped a plugged-in toaster into the bathtub with me.
There’s plenty of genderbending anime out there, from the previously mentioned Otome wa Boku to Minami-ke to Ouran Host Club. Even when there isn’t any genderbending, it can be invented, and, boy, anime fanboys excel in this sport. For almost any show. But none quite like Maria+Holic. All of those shows and past ones had a certain delicacy to them… Maria+Holic pushes it is in your face, challenges you with it, and puts it front and center. There’s no denial. There’s no refutation. There’s no “fap first, ask later” because they know, they know you know, and they want you to know. “Our ‘male’ lead is a sex-crazed lesbian. Our ‘female’ lead is a moe tranny. Deal with it. Kukuku.” In the most fundamental shape and form, Maria+Holic is a traditional harem anime with a boy and a girl, only the two roles are reversed… but the expectations from the roles aren’t reversed. Kanako is a thing of pity; Mariya is facing off against Tsukasa on Saimoe.
… and I’m okay with this.
Excuse me. I’m going to take a nice, long bubble bath. And I’m bringing my toaster and an extension cord with me.
7. I chugged all the bleach, rat poison, antifreeze, and Diet Dr. Pepper in the house.
To make things even more fucked up, Mariya has a twin sister, Shizu, who attends an all boys school and pretends that she has a penis. Shizu, though, is what we expect Mariya to be like based on outward appearances. She’s gentle, a bit sweet, and has real tits.
And they are quite impressive.
Uh… “quite impressive”… mmm… doesn’t seem right… let me change that to “embodiment of all of mankind’s hopes and dreams.”
I find the introduction of Shizu to be huge upgrade over Otome wa Boku since one could always justify gawking at Mariya with a simple “I thought it was Shizu” excuse, even if it wasn’t exactly true. God might know, but no one else has to (unless you’re an idiot and writes a blog post about it). Mmm… I’m not ready to kill myself yet but getting close.
Shizu doesn’t have a same perchance for evil and seems like she has more in common with Kanako in how they both hate men and hate Mariya’s bullying (which definitely brings images of a Shizu x Kanako end… or at least Mariya selling both of them to some rich Middle Eastern warlord). To make Shizu seem even more impressive, she’s voiced by Aya Hirano, in a mix between her Chiko voice and her Luminere voice. There’s only one problem. Mariya is still more interesting.
Shizu is very similar to Kanako (and even Father Kanae), so it’s almost a redundant character archetype. While Shizu does bring the melonpan, it’s not like the other haremettes of Ame no Kisaki are slouches. It’s an all-you-can-nosebleed buffet for Kanako. Mariya, on the other hand, is a much better tease, and has much better character depth. But the worst part? It’s not that Mariya lacks melonpan… it’s almost like we’re secretly (well, not that secretly) hoping for Mariya fanservice. Admit it. You were probably blown away by random nurse Mariya. Or hoping to see Mariya in a negligee like what Father Kanae wanted. Or hoping to see what other Mikuru-class fanservice cosplay Mariya could come up with next? Or hoping that Mariya would be involved in any sort of fanservice swimsuit episode, being a bit disappointed that Mariya wasn’t, quickly recovered because of Shizu’s pink nipples, but then secretly depressed because you’re a greedy pig who wants to see symmetrical docking between Shizu and Mariya?
Is Mariya more enticing than Shizu because there’s a forbidden fruit factor? Is it because Mariya teases so well without showing skin (the exact opposite phenomena as Ikkitousen or Queen’s Blade where the constant skin becomes a turn off)? Is it because we’ve gone past the point of no return? No… no… no… can’t be, right? RIGHT?!
It was then that I realized I should gather up all the bleach, rat poison, and antifreeze in the house and chase it down with some Diet Dr. Pepper.
6. I watched all 26 episodes of Da Capo, 26 episodes of Da Capo SS, 13 episodes of Da Capo II, 13 episodes of Da Capo II SS, 2 episodes of Da Capo IF, and Da Capo 0 until blood flowed freely from my eyes and ears.
Since Maria+Holic is a school days slice-of-life harem comedy (albeit more crazed, broken, and fucked up than the norm), there are other haremettes. There’s a standard tsundere, the hawt for teacher, the hello nurse, the smokin’ hawt student council vice-president, the overprotective samurai, etc. They might be mid tier– better than the Da Capo heroines but not on par with Clannad— though it’s hard to compare since Mariya and Shizu just completely overshadow the rest.
One non-haremette is God. No, seriously. God isn’t Alanis Morissette but instead a nekomini dorm mother. She’s like the personification of Shaft crossed with Pani Poni Dash‘s Ichigo. And, yes, there will be feasts.
There’s also Father Kanae, who was introduced and swiftly broken by Mariya in less than 0.3 seconds. I’m not kidding. Records were shattered. Usain Bolt was surprised. I did enjoy his “I like boobs that can fit in the palm of my hands” line, since it brought back memories of Weird Science… even though recently Kelly LeBrock was pushing three bills on Celebrity Fit Club… I disgress. But I’m not able to reconcile the fact that Father Kanae is voiced by Tomokazu Sugita… Kyon! He should be doing the breaking, not being broken. And, yes, the scene where he visits Kanako’s room, Kanako did remind me of Nodame. MUKYUU!
One particular secondary haremette that I enjoy is Inamori, the archery girl stereotype. Mainly because I enjoy any haremette with a proficiency in deadly weapons, and that I always wanted a sports anime based on cute girls shooting bows and arrows. She looks fabulously ladylike in her archery uniform, very friendly, and gets jealous when other girls encroach on her friend Sachi, who can best be described as a cross between Kafuka, Doraemon, and Miyamiya. But.. the thing is… Mariya blows Inamori out of the water when it comes to acting and looking like a nadesico during archery. I mean…
MAS! MOTTO! MORE!!!
*Sakura saku mirai koi yume*
5. I closed the garage door and left my car running as I listened to Unnamed World.
Most of the cast hails from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei or Negima. Symmetry Girl/Matsurika, Stalker Girl/Kanako, Blonde Pantsu Fanservice/Mariya, Ordinary Girl/Sachi, Apology Girl/Inamori, Maria/God, Asuna/Kiri, Yaoi Fangirl/Ayari. (Kinda sad I remember the SZS haremettes by gimmick and not name.) Fantastic cast, and I really enjoy Marina Inoue’s Matsurika. (Wouldn’t a 4koma featuring Matsurika, Yoko, Chiri and Kana be entralling?) And, of course, the seiyuu for Kyon and Haruhi are also involved, so I’m hoping for a ponytail scene between Father Kanae and Shizu.
While I originally said that I wanted Aya Hirano for Mariya, I now realize that’s a mistake. While Aya does have good range and can do multiple character types, she doesn’t have a great masculine voice. And I actually find that disappointing on Shizu– she’s supposed to be a trannie like Mariya! Thus, her seiyuu needs to nail both voices, not just the sweet female one. Still, it’s a funny coincidence that I originally pushed for Aya as Mariya… even funnier that both Aya and Yu have natural moles. Aya‘s under her left eye while Yu‘s under her right eye. The seiyuu who voice the character with a left mole has a right one and vice-versa. Coincidence? Mmm… mmm… definitely wanders into the “Kanako, maybe you should stop thinking for a second” zone.
Nonetheless, Yu Kobayashi, the seiyuu for Mariya, nails the role with three very distinct voices: the Virgin Mary Mariya voice, where she’s indistinguishable from the perfect alpha haremette, the evil Mariya voice that’s a bit lower, where you know something awful is awaiting Kanako, and the man Mariya voice where you know that there’s a penis involved… only it’s still got enough femininity to it that it overheats your brain. Wonderful VA work. (I’d take Yu over Aya right now for Best of 2009, but I think– hope that — wonder if– Aya has a rebuttal coming soon.)
I took points away from Aya because she doesn’t sound masculine enough. I then piled on points for Yu for nailing both female and male tones while maintaining a degree of allurement while using the male tone. I’m going to put on Unnamed World on my iPod as I run my car in the garage with the door down. Whatever the truth I sing…
4. I overdosed on heroin.
I loved the first episode. By far the most awesome over-the-top introduction and hook possible. It’s the episode that just crushes Kanako’s spirit and starts us on a dangerous adventure.
I loved the sixth episode for bringing Shizu into the fold making things slightly less broken. Or more broken. I can’t tell.
I loved the tenth episode for Kanako’s awesome, “NOT IN MY HAREM!” line. Damn right, girl! Defend your house!
I loved the second episode, since Mariya’s bullying of Kanako reaches a crescendo with the “If you expose me, I’ll stick it in and pull it out slowly” threat. I think Mariya means a knife…
I loved the fifth episode for the confiscation subplot. Kanako’s bag is pretty interesting as well– where the hell did Mariya get it?
I loved the ninth episode for loli Mariya. Damn. Okay, heroin it is!
3. I sliced my wrists with a razor blade.
The production values are surprising strong for Shaft. You know what you’re getting with Shaft: above average animation abilities, some laziness, a bunch of random 80s videogame references, and, of course, forced references to their old series. Basically, Shaft is like 2007 Brett Favre who thinks he’s good, freelances way too much, and chucks balls up for grabs way too often. (Don’t confuse with 1995 Favre, who was a true MVP and the best quarterback of that decade.) Shaft being Shaft is more palatable with Maria+Holic since it’s a comedy series, but it’s beginning to feel forced. You either embrace the self-referential treatment (i.e. Lucky Star) or just don’t do it (i.e. Clannad). Well, at least I didn’t see the Triforce or Mesousa in Maria+Holic.
A lot the BGM seems recycled from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Negima; however, both the OP and the ED are enjoyable. I really enjoy how the ED changes based on the episode, and how the OP is just a complete tour de force. When Shaft nails an OP, they really nail it. HANAJI just perfectly captures what this show is about, Yu nails the vocals, and it always gets me pumped to watch Maria+Holic. Ah ha~~n
It’s on the short list of great Shaft OP/ED with Shoujo Q and euphoric field. (In this scenario, euphoric field is the Eye of the Tiger to ebullient future‘s Burning Heart.) The meido guitar scene is just tremendous. (Now I want Yui to play meido Mio in K-On!) Though what exactly am I getting amped up about? Kanako fanservice? Sensei symmetrical docking? Moe meido?
No, the possibility of more Mariya fanservice scenes. Don’t worry. I have the razor blade ready. Paint it red, indeed.
2. I sliced my throat with a boxcutter.
In the past, I’ve mentioned that comedy series are like major league pitchers. They all have the basic fastball, which is the standard animation style, but sometimes, they can toss a change up, curve, or slider. Asu no Yoichi and Otome wa Boku uses the super deformed style to good effect. Minami-ke, except Okaeri, had probably the best off-speed pitch with its Bible Black style. Maria+Holic has not one but two other pitches it can throw for strikes.
it has a modified super deformed style, which I’m dubbing the surly super deformed style (SSD) as it seems to come out most often when the characters are being surly to each other or when they are acted surly to.
This style is carried over from the manga.
The other is the shoujo art style that one might find flicking through shoujo manga, with the big(ger) eyes and the huge Shizu melonpan-sized eyelashes. This one seems to be Shaft’s doing, but it’s used well for scenes denoting Kanako’s shoujo-ai delusions.
Though while I’m a big supporter of the change-up art styles, I find them distracting for Maria+Holic. Whenever Mariya goes into SSD mode, Yu always does the masculine voice thus snapping me out of any moe for Mariya mode. Or at least making any such delusion more difficult. Oh who am I kidding, it’s not that difficult.
… excuse me. I’m going to look for some boxcutters.
1. I shot myself. Again.
Who doesn’t love Matsurika? She’s Mariya’s personal meido– attentive, moe, devoted, sarcastic, foul-mouthed, and a perfect complement to Mariya’s evil schemes. I can’t stress foul-mouthed enough. It’s like she has Tourette syndrome. She hurls guttural insults along with tea and moe. Just a fantastic all around character and in the clubhouse lead for Best Meido of 2009.
She’s almost like the Vader to Mariya’s Palpatine. (And why hasn’t there been an anime parody of Star Wars that had a female meido Vader? Like you wouldn’t watch that.) They’re very in-tune with each other to the point that Pinky and the Brain got jealous, and they play off each other very well.
I cherish any scene that Matsurika’s in– from her random lesbian insults to Kanako, her random trannie insults to Mariya, her random farm animal comparison insults to Kananko– I can’t praise them enough. I feel like standing up and applauding whenever she slams home yet another unwarranted personal attack.
She’s the only character capable of keeping Mariya in check, only she has little to no motivation to do so.
And the basketball scene… meido plus a 29.5″ ball… ahem. I get it! The Gary Peyton of meido! *clears throat*
Except… as wonderful as Matsurika might be, Meido Mariya is just as spectacular…
3,000+ WORDS, 70+ SCREENSHOTS, AND 4+ 80’S MOVIE REFERENCES AREN’T ENOUGH! MORE!!!
I WANT TO KEEP COMING BACK FOR MORE!!!
YES, PLEASE, GIMME MORE!!!
I CAN’T GET ENOUGH! MORE!!!
*I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how everything got so broken*