Maria+holic is another of the new shows that I was really excited about. The match between source material and the adapting animation studio, Shaft, seemed as near as perfect as possible. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee a hit but increased the chances by many factors of magnitude.
Rating: episode 1 – 10/12 A
Rating: episode 2 – 11/12 A+
Kanako transfers to an all-girl high school to look for her destined yuri love partner. On the very first day she’s there, she meets Mariya, an elegant and beautiful girl that’s just her type. She readily accepts Mariya’s offer to give her a tour after Mariya is done with her archery practice. As Kanako congrats herself for already meeting someone so perfect, she realizes that she’s broken out in hives – something that only happens when she touches a boy. She’s so happy that she doesn’t really wonder why but later, when she walks in as Mariya is changing out of her archery outfit to her school uniform, Kanako finds out that Mariya is really a boy. Mariya declares that he doesn’t like to cross-dress but has too and swears Kanako to secrecy. Kanako, intimidated by his mean personality and not wanting her own special interest to be found out, swears to keep Mariya’s secret, secret. This isn’t good enough for Mariya so he decides that he needs to follow Kanako around 24/7.
In these first two episodes, Shaft has been able to meet the fairly lofty expectations I had before watching the show. I wanted to watch Maria+holic and see Shaft’s influence – aka that it had at least some of the off-beat humor and interesting animation stylings found in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – and it did. I was hoping to see Mariya play the role of sadistic trap to the hilt and he has in these two episodes. I feel bad for Kanako but at the same time, I like seeing Mariya mess with Kanako’s mind by being lovely feminine Mariya one moment and being a mean guy toying with Kanako’s weakness the next because it makes Mariya feel like an actual person. And if he is truly having to cross-dress for some reason and not because he wants to then as time goes on, we should see him develop a very conflicted relationship with Kanako. She’ll be the only person that he can lash out at but also the only one that he can hope to have a deeper relationship with. This should provide plenty of opportunity to keep the show interesting and unpredictable.
The one thing that slightly dampened my enthusiasm about this show and might actually get annoying in the future is Kanako’s nose bleeds. I know it’s a standard reaction in anime and manga when a person sees something very interesting that his/her nose will begin to bleed. It’s 2009, however, and it feels like flogging a dead horse by this point; also, if you think about it, in real life the blood isn’t rushing to the nose in situations that we see nose bleeds in anime and manga. I guess all I’m really saying is that watching this and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei shows that Shaft is very creative and should be able to come up with something better.
Overall though, I enjoyed both episodes greatly and thought the comedy was pretty funny. I particularly like the fourth wall breaking joke at the end of the first episode. And finally, I’d like to show the opening – even if I’d have to warn about it being slightly NSFW – because it’s funny and slightly twisted but the copyright holders are making Youtube take down all uploads of the OP. Apparently they think it’s a good idea to anger fans and to forgo free advertising for little or no benefit to themselves. You might get lucky if you look, I found one video out of 16 results that was still up when I looked.