There’s Nothing “Automatic” About This “Maiden”
OK, you should know right up front that this is my most favorite anime. So, the question arises as to whether I can give a balanced review without getting spotty about it (“It’s the greatest anime ever!!!!!!!!!!” “It stinks.”), so I will do my best to be objective.
The plot is pretty straightforward, even if the title gets muddled. (Is it “Mahoromatic” or “Automatic Maiden” or “Mahoromatic Automatic Maiden”? Rightstuf.com calls it “Mahoromatic”, so that is the standard). Mahoro Ando is a combat android, made by Vesper, an organization formed to do battle against the invading alien forces of Saint, who are bent on world conquest and domination. With hostilities currently at a standstill, they are decommissioning Mahoro (actually, retiring her). But she gobbles up too much power and if she remains in combat mode, she will last another 17 days. However, if they can remove almost everything, it will extend her life 395 days, but she will only be at about 30% of her previous capacity. The big question is: what does she want to do with this extra time? She decides that she wants to be a maid to the son of her commander, whom she was forced to kill.
However, the son knows nothing about what his father really did, thinking he was killed in an industrial accident overseas. Suguru Misato has been living on his own for four years, and that’s the time since his father was killed. His mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years before that, so by the age of 14, he has had a very rough life when Mahoro shows up.
But Mahoro’s past follows her into her private life and she must deal with all that. Her goal, in the time allotted to her (that’s 13 months), is to help Suguru become a mature, responsible adult. Suguru’s goal is to try and glom all the ecchi he can and this is one of the two sources of comedy in the show. (Please note what he is holding in the artwork above us, OK?)
This is a hybrid show, in the fact that it is billed as a romantic comedy, but it is rife with lots of dramatic elements. Both are emotionally damaged: Suguru struggles with being an orphan and having no one to turn to. Mahoro carries with her the guilt of having to kill his father. (Can an android have feelings? This is one of the many avenues that are explored). But both learn to try and live again. Yet, at the end of every show, we are reminded as to how much time Mahoro has left and that is the one enemy that she cannot battle against. But she does what she can.
However, all of Mahoro’s efforts are sabotaged by Suguru’s teacher, the luscious and lascivious Saori Shikijo. She has the Shota Complex and spends a lot of time showcasing her ample figure to all her younger students and lavishing an undue amount of attention on Suguru, as he needs to be placed on the Road to Manhood. Now, since Mahoro feels that “Dirty thoughts are bad”, there are a lot of conflicts between the two, with Suguru in the middle of it. Here is our second source of comedy.
The first season ends with a three-story arc involving Tou Ryuga, who was the top combat android for Saint. When the two of them met on the battlefield, Ryuga was always second best, although he was never destroyed. But now, acting on his own, he will determine who the better is between them, once and for always.
The second season is a bit weak, compared to the first, as we introduce a new character, Minawa and a new set of villains, collectively referred to as Management. I can’t explain a lot more about the situation, as it will kill the storyline for the whole season. Suffice it to say that the anime (much like the manga) has the worst ending ever. I really don’t care if the ending is more to the truth as to what would really happen; this is anime. Tweak it!
Despite my misgiving of the second season, it does have one of the funniest single episodes I have ever seen. Season Two, Episode Four, “Dreams Should Be Grand”. Mahoro decides to invest in the Pi Deal Alpha machine, a kind of glorified vacuum cleaner, which will increase her bust size. Alas, it goes berserk to some extremely humorous ends. Now, I don’t have a personal Ten Best Single Episodes, but it would be right up there with Episode 12 of “FUMOFFU” (“5th Period Hot Spot”) and Episode 19 of “The Wallflower” (“Battlechicks Valentine”).
There is a goodly amount of fan service, but it is really used to advance the plot and not just to drool over, although when they go to the beach and try on bathing suits, Shikijo wears one that is made from less cotton than you’d find in an aspirin bottle. In fact, on my Ecchi List, this one IS Number Six, as I use it as the transition anime (where you actually see naked boobies, and does that Shikijo present them for all to see).
Even if you opt to see just the First Season, I feel you won’t be disappointed. See, I think I gave a pretty good review on this one. Oh, and I feel this has the best ending theme song of any show. Seriously.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (It gets a bit hokey with the deformed villains)
Plot 9 (There is a compelling plot)
Pacing 7 (Hamstrung by the second season)
Effectiveness 8 (It works for the most part)
Conclusion 6 (It ends, but I personally dislike the ending)
Fan Service 6
Overall 8 (Again, second season concerns)
And remember, it’s first run until you see it. And at least see the first season.