Anime Review: Kaichou wa Maid-sama Episodes 19, 20, and 21

(Originally published on Livejournal on 10/1/10)

Anime Review:
Kaichou wa Maid-sama Episodes 19, 20, and 21

About The Series: Misaki is the tough-as-nails class president at a recently-gender-integrated high school, where she is working hard to protect the handful of female students while trying to turn the reputation of the school around. However, she also holds a secret: Misaki works at a maid cafe in a nearby town. If anyone at the school were to discover her secret, her personal reputation would be ruined! So, what happens when one of her classmates, the ever-cool Usui, discovers her part-time job?

ep.19 tl;dr review: Tensions rise as Misaki and Usui enter the final round of the butler contest; Can they persevere through injury?

Episode 19 Synopsis: Misaki has made it through to the next round of the butler contest, with Misaki’s secret (that she is posing as a man) still intact. Now forced to pair up with Usui, they manage to shine by presenting the perfect afternoon tea set-up. But as they enter the final round, Misaki is feeling the pressure getting to her, even as the Miyabigaoka class president watches on. Unexpectedly Usui falls off the stage and severely injures his arm and wrist, but vows to hide his pain and continue on. As the duo offer up personal tea service to Kanade, Misaki must run all over the place to cover for injured Usui; Kanade notices and chides them, so Usui whips out a violin, playing through the pain to prove he can still do his job properly. Overwhelming guilt forces Misaki to throw in the towel when she notices just how much distress Usui is under, withdrawing from the competition so she can seek medical attention for Usui. In the end Kanade decides he wouldn’t want to run a business where the employees are miserable and stops his attempt to buy out the Maid Cafe building. Usui is hospitalized, then returns home to recuperate, where Misaki visits him and tries her best to nurse him back to health.

ep.20 tl;dr review: Yukimura’s little sister goes on a “date” with the princely Usui; Aoi gets his bitch on, forcing everyone to help him with a photo shoot.

Episode 20 Synopsis: Two quick short stories that don’t really have anything to do with the main story. First, Yukimura is dejected because his little sister, Ruri, does not look up to him as a manly role model (gee, I wonder why). Like many little girls Ruri is obsessed with princesses, and when she meets Takumi Usui she sees him as the perfect “prince”. Yukimura pleads with Usui to go on a “date” with Ruri, providing a set-up so that he can barge in and “come to the rescue” at just the right moment. But Yukimura’s attempts backfire every time, until a final close-call where he reflexively throws himself over his little sister to protect her from injury, and Ruri realizes her brother is just fine the way he is. In the second story, Aoi gets all dolled up in his gender-bending loli outfit to pose for photos for his website, and manages to use his cuteness to get the Moron Trio to do all his scuttle-work for him. As expected, it ends up being a comedy of errors as nothing seems to go right. Oh Aoi, you’re such a tease!

ep.21 tl;dr review: There’s a new kid in town, and boy is he a weird one; He’s on a quest to find his first love, who just happens to be…

Episode 21 Synopsis: Misaki chastises the sports team to clean up their meeting room, and to help motivate them she promises to feed them. The whole student council gets in to the act, creating a mess-load of rice balls — even though Misaki seems totally incapable of making the rice balls herself (hers ending up with the hardness of an everlasting gobstopper). Meanwhile, a new transfer student arrives on campus, and immediately gets tagged as a real odd duck. Hinata is very outgoing, friendly, goofy, and has a bottomless appetite. Turns out that he has spent the past ten years in the countryside on his family farm, but used to live in the area when he was a little boy. But when he was younger, Hinata was a little porker without friends, except for a girl he remembers as “Misa-chan”. Now after a decade, Hinata has returned, now fit and trim, with the single-minded goal of finding his first love…guess who “Misa-chan” turns out to be?

My Thoughts: Three different episodes: A conclusion of a two-parter, an interlude, and the start of a new story arc. We have Misaki and Usui teaming up to become the perfect tea-serving butler duo, and their two approaches couldn’t be more different. Misaki is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and it’s up to Usui to keep his cool, and keep Misaki under control. In fact, the final round of the butler contest is sort of a microcosm of the Misaki/Usui relationship, as he always seems to come to the rescue to save Misaki from herself. Yet in this case with a twist, when Usui is injured and unable to be the white knight; Usui soldiers on through visible pain, trying to save the day on Misaki’s behalf. For once, it’s up to Misaki to intercede on Usui’s behalf, throw in the towel before he passes out.

Probably the most maddening thing about the whole charade is that it was all totally unnecessary in the first place. If Misaki won and became the “top butler”…so what? If she lost…so what? There was nothing tangible riding on the whole contest to begin with, other than Misaki’s own pride in the eyes of the Miyabigaoka egotistical president. It’s not as if the fate of the Maid Cafe was in the balance (although you might think that way based on how everyone was reacting). The whole “Kanade buying the Maid Cafe building” was not contingent on winning the hiring contest, the two events were not directly tied together. It was all so pointless.

And then this is followed by another crappy “stand alone” episode, similar to the ninth episode (her daydream) and the thirteenth episode (Moron Trio delinquents) — meaningless, insipid, and painful to watch. Just another diversion where they try to shoehorn every single character somewhere into the show (even if just for a few seconds), all for stupid yucks. Another Moron Trio-heavy episode, so you know it sucks horribly, and we also get to see just how much an asshole Aoi can really be. Bleah, skip this episode if at all possible.

Finally episode 21 marks the start of a new story arc, and what I assume may be the final major story arc of the 26-episode season. Even though Misaki never will admit it, everyone else can see that there’s more than just a casual relationship between her and Usui. Cripes, why not just admit it already? Perhaps the sudden appearance of a rival for Misaki’s attention will shake things up and help define their relationship a bit better, hmmm? Then again, could they have chosen someone who is not as much as a creepy weirdo as Hinata? If there was going to be a match-up between Hinata and Usui, it’s hard to imagine there would be any contest whatsoever, other than the fact that it’s pretty clear that Hinata is the type of obstinate person that would never give up, ever ever ever.

Overall, I have been less impressed with this show as it has progressed — it started out strong but seems to have gotten off track far too many times with meaningless side stories, the entire premise of the show shoved off to the wayside, and the evolution of the relationship between Usui and Misaki stagnating early on. What has bugged me the most is what I perceive as the uneven nature of the relationship. It seems to me it’s all about Usui helping Misaki (saving her from herself, rounding out her rough edges, filling in for her faults), but it remains unclear what exactly Misaki means to Usui, other than a source of amusement. I would have been much more satisfied if the show spent some time on how Misaki could complement for Usui’s shortcomings, rather than the one-way focus on Misaki. Oh well.

The Verdict:

Up Next: Senkou no Night Raid (finale), Ookami-san, Highschool of the Dead, The Occult Academy, Shiki, Legend of Legendary Heroes, Shukufuku no Campanella (second chance)

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