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[R1 DVD box art.]
AKA: マリア様がみてる 4thシーズン (Japanese)
Genre: High-school Drama
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Section 23 Films through its Maiden Japan print.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mature themes.)
Related Series: Maria Watches Over Us, Maria Watches Over Us ~Printemps~, Maria Watches Over Us OAV
Also Recommended: Brother Dear Brother, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Rose of Versailles
Notes: Based on the novels by Konno Oyuki (serialized in the Cobalt paperback series), which have also been adapted into a manga (serialized in Margaret) under the same title, by Nagasawa Satoru.

Maria Watches Over Us season 4


Life at school continue for Fukuzawa Yumi and her friends. However, the realisation that Sachiko and the other third-years will soon be leaving the school is not lost on either of them, which ups the pressure of the second-years' to find their own petite soeurs.


And so, the fourth season of this show rolls around, just in time to give the audience more schoolgirl dramatics of the kind they've grown so accustomed to by now. And certainly, this season does not set out to disappoint in any way.

Not that this is anything to complain about. It's always been this show's greatest strenght to take its characters day-to-day activity and turn that into compelling storytelling and belieavable character growth, and there is no clearer indication of this than having the characters who went from petite sours to en boutons finally realize that the responsibility of becoming a big sister is another step they must all take eventually, especially if you're a part of the student council, and ESPECIALLY if you're one of the three roses. (Which IS the council in this school, so... never mind me, I guess.)

When I watched, and then wrote the review for, the OAV, I noted with some interest that Yumi would probably face some internal strife with her decision for whom to make a sister. Well, apparently, I was wrong about that. The whole issue with Kanako -- the tallish girl who hated men -- was dealth with so quickly and easily, it left my head spinning. Not wanting to spoil anything about this, I nevertheless have to say I felt that particular plot resolution was the weakest part of the series; not because of how it played out, but how it was set up in the OAV prequel. Either way, Kanako takes an exit, stage left, and is pretty much not heard from anymore.

So it goes then to conclude that Touko (or Tōko as the spelling now goes) is the one who has to fill the role, neatly spoilered by the ending animation anyway, although one of the episodes of the OAV did also play its part in setting the waves in motion for this little idea. And, indeed, large portions of this season is basically dedicated to the character evolvement of Matsudaira Tōko, whom started her own career as a character as sort of a semi-villain in the middle of the second season into her final scene in the final episode. And what an episode that is; with character introspection that basically had a lot of the earlier elements in not only this season, but also the OAV preceeding it, make a frightening amount of sense. And make no mistake about it; if you liked the show up to now -- which should be a given if you're reading this -- it's going to leave you hungry for more.

If there's one thing I do miss with this show, however, then that would be the absence of the original opening theme; Pastel Pure. All the way up and through the OAV, it handily set the mood to the show itself, so the fact that the fourth season has a completely new opening theme -- and a light pop ballad at that -- just comes across as... I'm sorry, but I couldn't quite get used to it. It's not a bad song, really it isn't. In fact, it's quite pleasant to the ears. It's just a poor replacement for the theme I expected to hear.

Eh, don't mind me. I guess it's just the grumpy old man in me talking. It's hard enough to find things to complain about when it comes to this show anyway, when everything else is up to par with the earlier seasons, and where the art style basically follows up on the OAV. The animation also looks good, at least as far as one can tell in a show as generally sedate as this. It also has its fair share of chuckles despite being a drama at heart, so there's something else to be grateful for. Honestly, writing this review was probably redundant. Fans of the earlier seasons will probably not even think twice about watching this, regardless of where they would have went with it, and Maria Watches Over Us has long since earned the trust among its viewers, absolving it from the suspicion of ever jumping the shark. Either way, please allow me the redundancy of saying this, but; yes, it's great.

Now, if you'll excuse me; I have a preorder to be on the lookout for.

Was there ever any doubt that the fourth season would fail to live up to the seasons before?Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Copypasta from the OAV review, because... well...:

"The show doesn't really feature any particular violence save for a few slaps across the face in the first seasons, nor is there any particular fanservice to speak of. Emotional drama may intensify at key moments, though, and with a maturity level that makes it unsuitable for minors."

Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, Japanese with English subs only
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Maria Watches Over Us season 4 © 2009 Studio DEEN.
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