Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden
Misato Suguru is a high school student who lives on his own, alone in a large house willed to him by his deceased parents. One day he interviews a for a maid and the girl sent by the "Vesper Domestic Services" company is not only capable and intelligent, she's really cute too! What he doesn't know is that his new maid, Mahoro, is really a retired combat android with roughly a year left on her power supply before she shuts down forever. In fact, she knew his father, who was secretly a commander in the organization she fought for. Slowly Suguru begins to learn the truth about Mahoro, even as he finds himself falling in love with his unorthodox house cleaner, and Mahoro realizes that what may have been the best of intentions on her part might only hurt Suguru further when her time expires. In the meantime however, what is an android housemaid to do with the daily trials of uninvited dinner guests, perverted older female teachers, enemy androids out for revenge, and Suguru's porno collection?
Mahoromatic, in classic Gainax fashion, manages to take one of the recent trends in shounen anime, the "Battle Maid", and stand it completely on its head. Unlike some of the more over-the-top titles in this sub-genre, Mahoromatic manages to be funny, touching, exciting, and even a bit perverted all at the same time.
The setting of Mahoromatic, a near-future earth in the midst of a shadow war between Vesper (the Good Guys) and SAINT (the Bad Guys), is a direct parody of another Gainax hit, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The council members of Vesper as well as a few other character designs are indirect ribs at the overly serious cast of Eva, but even with the obvious parody aside, Mahoromatic remains an excellent show in its own right, with fun characters, excellent animation, and a short, but engaging story.
The obvious favorite of fans is Mahoro herself, who is a juxtaposition of cute and destructive power that is highly amusing. The bipolar nature of this anime is readily demonstrated in the opening animation, which depicts Mahoro doing various house chores on one hand and blowing away mecha on the other with a gentle love song playing in the background. This dual nature thrives in the characters, who at one moment will be very funny and at the next extremely serious, especially as the series draws to a close.
Then there is Suguru, who is probably the most stereotypical character. He could have easily been lifted straight out of Love Hina, Tenchi Muyo, or just about any other anime with a "loser hero" lead, and his role in the show is primarily to serve as a motivation for Mahoro and as a love toy for his pervert homeroom teacher, yet he still comes across as very sincere and believable. Suguru's friends at school though are a mixed bag. Some, like the gourmand girl that freaks out every time she tries Mahoro's cooking, are very entertaining, while others, like his two lecherous male friends, are somewhat dull and forgettable. In the obligatory cheap-ass-Gainax-closing-credits, Suguru's three female classmates sing a funny samba-style song that had some members of T.H.E.M. still humming it for days afterwards.
The animation is of very high quality, with slick action sequences and cool mecha designs that rival other great shows by Gainax in sheer coolness. Mahoro's sidekick, a cyborg Panther named Slash, is probably my favorite, but with everything from turbo jetpacks, to giant anti-matter rifles, to weird alien combat robots (that steal swimsuits!), mecha fans won't be disappointed.
Finally, Mahoromatic is well told. Most other series and shorts in this obscure sub-set of anime rely heavily on cheap one-off gags, large amounts of cheesecake, and super shiny animation to hide the fact that they have no plot. Mahoromatic gives you plenty of all of this, but underneath it all, with the silly gags and pretenses removed, is a genuinely well-written story with a point to it besides mindless violence and panty-shots. If you are a fan of mecha this show is highly recommended, but even if your tastes lean more towards drama and romance anime, then this might still be worth a look.
Remove one star if you aren't a mecha/action fan. — Jason Bustard
Recommended Audience: Older teens and up. There is a lot of nudity, sexual innuendo, and outright crudeness (especially on the part of Suguru's amusing, but perverted homeroom teacher). There is nothing genuinely pornographic, but Gainax comes as close as it dares at some points, so this is probably not a good show for the kiddies.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source, R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden © 2002 Nakayama Bunjurou / Ditama Bow / Wani Books / Mahoroba Project
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