「おおかみさんとおつう先輩の恩返し」 (Ookami-san to Otsuu-senpai no Ongaeshi)
“The Wolf and Otsuu’s Repayment”
Ryouko’s a maid! If this were Kaichou wa Maid-sama, the title would’ve easily been, “A Maid Even as a Wolf.” Incidentally, this was only a side effect of the actual story involving Otsuu and her obsession with repaying debts, which even had the guys in French maid outfits before it was all said and done. I would’ve much preferred Liszt coming out as the mysterious beauty at the very least, but he chose to go with the half-assed cross-dressing look along with Ryoushi and Tarou. However, I did get a good laugh out of Tarou huddling up with them and commenting on all the noises coming from Otsuu as the other girls forcibly undressed her and changed her into some comfy pajamas. It would’ve been more or less the equivalent to “That sounds so hot” in English, along with a big perverted smile from ear to ear. For the maid get-ups and seeing Ryouko fumbling her keigo alone, the scene at the end with everyone pampering Otsuu with special treatment to make her realize that they’re friends who don’t need to be repaid was my personal highlight of the episode.
The setup towards that finish wasn’t too shabby though, as it entailed the Otogi Bank spin on the Japanese folktale, Tsuru no Ongaeshi (“A Crane’s Repayment”). The story doesn’t have an English take on it, but involves a poor man saving an injured crane and the crane returning in the form of a woman to be his wife, who secretly weaves him beautiful cloth to sell using her own feathers. As I mentioned before, “Tsurugaya” Otsuu is modeled after the crane and goes into super repayment mode after Ryoushi snipes a wild baseball out of the air that was about to hit her in the face. The humor kicks in when Otsuu starts staying at Ryoushi’s boarding house to serve him as his personal maid and reveals she’s willing to accommodate his needs in bed too if he so desires. Quite a bold move for a girl who’s inexperienced herself, but I didn’t call it “super” repayment mode for no reason. This in turn prevents Ryoushi from sleeping a wink for the next while and him fearing he’ll die from sleep deprivation, which was amusing to me because no one seemed to be overly concerned about his well-being over Otsuu’s.
Along the way, it was nice seeing the “dere” to the tsundere in Ryouko when Ryoushi’s aunt and landlady Murano Yukime (Nabatame Hitomi) turned out to be her favorite romance novelist “Yuki”. In fact, Ryouko gave quite a few good looks this time around, plus she didn’t hit Ryoushi when Ringo put two and two together about him not taking advantage of Otsuu because he only has her in mind. To top it off, Yukime was pretty quick to see through Ryouko’s interest in Ryoushi, making for some good development in the romance department even when the two of them weren’t the main focus this episode. Other new characters briefly introduced included Yukime’s husband Wakato (Miyasaka Shunzou), the student council president Hansel (Okamoto Nobuhiko), his twin sister/secretary Gretel (Iguchi Yuka), and a mysterious female student named Shiratori Mahiru (far right). Out of that bunch, the Hansel and Gretel twins easily raise the most eyebrows with their overly loving relationship.
Amidst all of the above, I did appreciate how the story took a slightly more serious turn when Otsuu collapsed from overworking herself. Surprisingly, it was a tragic traumatizing experience during her childhood that caused her obsession with repaying debts, where an older boy from her neighborhood died after saving her from getting hit by a truck. In a way, the story almost got a little too deep after seeing the flashback of the one debt she was never able to repay, and the silence from rest of the members who didn’t know about it reemphasized that notion. i.e. Everyone except Liszt and Alice. It wasn’t quite enough for me to be terribly moved — especially with the way things shifted back to a lighthearted mood soon after — but it did put a serious spin on the series that I wasn’t expecting. It sure helps balance an evil-faced Ringo who knows about Ryouko’s secret stash of romance novels, so it’s a welcomed change of pace. Based on the next episode title, I gather next week is going to be about the public morals committee member Kibitsu Momoko (Kaida Yuuko), who’s modeled after Momotaro. If anyone needs a reminder, Maid-sama did its own take on the hero born from a peach not too long ago.