「ずるすぎるよ鮎沢、碓氷のアホ！」 (Zurusugiru yo Ayuzawa, Usui no Aho!)
“That’s So Unfair Ayuzawa… Usui You Idiot!”
For a final episode, the writers sure had me second guessing exactly how far along Misaki and Usui’s relationship would get. Most of the episode was about their participation in a lover’s trial game where the grand prize was a “super premium ticket” for the closing festivities at night, so things could have gone whichever way depending on what the prize actually was. Before long, the two of them were completely absorbed in the game itself and things turned into a more lighthearted affair when Misaki started dominating every event with her left hand. With the added stipulation that they can’t let go of one another’s hand and Usui leading Misaki because of it, the time they spent together did come off as a real date. It was cute on various occasions and didn’t stray too far from their normal behavior, which included Misaki’s embarrassment over being chopstick-fed ramen, an event that ultimately turned into a competition among themselves. Given the endless teasing by Usui throughout, I was more or less suspecting that the two of them would grow closer from all of this and things would end off open-endedly. I was mistaken though.
Quite honestly, I would have been completely fine with it if that were the case. After all, the episode started off with Usui feeding Misaki takoyaki and placing cat ears on her head, and led to him putting a necklace on her as proof of their participation — scenes that were unbelievable cute for obvious reasons. There was a bit of subtle fan-service as well, such as Misaki unbuttoning her shirt to make sure the necklace was visible and reluctantly opening her mouth to be fed. Never once did Misaki given any verbal indication that she was enjoying herself, but it was clearly written all over her face the entire time. I don’t ever recall Usui showing that he was having so much fun either. After he popped a balloon with Misaki’s “help”, it was a bit unsettling to see him blushing so much. There just wasn’t something right about a guy like him turning bright red, which goes doubly for Kuuga after the Yumemishi live performance. In the latter’s case, I was actually surprised to hear not one, but three different Yumemishi insert songs performed by Nojima Kenji, namely “Natsukoi Monogatari”, “Yume no Hana”, and “Akane”. In addition to that, he gave indication that Sakura did indeed turn him around by nursing him while he was hospitalized and even had Misaki believing as much too. Kuuga’s real shining moment though was bluntly throwing out the idea that Misaki’s been making Usui wait for a reply all this time to his advances.
Dressed up in Romeo and Juliet-like outfits that they got from their super premium ticket, Misaki’s feelings of guilt for stringing Usui along all this time took a pretty awesome turn for the better. Starting with her bluntly throwing out the question and him responding that it’s not fair to make him repeat himself, Usui smoothly kept the act going for a while until he eventually apologized and backed off. As a result, Misaki finally reached out and started confessing that he’s confused her to no end and that she’s been wanting to hold hands with him ever since the lover’s trial ended. It wasn’t a very direct confession, but did catch Usui off-guard and drew a reaction where he thought he “broke” her. Seeing as they were both suppressing their true feelings all this time, I was a bit taken back by their first mutually consented kiss together that followed suit. This huge step forward in their relationship even had a “formal” confession by Usui to go with it, which was befittingly met with a very unconvincing “Usui, you idiot” in return. I agree that that it was pretty cruel of Misaki to respond in such away instead of confessing her feelings, but this is the girl who started the series detesting guys, so that was a huge confession in its own right. Overall, it was a very cute ending that was much better than I was anticipating.
As an adaptation of a shoujo manga, this series provided exactly what I was expecting from a romantic comedy. I always draw a fine line between this kind of shows and what I refer to as a “romantic drama”, as the latter is generally more focused on getting to the end result. In the case of Kaichou wa Maid-sama, the interesting relationship between the man-hater president Misaki and the superhuman perverted alien Usui was never about them hooking up as an official couple and living happily ever after, but the bumpy road getting there. That’s the clear distinction I make when I classify as series as either a romantic comedy or a romantic drama, and I find that aligning expectations accordingly always helps in the enjoyment of each. Had the two of them hit it off early on, there wouldn’t be much of a story left to go on and the series’ main focus would be gone.
As much as characters themselves, one of my personal highlights was having Fujimura Ayumi in the starring tsudere role. Alongside her, Okamoto Nobuhiko continued to reiterate that he can do cool ikemen roles just as well as goofy harem ones seen in Asu no Yoichi. Together, they were a lot of fun to watch and really cute at the same time, which was perfect for this type of genre. Story-wise, the late introduction of Hinata did serve as a nice catalyst to their relationship even though it didn’t quite follow the manga, so I feel J.C. Staff’s decision to do so was justified as far as the anime is concerned. I still would’ve like to see more of Usui’s backstory in light of everything that was hinted at in the ending sequences, but I’m suspecting it might have sidetracked the story a fair bit and taken away from the lighthearted mood they were going for in this adaptation. If a sequel is ever produced, I definitely want to see that subplot revisited though.
As I’ve mentioned several times in my posts already, this series reminds me a lot of Special A because it also involves a superhuman male lead who can’t get a strong independent girl to realize/accept his feelings for her. In comparison, I’m actually leaning towards Maid-sama being the better of the two due to its plethora of goofy characters and wider variety of lighthearted avenues that can be explored. This includes all the other girls at Maid Latte, our three idiots, Misaki’s friends, and of course the cross-dressing Aoi. We can’t forget Aoi as he’s the youngest of the bunch yet always says it like it is. Ultimately, it’s the stars of the show and the more liberal use super-deformed stylistic touches for the comedy that I took more of a liking to. However, for anyone looking for a good romantic comedy, both are worth checking out. In Maid-sama’s case, you also have good production values by J.C. Staff, so you can’t really go wrong with this series. Just don’t come in expecting a romantic drama and you should enjoy the ride most of the way. It definitely has its “throbbing moments”, which is on top of the fact Misaki looks amazing in her maid outfit. 🙂