OP: 「Be Starters!」 by 喜多村英梨 (Kitamura Eri)
Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼
「エンド・オブ・アース」 (Endo obu Aasu)
“End of Earth”
When it comes to romantic comedies that tend to revolve around one, maybe two, gimmicky plot devices, the animation quality, character designs, and character personalities go a long way toward the overall appeal. In Mayo Chiki’s case, studio feel — the masterminds behind the risqué kiss x sis and Yosuga no Sora adaptations — covered those bases really well with character designs that look better than the manga its based on, and a cast of seiyuu that bring out the best of the character nuances. The former helps with the visual presentation of the latter, and I just love it when an anime looks just as good as it sounds. (I really like those glass marble-like eyes too.)
I kid you not when I say I will watch this series simply for Konoe Subaru (Iguchi Yuka), the main heroine and butler of the school chairman’s daughter/closet sadist, Suzutsuki Kanade (Kitamura Eri). I was pretty sold on Subaru’s character from the early parts of the manga, but when I heard Yuka voice her with a rarely heard, deeper voice in the promo videos, this anime instantly became a must-watch for me. After all, this is the same Iguchi Yuka who plays Index from To Aru Majutsu no Index, using a somewhat whiny and obnoxious voice that I’ve come to associate with her roles. Sometimes it’s very befitting, like in the case of Hoshimiya Yashiro from Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko last season; however, she rarely breaks away of that typecast. The last time I recall her doing so was as the soft-spoken Mizuno Kaede in Nyan Koi, a series whose second season is long overdue now. With Subaru, it’s a whole new Yuka that I’ve never heard before, and has me feeling that she should get more tomboy roles in the future. That poncy “I’m going to beat amnesia into you” attitude is unbelievably refreshing coming from her, and contrasts amazingly well with Subaru’s girlish side that’s been forcibly suppressed.
Like with most show of this genre, I don’t really care how this adaptation ends, as I’m totally in it for seeing (and hearing) Subaru in a bunch of awkward and downright scandalous situations. However, there is a semi-resemblance of a plot that sets up all these situations, much like I outlined in the Summer 2011 Preview. The short version of it is that Subaru comes from a branch family whose sons have always served the Suzutsukis, and decided at a very early age to carry on that tradition since she’s an only child. To that end, Kanade’s father decides to test her resolve and see if she can exude the dignity and image of Konoe butler by keeping her gender a secret all through high school. She’s been successful thus far, with all the other female student gawking over her as the hottest pretty boy in the entire school, until our typical victimized male protagonist, Sakamachi Kinjirou (Hino Satoshi), catches sight of her animal-print panties and discovers her true gender, which he gets a first-hand confirmation of.
In a lot of ways, the premise is strikingly similar to the cross-dressing competition going on in Maria Holic, where we also have a victimized main character who has uncontrollable nosebleeds and can’t handle the opposite sex for health-related reasons. Kinjirou, or Jirou for short, suffers from gynophobia (a fear of girls), having served as a punching bag for his inhumanly strong, pro wrestling-loving mother and younger sister Kureha (Hanazawa Kana), who takes after her. (Kudos to the Bret Hart shout out with the Sharpshooter.) The difference is, Jirou hasn’t given up on the opposite sex despite what others may believe, and is now threatened into trying to overcome his condition with Subaru. In that regard, Mayo Chiki is closer to MM’s premise, except the person taking enjoyment in Jirou and Subaru’s struggles is a third party. The end result is something that takes arguably the best parts of those two series and spins them in a slightly different way, which I’m really enjoying with Kitamura Eri voicing the seductively dangerous and kinky Kanade. Eri also happens to sing the “Be Starters!” opening theme too — another welcome addition.
Admittedly, I was pretty set on blogging this series after seeing some of the promo material, but had to let it go wayside because of all the other shows airing on Thursday. After watching this first episode, I may just have to force myself to make the time for it. I really like what I see so far, even though this episode in particular wasn’t overly funny, having spent a fair amount of time on lengthy explanations to establish the plot. What I’m interested in is where things are headed hereon in. That, and how Satoshi Hino isn’t paired up with Kugimiya Rie for a change and is much more livid with his outbursts than I remember. Add in two classmates with great seiyuu, Narumi Nakuru (Asumi Kana, Miya in Amagami SS) and Usami Masamune (Ise Mariya, Stocking in PSG), and it should be nothing but good lighthearted entertainment and Subaru cuteness all around. Judging from director Kawaguchi Keiichirou’s work in Hayate no Gotoku (season one) and the aforementioned Nyan Koi (i.e. more butlers and romantic comedies), and screenwriter Yoshida Reiko’s work in K-ON, I can’t help but feel a little optimistic.
* For those wondering, the title of this series comes from combining “Mayoeru” and “Chicken” (spelled “chikin” in Japanese), which are in reference to Subaru’s uncertainty as a butler and Jirou’s nickname that he has a severe complex about. Sakamachi Kinjirou.
* In case you didn’t catch them in the post itself, I put together full-length screen captures for images 06, 13, 17, 22, 24, 25, and 29.
ED: 「君にご奉仕」 (Kimi ni Gohoushi) by 井口裕香, 喜多村英梨, 伊瀬茉莉也 (Iguchi Yuka, Kitamura Eri, Ise Mariya)
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼