「メイドの拳、膵臓の価値は」 (Meido no Kobushi, Suizou no Kachi wa)
“The Worth of a Maid’s Fist and Pancreas!”
Episode 03 of Akiba Maid Sensou takes the fight straight to the ring as Ranko is enlisted to throw a boxing match in exchange for sweets money. But as with most other plans that involve killing Ton Tokoton’s maids to pay off their debt, Ranko’s reflexes and can-do attitude won’t let her be snuffed out by such transparent ploys.
WELL THAT FIGURES
There are plenty of weird metaphors that don’t quite make sense in this show. The pigtail replacing finger digits in Episode 01 is simple enough. But then, Episode 02 tried to make the consequences of going into the Octopus Room shift from the obvious link to human trafficking to crab fishing. And in this episode, there’s an anime figure company whose scam figurines are supposed to be their way of saying that they do contraband or money laundering.
It feels more like a parody by the way of Bugsy Malone where the main focus is that any criminal activity needs to be rewritten to know for sure that the characters in the story aren’t actually doing anything terrible. Yes, bodies drop and people are shot dead. Yes, we’re betting our organs on boxing matches. But we’re not dealing with pushers and loan sharks; we’re dealing with otaku and anime figure companies!
The maid cafe industry is already sordid enough to warrant the same unsettling realities that come from other facets of entertainment that could potentially be an accessory to organized crime. We’re watching loan sharks and scammers murder each other. However, we’re still under the illusion that running a maid cafe in the real world is an innocent business venture full of perky faces and no internal politics that could possibly be tainted by scammers or criminal activity. Or since the maids in this show are the mafia, there’s no way an actual mafia could exist even though Ton Tokoton has to be indebted to SOMEONE. Otaku are supposed to be our stand-ins for loan sharks, but what gives a stereotypical otaku enough power to be able to come around with a pistol and hassle the Manager for unpaid debt? What does unpaid debt even look like in a world where you’re just being hassled by overzealous geeks pretending to be gangsters?
Cygames is in the mobage business, is all too familiar with adjusting pull rates, and has Uma Musume under their belts. They’d know a thing or two about having some scary clients. It feels a bit calculated that some details are given a cutesier sheen than others. Will facets like outright murder or throwing boxing fights be too cinematic to be seen in the same light as money laundering or counterfeiting? What makes fixing boxing fights or a casino that traffics women easier crimes to toy with? It feels a bit similar to Chainsaw Man removing Denji’s line about unions and PTO as a way to sanitize lines that could have easily mocked the production company’s practices. I know it sounds like a bigger accusation than it really is, but it feels like the metaphor of what the anime figure company represents hits far too close to home for Cygames to make it obvious to the viewer.
SONG FOR DENISE (ZOYA VERSION)
On a lighter note, it is neat that they managed to bring out a new character to the Ton Tokoton cafe in the form of Zoya. She has a similar background to Ranko but has her own motivations for being inspired by foreign television to venture out of Russia to become a maid. It was nice that they didn’t try to kill her off with so much of the episode focusing on having Ranko face an unfortunate “accident” in the ring to clear their debt.
I’m surprised that Zoya’s method of trying to murder Ranko in the ring just came from doing a ton of illegal moves and not from some of the more obvious ways to “accidentally” kill someone in the ring. Loaded boxing gloves, for instance. Or cutting the padding from the gloves. Doing obviously illegal moves in boxing has the “crab fishing” levels of sanitizing the act itself, but comes off more like there wasn’t as much research put into this.
Getting kicked or getting your eyes poked isn’t going to have the same effect as getting punched in the back of the neck with a glove stripped of its padding. If fraudsters and killers have tampered with enough boxing gloves in the real world for me to find articles on the practice, it doesn’t make sense for them to lean into Zoya just being Ivan Drago and having the strength to murder someone if she just hits them enough.
But I digress, I did appreciate what Zoya brings to the table as a character. Her backstory was really nice and it’s easy to sympathize with her when she faces the same adversity that Ranko has as an unconventional maid who wants to be seen as cute. But whereas she has a complex about being told she isn’t as cute as her co-workers, Ranko’s confidence and lack of self-awareness make for a funny situation where Zoya is shocked that someone as intimidating and bulky as she is has such a positive self-image as a maid. It was also heart-warming to see that there wasn’t any love lost between the two as they truly respected each other and found each other to be cute enough to make it big in the maid industry. It’ll be much nicer to see how Zoya operates now that she’s working for Ton Tokoton.