「実録! 豚の調教師だブー!!」 (Jitsuroku! Buta no Choukyoushi Da Buu!!)
“The Inside Story! A Drillmaster for the Swine!!”
It’s time for Akiba Maid Sensou to shape up as Episode 04 gets these girls back to doing what they should’ve been doing this whole time; being maids! But because this was never going to be easy, Creatureland Group rolls out a one-woman army in the form of Instructor Sano to whip them into falling in line. Or else.
SOMETIMES, I DOUBT YOUR COMMITMENT TO TON TOKOTON
I appreciated how this episode decided to take a step back from its parody pastiche to begin developing its cast, starting with Shiipon. While Shiipon’s always been considered a mild-mannered, agreeable maid, she is the most conflicted about the difficult nature of the drills she’s put through. She shares the other maids’ begrudging recruitment into Ton Tokoton, but Shiipon came to appreciate the work she did purely because it allowed for self-expression.
The biggest hurdle she had to cross was Sano directly telling her that she had to fall in line and adhere to company compliance as opposed to her lackadaisical approach that’s directly tied to her underperformance as an employee. There’s definitely a humanistic approach towards her character as Sano’s drills were compiled to remove personal autonomy altogether from Ton Tokoton’s vocabulary. Everything they had to do and say must be compliant with Creatureland’s standards.
But Shiipon is far different. The other girls are able to embrace company protocol and change nothing about themselves except for their outlook. Shiipon is automatically told that she cannot dye her hair or wear makeup in the gyaru fashion she’s comfortable with. To conform with the army drill material that Sano had exacted on the other girls would mean having to completely redefine who she is and how she operates. It’s a bitter pill she could only swallow during a hilarious scene where immediately changes her mind about leaving upon seeing the Manager and Panda dumpster-diving.
In spite of the training, however, Shiipon’s mental health thrived in the casual environment that the Manager had cultivated over time. It might seem like a very basic motivation or desire considering how her backstory isn’t as cinematic or eccentric as the other girls. But it is far more sobering that Shiipon is the grounded one in the group because she helps to reprioritize their interests back to being their most authentic selves instead of being a disposable member of the Creatureland Group.
As shifty as the Manager can be, it does place her in a different light knowing that Shiipon felt more valued as an employee with her hands-off approach to management. She spends most of the episode squatting with Panda, but while that’s mainly to show how she’s willing to make any desperate moves she can to stay afloat, I’m more curious about Panda.
Panda has been shown as a sentient panda who just so happens to be able to move absurdly human-like. But this is the first time we find out that Panda is as human as everyone else, and that Panda’s just a person in a bear costume. I’m curious if the show will go so far as to show us who they are or if they feel it’d ruin the mystique behind the absurdity of pretending to be a maid cafe’s loyal pet for a living.
YOU’RE THE SADDEST BUNCH I’VE EVER MET
By the end of the episode, I wound up feeling very for Sano. It’s clear that she’s being threatened to be their drill sergeant and, even with how cruel she can come off as she has the maids’ best interests in mind. Perhaps that’s why it was easier for her to instill her own brand of loyalty onto the girls so that they would have added incentive to follow her lead. Kobayashi Yuu’s performance is also wonderful as it takes the abrasive, drill instructor fury and softens it up a bit to show that Sano is capable of appealing to the girls’ vulnerabilities to get them to operate as the Creatureland Group demands.
I suppose it’s also because nobody does anything in this universe without a debt being paid in return. Failure doesn’t mean Sano’s pride as a teacher is shattered. Coming back with an unruly, unchanged Ton Tokoton could mean anything from being excommunicated to being outright murdered. Sano is as desperate as the other girls in this industry to succeed, and seeing her instilled with the fear of facing repercussions for failing them is actually far more unnerving than just having her lick her wounds and try again for another maid group.
With that in mind, it shares the same distinction with other episodes by placing higher, unpredictable stakes as to what failure means. I was a bit harsh in the last episode about their choice of what to parody and what not to, but I think what Akiba Maid Sensou captures best is the fear that comes from cruel, unpredictable employment. The maids in the Creatureland Group and beyond are all expected to meet these lofty demands of making ends meet or die. The maid in the beginning of Episode 04 serves such an example where going against the company’s demand for unconditional loyalty means the difference between life and death.
In this world, you could go to work one day and be chewed up or torn apart for a simple mistake. For many people, this is a reality that doesn’t quite end with death but still holds these exceedingly high expectations on employees to never question their commitment to their brand. If there’s anything that becomes more apparent growing up, its how inseparable employment is from being regularly threatened to work productively or else face the real fear of being driven to a state of nonexistence. Any novelty t-shirt could tell you that being at work is like having a loaded gun to your head, but it is a message Akiba Maid Sensou pokes fun at with more finesse than you’d expect from a show where our main characters have easy access to rocket launchers.