November 5, 2016
FFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!! I knew it. I think they are on to me. It is like they knew my fetish for maids and my dislike for the yaoi genre so they had this idea to mash in both genres just to make me watch it! Because they know I can’t refuse anything with maids. Especially cute kawaii Japanese maids. Oh FFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!! Just as its title implies, Shounen Maid is about a young boy dressing up and working as a maid for his adult male employer-cum-guardian. Well, if that doesn’t send your yaoi or shounen ai alarms ringing at the highest level, you must either be a hardcore fan or one who is already used to such genre. And so here I am, trying to satiate my maid desires even if it means having a cross-dresser, even if it means having to become a shotacon for the moment, even if it means putting up with whatever yaoi tropes they’ll throw at me. Bring ‘em on! I’ll take it all, I tell ‘ya! Viva maids!!! Viva Japanese anime maids!!!
Chiyo, the beloved mom of Chihiro Komiya suddenly dies of a heart failure due to overworking. Where will Chihiro go now since he has no relatives? On his way home, he sees a man scared and cornered by a puppy. After saving him, Madoka Takatori recognizes Chihiro. He is his uncle. Arrangements are made for Chihiro to come live with him in his mansion along with his confidante, Keiichiro Shinozaki. Chihiro thinks Madoka got it all wrong since mom told him she had no relatives. Well, she cut herself off from the main family. Chihiro is upset the family never helped her although this is Chiyo’s wish. Even if it disgraced her father, she left home and had him. She was free to choose to leave her parents’ protection. Chihiro is still mad and in that case won’t accept his help. He runs away but how far can he run? So at the kitchen, he is already having it tough thinking about a future without his mom. Then the biggest scare of his life. The kitchen is in a mess! This big mansion and Madoka couldn’t hire a decent housekeeper? What is it about not being good with strangers? This clicks Chihiro’s OCD as he starts cleaning right away till it is sparkling clean. Apparently not only the kitchen but the entire mansion is dirty! So Madoka makes him a deal that in exchange for food and boarding, he can work here. Chihiro remembers his mom words that those who don’t work cannot eat. He accepts the job. But why in a maid outfit?! Hell yeah! Still weird, though… (It seems Madoka made the outfit himself and tricked him into wearing it). So Chihiro cleans the mansion without rest. He won’t stop until is clean and even threatens Madoka to not intervene! Dedication… The tiredness got to him as he accidentally breaks a vase. Although stubborn at first, the guys tell him to take it easy. After waking up from his rest, Chihiro finds the guys cleaning a room. They plan to make this room his. Well, at least it is bigger than his previous house. However Chihiro is not impressed with their cleaning and has them start from the top again! Later, Chihiro learns from Keiichiro that Madoka is a clothes designer. So he is not a rich NEET who stays at home all day? That night he peeks into his room, the only room he is not allowed to clean. He is amazed to see Madoka at work with all the dresses for a play. He looks so different. So adult. Chihiro prepares tea for him and advises him to rest too. Next morning, Chihiro is delighted he has finished his dress. Unfortunately it is cat pyjamas for him. His real work is still WIP. Time for Chihiro to blow his top.
Chihiro answers the door to find Miyako Ootori outside. He thought she is Madoka’s sister from the way she addresses him but is actually his fiancée. Apparently she ran away from home. Again. Another fight with father? After hearing Chihiro’s ‘amazing’ story, she vows to work hard to earn her father’s trust to become independent. Thus she dons a maid outfit (that’s more like it!) and becomes Chihiro’s disciple. Unfortunately she is clumsy and breaks almost everything. When she is tired and morally deflated, a few words from Keiichiro revive her. Miyako cooks proper dinner for Madoka but the kitchen is in a mess. Chihiro is not pleased that Madoka is the one who taught her baking and thus the mess. Later Chihiro talks to Miyako about her arranged marriage. But he knows she likes Keiichiro from her body language. He advises her not to give up because if she does, she won’t have a winning chance. When Miyako’s father is here to bring her back, he sees Madoka flanked by the maids. He is shock with his fetish and decides to call off the engagement as Madoka nonchalantly agrees. Well, all as planned, right? But couldn’t he do it in another way that is less bad taste? When Chihiro meets his school friends, he can’t tell them about his maid joke or they’ll laugh at him. His friends are curious to see how he is really doing and tails him back to the mansion. Shocking, right? Even shocking is how they see him in a maid outfit. Busted. Chihiro comes clean with what has happened and his friends accept it as long as he is fine. Miyako comes on Sundays for baking lessons with Chihiro. After learning Miyako and Keiichiro’s favourite food, it dawned to Chihiro he doesn’t know Madoka’s favourite food. Instead of asking, he cooks lots of dishes. Well, Madoka finishes them all! Even madder when Madoka says any dishes Chihiro cook will be his favourite. Later Chihiro remembers his mom used to make tamagoyaki. He makes this for Madoka and this brings back memories of Chiyo’s cooking. Only, it was very burnt back then. Not to say Chihiro’s is perfect but at least better. Madoka realizes Chiyo has improved over the years because of her frustration for her failures to be eaten as if they were delicious. Chihiro vows to perfect them but in exchange Madoka must be the taste tester. But before that, his friends become his guinea pigs to test taste his black and burnt failures. I hope they can stomach this.
Chihiro finds an abandoned puppy and couldn’t bear to let it be so he secretly brings it back to the mansion. Then he sees Keiichiro reprimanding Madoka because he brought back a cat despite being allergic to it. All the more reason for Chihiro to hide the dog from this cat lover. Because Chihiro has been acting suspicious, soon Keiichiro finds out about it. He will help find a proper owner for the dog but first Chihiro must apologize to Madoka. Chihiro fears he has hurt his feelings by keeping it a secret but shortly Madoka is back to his idiotic ways. Chihiro is delighted to see his friend, Yuuji Hino here. It seems his grandpa is the gardener who comes to tend the garden from time to time. Grandpa is a nice man and is willing to let Chihiro stay with his big family. However Chihiro declines seeing he already has a place to call home. That’s a big relief for Madoka, no? Eventually Miyako takes in the dog. Oh, he is called Antarou. Something to do with red bean pastes. After Madoka and Keiichiro leave for a bridal fair business trip, Chihiro is left home alone for the first time. The first thing to cross his mind? He can clean in peace! As Madoka gave him a handphone, Chihiro is unsure how to use it and seeks Hino’s help. Then we see lots of unreplied gay-like messages from Madoka. Starting to get the wrong idea? Chihiro cleans the house so much that he develops a small fever. He goes to bed but it is so quiet that he can’t relax. He calls Madoka on a whim but quickly hangs up and shuts off the handphone. He falls asleep and dreams of his mom’s kindness of making him porridge. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he is shocked that Madoka is by his side. Well, he thought something is wrong after he hung up. Yeah, the taxi fare is going to kill him. Madoka stays with him all night and even makes him porridge which pretty much reminds Chihiro how similar Chiyo made hers – bad. Next morning Chihiro’s fever has gone down and Madoka gets to taste his delicious home cook food. Better than eating outside. Chihiro thinks he is skipping work since Keiichiro is now in a bind after discovering a note Madoka left behind. He is going to get a lot of scolding when the time comes.
After seeing Bearded Baron (Chihiro’s term for cockroach) in Madoka’s room, he is definitely going to clean it and nobody is going to stop him. (A toy dog is enough to keep Madoka locked in). While cleaning up, he spots many empty present boxes and just throws them away thinking they are just trash. After the room is cleaned, Madoka is sad. It’s like somebody else’s room! But even sadder when he learns those ‘trash’ are thrown away. Then he starts acting awkward. Late Chihiro learns from Keiichiro that Madoka treasures those boxes. He is the kind who treasures the wrapper more than its content. Feeling bad, Chihiro scours the garbage to find all those wrappers as he remembers why his mom never threw away silly scribbles Chihiro made on the fridge. After Chihiro hands them back, he gives him a box to put all his important things there. Otherwise he will just throw it away. That’s a warning. Chihiro and Miyako make pudding and since it tastes good, Miyako will use this to steal Keiichiro’s heart. But could Keiichiro be dense because despite the guys dropping some obvious hints about the pudding, he remains ignorant. Yeah, Miyako wants to be a top pastry chef, right? Chihiro spots Keiichiro’s forgotten planner. Then come slipping out is a picture of a beautiful girl. OMG! WHO IS THAT BABE?! He hides it back before Keiichiro comes back to retrieve. So the thought Keiichiro has a girlfriend bugs Chihiro greatly as he confides in Madoka. Obviously that guy doesn’t know what discreet means so he asks Keiichiro directly about it! Keiichiro can smell what is going on as Chihiro apologizes for looking without permission. He then takes out many photos of that beautiful girl. One of those pictures is Chiyo. But who is that beautiful lady? Well… That is Madoka!!! OMFG!!! Chiyo used to tease him by making him dress up like a girl. He didn’t resist and she enjoyed it. Why is Keiichiro having it? To use it as dirt on Madoka. But since it has lost its surprise element, don’t worry there are others. Others?! There is also a toddler picture of Miyako in which Chihiro tells to her to inspire her that it is the first photo he took and always carries it with him. To Madoka’s horror, Keiichiro has reprint extra copies of the photos for Chihiro. Think of it as keeping evil at bay. Miyako also has one on Keiichiro enjoying his pudding.
Chihiro sprains his ankle while cleaning at school. This means he has to rest and no do his usual maid job. Who is going to clean and cook then? Don’t worry. Madoka is your maid! Time to worry… And dinner is all nothing but sweets… The next day, Madoka gets help from Miyako. They both did a decent job but falter when they try to cook Japanese food as requested by Chihiro. Seeing how down they are, Chihiro realizes he shouldn’t be sulking so he changes his preference to stew and sweets. There is a flashback when Chiyo saw Madoka off at the airport as he will be going to France to study. He was worried of leaving her alone but she assures she is strong and wants him to come back stronger as an adult. After Chihiro and his friends watch a horror movie, Chihiro is shaking in fear despite he is saying otherwise. So a cue for Madoka to sleep with him? But he gets a nightmare of a ghost chasing him and his fear is fuelled further by his friends’ ghost rumour talk. Of all nights, Madoka had to be away for a trip leaving him all alone. He thought he heard sounds outside and thinks it is a thief and will go intercept the intruder. However he gets freaked out by the smallest thing and he ultimately faints when this ghostly figure is at the door. Turns out to be Madoka forgetting his key. Making Chihiro mad is that he brought back a stray cat. Madoka argues that it is only natural to help one in need just like how Chihiro brought home that stray puppy. Chihiro asks why he helped him then, it is because of a promise Madoka made to Chiyo. She said when she is in trouble, come help her. That is why he kept waiting but of course she never did seek his help. But a promise is still a promise. What Chiyo gave everything up to protect, Madoka will properly protect in her place. Chihiro gets the same nightmare but this time he helps the ghost and everything turns into a sweet dream. Morning comes, Chihiro is alright. But Madoka is not because he gets scolded by Keiichiro for bringing home a cat.
Chihiro spots a suspicious guy on the streets and his is right to avoid him. However he forces him to help out. Turns out he is Ryuuji of the popular boy group Uchouten Boys that also includes Hayato and Ibuki and he looking for Madoka’s mansion. Madoka is contracted to make their uniforms but Ryuuji doesn’t like his boyish uniform since he is tired of his boyish role in the group. Unfortunately Madoka cannot change anything as he has already submitted his design. Ryuuji will not leave until he does so. While he complains, he learns the truth of Madoka’s taste in frilly clothes and accidentally badmouths Chihiro’s maid outfit. He feels bad later and wants to apologize but Chihiro is acting like it never happened. Ryuuji comes to terms after talking with Madoka that he has a duty to show what the fans want to see. It isn’t as embarrassing as he thought it would. Soon, Hayato comes to get Ryuuji to go home. He hopes to come again sometime. Since Uchouten Boys’ special programme is held on the same day as Madoka’s birthday, Miyako suggests coming over to plan his birthday party. He is still scratching his head on what to get as present while he helps Miyako in the kitchen. During his break, he spots an old lady scared and cornered by Antarou. He ‘saves’ her as he learns she isn’t the master of this mansion but a lady named Kayako. After getting to know who Chihiro is and what is bugging him, she hints if the present has to be a physical object. If he thinks hard and back on what Madoka likes, he should already know the answer. Chihiro and Miyako dress up with cat ears and tail for the party. This must be heaven for Madoka. But he isn’t too fond when Keiichiro puts them on. They watch Uchouten Boys’ show as they also dedicate a special birthday song for him as thanks for the outfits. Just this one time, Chihiro holds in his pride and wears the cat pyjamas for him without complaining. Only a few more hours before the day is over…
Keiichiro is worried that Chihiro doesn’t study at home because he would rather use that time to clean. But how can you argue when Chihiro scores perfect in most of his tests! Straight A’s student! As there will be a school open day next week, the students have to write an essay about what they want to be in the future. Hino knows Chihiro well that he won’t tell Madoka about the open day so he gives Madoka a head’s up. Dinner between them feels awkward. Later Chihiro laments he still can’t sum up the courage to tell Madoka but thinks it is fine if he doesn’t turn up. Then he remembers his mom lectured him when he did not tell her about it. So Chihiro tells Madoka and he is more than delighted to come. Chihiro’s worries were unfounded. But Madoka’s secret is busted because he knows what he essay is all about. As they discuss about this, when Chihiro was younger, his future goal was to become rich. Simple, right? It was so that he could always be with his mom. Madoka gives him the freedom to put down whatever he wants and also gives some suggestions. During open house day, Hino’s big family is here! Embarrassing? That’s not all of them, though… When Madoka and Keiichiro arrive, they look sharp and elegant, thus standing out like a sore thumb. They have got kids wondering who this hunk is to Chihiro. The day proceeds well as we learn Chihiro wants to become a hotel baron. When it is over, his homeroom teacher, Sakamoto would like to talk to them about Chihiro’s living conditions and if he is doing well. Chihiro and Madoka plead for Keiichiro to help out but clearly they are on their own. Take some responsibility. Madoka’s inability to lie has Chihiro stomping his feet each time he is about to reveal the dangerous truth. In the end, Sakamoto didn’t need to worry as she believes they are getting along just fine. Back home, Keiichiro dumps lots of management books to Chihiro so he can achieve his dream. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right? Madoka has also put an early investment in his room: A study desk.
Chihiro is so happy to get a vacuum cleaner for his Christmas present. Really. Since he will be doing a major spring cleaning, his friends volunteer to help. They didn’t count on Chihiro putting maid aprons on them! Hino saw this coming and brought his own apron to save the embarrassment. Miyako is also here to help and she thought she could show the boys how it is done. Unfortunately she still needs to take instructions from Chihiro and ends up being clumsy. Chihiro thought his hard work is undone when Madoka makes them treats. This means he messed up the kitchen, right? Surprise! It’s so sparkly clean. But Chihiro knows his trick because he threw all the dirty utensils outside! On New Year’s Eve, Madoka and co drive to their winter villa. Also tagging along are Hino and Miyako. Chihiro can’t help being a worrywart if he left the house locked. He thought he could clean the cabin but it has its own caretakers. Bummer. After ice skating, they eat nabe but Chihiro is appalled Hino and Miyako chuck everything inside the pot instead of letting the stock for the soup boil. To reduce Chihiro’s anxiety of homesickness, they let him make and serve drinks. Chihiro and Madoka stay out till the wee hours of dawn to watch the first sunrise of the year. Chihiro used to do this with his mom via watching from their apartment window. Miyako is lovely in a kimono. There is a food glut since Miyako has her chef made some, the boys brought some of theirs, Keiichiro ordered boxes of takeouts and the caretaker even cooked for them. Oh well, let’s fat together. But before that, they take a group photo. Maybe trying to compare before and after?
It’s déjà vu again as Chihiro saves that old lady from another dog. To repay him, she hopes to have tea with him when he is free. Back home, Chihiro receives a visitor, a small girl named Hana. She is Hino’s little sister and they had a fight. You mean she ran all the way here? Chihiro calls Hino to come pick her up and that was before Hana told him not to tell anyone she is here. So when big brother is here, she views Chihiro as a traitor in addition to hating her brother. Hino reveals he accidentally read her diary without permission. So young and she already knows about invasion of privacy. Eventually she falls asleep in Madoka’s work station. Hino lets her stay here for the night and returns home. As they babysit her, Madoka remembers Miyako used to run to him whenever she fights with her father. Chiyo would often side with Miyako’s dad to even the odds. So to Madoka it feels kinda funny seeing these siblings fight like this. Next morning, Madoka has created a magical girl dress for her. Isn’t that from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica? Namesake I’m confused… Hino arrives to pick her up so the siblings reconcile. But Hino has to put up with her in the embarrassing dress as they walk home. But now Keiichiro is breathing down Madoka’s neck as he failed to work last night and must catch up. Ryuuji is also here to stay since he is so free. But since Chihiro has a date with that old lady, he has Hino babysit him till he comes back. Of course what is more thrilling than tailing to see who this chick Chihiro wants to see. She indirectly talks about her daughter who left and a grandson whom she wishes to see. Ryuuji and Hino’s spying is eventually exposed. After the kids left, it is greatly hinted that the old lady is Chiyo’s mom. She notes Chihiro is a good boy but Madoka has not changed. She thinks it would be better for him to come live with them. Chihiro punishes the busy bodies by having them sweep outside in a maid outfit.
Chihiro is suspicious of Madoka’s behaviour. Then he catches him in the act. He has been hiding cats in his room! How does he overcome his allergy? Wear a gas mask! Time for another good round of lecture as Keiichiro confiscates them. With all the cat hair lying around you’d think Chihiro be mad, right? Wrong! He is happy he can clean something! So with all the bed sheets and clothes out to dry, Madoka wears some makeshift cat prints tunic. To help him deal with his cat loving syndrome, Miyako leaves lots of cat dolls in his room. Which is fine but it crosses the line when Madoka puts some in Chihiro’s room as well. On another day, Chihiro spots the old lady trying to lure a cat with some tuna with chicken tenderloin canned food. Failed miserably. Chihiro leaves after a short chat but he is puzzled how she knows he is going to visit his mom’s grave. Chihiro and Madoka make their way to Chiyo’s grave as they clean and wash her tombstone before making their usual prayers. This spot also lies Chihiro’s father who died shortly after Chihiro was born. It is natural that Chihiro doesn’t think much of him and he doesn’t even know how he looks like seeing many photos that contain him, he tries to cover his face. Not much of a photogenic guy, is he? After they leave, Chihiro forgets to take the bucket and returns. He is surprised to see the old lady there. Madoka is not too happy she is here. Why can’t a mother visit her daughter’s grave? She then introduces herself as Kazusa, Chihiro’s blood related grandmother and apologizes for not telling him earlier on. Chihiro is left in shock. Madoka knew Keiichiro told Kazusa about Chiyo’s grave (since she asked) and thinks she is trying to get on Chihiro’s good side. But he isn’t one to say since he is the same as her, trying to be family with him. Chihiro continues to be confused. He thought he would be mad if he met a member from the main family but he didn’t.
Madoka wakes up from a dream when he got sick during a house party after being anxious meeting so many people. Chiyo wanted to stay by his side but Kazusa told her to return to the party and left Keiichiro to care for him. Chihiro is spacing out that he cannot concentrate in school and becomes clumsy. His friends are worried about him. Wait a minute. There is a girl who likes Chihiro?! Anyway Hino learns about it and plans to cheer him up. First he calls Ryuuji (because he has nothing better to do) to go play video games with Chihiro. He is busy cleaning. Not in the mood. What about Madoka? Not in the mood either. Plan failed. Next plan, he sends Miyako. Although she is treated with the usual hospitality, she still cannot break through their gloominess. She knows too well it is an internal family problem and cannot butt in. In another attempt to help cheer up Chihiro, Miyako suggests a hanami here and invite all his friends. So for the first round of hanami, we have the usual suspects plus Uchouten Boys. Making it better is Hino’s grandpa bringing a real sakura tree! Except for Madoka locking himself in his work station. During the party, Keiichiro apologizes to Chihiro for telling the location of his mom’s grave. Chihiro doesn’t mind. Keiichiro says that despite Kazusa’s cold appearance, there is more to her than that. After Uchouten Boys leave, the ladies now arrive for the second round. At this point Chihiro goes to get Madoka to join them. He is making everyone worried. I guess the tamagoyaki also did the trick. Chihiro talks to Madoka that he met Kazusa vey much earlier and felt like she was his real grandma. Then it turned out to be true. He always thought the main family are cold people and would give them his piece of mind when he sees them. But it turned out different and it was fun. Madoka dreams again that dream. But at the end of it when he woke up, Kazusa was by his side after the party ended. It made him think that a woman like her can also grow old. As the new school year starts, Hana is officially starting elementary. Madoka vows to work harder so mom in heaven doesn’t have to worry. He’s a big boy now.
Madoka is working around the clock to finish his dresses for a wedding project. Naturally he is tired and Chihiro does his best to look after him. One day his temperature is a little high so Chihiro heads to the store to buy some cool sheets. She spots Kazusa in yet another failed attempt to lure a cat. Chihiro tells about Madoka being sick and Kazusa remembers he is always so when the season changes. However Chihiro explains he isn’t in such a bad shape. Chihiro has a little scare when Madoka collapses but it is actually nothing to worry about. He is just tired after completing it all. One night he spots Madoka sitting by a wedding dress. This was the first dress he designed and was supposedly for Chiyo. Of course she never got to wear it as she never had a proper wedding. He jokes he might give it to Chihiro if he gets married. Chihiro puts him to bed since he is still feverish. He returns to the work station after remembering he left the cool sheets there. He is spooked when somebody or something gave it to him! He trips and the chair moves by itself to break his fall! What is that girlish laughter?! OH SH*t!!! Chihiro runs back to Madoka’s room. Hear something tapping at the window?! Oh, the window isn’t shut close. That night as he dozes off next to Madoka, he is visited by a ghost girl! FREAK OUT! But we all know this is the young version of Chiyo as she asks him what happened throughout that year. Basically, a summary of the things that happened throughout the season. After Chiyo hugs him, it is time to go be by her husband’s side. Only then Chihiro recognizes her as his mom. But too late. She’s gone and it’s morning. Was it a dream? Madoka thought Chihiro flicked his head during his sleep but he knows mom did that. Wait. So the ghost is real?! Please tell me he dreamt about getting flicked. Life returns to normal as Chihiro continues to reprimand and be strict on slacking Madoka. This guy just recovered. Cut him some slack, okay?
You know, this entire series can be said to be one boring affair and there is nothing that would highly indicate that there was going to be any gay moments. Subtly maybe but it won’t be in a way where casual viewers might pick up. Heck, the final episode was so boring that it is like they tried to put in some supernatural elements of a visiting ghost to spice things up! I know it is insane to have your mom in her young version to come and visit you after a year but it beats having a man raping a young boy, right? Oh sh*t! I thought there would be some sort of suspense. You know, Chihiro being forcefully taken to live in the main family’s house and then after experiencing all those high aristocracy lifestyle, he felt it wasn’t for him and came running back to Madoka. I would at least suspect something of this sort to end the series but nope. Kazusa’s ‘threat’ to take him back was just a pipe dream and a big troll. It never happened. Not even a thought of it after that. Instead we got this lukewarm final that could have been inserted randomly in between any episode.
So I have to largely blame myself for getting paranoid in thinking how much shounen ai and yaoi elements there would be in this series. It is so mild that it wouldn’t even occur to you at all. In fact, is there any? If there would it would be close to almost zero. Otherwise this show would not even make it in airing on national TV. Sure, the prospects of a handsome young wealthy man and his (formerly) poor young boy being forced upon (in which gradually becomes a voluntary habit) a maid outfit. From the outlook of it, there is this danger it is hovering just above the thin line between what is even considered as yaoi. Thank goodness nothing unholy came out of it.
I don’t know how I am supposed to feel seeing Chihiro in a maid outfit which is of course the ‘attraction’ of the series because personally I think his maid outfit isn’t that cute. It just borders along the lines of average. I’m not against LGBT or queer people but my preference has always been straight. So looking at Chihiro in a maid outfit but instead of wearing a skirt he dons his pants just makes this whole maid thing feel like, uh, semi-maid. Of course there is Miyako but she doesn’t make as much screen time. At first I thought she would be the ‘saviour’ as a real maid seeing I have this unfounded fear that my penis and testicles would overload and filled with gay particles from watching the show and then explode. Yeah, seriously. And thus the need for a female maid to reduce that side effect. Too bad she only makes cameos in many episodes but it is a good thing too that this show is mild if not close to zero yaoi elements.
If seeing Chihiro in a maid outfit makes you weird, imagine if Chihiro’s character was a girl. Yes, it would have been filled with fanservice to the brim and it wouldn’t be any different if this had a fair amount of yaoi elements. Oh, what is that you say? They already did something like this before? Oh, right. They did Kore Ga Watashi No Goshuujin Sama AKA He Is My Master. So it all boils down to your sexual preference. I mean, they could really make a hentai version of this series itself if they turn Chihiro into some sort of she-male added with the fact that he is a shota and there you have it child porn! Not so obvious and clear cut the laws about this in Japan…
Despite its relatively small number of characters, this series just does a decent job in developing the characters as its focus is mainly on Chihiro and Madoka. Although Chihiro has changed throughout the series, it is not a drastic one whereby you can compare before and after shots of him. Because even at the start of the series when he lost his mother, he didn’t seem all too distraught about it. He carries on with his life like normal like as though she never existed in the first place! I mean as a young kid whose only other close family member is his mother, you’d think he would become grief stricken for losing his only family that he has always spent most of his time with. Perhaps Chiyo did teach him about independence and I suppose that is a good thing for a boy his age. But seriously, most of the times as I can see him, he doesn’t really act like he misses his mom. Some occasional nostalgic flashbacks but even so that doesn’t ring any alarm bells and serve only to propel Chihiro to rethink his current decisions whatsoever. Maybe all that cleaning takes his mind off the depression.
Unlike boys his age who would prefer doing typical boys’ stuff (like playing video games?), Chihiro is all smiles when he gets to clean. In the eyes of others, it makes him look like a sissy, right? So real men don’t clean furniture, mop floors and cook? Yeah, nobody is going to take care of you… Chihiro’s clean freak OCD is so great that even the school’s cleanliness has to be up to his standards! At least for his class. No dust or dirt will get away from his attention! And you can certainly be in for an earful that is far worse than a drill sergeant when he finds out you are not thorough enough.
Then there is Madoka whose seemingly close relationship with Chihiro ever since he took him in probably stems from his own problems with the main family especially his mother. Although it is a promise to Chiyo that he is fulfilling to take care of her son, sometimes I feel that it is more like the fact that Chihiro looks very closely to Chiyo and since the duo were quite close together, it might be the case of him wanting to relive his times with his sister. Many of Chihiro’s characteristics are closely similar to Chiyo and this brings back certain nostalgia to Madoka. Because of that, it is like sometimes he knows a bit about Chihiro. The seed doesn’t fall far from the tree. Other than that, Madoka is a nice guy but sometimes tend to slack whether for work, penchant for taking in cute stray cats despite his non-life threatening allergy and has no talent whatsoever in keeping clean. Some people are like that. His casual attitude is the ammo needed for Chihiro to fire his salvo of lecture and the much needed comic relief and bonding between the duo. It goes to show that it isn’t just one way communication in all aspects and no typical master-servant relationship.
Other characters feel like hit and miss. There could be more potential but sadly it is not fleshed out in the anime. I am sure the ongoing manga has got it covered and it is not fair just to criticize the anime since only a handful of chapters of it are adapted. Even the main issue of why Chiyo left the family is not fully addressed or the problem that strained Kazusa’s relationship with her children is not properly shown. I suppose it isn’t that bad since they are still talking to each other. More like out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t read the manga, how do I know something like this along this line? Well, this is parodied in the final next episode preview. They’re breaking the fourth wall to tell us that it is already the final episode and they haven’t covered many more chapters from the manga. Yeah, I’m going to flat out believe that.
So like Keiichiro whom I always just sees him as his secretary standing around, noting his schedule, sometimes giving him stern reminders about his work deadline, drives him around and confiscates his illegal strays. It would be interesting to explore Miyako’s relationship with him but then again we don’t really know if Keiichiro is just dense or playing dumb. He has been serving the family for so long that it becomes his life mission to just serve. Miyako feels like the cutie girl who is just there to prevent this show from becoming filled with 100% pretty boy testosterones. Uhm, what? Her running joke is that she can never do chores right and always needs Chihiro’s directions but ends up clumsy. At least after the umpteenth try she can now cook decently. Now to train her for cleaning duties… Speaking about love and romance, it would also be interesting to see further developments about the girl who has a crush on Chihiro. After all, Chihiro is such an independent and useful boy so which girl wouldn’t like such a dependent guy as her partner? Stop screaming feminism. We’re not even going close to there… Kazusa’s appearance for the most part also feels like a running joke especially her failed attempts to lure a cat. Kinda reminds you of a certain girl in Anne Happy… Ah well, no matter how elegant one looks, they still have a comical side you don’t often see.
Then there is Hino the sharp and observant best friend for such main characters and keeps an eye out on him. Ryuuji feels a bit out of place. Imagine a member of a famous boy band comes hanging out with a bunch of commoners. Not too sure if the media knows about this because it is like as though he casually comes when he is free. It’s not like he put on any thorough disguise as well. He feels like a joker among all the characters but at least he has more screen time compared to his other members who simply feel unimportant. Last but not least is Chiyo who sadly becomes part of the statistics and trope of a good parent being taken away too soon and leaving her son all alone in the world just so we can have a story and setting to tell. She exists solely in flashbacks in which are where she truly ‘comes alive’. She is a good mother and has imparted lots of good lessons and love to her child. Speaking of lessons, each of the episode titles is named after an idiom with life lessons such as “Those who don’t work don’t eat”, “A man never goes back on his word”, “Learning doesn’t happen in a day”, “Charity brings its own reward” and “All’s well that ends well”. They aren’t just idioms for the sake of being one but they are subtly that episode’s lesson that Chihiro and us can learn.
Art and drawing feel decent and simple. But I can’t help notice that the characters have their eyes slightly bigger than usual. I know a typical trait of Japanese character designs is their big (sometimes sparkly) eyes and is prominent in almost every anime out there. I just thought that this one seems slightly bigger than usual (not that I have an accurate measurement or anything) like as though this anime was like you know, targeted for kids aged like between 10-12 years old. Because with the simplistic design of the characters, it makes them look a bit cartoonish in a way. Despite the plain simplicity of the characters, I noticed that some of the sceneries and backgrounds are quite nice to look at. I’m not saying it is a masterpiece but they didn’t cut corners on this area. The end card illustration at the end of every episode is illustrated by different people but somehow I can’t help that most of them look somewhat the same. This anime is produced by 8-bit who did the Grisaia trilogy, Infinite Stratos, Absolute Duo, Tokyo Ravens and Yama No Susume so you might see a little bit of similarity in some of these works.
The only seiyuu I recognized is Yukari Tamura as Chiyo. While it is great to hear her voice again after some time, somehow something inside me just feels that her voice didn’t quite fit Chiyo. Don’t get me wrong. She played her character nicely. It is just that I have this stereotype view that after hearing her typical trademark squeaky voice for years, playing a caring mother doesn’t seem like a voice that wouldn’t go with the character. At least on the outside. She has played a host of characters throughout her voice acting career from the usual squeaky lively Ranpha (Galaxy Angel series), loli types like Nanoha (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha series), retards such as Misha (Pita Ten) and even emotionless types like Ichigo (Onegai Teacher and Onegai Twins). So when she took on this role, it sounded odd at first because I was expecting somewhat more of a mellow and mature female voice to helm this part.
Playing Madoka is Nobunaga Shimazaki (Shido in Date A Live). I can’t help feel he sounds quite gay. Do men who ply their trade in the fashion world or involved in stuffs that is for women to sound and/or act effeminate? Not to say it is a bad thing and considering the mild shounen ai theme, his character doesn’t feel wrong but there is this ‘fear’ that he might just explode into some full hard on gay time with that kind of gay voice. Yikes! What am I thinking?! The rest of the casts are Natsumi Fujiwara as Chihiro (debuting in her first main character role), Yui Makino as Miyako (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Tomoake Maeno as Keiichiro (Camus in Uta No Prince-sama series), Mitsuki Saiga as Hino (Phantom in MAR), Natsuki Hanae is Ryuuji (Takumi in Shokugeki No Souma) and Yoshiko Sakakbara as Kazusa (Kaoruko Kinoshita in You’re Under Arrest).
The opening theme is Innocent Promise by Trustrick. Sounds like a decent anime rock music and nothing that catches my attention. Since this anime has their own in-anime pop group idol, why not make use of them and sing the ending theme? And thus to make up for their lack of decent screen time in the episode proper, I figure Uchouten Boys did the ending gig with Zutto Only You. Heck, the entire ending credits animation is solely on them. Sounds like another typical boy band pop song with all that fanfare stuff. But the ‘scary’ thing about this song is at the end. Because after the music ends and when everything goes completely silent, suddenly you hear the guys whisper some words. Personally, this sounds quite eerie because as grown men trying to whisper softly but loud enough so you can hear what they say so it sometimes sounded mumbled and thus the creepy effect like as though a serial killer is sending you a cryptic warning message! Yikes!
Overall, this is just a decent series about a young boy coming to terms with his new family and what it means to have a family. There is nothing too shocking or dark that would make you seriously want to examine its concepts and what it probably means for the show and in real life. You can also learn a few things from this show like the meaning of family and friends, counting your blessings, looking forward in life with optimism and positivism, and being grateful for a maid to clean your house. Yeah, I think I still prefer my maids as females anytime, thank you. The sad thing is that in real life the only guys in maid outfits you’ll see will be those mainly in porn.