Maria-sama Ga Miteru

July 15, 2006

If you’re looking for an anime with pure 100% drama, then Maria-sama Ga Miteru might just be your cup of tea. This particular anime has relatively no violence or any sort of that action-packed excitement or even fantasy-filled adventure journeys. Yup, just pure high school teenage girls drama, that’s all.
 
But the amazing thing is that I didn’t fell asleep throughout the entire 13 episode series. Maybe a few occassional yawns here and there, but I didn’t doze off. That’s mainly because I felt more confused trying to understand what’s happening and trying real hard to grasp the things and terms in the anime. By the time I finished watching the whole series, I only manage to understand it generally. I even had to do some reading on the Internet to help me better understand what’s going on. Well, it helped a little, but not that much.
 
First of all, let me mention that there’s quite a few French terms used here in this anime. Why? That’s because the story takes place at Lillian’s All Girls Catholic High School. An exlclusive high-upperclass school where girls where their uniform’s always, their pleats of their skirts must be unnoticeable, have angelic smiles… Err… Something like that as said in the beginning. Plus, if you notice that the Maria in the anime’s title is referring to Virgin Mary. So naturally, Catholic high schools and French, I have that perception that they go hand in hand.
 
Generally, for most parts of the series, it explores the relationship between first year student Yumi Fukuzawa, and her ‘elder sister’, the reserved second year Sachiko Ogasawara. In the first episode, we see that Yumi admires and looks up to Sachiko. She got to know from a member of the photography club, Tsutako, about a photo of Yumi and Sachiko being secretly taken while they’re both standing in front of the Virgin Mary statue. Yumi wanted the photos, but Tsutako would only give it to her on 2 conditions. One, she’s allowed to put up the photo in the shcool cultural festival, and two, Yumi must ask permission from Sachiko. So Yumi decides to pluck up her courage and go see Sachiko to ask permission for the photo.
 
Little did she know that soon she’ll be drawn into the inner circles of the Roses. Before I move on, I want to make clear of this part which will be the main stem for the anime. You see, in this school, it has been a tradition that the Yamayurikai (term for student council used in this school) to adopt a soeur (French for sister), usually senior students taking junior students, by giving them their rosary. Upon acceptance, the soeur will be taken care and looked out by her respective senior.
 
So for this Yamayurikai, there are 3 head officers named after some roses, Rosa Foetida, Rosa Chinesis, and Rosa Gigantea. Under each of these Rosas, they have a soeur called Rosa en bouton, and under each of them they have Rosa en bouton petite soeur. So for easier reference, here’s who’s who in the system:
 
Rosa Foetida
= Eriko Torii
Rosa Foetida en bouton
= Rei Hasekura
Rosa Foetida en bouton petite soeur
= Yoshino Shimazu
 
Rosa Chinesis
= Youko Mizuno
Rosa Chinesis en bouton
= Sachiko Ogasawara
Rosa Chinesis en bouton petite soeur
= Yumi Fukuzawa
 
Rosa Gigantea
= Sei Satou
Rosa Gigantea en bouton
= Shimako Toudou
Rosa Gigantea en bouton petite soeur
= Nijou Noriko
 
Get the whole thing? Well, at least it’s clearer to me this way. Anyway, back to the story. So as Yumi upon reaching the room in the Rose Mansion, where the Rosas were having some meeting, she overheard how Sachiko needs to choose a soeur in order for her to become the next Rosa Chinesis. So Sachiko said she’ll find one and left in a haste left, only to bump into Yumi. And in a haste too, she grabs Yumi and asks her to be her petite soeur. So there’s alot of talk here and there, but in the end, Yumi refused Sachiko’s rosary. What a shocked! Nobody has ever done so!
 
There was a reason, but I can’t remember. To make things worse, the school’s newspaper club is always seeming to be interested in the Rosas and what they do (reminds you of papparazis, don’t they, but less extreme). And with Yumi’s refusal of Sachiko’s rosary, a person whom she admires so greatly, it’ll be a big scoop.
 
So in episode 2, Yumi had to face with the consequences of it like being well-known all over school for her actions (not the kind of fame anybody wants, that is). Plus, there’s a play coming up (to be done jointly with some all male high school) where Sachiko has to play the part of Cinderella, but refused to do so. Thus, the student council members suggested that if Yumi changed her mind of being Sachiko’s soeur, Sachiko won’t have to do it, but Yumi will instead. In this episode too, you’ll get to see that Sei seems to take a liking for Yumi, but more of in a playful manner.
 
And in episode 3, we find out that Sachiko actually hates men. So the part of Cinderella being given to her is some sort of the student council member’s doing and ploy to make Sachiko hate less of men. Something like that. Also, Yumi now understands things and finally accepts Sachiko’s rosary. Yay! So this made headlines in episode 4. Then it is here too that Yumi learns more on the relationship between Rei and Yoshino. They’re actually cousins. However, Yoshino’s in hospital due to some illness. By the end of the episode, there’s a crack in their relationship, and Yoshino decides to give back Rei’s rosary. Oh! The horror! Guess it’ll make another headlines.
 
Yup, that’s what happened and it seems to be blown out of proportion in episode 5. Meaning that, the other junior girls are now unsure and panicking. Some of them gave back their rosaries following in suit. That’s because Yoshino and Rei are seen like model sisters in their school. And what happens if something that perfect starts to disintegrate? You know the answer. Plus, in this episode too, that Rei’s kendo tournament coincides with Yoshino’s operation. How will they mend their differences? Darn… Can’t remember too, but Yumi was there to save the day. I think. Speaking of which, it seems that Sei loves to bother Yumi, caressing her (like rubbing her cheeks), much to Sachiko’s chagrin. But Sei seems to enjoy it lah. Poor Yumi. She maybe thinking that Sachiko may get the wrong idea that she enjoys Sei’s company. Therefore, she’s a little worried.
 
A new competitor, calling herself Rosa Canina, emerges in episode 6. She’s challenging Shimako’s position in the student council elections. But the thing is, Shimako doesn’t mind or care. As usual, the ever helpful Yumi can’t just stand and watch, as she encourages Shimako to run for the election. In this episode too, we’ll discover that Shimako’s really afraid of shouldering her responsibilities when she becomes Rosa Gigantea after Sei has left. Shimako became Sei’s bouton just because she wanted to help her, and doesn’t have any ambitions in the Yamayurikai. At the same time, Yumi and Sachiko’s relationship hit a little bump. But as usual too, in the end all ends well with the positions of the student council members retained.
 
It’s Valentine’s day for episodes 7 and 8, and the girls are figuring out what to give to their dearest ones. Meanwhile, Yumi learns that Sachiko has a habit of rejecting gifts from people. Will hers be rejected as well? But at the same time, the scheming newspaper club proposes some plan to create some media hype. The en boutons will hide their invitation cards somewhere in the school and the winner who finds their invitation card will get to go on a date with the en bouton of the card whom she finds.
 
Also, Yumi and Sachiko’s relationship hit rock bottom. Something to do with those chocolates Yumi made, something happen, but Yumi kept quiet, Sachiko telling her off, a teary Yumi. Haih… Plus, we get to see Yoshino’s darker side, someone who just wants to posses Rei forever and nobody can have that but her. Yeowzers.
 
Luckily for Yumi and Sachiko, they manage to patch their relationship back just before the hunt begins. Many theories of where the en boutons will probably hid their cards. The results in the end… Rosa Canina found Shimako’s card! Oh, how ironic, how cruel life is. Some random unknown student found Sei’s card (Yoshino getting really jealous here). As for Sachiko’s… nobody. Surprise? Where could it be?
 
Yumi was sure it was hidden in the Rose Garden, but somebody beat her to it. Fortunately, the person there said there’s no card here. After the hunt is over, Sachiko heads to the place to reveal where she hid her card. It’s in the Rose Garden! But… how…. why…. Yumi tried to explain that she dig that spot as though like nobody will belive her. But Sachiko does.
 
So in episode 9, we’ll see from the perspective of that student whom Yumi saw in the Rose Garden. Ah… so she was the one who dug up the card but put it back. Why? Uh-huh… Some flashbacks of how she was fascinated with Sachiko since kindergarten too. And why she feels Yumi doesn’t deserve to be Sachiko’s soeur. Bla bla bla. But in the end she understood why and accept that Yumi’s the right person.
 
A best selling autobiography book is causing a storm in the school in episode 10. That’s because the story of the book seems to suspiciously match certain events that happened in the school. Furthermore, the author’s pen name is Sei Suga. Could it be Sei of Rosa Gigantea? She denies it, but the story told seems to point to her.
 
Yumi buys the book and was moved to tears about some suicide attempt where one of them dies. So Yumi and co decides to go investigate. Good thing was it wasn’t Sei, but some ex-Lillian student who’s now an chief editor of some magazine. Phew!
 
At the same time, in episode 11, Sei remembers her dark past, just like what almost happened in that book. When Sei’s a junior, she was some sort of a rebel, until she met Shiori, then she started to change a little. You might think here there’s some sort of a lesbian kind of relationship brewing. Well, if you want to look at it that way. So another few bla bla blas, Shiori had to leave to become a nun and this made Sei devastated. But her seniors were there to provide that usual advice, shoulder to lean on, words of comfort. Thus, that’s why Sei manage to overcome her past, which makes her a better character today.
 
Ah, finally, last 2 episodes 12 and 13 of the series sees the ‘date with the en boutons‘ in process. Since Yumi found Sachiko’s place where she hid her card, it’s only right that Yumi dates Sachiko. Of course, the newspaper club is trailing along, spying on their every move. And a very green eyed Yoshino following and watching her beloved Rei’s date. There’s this funny part where Yumi and Sachiko were at a fast food outlet. Sachiko doesn’t know how to eat at such place and has to be taught by Yumi how to do so! She thinks she needs chopsticks to eat hamburger or the food will be automatically served at her table. So funny lah. But can’t blame her. Sachiko leads quite a sheltered life from the outside world.
 
In the end, the newspaper club’s plan didn’t materialize and they just decide to drop it all and relax when they bumped into Yumi and Sachiko. In the end, everything turned out well. Yumi and Sachiko’s relationship at all time high, and Yoshino come to terms with her jealousy. And Yumi said something about her future at Lillian’s. But she’ll do her best even more.
 
Wow… that was real slow drama, isn’t it. Wait a minute, there’s a sequel to see how Yumi and Sachiko’s relationship and emotional bonding further develops. Err…. Somehow I felt reluctant to watch it. But overall, it’s a little refreshing to watch such animes after watching all those with mindless violence, comedies and exaggerated stuffs. If not for the kawaii-ness of Yumi and Yoshino, I think I would have stopped watching this anime a long time already.
 
Plus, it’s the first time that I’ve watched an anime with opening and ending credits without any singing. Yup, just like intrumental. Pastel White, the song quite calming and soothing. Also, the character developments are rather ok. I had a hard time at first figuring out which Rosa and the others are who.
 
Also, the shortened title of this anime is known as Marimite. At first I thought what in the world is that. Sounds like some food supplement like Bovril that I took when I was younger. Then after some time, I realized that it is its abbreviated form. Silly me.
 
By the way, if you put Yumi and Sachiko side by side, don’t they remind you a little of Chiyo and Sakaki of Azumanga Daioh respectively? Hmm… Saw some webpage about that comparison. Yalah! A bit same lah, now that I think of it. And Yoshino reminds me a bit of Hanajima of Fruits Basket. Hmm…