Maids Finally Make Sense, Kinda
I didn’t think I’d find Kaichou wa Maid-Sama all that interesting. It still isn’t great or anything, but I kinda liked it. Mainly because the whole “maid cafe” thing is portrayed in an interesting way. The girls aren’t maids because it’s supposed to be some exotic fantasy about male empowerment and female servitude. The girls are maids because they’re working a dead-end job to get by in life. I dig that.
The main girl doesn’t find her job to be some sort of mission in life or fantasy or whatever. She’s doing it because she can exploit her good looks and make extra cash for her single parent family. I like that the series isn’t trying to turn the maid cafe thing into some idealized nonsense, it’s just presenting it as the latest iteration of the whole “girl works crappy job to get by in life” stereotype. Seeing the maid cafe shtick lowered a few notches and turned into something mundane and boring is pretty satisfying.
I’m liking the two main characters as well. The main chick, Misaki, falls into your stereotypical shoujo slot, but she manages to come off fairly well. She’s determined to shape up her school’s image (if a little overzealous about it). She’s working hard to keep her family afloat. She’s pretty smart and physically able. When she has a moment of weakness (like when she passes out after being stressed out and harassed by some punks from her school) she gets right back up and gets back to being her confident, dedicated self.
The main due, Usui, plays like your typical shoujo love interest, but like Misaki he doesn’t come off as being thoroughly annoying and pandering. Yeah, he’s a pretty boy with a disinterested, nonchalant streak, and he’s smart and confident and physically able as well, but I’m liking how we’re not sure what his motivations are in terms of Misaki. He’s meant to be the love interest, but is he following her to the maid cafe and giving her knowing looks because he enjoys his position or power or because he’s genuinely interested in her? Maybe it’s a little of both, but I’m liking that they’re playing him out with some degree of ambiguity.
I’m also digging how they’re going to be played up as rivals just as much as they’re being set up as a couple. Again, that’s another typical shoujo element, but it’s one I happen to like. I’d love to see one of these series where they’re rivals and they don’t end up together (Like, they end up with other people or something.) but I’ll take it as-is.
How the series turns out depends largely on the series’ sense of humor. We didn’t see much of it in this first episode, so I’m not sure what to think at the moment. I liked the sister’s “trap” that she laid in the entry hall of their house and the way she sneakily went about after the fact, and I dug how Misaki ripped out that one punk’s earrings, so I’m hoping this is a sign of the series’ humor. If it keeps that sort of slightly nasty, schadenfreude-like humor, this could be a fun series.
I’ll likely check out a few more episodes.