Title: Maria Holic
Summary: Maria Holic revolves around a lesbian high school girl, Kanako Miyamae, who is scared of boys and breaks out in hives if a boy touches her. During her second year of high school, she enrolls in an all-girls school hoping to find a female romantic partner. However, her ideal candidate, Mariya Shidō, turns out to be a sadistic cross-dressing boy.
Review: I started to watch this series after watching the preview of Maria Holic Alive (airing Spring 2011) because it just looked that amazing. From the rating you can probably tell that it didn’t disappoint. The standard length twelve episode comedy had above standard humor. From crossing dressing sadists to pools of blood (cause by nosebleeds of course) this series had it all. Maybe I’m a little wrong in the head, but watching poor Kanako getting tormented episode after episode never got old. I was actually looking forward to all the new ways Shidou could possibly make her first semester at Ame no Kisaki worse. Let’s be honest though, with the amount of blood she has lost being surrounded by beautiful, graceful women I doubt she is regretting any of it.
I don’t think I need to say this, but I will anyway, SHAFT did an amazing job with the art production. Pumping in the funds to make yet another visual masterpiece has become a SHAFT standard and I tip my hat to them. Maria Holic went above and beyond with details, quick scene switches, and facial expressions. The opening was mind blowing because of its simple yet complex visuals. The art had resemblances to the series and also tied in some CG. I loved the use of solid colors and contrasting backgrounds. I could praise this anime’s art more but I’m sure after my previous SHAFT production reviews I’ve already stuffed my opinions down your brain’s throats. *Warning bold statement ahead* SHAFT makes it so their anime can be entertaining from the art alone, like Avatar, except I actually care about the story too.
The entire series was a laugh, much like Baka to Test. The use of a lesbian protagonist was quite a refresher. Normally anime tend to have a guy “secretly hiding” in an all girls school, for it is every guys dream. Now of course there was a hidden male in this pool of women, but he doesn’t have any romantic or sexual situations many men fantasies about. Instead the main character seems to be living the dream and still socially acceptable because she isn’t revealing her obvious dirty little secret of lesbianism. One of the biggest pluses I gave the anime was pointing on the fact Kanako loses a lot of blood from nosebleeds or general mishaps. Actually integrating that into the story made it much better. Because let’s be honest, if you were standing next to someone who had a fountain of blood coming out of their nose you’d be quite concerned for their well being. Having the characters believe she is a weak girl from constantly fainting from blood loss made the series more interesting. The comedy was rich and random which some may not like. The series had a basic timeline, but for the most part I would say that it is episodic. I don’t think I’d be lost if I joined in half way through the series. I was also very surprised that the series didn’t die to ecchi despite the perverted outline. I was half expecting every episode to be filled with panty shots, breasts, or at least bloomers (don’t worry it has all of that just not in painful amounts). I can’t say I have any real complaints about the storyline; it just wasn’t a edge-of-your-seat gripper that would earn it a higher score. Considering I watched the roughly eight episodes in one sitting though should say enough. As a comedy I would say it is solid and definitely toward the top of its genre. However, as an anime in general it isn’t quite to the “drop everything to watch” status.
The characters were another great thing about Maria Holic. I mentioned before that I liked the main character for being unique (in the sense she is a girl pervert instead of a guy), and that she had some great scenes. The voice actors were also amazing. I loved the various voices and how well they fit with the characters’ personalities. Speaking of personalities, as a harem-ish anime they were bound to have them all. The tsundere, moe, etc. were all present in Maria Holic. I liked that didn’t overdo any one character’s personality. For example, there was no cute girl who literally blasted a ray of cute wherever she was present. The differences were subtle and effective to create a variety of characters that didn’t overwhelm you in any one area. One of my personal favorites was Dorm Mistress/Boss/God. Her cute and devilish character set always brought a smile to my face. I never knew whether to pinch her cheeks and say “D’awwww” or cower in fear. A lil’ from column A, a lil’ from column B to make a happy medium I suppose. Of course I liked just about every character in the series, but she reined above the rest despite her tiny stature
In terms of music, Maria Holic wasn’t bad. The gospel songs were fitting for a Catholic school, and the opening was a blast of excitement. I already talked about how I enjoyed the openings art style, but the song is something to be noted as well. The quick paced beat paved way to all the random comedy ahead. It was coherent enough to make sure you understood what was going on, but still left you with a “What just happened?” feeling in the end. It fit perfectly with the anime having an edgey sound that sounded a little dirty. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending though, partly because I was dying to watch the next episode, and I didn’t quite like the autotuning. Though better than most pop stars out today and understanding that it was trying to sound like it was from a video game, it wasn’t my thing. I think I listened to the full ending once or twice for the sake of reviewing, but no more than that.
Final statements: The strange plot may seem unappealing to some, but I would personally check it out. I burned through the first season and anxiously waiting for the second in Spring 2011. I consider this a high priority watch, which is rare for a comedy, because it kept my interest the whole way through. The art was superb, the storyline was interesting, the characters were fun, and the soundtrack was pretty decent. I’m tempted to check out the manga as well in hopes to see further romantic development. Or just more tormenting. 50-50 really.