Maria+Holic had a lot going for it. A zany premise, excellent character designs, a maid to kill for, a ridiculously attractive trap, an ecchi yuri lead to tie it together, and SHAFT/Shinbo to give it that touch of zaniness that only they can do. All the pieces were in place for an all-time epic comedy.
Did they deliver?
Sort of. I definitely enjoyed the show through and through, but I thought they missed some opportunities by making this more Kanako’s show versus Mariya’s show.
- The characters were great. Attractive, a little bit weird, but always interesting. The top spots go to my three stars:
1. Mariya. She’s beautiful, devious, sadistic, but with a little soft spot for those she cares for. And dammit, I keep referring to her using feminine pronouns. This is the true mark of a trap.
2. Matsurika, the greatest maid ever! Before, I would’ve given top maid honors to CG’s Sayoko, but Matsurika takes the cake. Behind her oh so cute looks, lies a sharp tongued, sadistic nature that rivals even Mariya’s. Plus, Mats will tell it like it is, even to her master. Brutally honest girls make me all dere dere.
3. Kanako. Always in character, always on the prowl, potential harem leaders can learn from her persistence, if not her anemia. But whether it’s cosplay angel time, or loliko swimsuit time, Kanako always keeps her eye on the ball.
- The music. From the real OP/ED to the made up songs, they were all hilariously quirky. The oft-kilt, but strangely artistic OP was probably my favorite OP of the season. The 8-bit video game-esque ED was probably my 2nd favorite ED (behind Trust You). And then you had some great songs during the show, best exemplified by Kanako’s cosplay angel song… which edges out Hosaka’s Curry Yousei song for the best random character song of the season.
- The randomness. SHAFT had been hit or miss for me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show. But I think without SHAFT occasional fits of complete randomness, Maria+Holic wouldn’t have been half as interesting as it was. At its heart, it’s probably the most straightforward, by the numbers comedy I’ve seen SHAFT take on. But like I mentioned earlier, SHAFT was able to provide that little touch of zaniness that provided just the right amount of spiciness for the show.
- Drama free! While, I wouldn’t have minded more Mariya development, I’m glad SHAFT decided not to go the 10 episodes of comedy, 2 episodes of forced, unnecessary drama route. Kudos to them. There’s nothing worse when the ecchi, fanservice comedy you’ve been watching suddenly inexplicably turns into a freaking Kurosawa drama – Asu no Yoichi, I’m looking at you)
- Shizu! What brilliance to allow us to revel in the beauty of Mariya, without having to worry about the unpleasant “side effects” of traphood.
- Not enough Mariya. Too much Kanako. Unfortunately, like I mentioned above, Mariya should’ve been the star of the show. She’s dynamic, unpredictable and always finds a way to be interesting. Meanwhile, Kanako is always in character. That’s both good and bad. It’s good, because you can count on her to deliver the scenes and reactions that you want to see. It’s bad, because she’s a fairly one-dimensional character. I mean, there’s only so many nosebleed jokes I can tolerate. Which brings me to…
- Beating a dead horse. I get it. Kanako needs some noseplugs. If there’s a second season – which I hope there is – the writers need to find a new horse to beat on. Because by the end of the show, Kanako was engulfing the whole world in nose blood. I’m pretty certain she’s tapped her reservoir of nose blood dry for at least several future seasons.
Overall though, it was a fun ride. It didn’t turn out to be the classic I’d hoped for, but there wasn’t a single episode where I didn’t find one thing or another to be amusing. If there’s a second season in the works, bring it on, I say. I just hope the writers recognize that this is Maria+Holic, not Kanako+Holic, although a spinoff Matsurika+Holic would be even more welcome.