I was somewhat annoyed in the first few episodes, the way the characters acted felt very forced (probably my culture-shock from regular to shoujo anime >_>). That feeling went away after a couple of episodes and I actually started caring for the characters.
The story is about a private school for girls, who have their own version of the Senpai / Kohai system, the "soeur" (French for sister) system, a much closer system in which the younger "sister" helps the older one out with minor tasks, and the older one takes the younger in her care. It follows Yumi, a freshman, as she gets involved with Sachiko, an upperclassman with a lot of status on the school.
It takes some time for this series to pick up, but once all relations have been settled, it becomes a very enjoyable, character-driven shoujo-ai anime.
Plot: "For the young women at the Lillian private school for girls, nothing is more prestigious than Rosa Sinensis, Rosa Gigantea, and Rosa Foetida, the beautiful and talented women who head the student council. When a young girl named Yumi's path is intertwined with Sachiko, a successor to the council, things will never be the same for the both of them. Maria-sama ga Miteru is a quiet tale of forbidden romance, friendship, and the everyday life of a school girl." (site synopsis)
Well before starting with the review i want to say some words about this anime.This is and it will be for a long time one of my favourite anime and top no.1 in my shoujo-ai anime list.I seen alot of shoujo-ai animes like Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, Aoi Hana, Strawberry Panic or Maria Holic but none of them reached the level of Maria-sama ga Miteru.
Story: For a long time I have been a fan of shoujo-ai shows, the show that introduced me for the first time in this genre was called Strawberry Panic, but the shoujo-ai level of that one can't be compared to the sweetness and innocence depicted in Maria-sama ga Miteru or as some people prefer to call it, Marimite. Strawberry Panic was obviously girls love, while this one maintains its pace and it involves a relationship more like between sisters rather than a love relationship between girls. Suffice to say, the yuri aspect (which is a more extreme version of the mild shoujo-ai) is present here but interferes randomly and rarely, and it does not have an important role in the events that occure during the development of this show. The story of this anime is centered on a high school girl named Fukuzawa Yumi who recently transfered to a private girls only school named Lillian (the school has alot of background detail so i believe it does exist in real life since the stuff presented were more like records/archives rather than imaginary details). Her first day at school begun in a special way, she crosses paths with one of the most popular girls in Lillian high school, Ogasawara Sachiko, Rosa Chinensis en bouton (a succesor of the current Rosa Chinensis, Mizuno Youko). Like the other roses (Rosa Gigantea aka Satou Sei and Rosa Foetida aka Torii Eriko) and roses en bouton she is a member in the Yamayurikai (the school's student council) and she was looking for a student that could become her petite soeur (petite soeur = little sister, french word, geh i so hate french but however i have some knowledge about it). Anyway in my opinion this anime doesnt have such a deep shoujo-ai/yuri aspect, we dont see love relationships between girls in this anime like in most of the yuri shows available we see mostly sister relationship since this one is more devoted to the slice of life aspect. The tradition in Lillian high school is something that for me seems new and unusual but very nice. A strong soeur relationship, the soeur sistem is used to strengthen the bonds and friendships between students, there is even a special ceremony, the senpai (upperclassman) gives the rosary to the kouhai (lowerclassman) and from that point a strong and special relationship is beeing born. The senpai helps the kouhai whenever she needs and in return the kouhai supports the senpai with whatever she can do. However in Yumi's case firstly she refuses the rosary which came from Sachiko but thanks to Sachiko's effort and with sacrifices made by both sides, in the end Yumi accepts the rosary and becomes Sachiko's petite soeur (the begining of one of the most interesting, captivating and cutest relationship). From that point Yumi also became an official member of the Yamayurikai. As the story develops the relationship between Yumi and Sachiko is tested and also we find out more stuff about the other Yamayurikai members. Well the story is very interesting, very well thinked (my respect to the author). The begining was abit frustrating and at that time some thoughts of dropping this anime came to my mind but after a short while i changed my mind and continued to watch it, wise decision indeed. This show has 4 seasons, and the characters presented during the first season (the Yamayurikai especially) are well developed, their personality is revealed, their nature, their passions, their good and bad points as well. Definitely a show that deserves alot of praises.
Animation and Sound: In terms of animation this anime is somewhere above average. Since it aired in 2004 we realy cant speak of a good quality animation like we have nowadays but still it is pretty well made and it fits the environment of the anime in a perfect way.The character designs are also great. The opening and ending songs are both classic type of songs (not realy my taste but they were listenable). The sound fits the anime environment 100% without failures and as well the background sounds. Even though the anime is actualy settled in a modern setting, the sound of the anime gives a more "old" aura to it and not an japanese feeling but rather an european feeling.
Characters: Well this is the most important part of this anime. The characters are extremely well made which fits the themes and the genres of this anime to the fullest. The good and bad parts of the characters are revealed which makes it seem very humanly, all characters are the same and there is no exception, no character comes with something unique or is different than the other (refering to superpowers or other shit like this which makes the differences between characters in the animes that has it as a main tag). The main focus of this anime is on the relationship of Yumi and Sachiko and how both of them struggle to understand each other and to accept both good and bad parts. Even though this two are soeurs they are very different in terms of behaveiour, social life and personality. Yumi is always having a hard time trying to explain her feelings to Sachiko due to her deep emational feelings and Sachiko who struggles to solve her insecurities and to show her feelings towards Yumi. In the end both of them will come to hurt eachother but the bound between this two is too strong to be broken so easy. Even though the main focuse is on them, there are episodes allocated for the side characters too such as the actual Rosa's, the other boutons and their soeurs, which covers every aspect of their life to the fullest. The first season might not cover all the characters (pointing especially at Toudou Shimako) but other characters such as Rosa Gigantea en bouton aka Hasekura Rei and her cousin and her sister at the same time Shimazu Yoshino.
Overall: As an overall this anime is very nice, it has a deep and captivating drama aspect also a warm romance aspect and the best of all shoujo-ai aspect given by the anime environment especialy.My suggestion is that if you like shoujo-ai/drama animes then this is the perfect hit for you.And also it is nice to see life-long relationships beeing formed it is realy touching.Every episode of this anime was interesting and i also point to the other seasons as well.
~Enjoy and Cya around~
Great series and looking forward to starting the next season. Very, pleasantly surprised at how good this was. Totally blew my expectations away. Honestly, I could still watch this if it was only about Sachiko and Yumi the entire time. The whole cast has interesting stories and they’re all not as perfect as they were first brought out to be. Very happy with the way this turned out. And the chibi shorts that I watched recapping the season were HILARIOUS. I couldn’t stop laughing in any of them, they were priceless.