Mayo Chiki is the story of boobs...I mean a love story intricately crafted around a unique premise. I mean a bare bones romance/drama/comedy about a guy butler who is actually a girl and has romantic time with the guy who discovered she was a girl.
Based on a light novel series (which should be a given for any anime I've reviewed lately), this show is not as bare bones as I previously stated, but doesn't innovate in any way. It's a very likeable anime that isn't bogged down by anything but it's sheer use of cliches.
Mayo Chiki is the story of a girl named Konoe Subaru. She is a butler, but as a butler she must pretend to be a man due to some sort of familial something-or-other. Her mistress is amazingly rich because her father is the head of the schools, which apparently pays well enough in Japan to allow them to own a mansion, two butlers, two maids, a limousine, and a private hospital. On top of this, the mistress doesn't have to wear a school uniform because she's too rich and good for that. Then again, Konoe the butler guy/girl gets to wear her butler clothes around school as well.
Anyway, Jirou, a typical high school boy with gynaphobia (I'm sure you can figure out what this means on your own) enters the stall with Konoe in it (she has to use the men's room as she is pretending to be a guy) and he sees her cute panties. Thinking her to be a perverted male, there's a fight and before we know it, with just a simple shove, her butler shirt unbuttons and Jirou is groping her breasts.
So now he must protect her secret that she is a female and he ends up going on crazy misadventures with her and her mistress. The mistress and Konoe seem to be falling for him, and they both try to cure his gynaphobia.
While the story is an original premise, it enters the obligatory anime romance/drama cliches:
-Hot spring episode
And we all know what this means! FAN SERVICE! And while it doesn't really hit panty territory (we see them off the girl a couple times and on the girl once) it provides gratuitous breastage and lots of thighs. These episodes in no way innovate upon the basic formula that we've come to expect of episodes such as these, but they are funny and don't come across as totally cliche.
So most of the story revolves around the romance between Jirou and Konoe, and it does focus on some other characters who they become friends with along the way. Meanwhile, the whole school thinks Jirou is gay with Subaru since nobody has yet to figure out he's a she.
The plot never exactly does anything totally exciting, it just provides the basic skeletal outline for a decent romance/comedy. Nonetheless, it does it well enough that you keep watching it and want to see what happens next.
How can anyone resist?
The animation is good. Characters look good and cute and all that. Backgrounds look nice. The ambiance of the show is very bright most of the time, a lot of bright colors really helping make the show easy on the eyes. The animation is also smooth. It's not really, really fantastic animation, but it is pretty good.
A theme song that is good. An ending song that is meh. Music in the middle that is okay. The characters voice actors are all good and once again, I don't have a lot to really talk about in this section.
A wild tsundere character has started sparkling like Edward Cullen!
This is where I really find my personal tastes being at odds with my critic tastes. Konoe is awesome, says one side of me. The other side tells me that she's good, but not that great. They are combating each other and I think I'm going to choose my personal tastes over that of my critic. I loved Konoe. She wasn't the most emotionally riveting character in anime, not in the slightest, but she was a good character who was different from most anime girls. She was likeable in her want to protect and serve her mistress as a boy, but also likeable as a girl who really had no friends and met Jirou and was falling for him. The romance between the two is compelling because of this strange scenario and is the only reason it really works.
Jirou himself, as our main protagonist, is merely okay. His ginaphobia is funny and he certainly is entertaining, but he's cookie cutter minus the ginaphobia. His sister is the same, cookie cutter and not really compelling. There is a typical tsundere girl who rides on a moped and isn't all that exciting.
But the mistress is also a good character. While at first she seems like a bad guy with ill intentions, she slowly grows on you and you see that she truly is a good guy. I personally feel she had some romantic ideas about Jirou, but the series doesn't really pass beyond the stage where characters admit to each other. It's all implied.
Mayo Chiki is entertaining and provides two cool characters, but is an otherwise fairly basic specimen. One thing I noticed is two instances where it had some promotion for Aria the Scarlet Ammo seemingly. There is a poster in the background of one episode, and one character dresses as Aria. I guess the same studio did these two anime? The animation is somewhat similar. It also brings up a great comparison:
There are anime out there that are not good story-wise or character-wise but are nonetheless really fun to watch, entertaining. As a critic, I am usually thought of as that guy who reviews based on how good everything is. If everything is excellent, then it gets a ten, but when there are a lot of inadequate things, it gets something less than five.
That's not true with me. I do base my scores on how good the story, animation, sound, and characters are, but I also base it on something I can't explain in paragraph form under a header: entertainment value.
Now let me explain that comparison I've been getting at:
Mayo Chiki, just like Aria, has a lot of faults, but it is entertaining. That's the bottom line.
Mayo Chiki rates a 5/10.