Kanako Miyamae hates boys so much that she breaks out into hives after any physical contact with them. So when she is able to transfer to the Ame no Kisaki Girl’s school, Kanako is overjoyed that she can now search for her fated yuri partner. When she arrives, Kanako meets Shidou Mariya, a beautiful young girl who is exactly her type... except that Mariya is really a sarcastic and sadistic young boy who is masquerading as a girl! With no intention of being expelled from school, Mariya threatens Kanako into keeping his secret, and decides to guard her twenty-four hours a day to ensure that she does. Now Kanako must share a room with Mariya who is gleefully making her life a misery while using his ‘feminine’ charms to stop her protesting. Throw into the mix Ryuuken, the most popular girl in school who has vowed to protect her; and Kiri - who claims they are dating to prevent her from being bullied - and it seems as if Kanako’s dream of all-girl school life will be nothing like she imagined!
StoryOne theme of ecchi that has never really appealed to me is traps; young, beautiful boys dressing as girls to deceive those around them and cause some utterly hilarious situations. Personally speaking, I like my girls with no padding in the mammary department or for them to be brandishing a “surprise inside”. And so it was with more than a little trepidation that I embarked on Maria Holic – a show that has long been a favourite with certain members of Club ISSUP (The International Study of Something Umm Perverted) because of what has been described as a “delicious trap”. Telling the story of Kanako, Maria Holic’s delicate setting of a Catholic school for girls instantly put me in mind of Maria-sama ga Miteru. Thankfully, Holic instead quickly cements its name in perverted comedy as the hapless protagonist reveals her true nature via a somewhat unique reaction to a jaw droppingly stunning shoujo. As frequently occurs in ecchi anime, this leads to an unexpected twist that sets this show apart from others in the genre. Instead of the overly done harem or tiresomely vapid heroine, the writers instead choose to make the most desirable female a cross dressing megalomaniac. Cross the fact that poor Kanako is wrestling against her overtly yuri feelings against an allergy to males, and you quickly realise that the blend of dark humour works wonders. In an effort to keep this joke from becoming tired, Kanako’s over the top nose bleed reactions are compounded by a classroom packed by a bevy of stereotypical typecasts; the bespectacled bookworm, little miss "ditzy but kind" and the skilful sports star all tickle our heroines fancy on regular occasions. Sadly, it is these once comical immense exsanguinations that are killed by the aggressive repetition. In my mind, the rapid expulsion of blood from a male character is representative of a sudden surge of blood to the head (if you know what I mean). As Kanako is lacking a one-eyed trouser snake, this initially funny joke results in questioning whether the writers have tried to be a little too clever with this little quip and resulted in completely missing the net. Disregarding this one lack of judgement, the show's primarily episodic approach works well. The storyline easily flits between perverted swimsuit antics at the swimming pool and adventures of the adorably sinister dorm mistress named God. As time progresses, the flow of dark humour permeates every pore of this surprisingly amusing show but sadly seems to lack drive as it loses all momentum by the time it reaches a pointless cliff-hanger ending. At its best, Maria Holic is extremely reminiscent of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei: the non-stop flow of inner monologues and angst-ridden teen years flow by effortlessly with much mirth from the viewer. Lacking the same exclusive Japanese driven humour of the latter, Maria Holic is an easy going flirtation with a titillating blend of comedy and ecchi that will definitely tickle the fancy of many an otaku.AnimationOnce again, parallels can be drawn with Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei in the art department; boldly drawn cartoonish characters are lovingly rendered with garishly complex patterns and designs. Although not quite as deliciously obnoxious as futuristic Gankutsuou, the crazy palette composition strangely works for the modern day Maria Holic; girls sparkle and glow as they become the latest object of Kanako’s affections, occasionally being turned into a shimmering stained glass piece of artwork in homage to the show's Catholic setting. The sparing use of CG finds its way into some unusual scenes, such as the fantastically crazy opening credits – I have to say, the sight of a maid’s ample bosom being freed from her apron never looked so good!SoundInitially breaking out with an upbeat and funky opening track, the musical score throughout Maria Holic is catchy and boogie-liciously addictive. The closing track is an electro-beat ditty that is impossible to get out of your head once it works its way in there, and the ambient background tunes are pleasant on the ear. Thankfully, the voice acting is also up to par, with each of the seiyuu turning out a stellar performance. From the lovelorn Kanako to the creepy yet innocent dorm mistress, it seems that the casting department were on a roll the day of the auditions. Worthy of a mention is Yu Kobayashi, whose vocal talents bring the gender confused Mariya to life; flitting between her girlishness when public facing, the change to a gruff male is seamless and only goes to enhance the curiously mischievous side of our beloved cross dresser.CharactersStarting with the best of the bunch, the troublesome pairing of Mariya and Matsurika is an absolute pleasure to watch. Their relentless bullying and manipulation of weaker personalities that surround them is both genius and cringe worthy at the same time. Mariya’s gender deception sees his inspired plotting at its best: playing both a delicate flower carefully picking her way through life and an insensitive despot who lives to prove his supremacy over the lesser beings in life, he wears each persona as easily as a mask. On the other hand, Matsurika is happy to play the deadpan sidekick to her master, only getting caught up in the merciless scheming when ordered to. Her cold, almost robotic facade never slips, thus making her intriguing to follow onscreen. Unfortunately, the main protagonist does not come across quite as well. Kanako starts off as a mildly likable character, but her unwavering attraction to the fairer sex quickly plummets from being amusing and quirky to gut-wrenchingly dull. Setting out with so much promise, she quickly becomes nothing but a two dimensional, stereotypical pervert. Although this does keep the show moving along at times and can be very funny, it just seems a little too over the top to be used and amplified as the episodes roll by.OverallOverall, Maria Holic is a delightfully different mismatch of genres; from schoolgirl angst to black comedy, yuri fantasy to surprisingly sexy cross dressing, the bizarre combinations work well. Although far from being perfect, the series wields enough charm to keep the viewer entertained for all twelve episodes. If you harbour even a smidgen of curiosity about pretty females packing heat, then this show is less of a guilty pleasure and more of a stupendous introduction to the fascinating world of lady boys. Comparing it to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, it feels like a lighter version that includes a lot more boobies and far fewer in jokes aimed at the native Japanese audience – perfect for those who like a substantial handful of mindless pleasure with their entertainment.
Maria-Holic is a 12 episode romantic comedy, ecchi pseudo-harem anime with themes of cross-dressing and same gender relationships. Off the bat, this sounds like an idea that will fall apart from inevitable anime pitfalls, a boy pretending to be a girl in an all-girl school being paired with a yuri girl who hates men so much, she can’t even touch one. Psuedo harem refers to it being neither a traditional harem nor reverse-harem, more a mix of the two. It’s all or nothing for this one. I wish I was able to do my drunk marathons, this would have been perfect for it. I’ll also detail my dislike for ecchi, harem and pointless pervy fan-service, please take this into account when reading my reviews. No review is perfectly unbiased and opinion creeps in, even sub-consciously. Animation Oh my word… was this anime made in recent years? Because it certainly looks a whole lot better in quality than the other 2009 anime I’ve seen so far. Of course, 1080p is the definitive way to watch this and do the efforts of the animators any justice. The lines are well defined, the colours are on-point and even the 3D in the intro didn’t fall into the trap of being terrible. The sheer high-production quality is on the level of what one would expect from a movie, I’m shocked they could even do this in a 12 episode anime in 2009. The style is mostly generic for the most part as far as character designs go. It’s a bit ‘girly’ and ‘ojou-sama’ for the most part. Thus it gives me the impression that this is meant to be aimed at girls. The overall animation style is another matter entirely. Good use of other styles when it comes to facial expressions and comedic scenes. Nice camera angles and finally an amazing use of colour and artistic design for good many scenes. They literally put in ‘artwork’ between scene transmissions and the like. The intro and outro ooze creativity, the outro is done in a purposefully pixelated manner. But enough praises sung, this anime unfortunately falls into the big pitfall when it comes to this genre of anime. Granted not too deep. There is some ecchi and vulgarity, some of it being merely referred to. The main character is a major pervert, it’s like she’s constantly possessed by the most lecherous adolescent boy. Granted she doesn’t exactly go around groping everyone and feeling them up, but she does shamelessly grab Mariya’s crotch in one scene. There is quite the bit of groping of breasts and bums, especially as the main character is said to be ‘big’. Thankfully not in an unrealistic way. There’s a bit of abuse, in episode 1, a girls clothes are forcible torn from her body to expose her breasts, this is also kinda done in the intro too, but there it can be excused for the context. There’s threats of rape and such, which is a bit unsettling, but I guess it’s meant only as a threat in a light-hearted manner. A shame the wonderful animation style is let down by pointless pervy nonsense, even if it does make sense with the main character being a shameless pervert. At least it’s not as bad as it could have been, in the words of Monty Python: “Always look on the bright side of life.” Sound The intro music is decent, but the outro music stood out whole lot more. While it does have that synth-voice which many folks aren’t fond of (myself included), it wasn’t affected badly and I enjoyed it so much that I felt like getting the soundtrack, which also relies on whether the rest of the music is similarly amazing. Which it is good, the soundtrack of the anime itself is used rather well and the high production value of this anime shows here too. There’s some variety in the music used, mostly instrumental but we do get those ‘chuckle’ tunes for the funny scenes. Overall, it’s good. This anime is available in both English and Japanese and while I’d usually say shame on AP for not listing the English voice actors, this is one exception. I usually watch anime in English dub if available, but this was one case where I decided against it for some good reasons. Season 2 is Japanese only and while I hate the whole sub vs dub wars, this is one anime which I found the Japanese voices to be more suitable than the English. The voice actor for one particular character was key, the choice wasn’t as good in the English version. Heck it was a very convincing voice, while the English version couldn’t fool me. Apologies to those who enjoy dubs more, but I’m on the fence and this time I fell on the side of the sub. However, as usual I’ll detail the English VAs and leave the Japanese VAs for the sequel’s review, I’d already written it out for this, but I’ll save a copy. I will say that the language used in this anime was particularly harsh and purposefully offensive, so be wary. Edit: I discovered that season 2 is also available in English?!? There goes my argument of no season 2 dub. I’ll still watch the sub though Kanako Miyamae is voiced by Jessica Calvello, her only notable roles being Hanje Zoe in Attack on Titan and Excel in Excel Saga. Mariya Shidou was recognised as Monica Rial’s voice, starring in roles such as Misuzu Kamio in Air, Chane Laforet in Baccano, Chihiro Shindou in Ef: a Tale of…, Kanae in Elfen Lied, Lyra in FMA, Sayara Yamanobe in Mnemosyne, Tsubaki in Soul Eater, Coopa in Tower of Druaga, Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle, Hazuki in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase, Maria in Witchblade and Haru Nishimura in Xam’d: Lost Memories (she’s in flipping everything). Matsurika Shinouji is voiced by Caitlynn French, the only other notable role being Miyu Edelfelt in Fate Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya (such a long name, I’m abbreviating it next time). Ryuuken Ishima is voiced by Beth Lazarou, who hasn’t been in very many anime. Nanami Kiri is voiced by Carli Mosier, who has voiced Sanae Mizuno in Another, Akira Yoshii in Baka to Test, Yuko Amamiya in Ef: a Tale of…, Rin Tohsaka in Fate KLP Illya and Wilhelmina Carmel in Shakugan no Shana. Sachi Momoi is voiced by Magaret McDonald, who has voiced in minor roles in anime I’m familiar with or larger roles in anime I’ve not watched. Yuzuru Inamori is voiced by Shannon Emerick, the unnamed ‘robot’ in Clannad, Kei Kishimoto in Gantz, Yuuichi Aizawa (young) in Kanon 2006, Hinokimaru/Shidara in Xam’d: Lost Memories and Engi Threepiece in Yumekui (Dream Eater) Merry. The dorm mistress is voiced by none other than Brittney Karbowski, known for roles including Yuri in Angel Beats, Yukari Sakuragi in Another, Ryou Fujibayashi in Clannad, Kiko Kayanuma in Darker the Black, Kei Shindou in Ef: a Tale of… (we got both sisters here it seems), Miyako Komagusu in Ghost Hound, Ayu Tsukimiya in Kanon 2006, Black Star in Soul Eater, Kanon Nakagawa in The World God Only Knows, Henaro in Tower of Druaga and Isana Tachibana in Yumekui Merry. Touichirou Kanae is voiced by Illich Guardiola (yay, finally a guy!), he has voiced Katsumi Matsunaga in Another, Yusuke Yoshino in Clannad, Shuichi Kuze in Ef: a Tale of…, Masaru Kato in Gantz, Masato Kaibara in Ghost Hunt, Jinichirou Nishimura in Xam’d Lost Memories and Chris Evergreen in Yumekui Merry. Characters The protagonist here is the high school girl Kanako Miyamae, a perverted lesbian who is also so androphobic (fear of men) that she breaks out in hives (red spots related to allergies on her skin). She has newly transferred into Ame no Kisaki. This is similar to the trope gynophobiac which are usually in such anime, except with the gender’s reversed. Kanako herself is a big girl, both in terms of height and breast size. She doesn’t appear to stand out too much in terms of beauty, but rather she is the one gawking at other girls and getting nosebleeds. She is constantly getting nosebleeds from thinking pervy things about other girls, her lesbianism is her weakness and is what is being abused by Mariya to keep her mouth closed about the secret. Similarly, Kanako is a bit too embarrassed to come out of the closet. She’s not too smart and tends to be much like the trope shoujo heroine, clumsy, always getting into trouble and not being able to think her way around things. Her big reason for coming to Ame no Kisaki was to find a girl to fall in love with. The thing is, she’s physically attracted to Mariya who looks ‘hot’ as a girl, but she knows is really a strange guy. A conundrum… Mariya Shidou is the crossdressing transgender boy, who is junior to Kanako and the grandchild of the school’s late director. He has an outward appearance of a privileged, popular ojou-sama. His reasons for cross-dressing are unknown, but he wants to keep it a secret and is aggressive in this endeavour. This guy is sadistic and pretty damn messed up, his threats against Kanako are extreme to say the least. Of course, Mariya has two personalities, the ‘true’ cruel and hateful boy parading around as a girl and on the other hand the perfect honour student, popular among all, smart (good at everything) and pretty girl. Heck one of his fiendish desires is to be the prettiest girl in school, he enjoys cosplay and he’s competitive with his cross-dressing against the real deal! He doesn’t get along with the student council president Ayari Shiki, who has more ‘voluptuous’ curves than him (duh, he’s a guy!) and is very competitive with them. He appears to be kind to Kanako at times, but this is really just to forward his own agenda and to increase his popularity among the students. His pigtails tend to twitch at times, which looks funny and cute, but then feels creepy when one remembers he’s actually a guy. Matsurika Shinouji is Mariya’s personal maid and about the only other person who knows that ‘she’ is really a ‘he’. She is also a fellow student, but that isn’t revealed till late on. The perfect match, only because Matsurika is equally as abusive and sadistic as Mariya, she freely insults both her master as a ‘tranny’ and Kanoko as a lesbian. Despite her negative demeanour, she is surprisingly co-operative with her master’s plans and doesn’t mind being used to blackmail Kanoko into keeping her mouth shut. Matsurika is also responsible for clothing Mariya, she even deals with his fake breasts, especially since Mariya is too ‘privileged’ (full of himself) to put on his clothes by himself, such that he needs a maid to do it for him! Ryuken Ishima is a third-year student at Ame no Kisaki and is the trope ‘princely’ girl who is the target of the infatuations of most of the other girls (“notice me senpai!”). To the point where girls will literally bully whichever lucky lady gets to be her room-mate (resulting in her never usually having a room-mate). Of course, it goes without saying that her popularity exceeds that of any other girl in school and Kanako still pervs over her no problem. She is kind to all and obviously blind to the bullying that goes on behind her back, until she decides to become Kanako’s knight in shining armour. She tends to be blind of the things going on around her and feels that she must try her best to prevent others from getting hurt because of her. Unfortunately these two facts combined, result in her trying hard to protect Kanako and ending up making things worse. Nanami Kiri is the girl with the glasses, if there were tropes, then she’d be the serious girl with the glasses. She seems to be very observant and aware of the things going on around her and of course Kanako has the hots for her. Imagine the surprise when she asks Kanako out in order to help protect her from any folks being mean to her. Turns out that Nanami is a strange girl too, she doesn’t have any friends because she is a bit cold and callous, she’s almost stoic. She cannot understand others and neither is she capable of empathy. Sachi Momoi and Yuzuru Inamori are Kanako’s two good friends and are always trying to help her out. Sachi is the typical smallish girl, always bright cheerful and full of ideas. Yuzuru is the quiet and traditional looking girl, only because she’s always in her archery uniform (a sort of yukata-like thing) and is the gentle type. These two are best friends and are always hanging out with each other, Yuzuru is easily worried about Sachi. The Dorm Mistress, is a creepy girl who always is found hanging around with her dog Yonakuni. She’s small and seemingly very young, but she seems to have actual cat ears and her real age is a mystery. How is this character creepy? She’s exceptionally strict with rules of the dorm, yet she allows them to be broken, almost on her own cruel biased whims. This usually never works in the favour of Kanako though. She’s always cleaning and is unrealistically thorough with room inspections, she is able to see past the sneaky and ingenious methods of hiding forbidden items (which includes porn*, make up and games consoles). She likes things with a tragic history, so virtual boys are an exception to the prior rule. Overall, she’s just as much a bitch as Mariya and her personal interests get in the way of the overall plot. Ayari Shiki is the student council president, an ojou-sama, both beautiful ad charismatic. This woman has voluptuous curves, which of course trigger Kanako to have nosebleeds. Ayari is actually Mariya’s cousin and has enmity with Mariya. The two seem to hate each other, Mariya probably cos he’s a dick, but Ayari’s hate is due to a ‘panda-related’ incident that occurred in their childhood. Apparently she was once friends with him. She’s surprisingly nice and kind for her character type, very passive besides her hate towards Mariya. She is always being followed around by her beautiful second in command, Maki Natsuru. Honoka Tsutsui is Kanako’s classmate, a mischevious girl who bullies Kanako for appearing to be close to her crush Ryuken-senpai. She likes to use marine products to pull her pranks for some odd reason and is part of the Ryuken fan club. While she does seem to often treat Kanako very badly, in truth she feels a bit guilty about it. Heck, she’s really a bit tsundere and now it’s got me wondering, does she really have a crush on Kanako instead? Thought about how on earth Mariya is able to get past physical exams being a guy? Thought it’s a damn shame he’s not really a girl in disguise? Then his twin sister Shizu Shidou is for you! Ugh… I’ve complained about the impossibility that identical twins can’t be of different genders before, but since its fiction, I guess anything is possible? Plot armour, flying robots, why not heterogeneous identical twins? Shizu Shidou is also cross-dressing as a boy and attending Ame no Kisaki’s twin school, the boy version whose name I can’t remember. Turns out that Shizu and Mariya don’t get along, unfortunately it happens to be Mariya who comes out on top. Because of this, she hates boys and being in an all-boys school must be torture for her. She’d probably get along well with Kanako, heck I’m wondering why the two weren’t in cahoots? The stranger things is that Mariya has a maid to help him, but Shizu doesn’t have one at all, not even a butler. Unfortunately Shizu just happens to be an excuse for a character, one who exists for the simple sake of convenience and one who isn’t explained or fleshed out properly, leading to some major plot issues. *what girl would have porn?!?! Oh wait… the stuff that Mariya uses to prank… is he gay or something too? Story Kanako Miyamae has newly transferred to Ame no Kisaki, a catholic missionary girls-only school, with highly Christian ideals. This is the same school her mother attended and fell in love with her father, who was a teacher. Her mother has since died after giving birth to Kanako and her two sisters. In the very first episode Kanako finds out that Mariya is a boy and Mariya figures out that Kanako is a lesbian. That is the full extent of the story. There is no actual plot here and the anime itself actively pursues this lack of narrative. It makes fun of it and attempts to use it as a comedic tool. It might as well be slice of life, besides a few relationships (friendships) being established at the very start, nothing actually happens, it’s essentially 90% filler. The various characters make attempts at holding back any atom of narrative progression, either with their ineptitude or their vicious sadism. The surprising thing is, that this even manages to turn out to be a very predictable anime, the cynic in me read the upcoming events like a book. There are many plot-holes and flaws with the plot, such as the reason behind the cross-dressing and the actions of the characters at times. If a viewer had any hope for story, the conclusion (ending) brings that hope out, dangles a carrot in front of it and shoots the remaining life out of said hope. Watch the ending… you’ll understand. So what is there? It is a pseudo-harem, the female lead being the ‘centre’ of this all female harem. With the exception of Mariya and a teacher who appears in the last 2 episodes, there are no actual male characters in this anime. It follows the trope harem through and through, except with even less attempts at ‘romance.’ It concluded the usual harem route of, nothing happens. Next up there’s the cross-dressing. Mariya hates cross-dressing and we eventually find out why he has to do it. What a shoddy excuse, I’d make the complaint about lack of realism, but this is fiction after-all. Where anything can happen, even that which doesn’t make any sense. There’s some abuse concerning the cross-dressing from Matsuri. There’s also the terrible depiction of Kanako’s homosexuality. Not only is her perversion exaggerated, to the extent where she gets nosebleeds so bad she’s hospitalised, but she also suffers abuse from the few people who know her sexuality, thereby reducing her confidence to openly admit it. Not only that, but it seems that this anime aims to change her sexuality. It’s almost as if it’s condemning homosexuality. Not so surprising considering how Japanese media tends to depict homosexuality. Is it right to do this for fiction and comedy? I’m not entirely sure. There’s an awful lot of bullying here, of course it’s charged with comedy to justify its presence. I personally didn’t find too much of this anime funny, or I did until the jokes got a bit old. I’ll also add that I despise this whole nosebleeds during arousal idea that seems to infest such anime. Having suffered nosebleeds myself, I can say that it has nothing to do with pervy nonsense. Neither does it cause such blood loss that one is knocked unconscious. It annoys me, and this is probably just my opinion. Conclusion This anime had promise. The animation and music were great. The characters were initially interesting, but eventually got on my nerves for actively hindering the already non-existent story. Plus the characters who were cruel, never got their comeuppance. Surprisingly, the anime actually managed to hold my attention all the way. If it had an actual plot, it would have been good. Alas, this is a close fail. Besides my negative opinion of this anime, who would this anime be recommended for? I’d say harem fans, but this seems even less than that. If you like to laugh at alternate sexuality and purposeful hindrance of plot, if you enjoy sadists getting their way, find it funny to see bullying in a comedic light, then perhaps you might like this. The good or bad news is that this has a sequel. Dare one hope for plot? Yet the strangest thing about this anime was that it wasn’t boring nor do I feel like getting rid of it. On occasion, especially earlier on, I did laugh at the jokes, though they did get old and annoying quickly. I’m regretting not being able to drunk marathon this anime, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more. I miss those marathons… now I’m reminded that I’m not in a situation where I have the capability to drunk marathons. Life has its up… and its downs. This anime may just symbolise that, starting off strong and falling flat as it concludes. Especially that ending, as someone who loves intricate plotlines, that was just a slap in the face and a reminder that hope is pointless. I’ve learnt my lesson, I won’t expect plot in the sequel and I’ll try to bring booze to be able to enjoy it more. A shame, it is possible to have an actual interesting plot about LGBT and have good comedy at the same time, but this anime ain't it. Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Offensive language, themes and ideas (lower is better) Overall Rating: 5/10 (higher is better)
If you are thinking about watching this DONT its pretty bad honestly and its impressive it has such a high rating if you dont like yuri stuff then do yourself a favor and dont watch this if you dont like bastard characters who are borderline abusive and awful dont watch this my main hate for this series stems from the mariya guy hes downright horrible although some people may find his actions justified or funny they really are mest up to such a degree were its disgusting and repulsive for example constantly insulting or threatening people or pouring gasoline on kanako( I think that's her name) is just not cool then saying he will set her on fire and not even in a joking way is not funny then rinse and repeat I stomached all twelve episodes of this assholes deeds and that all just ruined it for me. Yes kanako is a huge pervert but her being a pervert was the only reason I actually forced myself to watch this garbage and just so u guys know im not taking Any sides I feel nothing against yuri as well as Im not a fan of it. So at the end there really is not much of a story to it and the animation is basic and its one of those poorly made Anime but there are a few catalyst that make it worse such as mariya and his jackass made and the constant bullying of kanako because thats just what it is bullying its not even a trope so at the end I will try to warn you against watching might even ask you nicely not to. Well thats the end of this review!
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