It's time for more Maria-sama ga Miteru. It's now past new year’s and our lovely gang face a partial breakup in a not too distant future: the Rosas will graduate and soon move to universities of their choice.
First of all I'd like to say that this is not a sequel, but a second half, a second season of the show. It's strongly recommended you read my review of the first half of the show, watch it, and then read this one. Furthermore I'll keep this quite brief and only talk about the differences.
The show kicks off around new year’s before graduation, and we get to follow the characters as they prepare for it mentally and physically. It's depicted really well. We also are shown a good amount of background information on the Rosas, how they met, and how their past relationships have been. The show focuses a lot on Rosa Gigantea’s relationship with Shimako, as well as Sachiko and her relationship with Yumi.
There are some new characters introduced, which is only natural considering there are a lot of first year students entering the school, but this is where the pacing of the show breaks off and becomes a bit chaotic. After watching the past season, as well as the first few episodes of this season, I had gotten the impression that although many of the characters had time on screen, the main story would still be centered somewhat around Yumi and her relationship with the other characters. But when you have more than four consecutive episodes (out of a 13 episode series) dedicated to a completely different character then you really start to wonder whether that was actually the case. After these consecutive episodes the show moves on to a couple of other characters. The problem is that while these side stories are occurring, there is also a buildup of drama between other characters in the show as well. The lack of time dedicated to this buildup, however, made it seem less significant than it really was, due to the lack of time it was given on screen.
Admittedly, the above problem is probably a side effect of the script writers trying to animate the novels in a very limited timeframe. A lot of things happen in these novels, and they also feature a lot of side stories. Really, that's what so great about this series: it’s filled with side stories that help build the characters, and they never are boring. The problem is that it doesn't quite work in this case. I do understand that it's quite hard to leave out the side stories as they are filled with interesting things, but I think it could've been handled better.
I won't talk much about the ending. My only and largest gripe with it was that it felt fairly neglected as far as depth and buildup. It was acceptable and it worked, but given the quality of the rest of the show, I probably expected something much more grandiose. I can, however, understand why the script writer was quite desperate about getting certain things crammed into the end, as stopping before that point would've been a faux pas. Even so, a couple of more minutes would not have hurt.
The visuals haven't changed notably but stay the same way as in the last season with the character designs reminding me of Clamp with its pointy design. It still works well and there are some very detailed scenes at times. The animation stays consistent throughout the entire show and they still
manage to produce very pretty scenery, with the school as the main location. The
color palette also still uses the more yellowish style which reminded me
slightly of Hana Yori Dango. It works well and adds a less action
oriented tone to the show. As the show takes place during the spring, there are plenty of scenes with shrines and blooming sakura, as well.
The style is, once again, perfect for this show and I also came to like
the character designs a lot -- especially the details on the closeups.
The opening theme is sung this time, but still is not very exciting. The voice actors continue with their job of making the characters come to life, which is important in this kind of show. Everything in the soundtrack was fitting for the setting. The tunes were classical only, which I think is a good change from today’s synthesizer based all in one songs. Some of the tunes lack a little excitement, however, and feel like any other classical soundtrack piece.
With the show focusing heavily on a chosen set of main characters (even more than last season), we are able to experience an extraordinary amount of character depth, interaction and growth. The new characters who are introduced into the main story are also given the Marimite treatment with character buildup, a little peek into their past, etc. Yumi and Sachiko's relationship feels quite neglected in this second part of the show and I wanted more, though thankfully the show managed to return to its main roots later on.
Marimite Haru is a great drama/shoujo series that is very different from most of the other series out there today. It's rare to come by one of these. It's different in many ways: how it presents itself, how the story builds up, how the characters are introduced and the setting. Not to mention the interaction and depiction of what the characters think and why they act the way they do, which is superbly handled. The show is very slow paced, all events are given plenty of time to play out and nothing feels rushed at all. There is a very good dynamic between the events and the character growth. Some relationships have been left mostly in the dark, though, and that ruins some of the enjoyment.
While the show is based on an all girl’s high school and there is a tiny bit of romance occasionally, it's hardly something for those who are looking for a Yuri show. This is a show where the school uniforms are long skirted, fan service is kept at a minimum and the closest thing to intimacy you'll ever see is an innocent kiss. This is a show that people of both genders can enjoy without feeling disappointed. People who are looking for a good drama with excellent presentation of characters and an interesting slice of life story should definitely pick this up. This is a show I will rewatch in the future based on its good qualities mentioned above, and if you can read Japanese fluently then I enviously congratulate you, as you have the possibility of immersing yourself further into the show with the novels.
There is also a manga being released based on this series, and from what I've read the manga seems to stay quite true to the novels so far. Whether it will diverge and catch up to the story of Haru remains to be seen.