Maria Watches Over Us Season 4

Alt title: Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th

TV (13 eps)
3.904 out of 5 from 1,197 votes
Rank #1,432

Lillian Girls’ Academy is about to have its school festival, and members of the student council are preparing for the event. As per tradition the yamayurikai are putting on a play with the help of the nearby Hanadera boys’ school, and this year Yumi and her brother Yuki are playing the lead roles. While it is hoped that all will go without a hitch, problems arise when Kanako’s hatred of men leads her to become unhappy with her participation, and Touko quits the drama club following a disagreement with a senpai. With Yumi attempting to resolve her juniors’ situations, she finds she has no time to plan for the anniversary of becoming Sachiko’s petite soeur; though all she can think about is her impending need to find a soeur of her own once the festival ends. Once Yoshino decides to hold an audition to find her younger sister, will Yumi be able to use this situation to finally decide upon a petite soeur of her own?

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This is a cumulative review for the 4 seasons of Maria Watches Over Us.Maria Watches Over Us is like a relaxed walk in the park. The combination of it's environment & setting, characters, subtle plot arcs and greater, overarching themes make for an easily digested show. I found it useful to watch whenever I had free time, before I was heading to bed, or just during the slow periods of my day. At the time of writing this review, I've already watched several Yuri/GL shows, such as Strawberry Panic, Citrus, Bloom into You, and yes, Candy Boy. Maria Watches Over Us, preceding all of these shows, is a rather diluted mix between Candy Boy & Strawberry Panic. It grasps simple, cute, spur of the moment humor rather well and presents the journey of maturation between Yumi & Sachiko. Whereas Citrus & Strawberry Panic can be seen as very "heated" romance Yuri, and Bloom Into You as a more practical, touching romance story, Maria Watches Over Us is not necessarily and doesn't portray itself, as GL.  More or less, it follows the Council & Sempai-Kouhai relationship dynamic.  The plot spans 2 years, from Yumi's entrance into the all-girl's Lillian Academy, to the apex of the show near the end of her 2nd year. Yumi is hastily brought into the Student Council, despite her initial reluctance. As she grows close to the members of the student council, she overcomes and faces many challenges and hurdles, and the larger gist of the show is personal growth. This is exemplified in the character development of Sachiko, Yumi, their relationship, as well as motifs of personal growth and development in some of the other deuteragonists, and their interpersonal relationships. Granted that this is a 2004 anime, sound design is something that one must power through. Depending on which medium you watch this show, you may encounter well-done VA'ing and Music, or sub-par quality for the initial season. I mostly watched the show in 360p, no idea if I could find it in any higher resolutions. Animation is also something one must look past, considering it is quite an old show. Characters, there's a lot, and there's quite a lot to talk about. Yumi presents the bewildered new student entering High School, for some this can be an extremely relatable character, for others, the source of entertainment in the show. She's rather quirky, not too outspoken, and goes through plenty of growth throughout the show, due to and alongside her peers and seniors. In comparison to Strawberry Panic, her character is very similar to Nagisa Aoi. Sachiko represents the higher-class, supposedly mature and well-composed senior student character, and throughout the show, we learn more about her, as well as exposed to more of her weaknesses as a character. The character designs for both Sachiko and Yumi are like 2 well-fitting puzzle pieces, they both have extremely well-designed chemistry, and mix together well.In comparison to Strawberry Panic, her character is similar to Shizuma Hanazono, though I figure this can be disputed. The other 2 significant secondary characters I come to think of are Youko Mizuno, and Sei Satou. They function well as support characters for the first 2 seasons, and sparsely in the latter 2 seasons. Youko is Sachiko's direct Senpai, and therefore plays and delivers well as a truly well-composed character, as if she's her cornerstone. Sei Satou is a jack of all trades in terms of being a well designed support character. She has a muted, though caring personality, which shows and appears through the periods of trials and tribulations for various characters, and largely has a similar aura to Amane in Strawberry Panic. Yoshino, Rei, and Shimako are all other somewhat instrumental secondary characters, and I believe don't share the same influence as some of the senior characters in terms of character progression, however they are great friends and companions to Yumi & Sachiko. Overall, the show is a great watch. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a laid-back, cute, and very much iyashikei-esque show. If you aren't a super big fan or unsure if you'd like to get into GL, this is also a great starting point in my opinion. It's not steamy, and it's definitely not dry. It's a slow burn, but it's sort of a "slow cruise", that's enjoyable.  10/10, definitely one of my favorites, and definitely left an impression on me. 

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