Monday, April 5, 2010

Manga Review: Maid Sama! Volume 4

Maid Sama! came out a little while ago here in the States, but in Japan it started running in 2005. The manga was created by Hiro Fujiwara and hit the ten volume mark, with an animation set to be released sometime this year. That says something about the quality and popularity of the work, but does it have that kind of staying power in America? Not too long ago I had the chance to check out the third installment and it proved itself to be entertaining enough, but does that continue into the fourth volume?

Before we get going into what happens with this installment, let's backtrack a little and check out what the show's all about. The series follows the exploits of a girl named Misaki Ayzawa, who just so happens to be the student council president at her high school. She has a reputation for being tough as nails and single handedly changed the fact that Seika High used to be an all-boys school. She has a strong influence and is regarded by many to be strong of character, however, everyone needs a job. She gets a part-time gig at a maid café and much to her dismay a boy named Tamaki Usui discovers her "secret". Cue hilarious antics and the beginnings of a relationship.

In the previous volume Misaki had to take part in a dress-up race where she wound up dressing up like a maid. This bit took up a whole chapter and really was a nice exploration of her character. The book also introduced the character of Aoi, who happened to be a boy dressed as a girl. He/She created an interesting dynamic within the makeup of the cast. Towards the end of the installment a hypnotist named Kanou was introduced as well, and its his antics that kick off the fourth volume of Maid Sama!.

At the beginning of this book Kanou unsuccessfully tries to hypnotize Usui into hating Misaki. He wants to break up their friendship and potential relationship, and figures Usui isn't that strong of a character. He's mistaken, however, and Usui sees right through his attempts easily enough. That's when Kanou turns his sights to Misaki herself and winds up hypnotizing her into hating Usui. The trick is, she has to fall asleep at some point within the next 24 hours for the spell to take effect. After five o'clock the next day it will be null and void. What happens next is rather humorous as Usui does his best to keep Misaki awake by stalking her, harassing her, and fawning over her every time he sees her. It's pretty funny and in the end he's successful.

As punishment for Kanou's attempted hypnotizing Misaki forces him into a situation where he must work with girls. You see, Kanou has a fear of girls and thinks they are stupid and weak. Misaki more or less makes him appreciate the fairer sex for who they are and gives him ample opportunity to see their strength, and to see why they belong in the school.

The rest of the book moves forward with some episodic chapters involving a company trip to the beach. Misaki is forced to dress in a bathing suit and maid's apron, which Usui thwarts by giving her a hickey on her back. Aoi also catches them in a rather compromising position. The best bit of this installment comes later and sees Usui altering the course of Misaki's dreams as she sleeps by reading to her from a book of fairytales. We see the perspective of this story from the dream-state and it's quite amusing what Usui comes up with.

Like the volumes before it Maid Sama!'s fourth installment is very entertaining. The book features a sharply written script with lots of humor, fantastic artwork, and some wild memorable characters. If you haven't read the book before then you should consider it worthy of being added to your "to do" list. The series is shaping up nicely at this point and it'll be interesting to see how the animation compares later this year. Highly recommended!

Maki Rating:

Review material provided by Tokyopop. Maid Sama! Volume 4 is rated Teen Age 13+ for Aggression and Mild Fanservice. Please support Anime Maki and buy from Amazon

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