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Kaichou ha Maid-Sama! – Manga Mondays

Posted on: November 16, 2009

What could go wrong?I’m highlighting Kaichou ha Maid-Sama (released in English as “Maid Sama!”) for two reasons: one, I’m just now starting to catch up on reading the manga after losing track around volume 5 or 6, and two, it’s going to become an anime in 2010 some time – no season has yet been announced.

The manga has massive crossover appeal, pulling in the usual female audience with its shirtless prettyboys and strong female lead, while attracting men in droves with the maid cafe setting. The incredible line art of Fujiwara Hiro doesn’t hurt its popularity, either. It’s one of the few shoujo series I’ve ever enjoyed this much, but there are a few factors that make me nervous about just how far it can go.

Maid-Sama! is the story of Ayuzawa Misaki, a man-hating teen who’s determined to turn her formerly all-boys school into a place where girls can study in peace without harassment from what she sees as the violent, slovenly male populace. She’s so popular that she’s been elected student body president, and she spends her days kicking the boys at school into shape and building her reputation for ferocity and sternness.

But, behind her tough facade, Misaki packs a secret – because her father abandoned her family and saddled them with his massive debt, Misaki has to work at a maid cafe after school in order to help make ends meet for her mother. When Usui Takumi, one of the most popular boys at school, finds her in her work uniform, her life turns upside-down as she struggles with the stress of keeping her work life and her school life from crashing together and destroying each other.

Maid-sama!‘s appeal comes from the massive gap between Misaki’s school persona – headstrong, fierce, and independent – with her maid act, which is subservient, cheerful, and cutesy (this gap is typical of the tsundere archetype, which I’ll talk about later if people need an explanation). Takumi falls in love with both sides of her almost instantly, but her misandry prevents her from being accepting him. Many of the chapters are a variation on this outline: Misaki is trying too hard to do something and refuses help, until Usui is forced to step in to make her realize that she can’t do everything alone. It’s a good foundation for a running romance, pitting two strong characters against each other as opposed to the wishy-washy doormats who are ubiquitous in Japanese romcoms.

What makes me nervous about the series is that it just might be too popular for its own good. Kaichou ha Maid-sama! has become a strong seller, and that means it will only end when its sales start to dip. The recent stories have been a bit stale and repetitive, but because it’s so popular, there’s a strong possibility that the story will get stretched out as long as humanly possible before the inevitable romantic conclusion. There’s only so long that you can delay a simple, non-triangular romance before it gets frustrating (see: Fushigi Yuugi, Ranma 1/2), and while Maid-sama! isn’t quite there  yet… it’s getting close.

Who knows – maybe the anime will refresh my interest in this manga, which really does have a great foundation and should make the anime transition with few problems. But as it is, I’m going to keep my good memories of it and stop reading before I become disillusioned with it.

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4 Responses to "Kaichou ha Maid-Sama! – Manga Mondays"

I like that series. It’s pretty good. I can see what you mean about it maybe being dragged out too long.

It was good until rivals started to show up, which was about, what? chapter 12? (It’s been a while) I think it could have been great just as one volume, as it were.

Doesn’t deserve an anime, in any case.

Another interesting Manga Monday. If I could just tear myself away from games like “Phantasy Star Zero” and “Borderlands”, maybe I’d have the time and money to buy some of these.

[…] you may remember from a previous Manga Monday, I’m a fan of the Kaichou ha Maid-sama! (AKA Maid Sama!) manga but with reservations about […]

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