"Hanaukyo Maid Team Vol. 2": Maid Action Made to Order
Another Maid show? *Groan* That’s what a lot of people must have thought when they first heard about Hanaukyo Maid Team, and really, it’s true. The fanservice genre has been worn into the ground. Hand Maid May was the pinnacle of what a fanservicey-yet-sentimental show about maids could be. Popping this disc in, I was expecting just another series featuring obligatory panty shots, nosebleeds, a male character surrounded by lots of beautiful women, and a cutesy-pootsy theme song. Of course, all that is exactly what I got. But I must say that Hanaukyo Maid Team is slightly better than the average Maid series because it uses universal humor rather than niche anime humor inaccessible to Western audiences. Also, it tries to mix each episode up by moving to different locations and different situations instead of just keeping the series confined to the main male protagonist’s living room.
However, the show will never be anything more than “just another Maid show,” despite the above points, because of its characters. While some of them are quite likable, they are all very archetypal and bring to mind images of Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina, and a million others. There’s “the male” (in this case, Taro, leader of the Hanaukyo Maid Team); “the badass” (sword-wielding leader of security, Konoe); “the schemer” (Ryuka, head of a rival company); “the egghead” (Ikuyo, who comes up with all manner of inventions and tools for the Hanaukyo family to use); and the always necessary “beauty with a heart of gold” (blue-haired enchantress Mariel). Each of the aforementioned characters are all likable in their own way, but the show just seems bloated with too many people to use properly in the time allotted. The four episodes on the disc are all entertaining and seem to hint at a much larger, almost science-fiction like plot.
Picture and sound are top notch. As can be expected, such a series is full of bright colors and vibrant visuals. The music is catchy and cute. But while Hanaukyo has a highly competent, maybe even exceptional dub cast, the dub script is the audio’s main downfall. Hearing English speaking characters constantly belt out “-san,” “-chan,” or “sempai” after each other’s names is horribly annoying. Japanese honorifics should not be included in an English script. They make English-speaking characters sound stunted and awkward. Such script problems are the bane of otherwise fantastic dubs like FLCL or Excel Saga and make listening to the dub just plain weird. Of course, if you watch Hanaukyo Maid Team in its original Japanese, the honorifics sound much more casual and easy on the ears.
All in all, despite the series being a retread of many other ideas, Hanaukyo Maid Team is a pleasant series to watch and it doesn’t get too mature, so most children can enjoy it. I look forward to seeing where it’s taken. Don’t expect anything amazing, but go into it looking for a good time and you won’t be disappointed.