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"Hand Maid May" Collection: The Series That Said "I’ll Never Give Up!"

by on September 20, 2005

Who wouldn’t want to have a maid? Maybe the socially inept and those paranoid that the hired help would steal from them. But I’m sure stealing would be against the Laws of Robotics, and Kazuya is very socially apt. A tech genius attending college, Kazuya is accidentally sent a 1/6th scale robotic maid, May, at the cost of $1.5 million. Can he come up with a way to make the payment, or will a new angle in his love life have to be returned to sender? Kazuya and the residents of Kasumi House will have to deal with the products of Cyberdyne Co., but luckily they’re not of the Terminator variety.

Hand Maid May isn’t exactly a groundbreaking series. It’s a harem show, from the glory days of anime at around the turn of the century. Characters weren’t too deep, fanservice was plentiful, artwork and animation used computers as an aid and not a crutch, and the love stories could sucker punch you. Clocking in at eleven episodes, it’s far from a major investment of time, and given the deals you can find on the box set, it won’t hurt your wallet too much.

Kazuya lives at the Kasumi House Apartments by himself, oblivious to the interests of the landlady’s daughter, Kasumi, and apparent hatred of his supposed friend, Koutarou Nanbara. He’s created what could be the next big mascot, Ikariya, a blue squid with a penchant for yelling “Yo!” Through one of Nanbara’s presumably many attempts to screw with Kazuya’s life, he’s sent a Cyberdoll, a futuristic android created for various tasks. After opening the box (and damaging the computer connection cable), Kazuya’s greeted by the Barbie-sized May, his new maid that’ll cost him $1.5 million. With the introduction of May, Cyberdyne Co.’s bodacious androids download themselves into his life. Sara, the ramen-loving product recovery expert. Kei, the encyclopedia of nerdy hotness. Rena, a little girl, and Mami, a motherly figure, help round out Kei’s makeshift family: a family where nearly everyone has the hots for him.

As you can tell, this show’s got all the stereotypes. The nerdy guy gets way more loving than he should. The antics of a small May were probably inspired by Small Wonder. Midway through, the series makes a change, bringing the status quo more in line with a traditional harem show. Sure, May’s still an android like most of the other girls, but now she’s the same size as a normal girl (with Barbie proportions).

Hand Maid May won’t go down as an epic in the vein of FLCL or Sailor Moon or Love Hina or Tenchi or anything, but it has a certain charm. The characters are likeable. You’ll have your own personal opinion on who Kazuya should seriously hook up with. (My hope is for Kasumi, the baseball maiden who lives only a ladder away, and not just ’cause she’s the hottest human chick in the show. Okay, well, she’s the only human chick with a major role.) In the eleven episodes, the show gets you well settled into a world where you can order a multimillion dollar Barbie doll that can cook and clean, throws a few curveballs of a love story, and even wraps up with a time travel plot.

When a force from the future comes back in time to warn of a virus that’ll affect the Cyberdolls, we get a nice little bit of drama. And any show that references Power Rangers consciously–and unconsciously, as Patricia Ja Lee [Turbo Pink II/Space Pink] is a voice actress on the series, and the final episode is entitled “Never Give Up!”, a Ranger phrase repeated way too much, starring the Maid Rangers May Five–gets some major props in my book. The humor is well-balanced with the love drama, but there are no real lines that stick out–a fault of its plainness at times. The animation is very suitable for the modern age. It’s not too computer-aided (like Gundam SEED), but not the most fluid I’ve seen. Once again, acceptable. Voice acting, just like the rest, doesn’t stand out.

Encapsulated in one of those old-fashioned “art boxes” that actually just includes the DVDs in a purdy case (nowadays, they’re either thinpacked or put together in one massive multi-disc Amaray case) are the three DVDs and an Extras CD, which is luckily put in a DVD case that matches the other releases. And here’s where we come to a major fault with this release, which I believe stems from the original Japanese release. The menus are set up like the Cyberdyne Co. website, where clicking options leads to an “Order Placed” confirmation screen. All three discs have the same menus, with the same four options: “Movie Appendix,” “Kasumi File” 1 and 2, and a “CBD Menu.” You’d think they’re repeating extras, but not all the features are accessible. Try to access a feature that’s not on that DVD, and you’ll be prompted to “Enter DVD 1/3 for RAM access” or some other stuff. Yeah, this gets tiresome when you are trying to find out what are extras and what are not.

While the extras over all three discs would have been an okay set for one disc, spreading them over three just makes them weak. None of those extras are even significantly informative, but are more kitschy, like the plans for the Kasumi house, Cyberdoll definitions from the actual Cyberdolls, etc. The extra CD, which is playable in most standard computers, includes around 52 “web pages” with tons of miscellaneous info, including floor plans, commentaries, little notes we may have missed, and so on. Very informative, though it does become a slight eye strain after a while. Each DVD includes an insert that can be flipped for some lovely Cyberdoll cheesecake.

I like this series. I wish there were more than eleven episodes (and the not-in-America-and-unfinished-in-Japan-“Hand Maid Mai”), as there’s easily enough that can be mined. For what it is though, it’s a great little series to catch at a good price.

Volumes included in the Hand Maid May Limited Edition Boxed Set
Volume 1: “Maid to Order”
Volume 2: “Product Recall”
Volume 3: “Memory Failure”
Bonus Extras CD “Read Only Memory”

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