Hanaukyo Maid Team "La Verite" Vol.02: Lost in Kamakura Review
Life must be hard when you have hundreds of doting maids at your service; who will serve you every meal without fail, make sure you’re always safe from danger and if you so desire grant you with sexual favours. Yes, how awful indeed. But for Taro this is all just a day in the life (except the sex bit, but only because he’s young and a bit of a pansy). So it’s time for more madcap adventures with the young heir and his willing servants as they fight against, I mean amongst themselves.
The second volume of Hanaukyo Maid Team is for the most part an uneventful one. Worryingly its first couple of episodes feel like recycled jobs from the previous release, just with an obvious face lift. When Ikuyo takes the gang to the ‘Comic Manga Market’ Ryuka follows and mayhem ensues; there’s a slight effort here being lent toward proceedings as we see some fun Cosplay references, but ultimately it’s something of a timid affair and certainly doesn’t capture the bizarrely popular pastime quite so well as Cosplay Complex did, but then for such a brief episode it no doubt wasn’t meant to. After all things need to move on and the real focus here is on Ryuka and her mission to get in inside Taro’s pants, I mean his mansion. So Ryuka worms her way into his service by working as a maid, only she’s dumped with Lemon, Melon and Marron – yep, the three sex-starved maniacs who don’t give Taro a moment’s peace. Taro, being the innocent little fellow he is, warms to Ryuka and shows that he has no prejudice toward anyone, and rather interestingly Ryuka just happens to be a likeable character, certainly providing a few uplifting moments of insanity.
During the second episode on the disc the girls battle it out during the annual budget contest – a softball tournament replacing the ten-game match. Of course this highlights the girls’ competitive streak, especially in Konoe and Ryuka, which is emphasised during their army-like team drills. Despite it being brisk and action-esque it’s fairly ludicrous and when paired next to the following episode signifies a serious lull in the series’ mid-way point. The search for what appears to be a dangerous beast in the mansion’s underground proves to be an exercise in tedium, relying on a flurry of visual gags, but not connecting with enough punches.
At least the last episode on the disc finally gets around to some serious storytelling, revealing some new characters and dropping many hints at others. Mariel’s mysterious demeanour finally gets some light shed on it, in terms of a non-too subtle twist.
|The following text contains spoilers. Click and drag over this box to view.|
|So unless I’m mistaken she’s clearly a robot, which would explain her docile and automated qualities. I find this interesting only because until now all of the maids have felt like automatons. I highly doubt that all of them are robots, but it is most definitely an often dull occurrence, although Ikuyo’s strange habits are somewhat curious.|
In addition we have the introduction of Shikoh-in, otherwise known as Red King Flag, who Konoe seems to know all too well. Shikoh-in surfaces to presumably take down Mariel after her team of super-robot maids successfully hack into Taro’s mansion. So with all this we can be sure to see some full-on maid action in the final volume, by which I don’t mean lesbianism, unless Yashima’s love for Konoe is reciprocated.
Ikuyo takes her friends to the annual ‘Comic Manga Market’ where they are to dress in Cosplay and host a stand for the buying public. While the maids, with Taro in tow, are enjoying their day Ryuka turns up to do a little spying, but inevitably bumps into Taro. When they return home they find that Ryuka has decided to become a maid in order to further her learning experience and closer to Taro. Unfortunately for Ryuka there doesn’t seem to be any vacant positions, which means she’ll have to call upon desperate measures.
Once a year the mansion’s structuring is decided with an annual budget contest. The winners will claim the highest position, which means that everything’s to fight for. Konoe and her security team have reigned victorious for years, but now they have a new threat: not only is Ryuka entering the softball tournament, but so too is Taro, Mariel and Cynthia. This should shape up to be quite a battle.
Unidentified Living Creature
When Cynthia goes missing, Taro and his friends begin to search for her. They head deep into the mansion’s underground, where they suspect a deadly creature is dwelling.
Woman in a Sports Car
There have been some recent security troubles with a spate of computer hackings coming from an unknown source. Konoe investigates while the young master is on a day trip. Meanwhile Taro soon gets lost, but is kindly offered a lift by a mysterious blonde woman. Back at the mansion Konoe believes she has discovered who the hacker is – an old friend who just might be back in town.
As with volume 1, Geneon continue in the tradition of providing a reversible sleeve. The rather attractive design features Konoe and Yashima on the front, while on the reverse we have Ikuyo and Ryuka in full maid attire.
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Hanaukyo Maid Team looks very impressive. The main menu is a little worrying, as it features some heavy aliasing, but thankfully the actual episodes aren’t plagued with such a deterrent. Being so recent the image exhibits marvellous detail and fine edges, albeit with some minor enhancement, along with brilliant colours and solid brightness and contrast levels. This is one of the more colourful shows of late, with plenty of outdoor action, so it’s nice to see excellent blues and greens also. Digital banding is present, although slight and the occasional scene can become soft due to stylistic choices, but all in all this holds up very well indeed. The final credits that play out each episode show some dot crawl, which seems to be a result of the newly created English text.
Sound-wise we have native Japanese DD2.0 and a newly recorded English dub, also in DD2.0. Hanaukyo Maid Team isn’t exactly action packed, but it does feature many a moment where dialogue becomes raised, particularly when it’s Taro screaming at the top of his lungs, and for this the track makes good use of the forward speakers. Conversational pieces are also directed to the central speakers and are clear, with no noticeable defects. Funnily enough it is also the second episode here that features the best examples, this time with some nice blowing wind effects during the softball tourney.
A non-credit closing sequence and previews for Kyokara Maoh, Koi Kaze and Tenjho Tenge make up the bonus features for this disc.
If the first volume didn’t do much to break any new ground then – neither does the second. Sure, it’s entertaining in a predictable sort of way and proves once more that even some of the oldest clichés in the book can be recycled and put to decent use. But it’s not really enough to give the series a distinguished quality. With that said it’s starting to forward its plot now and the final volume is all set for some big turns...probably.