We all know this type of anime. Sweet and inoffensive. Well, almost.
The format is traditional. Poor girl wants to do as best she can in life and works her way up to school president. To keep her family finances from getting any worse she also has a part time job. She is a “maid” at a café. Naturally this does not marry up with her image at school and so her job is a secret. That is, until a boy from her school finds out she works there.
We all know where this is going… and yet Maid-sama turns something that should be bordering on the ecchi and makes it almost feminist. Ayuzawa, our heroine, is the opposite of a shojo heroine. She is not shy, or quiet or even nice. She hides her job because she is ashamed of it. At school she is a demon. The school has recently gone co-ed and is male dominated. To compensate for this Ayuzawa is not only driven to protect the small clan of girls at the school but intimidates anything of the opposite sex.
The series seems to enjoy putting her in clichéd situations, such as the stalker storyline and turn the tables. She does not need rescuing. She does not need a man in her life. She is happily independent. In doing this the show does become more parody than good anime but it’s still enjoyable even with the formulaic storyline.
This is not a Lovely Complex type anime. It’s not a sweet story. It has a harder edge to it than that, which as a woman in her early thirties I appreciated. There are sexual references and while no flesh is shown some of the jokes are very below the belt.
The main instigator of all this is Usui. The hot guy in school, who seems wholly uninterested in school life or any of the stream of girls that hover around him. The president treats him with the same distain she would any male and this is what makes him interested. Usui has many secrets surrounding him that the president is intrigued by but cannot bring herself to really show an interest in. She has better things to do. This all changes when Usui finds her at a café in a maid uniform.
At first he goes there to tease but his visits rapidly turn to a guilty pleasure. He even ends up working there.
There is plenty of character development. Both Ayuzawa and Usui change as they get to know each other.
Apart from that the series left me feeling vaguely disappointed. Yes it attempted to jazz up the tired formula with some fun characters and plot devices and there is plenty to get a romantics heart racing. I just can’t help feeling I’ve seen all this before and probably done better.
I think I’ll go back to something bloody next, or paranormal… I think anime romance is making me cynical.