Jason checks out Manga 2.5, a new service offering fully-voiced and kind-of-animated manga series including Detective Loki and Otogi Soushi.
Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - Mahoromatic Sequel: Motto Utsukushii MonoJun 28th 2002
I want it now!
by: Allen Divers (boxie at animenewsnetwork.com)
editor's note: This week's Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! contains some minor spoilers to the Mahoromatic story. We feel these spoilers lack the details necessary to actually ruin the show for anyone though, but if you want to remain completely in the dark about what happens in Mahoromatic...
Whatever happened to long run Anime series? Despite achieving "hit" status, most series these days run for either 12 or 26 episodes. While some series, like Cowboy Bebop, meet their natural end in their run, many other series feel like they have a lot more to say.
Full Metal Panic!, having started in February of this year, just finished its 24-episode run. Hellsing, going back to late last year finished its run early with 13 episodes. It will arrive this July in North America on DVD and will finish that run up before the end of the year. Tenchi Muyo GXP!, slated at 26 episodes, is already half way through its run. Sure, there are still a few series running past their initial runs, such as One Piece and Inuyasha, but the current trend revolves around short run series.
Of course, every now and then a series has a planned short run and gets extended. Originally slated at around 26 episodes, Macross was extended to 36. Nadia, the Secret of Blue Water experienced a similar extension. Of course, in the case of Nadia, the extension came in the form of a mildly amusing, totally unneeded, center story arc that in the end didn't help move the overall plot. In the end, the extra episodes just pushed back the overall plotline to fit with the larger number of episodes. Inuyasha features a continuing story where the end of the story will be his final confrontation with his evil nemesis, Naraku. There are episodes that tease at this final confrontation, but the general feeling is that it is way off. Once this driving plot point arrives at its conclusion, the story and series will come swiftly to an end. Sure, other plot points could rise to continue the story, but eventually the story will hit a sort of rut, as the same general plot is recycled. Dragon Ball's successor's, Dragon Ball Z and GT, fit into that category as each story arc features the same general plot outline: new villain appears, kicks everyone's butts, everyone trains and kicks villain's butt.
So, what can a series that ties up the majority of its loose ends do to continue? Enter the ever-popular sequel. Sequels are magical beasts that try to continue a story that probably doesn't need to be continued. They pick up often immediately following the previous series or after a bit of time has passed for the heroes. Sequels can take the form of recycling a previous storyline, or they can go in a new direction, introducing new characters and new ideas. The Saber Marionette franchise is a good example of sequels. Each new series features the main cast of Otaru, Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry. Although similar in tone to previous storylines, each series focuses on a new set of adventures and adversaries for the heroes.
But does every series have to have a sequel? Take the case of Mahoromatic. The story focusing around a young man named Suguru and the maid that has come to take care of his house, Mahora. Mahora proves to be more than just a young girl that she appears to be. Mahora is actually an android built to fight off an alien invasion that the general populace isn't aware of. After a successful career of fighting, Mahora learns that she has little time left before she deactivates. With a little over a year left remaining, Mahora decides to live with an orphaned boy named Suguru. Mahora served under Suguru's father, and blames herself for an accident that claimed his life.
While the synopsis feels quite heavy, the show is a true dichotomy. On the one hand, it's a hard action sci-fi drama, while at the same time it's a cute romantic comedy. The majority of the action takes place around Suguru and his adjusting to having Mahora as a maid. The other characters around him are typical Anime stereotypes, with 2 male best friends with typical ecchi attitudes, 3 girl friends ranging from ditzy to overachiever and a female teacher with a bit of an unusual obsession with Suguru. Comedy comes in the form of interaction amongst the characters as well as a bit of fan service.
There are a lot of heartfelt moments as Suguru and Mahora adjust to each and she becomes happy with her position in life. Of course, Suguru discovers her true abilities, but at the end of the 12 episode run he is unaware that she has less than a year remaining before she deactivates. The sci-fi drama comes into play as Mahora must battle a rival from her past to keep the present and future she is building for herself.
The series turned into quite a hit with Japanese fans, and is sure to be a hit in North America. As of yet, no one has announced any plans to license this series, but it's sure to be a hot property. A.D. Vision, having done similarly themed shows is probably a front-runner with Pioneer and Bandai close behind. Gainax, the studio behind the Anime, produced a special half-hour behind the scenes show as well as a compilation episode. The special was a nice treat, featuring interviews with the voice actors as well as with production staff members. One actress states she was a bit reluctant to get involved after seeing the character designs. She thought the show was a bit too ecchi for her tastes. After reading some of the manga as well as the initial scripts, she changed her mind.
Gainax has recently announced that a sequel is in the works. Named Motto Utsukushii Mono ("Something More Beautiful"), the series will pick up pretty much where episode 12 leaves off. Does Mahoromatic deserve a sequel? Episode 12 ties up the storyline with the archrival from Mahora's past, but does nothing to address the overall plot point of Mahora's deactivation. The risk of this sequel is that yet another villain may appear from her past, and she has to fight one more time to have her peace. (It's also a rather important point that each time she fights, she actually risks reducing the remaining time until her deactivation.) There is the potential for a lot of laughs thanks to the ensemble cast, but again, there is the risk of running over previously tread ground. Hopefully, this new series will address the overall plot line, and stay away from the yet-another-villain-from-the-past that could turn this into a formulatic show. The back-story to Mahoromatic is rather robust with a lot of potential for engaging stories. Let's hope Gainax remembers that while creating the sequel.