Shaenon checks out a full-color manga, published by the Louvre, from the creator of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
Reviewby Allen Divers, Jan 6th 2002
Hand Maid May
DVD 1 - Maid to Order
Kazuya Saotome is the average university student and a bit absent-minded. Nanbara, Kazuya's childhood friend and rival, is jealous of Kazuya's popularity despite his constant distraction. In his ultimate revenge to foil his lifelong rival, Nanbara slips Kazuya a virus. The virus accidentally leads Kazuya to the website of Cyberdyne, where he unwittingly orders a Cyberdoll named May. Soon Nanbara and Cyberdoll Sara, an employee of Cyberdyne, are after Kazuya and May to pay the bill for the order!
Hand Maid May is a 10 episode TV series with an 11th OVA episode, recently released by Pioneer. Maid to Order, the first volume in the series' release in the U.S. contains the first 4 episodes of the series. Pioneer has released this series in a bi-lingual DVD format and an English Dub VHS version. Hand Maid May is a difficult series to place in a category, but is probably best described as a romantic comedy. Although, there is a continuing storyline and continuity through the 10 episodes of the series, the stories presented can be taken individually. This is a very light-hearted series playing more for laughs and the romantic at heart.
The DVD itself plays this up with its menus. You find yourself in Nanbara's room, with 12 menu choices. Of course, none of these say anything like, “Play Feature” or other standard menu options. (Nanbara is Kazuya's rival, looking to cause his nemesis as much pain and suffering as possible.) Nanbara informs us that we must find the option to move to the next menu. Each option brings up a small clip of Nanbara, being Nanbara. This is very in character for the show, and hopefully shows you that this series is not to be taken too seriously. (For those looking to get past this bit to the next menu, hit the title key on your remote, or click on the “Mr. Laaaaaaaarge!” You'll get another bit of Nanbara, but hitting the next button on your remote will get you to the main menu.)
The menus themselves are pretty self-explanatory. An audio clip of May also explains the options available to you. Depending on what your language settings are, you'll get either the English voice actress or the Japanese voice actress telling you what to do next. The menus are animated and represent the Cyberdyne website from the show. While exploring the options, you may come across a red warning label that says something about not having enough memory. These are simply extras that will be available in other volumes of the series.
There are only two main male characters, so a lot of the focus is on the female parts. Character designs can definitely be thought of as fan service friendly. Although there is no actual nudity, there is a lot of hinting at it and very suggestive shots. All of this centers around Kazuya's shyness around women and how he can often be distracted by the occasional cleavage shot. Visually, the show is very bright in look and feel. All colors are bright, with no dark or ominous colorings, keeping the overall playfulness of this show up.
The English dub does a good job of staying faithful to the original Japanese version. There was some fear that the quick talking Nanbara would not translate well, but the voice actor does a great job of staying true to the character. The voices seem to be from the familiar stable of other Pioneer releases, and are all good selections for the various characters. Sound for both the English and Japanese tracks are standard stereo.
The extras for this disc are the standard textless opening and closing segments and character bios from the show. Going through the various options, more will be explained about the various characters in later volumes, but the basics are there. Conspicuously missing are Kazuya and Nanbara, but who cares about the guys in this show anyway.
Hand Maid May is a very light-hearted show, with no major storyline forcing it down. This is definitely a show to watch if you're looking for a quick fix of entertainment, and don't want to “think” about what you are watching. This is not to say that this show is strictly a no-brainer. There is an underlying plot and back-story that unfolds over the run, but the emphasis is on how and why the characters come together.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ A light hearted romantic comedy with plenty for everyone
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