Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - Maids and Cat-girls - It's an Android Smorgasbord

Editors Note: Starting with this edition of Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! Allen will bemoving his column to a bi-weekly (every second week) format.

Before I dive into things this week, I'd like to mention a mistake I made last time around. I mentioned that Gundam Wing, Gundam X and G-Gundam were a part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Gundam. Well, I was close, but it was actually the 15th anniversary. It was Turn-A Gundam that was part of the 20th anniversary celebration. Not really that big of a deal, just a minor correction.

Continuing on last time's theme of sequels, this time it's 2 more shows that recently premiered continuing storylines. Unlike Gundam Seed, both of these series pick up where their first seasons left off. The first series, Mahoromatic, has seen its first season picked up for distribution in North America. The second series, Rizelmine, has yet to be picked up. Both had short first seasons, with Mahoromatic having 12, 30-minute episodes, with Rizelmine had 13, 15-minute episodes. While Mahoromatic has a more of a serious back-story, both shows can fall into the romantic comedy genre with a sci-fi twist.

The first series, Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful, premiered September 26, 2002. Planned for another 12 episodes, this second series picks up where the first series left off. As is typical for a sequel, to bring in more drama and potential storylines, you add more characters. This time it's another android, named Minawa, who takes up residence with Mahoro and Suguru. As is typical, trouble follows her in the form of an ancient secret organization that wants her back, as well as wanting to destroy the aliens known as Saint. This is obviously leading up to a final confrontation between Mahoro and the leading android of that organization, very similar to what happened the first time around with Mahoro fighting Ryuga, an android of Saint.

Even with its heavy sci-fi back-story, Mahoromatic remains a tale about human interaction as seen from an outsider's point of view. There's quite a lot happening with a large cast of characters, and in typical Gainax fashion, a lot of other things going on as well. Gainax, a company built by fans for fans, do their best to have as much fun with a show as possible. For most shows, this means a lot of fanservice. It actually reaches a point with Mahoromatic that what could be fun, teasing type fanservice takes that extra step and borders on out right ecchi behavior. It's rather ironic that a show featuring a character that is constantly saying ecchi is bad has the amount of nudity that it does. The first episode alone finds as many opportunities has possible to display the female leads naked. This lessens a bit with later episodes, as the plot begins focusing towards the plans of this season's protagonists.

Despite the nudity, comedy remains high in the series. Sticking to the established routines of the first season, things are kept light despite the latest serious undertone. Mahoromatic – Something More Beautiful keeps the established slapstick humor rolling with new situations and the addition of the new character Minawa. Serving as both a catalyst for the new sub-plot as well as the naïve character of the bunch, Minawa brings in something that the familiar cast of characters can't provide. The only shame when bringing in a new character is that some of the older characters get neglected, as most of the new stories revolve around introducing the new character.

Mahoromatic – Something More Beautiful does a great job of carrying on the energy established by the first season. While newcomers may feel a bit lost with the happenings, faithful followers of the show will feel right at home as the series moves on without pausing. Mahoromatic is one of those series that mixes quite a few of the popular anime genres to make a very unique and enjoyable show. Series 1 is scheduled to hit North America store shelves in March. The show should do quite well for Pioneer, which will hopefully encourage them to pick up this new season. We can probably hope to see a similar release to that of Vandread, as the first season of the show was being released before the announcement of the license for the second series.

The first time I looked at Rizelmine, I saw it as more of a rip-off of a popular anime from the 80s. Following a similar plotline to Urusei Yatsura, Rizelmine went so far as to even have a similar opening theme song. Well, the new season picks up right where the last season left off, and the story has come quite a bit. Rizel is continuing to chase after her reluctant husband, Tomonori, with the standard cast of characters chasing along right behind them. This time, though, Rizel has a secret weapon in the form of capsules that can make her seem older. As Tomonori seems only to be attracted to older women, this seems like the perfect situation.

Of course, being a romantic comedy, things are never that easy. Each capsule has a unique feature of turning Rizel into an older version of herself with a twist. Soon, she's a nurse, a schoolgirl, a cat-girl and even a maid. While certainly a cosplayers dream come true, the downside is that each transformation lasts only 3 minutes. Despite this, Rizel is ready to make the best of it as she has finally managed to get Donna-sama's (that's husband in Japanese and what Rizel calls Tomonori) attention.

Early episodes have focused on Rizel's new ability as well as the comic hijinks that can come from an ability that would make every cosplay fan jealous. The humor continues to run high as Rizel takes things as they come. She's a bit naïve in the world as all she focuses on is Donna-sama. There's even a funny scene in the first episode of the season as she fantasizes about her future with Donna-sama as she remains a "young wife." While everyone else around her gets old, she remains her young self.

I realize a show like Rizelmine isn't exactly what people are looking for. After all, there aren't any space aliens, big robots or anything like a coherent and continuing plot line. Rizelmine, despite borrowing from a few other Anime, is an easygoing fun little romp. Yes, that's right, its good for laughs. With A.D. Vision's current relationship with M.O.E., Rizelmine has a chance of making it here to North America. While not exactly earth-shattering storylines, it's still a nice little series that could do quite well.

Well, this time around it was a two-fer. Seeing as how I've looked at the first season of each of these shows, it's only fair that I give them a quick look to see how they've progressed. Both shows are fun in nature, with Mahoromatic going that extra mile to include the all-important dramatic subplot. Rizelmine has the potential for a dramatic subplot, but is still a fun show without it. Mahoromatic will soon have its chance to shine in North America, so here's hoping Rizelmine will get a similar chance.

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