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7 Anime from When Maids Ruled the Earth

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Anime cycles through trends, like all fictional media. Twilight gave rise to plenty of supernatural teen lit romance series trying to mirror Meyer's success while other authors are turning to fairy tale reimaginings to cater to Once Upon a Time viewers. Anime and teen lit aren't so different, with idol shows featuring stables of both male and female characters hoping to imitate Love Live! and UtaPri's successes.

In the early 2000s, idols weren't it yet. In 2001, the first permanent maid cafe opened in Akihabara. The new business featuring cute, costumed girls waiting on guests would start a phenomenon that persists in Japan today. This paved the way for anime's next obsession, introducing maid girls of every color and stripe. Robot maids, magical maids, cat-eared maids, and just regular maids all flooded the scene in series where maids weren't a singular character gimmick, but the entire point of the show.

7. Magikano Magikano is the result of throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, into the pot to see what sticks. The witch-turned-maid Ayumi is about to lose her powers thanks to a curse unless she manages to awaken the latent abilities in Haruo. Haruo's three sisters are also witches, but he's none-the-wiser to it, and they're determined to keep Haruo's powers slumbering. The show plays with a parody material, for instance Ayumi's hairstyle is a blatant nod to Sailor Moon. Much of the show is a vehicle for the hyperactive comedy that was so common in shows from the 90s and 00s but has fallen out of favor since.

6. Maid Sama! Yes, the maid phenomenon also made its way into the shōjo genre along a small influx of butler shows. Maid Sama! replaced the demure maid type with Misaki, a hyper-competent, intimidating student council president who also happens to work at a maid cafe. Takumi Usui, a guy who is good at literally everything, finds out her secret and starts hanging around the cafe. The series ticks through most of the shōjo checklist: love rivals, school year event-centric plots like sports day, and a caste system romance plot. The maid aspect is mostly window dressing, although it does add a fun shake-up when the cafe chooses different "themes" for the employees, including butlers.

5. He Is My Master During it's time, He Is My Master garnered a bit of controversy online for its art style and themes. The story starts with a perverted 14-year-old millionaire Yoshitaka who, after inheriting his estate, hires two runaway girls to work as maids in his home. The girls, Mitsuki and Izumi are also 13 and 14 and are later joined by fellow maid anna, who heaps on extra unwanted romantic and sexual interest onto Izumi. Maid costumes and questionable fanservice aside, He Is My Master is foremost a comedy and one of the last anime productions by GAINAX in its heyday.

4. Hanaukyo Maid Team Not willing to give up on a good thing, Hanaukyo Maid Team was produced for the same block as Steel Angel Kurumi, WOWOW's Anime Complex. The original anime expanded by adding more maids, in fact, the protagonist Taro has employed so many that they operate in goal-specific departments. These departments are more like what you'd expect to find in the government, not maintaining a large household. This becomes a plot point later, when it's revealed some of the maids are the product of genetic engineering to create the perfect servant for Taro. The series' production ran into some problems and the final three episodes were cancelled. A reboot under the title Hanaukyo Maid Team: La Verite premiered several years later as the "faithful" adaptation of the manga when new production staff.

3. Steel Angel Kurumi Steel Angel Kurumi stars three super-powered, anachronistic maid robots in the Taishō period who end up supporting a young mystic named Nakahito. Kurumi, Saki, and Karinka are all designed with the maid aesthetic in mind, with Saki being the most stereotypical in demeanor. Together, Nakahito and his enamored battle girls face off against the Japanese Army between otherwise average romantic comedy fare. The show was seemingly popular in Japan, as it spawned a four-episode direct-to-video series, a second anime season where Kurumi is paired with a girl, a more somber prequel OVA, and a live-action drama.

2. Hand Maid May May's character type, like the other robot maids on our list, dates back at least as far as ToHeart's Multi. The story focuses on a college student named Kazuya who is trying to develop AI for a squid-looking robot he's working on. After his computer is infected with a virus, he ends up accidentally ordering a Cyberdoll from Cyberdyne Corportion, an either accidental or entirely intentional reference to The Terminator. The doll is named May and she starts off what turns into a long line of robot maids who end up in love with Kazuya. Among is harem of futuristic maid girls is Kazuya's flesh-and-blood childhood friend. There's a pretty shallow time-traveling plot but the show wasn't developed for a deep sci-fi narrative. It's a vehicle for standard harem trope girls that are also maids.

1. Mahoromatic Gainax's other maid show collaboration with SHAFT, and perhaps the most well-known from the period, is Mahoromatic. The star maid is an android designed to fight alien invaders but her battery life is running low. Her wish is to spend the end of her time as a regular maid to Suguru. Most of the show plays out like this, with ecchi comedy and aimless day-to-day plots. It's not until the second season that the show decides to cut itself from its romcom brethren and ups the dramatic ante to create a series that, in what was an ocean of lookalikes, was memorable. It combines both sentimentality (Mahoro is 'dying' after all) and an action-packed showdown with Management's Feldrance android.

The new poll: Which of these characters' love confessions did you find the most heart-pounding?

The old poll: Which of these kids do you think is the strongest?
  1. Goku (Dragon Ball)
  2. Son Gohan (Dragon Ball)
  3. Killua Zoldyck (HUNTER × HUNTER)
  4. Pride (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
  5. Sakura Kinomoto (Card Captor Sakura)
  6. Gon Freecss (HUNTER × HUNTER)
  7. Kagura (Gintama)
  8. Aladdin (Magi)
  9. Simon (Gurren Lagann)
  10. Arale Norimaki (Dr. Slump)
  11. Gotenks (Dragon Ball)
  12. Illyasviel von Einzbern (Fate/Series)
  13. Beelzebub (Beelzebub)
  14. Nanoha Takamachi (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha)
  15. Wendy Marvell (FAIRY TAIL)
  16. Hotaru (Sailor Moon)
  17. Conan Edogawa (Detective Conan)
  18. Emma Ai (Hell Girl)
  19. Satoshi/Ash (Pokémon)

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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