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Akiba Maid Sensou
(All episodes watched):|
Working in a maid cafe isn't all it's cracked up to be; Nagomi discovers that it is more like life in the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). Without her knowledge she is basically sent on a suicide mission to deliver an insulting letter to the leader of a somewhat larger cafe. Fortunately, Ranko insists on accompanying her and that, at a stroke, turns what should have been suicide for Nagomi into suicide for their opponents when they unwisely choose to tangle. Ranko has been rendered cold and unemotional by witnessing the 1985 murder of a maid leader that she was loyal to and doing a good deal of time in prison. I originally guessed that she would conduct a vendetta against whoever was responsible, but actually she just wants to become a maid again. She's not all that scary a person, unless you cross her. I was left amused and curious what the explanation for this war would be. Are customers aware of it? How did it start? How will Nagomi cope? The action was wild and exciting.
In episode two the manager of Oinky Doink, who is an inveterate gambler, wagers the cafe's future on a game of poker at a maid casino. It was fun, but I wished we would get to know the characters better. How long have they been maids? What have they experienced? But maybe it was actually best to leave such things unknown for the time being. I enjoyed episode three, in which Ranko is drafted to compete as a kickboxer, a lot. I guess this one was just better than number two and therefore I didn't worry about how well developed the characters were. Perhaps Ranko's personality is actually a total lack of it; or at least a lack of anything but her fierce pride in being a maid and her obediance to orders. Whatever the case may be, it works. In episode four a 'trainer' is sent by the Creature syndicate to whip the girls of Oinky Doink into shape. This, too, was fun, though I was a little confused by the conclusion (had the girls been faking their obediance and wish to improve all along? Or are they just ultimately incapable of it?). In episode five a birthday party for Ranko is staged as a ploy to attract customers. A recurring theme in this show is that what intially seem to be sweet girls who only want to serve you often turn out to be psychopathic felons. This discrepancy is handled in a clever and humorous manner.
In episode six a tough female thug, known as 'The Crimson Supernova' is released from prison and returns to the rival Maidalien syndicate (each of their cafes has some sort of Maid/UFO theme). I figured that no doubt she would be Ranko's main opponent (though they meet and respect and like each other at first). Episodes usually end with a laugh but here things end with a tragic scene, which suggests that things are going to get serious from here on. The way girls who ought to be fast friends are sometimes forced to be enemies because of the syndicate they swear loyalty to sort of reminds me of West Side Story. I had gotten the impression that Supernova would be around for a good while, perhaps to the climactic episode, but no, she doesn't last long. Nevertheless, I thought the way her threat was resolved was handled pretty neatly. Nagomi musters her courage and plays a leading role, which could easily have been neither funny nor tragic, but I would say it managed to be both. That doesn't happen everyday. But the basic conflict behind the Maid War seems to have been resolved, so where will things go from here? Maybe Ranko will get a lead about that 1985 murder that has troubled her.
The higher-ups arrange a baseball game between the girls of Oinky Doink and the cafe Supernova worked at in order to address grievances and patch things up (they all work for Creatureland now). This show seems to take all sorts of generic, stereotypical scenarios and have fun with them. In episode nine the Oinky Doink girls launch a challenge to the previously unquestioned power structure within Creatureland itself, largely because a memo telling them what they could and could not do at a festival was lost. This show seems to have a definite longterm plot to it (in addition to the witty jokes) and events are moving towards something big. In episode ten Mr. Suehiro, the trenchcoat-wearing patron of Oinky Doink, asks Ranko out on a date. It turns out that he has an unsavory past and it is not clear whether he can be trusted. We also learn about the background of the person wearing a panda costume (it is a person, not a panda). This episode was especially powerful and tragic. This show has such an absurd premise yet delivers much better thought-out stories than most anime. You never know exactly what to expect, like the scene where a person seems to have been killed but actually hasn't been (and the reason makes perfect sense). It is noteworthy that Ranko does something she has never done before during this episode (she smiles).
In episode 11 the leader of Creatureland (once a friend of Ranko, it turns out) has become infuriated at the girls of Oinky Doink and disowns them, which is a virtual death sentence. Ranko attempts to persuade her to change her mind. This episode wasn't as good as the last one, but there is a shocking cliffhanger event at the very end. It left me wondering how this story could possibly end with any semblance of happiness. But it has been so good up to this point that I still believed that maybe it would. And at the end of the final episode I said to myself 'That was pretty good!' which seldom happens. It was imaginitive, creative, and moving. The little bit at the very end, which basically tells us where things stand today, was especially good. I guess there are anime which are mass produced with little regard to quality and, once in a while, there is a series which pulls out all the stops to be good; such was Akiba Maid War. I would love to have more of this quality stuff but the story is more-or-less complete and probably shouldn't be tampered with.
Last updated Saturday, December 31 2022. Created Friday, October 14 2022.