Misaki is the first female student council president at a school that used to be an all boys school but is now co-ed (with a very low female student population). She’s determined to reform the school and the boys in it and to encourage more female students to enroll. However, her family are quite poor so to help out she has a part time job working in a maid cafe and she does not want anyone from the school to know her secret. She’s managed to conceal it fairly flawlessly until Usui, one of the most popular boys in school, finds out.
This one is a fairly standard story with fairly standard characters and yet still manages to be a lot of fun (as long as you don’t think too much about any of it). We’re of course going well into cliché territory with the angry girl, the mysterious prince like guy, the maid cafe, the cross dresser, the delinquents, and pretty much any other stereotype you want to throw into the scenario, yet at least this show managed to cover them with a bit of vibrancy and energy which made you feel like they were trying rather then just marching out a by the numbers script.
Probably the weakest part of the story is the relationship between Misaki and Usui. While they have some truly adorable moments Misaki is just far too dense and Usui is just far too perfect at everything. Plus he continuously puts up with Misaki’s violent outbursts and just keeps hanging around regardless. This creates a number of issues. Misaki is at first built up as a fairly capable and independent character but by a third of the way through we seldom see her deal with any conflict on her own. Usui (either directly or indirectly) is the one actually solving issues, supporting her, or saving the day. The fact that Misaki usually gets the last word doesn’t take away the fact that she’s essentially the damsel in distress for the vast majority of the story. Also, Usui himself is originally shown as someone being continuously confessed to but by a few episodes in this aspect kind of vanishes from the story as well. The two characters just kind of revolve around each and fall into the pattern of Misaki encounters trouble (either real or something blown way out of proportion), Usui offers to help and is refused, Misaki then either fails to solve the problem or gets stuck over working, Usui does something either in the background or overtly, problem solved.
That isn’t to say that they aren’t fun to spend time with, but they lack depth and anything interesting about them in the beginning is kind of written out of the by the mid-way point. Fortunately the show finds new and novel ways to mess up Misaki’s view of the perfect world she’s trying to create and so at least it doesn’t get too dull or repetitive. But more development, or getting more of Usui’s backstory would definitely have helped this along. These are fun characters but they just don’t have enough going for them in the anime.
I will point out that Usui is very big on contact and at times it feels like he’s really cornering Misaki. Then again, given she’s studied akido, she probably could extricate herself from most of his advances if she really wanted to. Still, you might find one or two scenes a little uncomfortable.
The support cast are fine. The other girls and guys at school have very little in the way of distinguishing personalities (even the three idiots who end up frequenting the cafe), but they serve the purpose as a background to Misaki’s various problems. The other maids at the cafe are a little more distinct but are still decidedly one note. The students from the rival school are also one note but at least serve the purpose of making you hate them. Misaki’s family are odd and in a way that is never explained or explored which feels like wasted potential really. So fine, but fairly forgettable.
I do have issues with the opening. That song is really grating and loud. It might not be so bad for others but I really found myself reaching for the skip every time an episode started.
There isn’t much else to say. There’s some funny moments, some touching moments, and some moments that just fall flat. If you like a standard kind of rom-com with okay characters but good pace and reasonable writing you should find something to enjoy here but without a bit more depth and exploration it remains pretty much popcorn viewing.
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