Final Thoughts: Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA


“…just which screencap you can be bothered to upload.”

After two seasons and twenty-six episodes of flower petals, HARD YURI and angst, the infamous Maria-sama ga Miteru decided to take a rest from TV series format and adapt the next part of the novels as five fifty-minute OVA episodes. Having enjoyed the TV series, I was initially interested to see where the story would go next, but as I was soon to discover, this OVA seemed designed to weed out the true MariMite enthusiast from the milder fan.

Unfortunately, as a member of the latter group, I was soon to find that the OVA simply lacked the quiet charm that I had once associated with the series- instead it was long, drawn out and largely boring. Instead of using the fifty-minute time span to fit more in, the lengthened episodes seem designed only to slow everything down as much as possible- after all, why take five minutes establishing a set-up when you have twenty to play with? With each episode the inevitable cycle repeated- this time around it hadn’t been great, but maybe the next instalment would deliver. Unfortunately, after five episodes of mediocrity, it had to be concluded that, overall, it had utterly failed to get going.

Episode one: a vacation in the middle of nowhere
During the television series, I had never thought of MariMite as full-on HARD YURI; the rather strong friendships between the girls seemed there more to entice the yuri fangirls than to actually gratify them. This was all to change in the OVA, however, starting with an episode that featured such delights as a generic trio of evil lesbians and Yumi getting all hot and bothered at the prospect of Sachiko getting undressed.

The excitement (such as it is) begins when Sachiko invites Yumi to accompany her to the family vacation house, surely a wondrous yet simultaneously terrifying opportunity to spend some quality time with her onee-sama. Naturally, however, things aren’t as good as they seem, with Sachiko not only completely disinterested in doing anything other than aimless hanging around the house, but with Yumi also forced to cope with jealous cousins (the aforementioned lesbian trio). If anything, the vacation looks like one of those hellish mixtures of dislikeable acquaintances and long stretches of boredom, but even though Yumi uses her Tohru Honda power to ultimately foil the lesbians and spread happiness everywhere, she ultimately wastes the chance of one exciting day by electing to laze about the house with Sachiko- again.

I have to admit that I actually feel quite sorry for Yumi; much as she adores Sachiko, it seems to be quite a difficult relationship. Sachiko seems to take an almost sadistic pleasure in acting coldly or formally towards Yumi, whilst always making sure to show just enough affection from time to time to keep the younger girl cruelly bound to her. Meanwhile, poor Yumi has to navigate the difficult waters of keeping onee-sama happy, ever fearful of making a mistake that would incur her wrath. She cannot even take it out by playing dominant on her potential petite-soeurs, since Touko is more openly evil and Kanako is a crazed psychotic stalker (more on this later). What’s a submissive girl to do, except give in and take that whipping?

Episode two: overcoming androphobia
It’s back to school for the second OVA episode, and surprisingly our HARD YURI girls are ready to open a dialogue for BI with the Hanadera boys’ school that Yumi’s brother and other named male characters attend. Unfortunately, despite having grown up with close male relatives in the family, Sachiko has a terrible aversion to anything containing the Y chromosome, and so the others must plan how to introduce her to the male of the species. Should they trick Sachiko into an unexpected meeting with the boys’ school student council and see how she fares? No, says Yumi, for how can she deceive her beloved onee-sama and face the inevitable whipping that would result?

Even knowing the truth, however, Sachiko is not one to chicken out and lose face, and so even though she goes weak and feels faint at the sight of so many males in one room, she boldly meets the Hanadera council. And, just in case you were beginning to think that spending fifty minutes on this one rather insignificant event was going a bit overboard, fear not, because the episode also has Development for Characters You’ve Never Met Before and Hardly Care About! In particular, we learn that one of the Hanadera boys is actually a transsexual who always longed to attend Lilian and become Sachiko’s petite soeur. A tragic tale indeed, but are we really supposed to invest time and emotion in someone who has just been introduced?

Episode three: now they’re into cross-dressing!
The first two episodes may have been slow and boring, but it was at this stage in the OVA that things were to take a turn towards the bizarre. Having agreed to help out at the Hanadera festival, the lovely ladies of the Yamayurikai tentatively venture into the realm of HARD GAY sex-starved males, who become so overwhelmed by the presence of women that they start acting rather strangely. From bizarre events like climbing up a greased slope to get to a girl waiting at the top, to kidnapping Yumi (they mistake her for her brother due to the aforementioned cross-dressing), Hanadera’s festival is a strange and scary one indeed, and the sight of Sachiko running towards Yumi in a panda suit only cements the surreal nature of it all.

Also making her debut in this episode is Kanako, the psycho lesbian stalker with an obsessive desire to be with Yumi. Unfortunately, Kanako has more issues than these trifling matters- ever since her father had an affair, she has developed a hatred of man that would make Sachiko look like a nymphomaniac- and when she finds out that Yumi actually has male relatives and even talks to men, she turns against the ‘tainted one’. Most people would rather have nothing more to do with Kanako at this point, but Yumi maintains a relationship with her, even though Kanako’s possessiveness makes the previously evil Touko now seem like a reasonable choice of petite soeur.

Episode four: Sports day at my school was never like this
In case you thought that the strangeness was restricted to Hanadera, however, the fourth episode went a long way to prove that this was far from the case, with Lilian’s sports festival proving to be quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a sports day before. When you think of such an day, one tends to imagine an emphasis on standard track and field events, but not so here- instead we see bizarre and quite childish ball games, pointless cosplay, dancing and a ‘centipede race’. Now admittedly I didn’t care much for PE in school and never paid much attention to sports day, but I can say with no small degree of confidence that it bore very little resemblance to anything seen in this episode.

Episode five: How can they even make Italy boring?
The final leg in this marathon of torturous melodrama and drawn out nothingness promised a school trip to Italy, and despite the disappointment of episodes one to four, I was certain that even this OVA could not mess this one up. Unfortunately, I should have known better- not only did it take ten minutes just to get on the plane in the first instance, but after that, we had to have lengthy sequences both in the airport and the hotel room, where in a dramatically shocking turn of events, Yoshino contracts a slight fever and is completely recovered by the next morning!

After this rather unexciting build-up, we do actually get to see some stills of the various sights of Italy’s most well-known cities, along with a cameo from Rosa Canina, who appeared so long that I had forgotten she was even studying in Italy in the first place. Naturally, Yumi’s enjoyment of the trip is marred by the fact that she has to spend an entire week away from onee-sama’s arms, but to make up for it, the episode sprinkles in hints that Sei has secretly travelled to Italy and is keeping an eye on them from afar (why? What was the point of this whole inclusion?).

And so, finally all is said and done, with 250 minutes of life irretrievably lost to the watching of this OVA, and a fourth season waiting in the wings to air when it will. I, for one, can hardly wait.

Audiovisual
OVAs are usually known for having better production values than their respective TV series, but MariMite is very inconsistent on this score; sometimes the characters are drawn well, whilst at other points the animation staff seems to have gone on a long break. Distance shots are especially poor, with characters often sporting exceptionally long limbs that would not look out of place in the infamous xxxHOLiC anime. Background music is the same quiet and inoffensive selection as in the TV series.

Final Thoughts
Once, the quiet setting and angsty melodrama of MariMite was enjoyable to watch, but this OVA really pushed it to the limit, ranging from the long and drawn out through the tiresomely clichéd and all the way to the bizarre. Unless you are dedicated fan of the franchise, give this one a miss and just read novel summaries to get caught up on the story.

3 thoughts on “Final Thoughts: Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you said, the festival at the guys’ highschool was especially ridiculous… yet from time to time, you could feel the charm of the original series ( definitely not in that episode). I also didn’t like that much the way they drifted towards yuri. I mean I love yuri as much as anyone (and more than most at that) but it just doesn’t agree with the mood of that show.

  2. The yuri I can cope with – after all, the second series had already ventured into this territory in a fairly solid way. I mean, Noriko and Shimako? How can that not be romantic? And of course, not to forget the events at the end of the last ep. What did give me pause was the extraordinarily slow pacing. 50 minute episodes is a tricky format for even the best of programming (it’s not anime, but I’ll reference Doctor Who’s shift from 25 minute to 45 minute eps – not an easy transfer), and when you keep the content the same as it might have been for a twenty minute episode, it just drags. There’s no other possible outcome. That said, I did still find myself enjoying things when they actually happened. It’s just, I could do that and read a couple of chapters of a completely different novel at the same time.

    About the school sports day – I wonder if we have a bit of a biased perspective on this. After all, British schools will inevitably do things differently than Japanese ones, and that might include sports days. Certainly from secondary school upwards it was all about standard track and field, but I can still remember the peculiar sports events at my primary school. Points for doing a gymnastic *thing* with more given to the more complicated *things*? Do a handstand for the full ten! (Roly poly was only worth one.) Throwing bean bags into hoops? Egg and spoon race? Apple bobbing race? Come on, you must have had these too. At least, I hope it wasn’t just me…

    *Ahem* Anyway, if other anime are anything to go by, Lillian JoGakuen isn’t alone in its choice of bizarre sporting events. Azumanga Daioh for example has the bean bag throwing and ball rolling events, and the cheer leading, and the borrowing race, and… You get the picture.

    Let’s not give the MariMite OVAs stick for things that actually might be part of Japanese school culture. Let’s face it, there were enough other things to give it stick about…

  3. Okay, so we had the bean bag thing and quoit throwing (is there any other use for those than primary school sports) at primary school, but there was also more standard stuff too- and even with their exotic events, other anime sports day seem more recognisable (even Azumanga and School Rumble didn’t leave me thinking ‘wtf’). Of course, I can’t say anything for sure without researching Japanese high school sports days but the MariMite one just seemed too bizarre for reality.

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