A few things occured to me as I watched the first three episodes of Maria-sama ga Miteru – Haru. This series really deserves a careful rewatching of the first season. There are many things which make a lot more sense the second time around – and many more clues to the characters’ natures that weren’t immediately obvious upon the first viewing, when we were focused on getting the sense of the words.
But I’ll save all that for another day. Right now, I just want to linger lovingly over the beginning of the new Marimite season.
The first episode is a flashback to the previous New Year’s day, where we see Yumi and Sachiko still feeling each other out as soeur. The story line shows how much Sei has become part of Yumi’s life – in my opinion Sei is acting more as sempai to Yumi than anyone else, including either of her grand soeur. The underlying theme is that Yumi learns – from an outside, if not entirely unbiased source, Kashiwagi – that Sachiko really seems to enjoy being with her. If we recall, in the Rosa Canina arc, Yumi was still unsure *how* to be with Sachiko, so this is one more step in the development of their relationship. The Valentine’s day “date” was another – allowing Yumi to take control for a little while. The story is meant to set the tone for the season – that was then, now it’s spring, and we’re all ready to move on, but before we do…
The second episode gives us some insight into Eriko – a hitherto mysterious and aloof personality. We learn two key things about her – she’s impulsive and she likes things she perceives as unusual. We also learn, incidentally, that she’s the straightest girl in the cast. In the beginning, she muses that she doesn’t want to go to college, and when Yumi suggests she enter the workforce, she’s surprised by the idea because all she really wants is to be married. She then rejoices in being compared to a dinosaur, (but not for the obvious reasons, which was kind of funny.) My take-away from this episode is that Eriko is far more flaky than we could have possibly known. But her choice of Rei as soeur makes a bit more sense now. LOL
The third episode deals with the imminent departure of the current Rosas. This is a big step for the story and it’ll take up at least two episodes…but it’s inevitable and necessary for the characters, especially Shimako and Yumi, to develop. In the third episode, Sei takes advantage of Yumi’s earnest nature and tells her that it’s traditional for the petite souer to hold a talent show for the departing Rosas. (I am unconvinced, but the ploy works – Yumi is not as cynical as I am.) The key factor is that for once, Yumi – in public and everything – relaxes a little, and as a result, so does Sachiko. I think this is a HUGE factor in allowing Sei and Youko to leave with no regrets.
The next episode looks like it’s going to be a big emotion-fest as we say goodbye to the old Rosas. I’m looking forward to seeing Yumi step up to become Rosa Chinensis en bouton, and even more to watch Shimako meet Noriko. I am sad that we have spent so little time, relatively, with Youko, but this series is always forward-looking and I too, have no regrets about the departure of the Rosas. (Although I hope that the series continues and we do get as far as the trip to Italy and the reappearance of Rosa Canina and Sei.)
As for aesthetics, if anything I think the opening and closing credits are improved – the lyrics for “Pastel Pure,” the OP, are lovely and appropriately sung by our Yuri goggle favorite, the Ali Project. The closing credit images up the Yuri quotient considerably. I defy *anyone* to tell me that the image of Shimako and Noriko isn’t hot. ^_^
All in all, top scores for Maria-sama ga Miteru – Haru. Characters, story, music, Yuri and overall are still strong ‘9’s across the board.
This series is a definite keeper and a worthy poster child for Yuri fans everywhere.