If you’ve been reading this blog since anytime after 2004, you’ll notice that I have completely, hopelessly, irrevocably fallen in love with the series Maria-sama ga Miteru. Like many fans, I had never heard of it prior to the anime being released, but almost immediately was captivated by the characters. Propelled by a desire to know more, I followed the manga, the Drama CDs and, eventually, the novels.
Like many hardcore Marimite fans, I never truly believed the anime would be licensed – and feared that it might be and then eviscerated by a company that didn’t understand shoujo, or who only saw it through fanboy eyes.
When RightStuf licensed it, I was ambiguous – hopeful, yet cautious. When they added in the subtitle track with honorifics, I let my guard down just a very little bit because, after all, they could still …well, we’ve all been burned before by changed names, rewritten scripts, etc.
Then RightStuf opened a dialogue up with me, and we had a nice conversation about Marimite fandom and our obsessive need to spend time in the company of these characters – and our love of *stuff* related to them. At that point, I was convinced that, even if their release was not perfect by my definition, they were trying harder than any other company I had ever seen. As a result I was inclined to be generous. ^_^
After some little delay, resolved by the RightStuf representative with humor and grace – thank you very much, Alison – I received my box set of Maria Watches Over Us Season 1, slapped the phone charm on my cel phone and a DVD into the player to sit back and see what Nozomi/RightStuf had wrought.
It is not perfect. Even if *I* thought it was, no doubt other people would have different nits to pick! ^_^ It is however, a very good, very enjoyable English-language edition of what I never expected we would ever see legally licensed.
I am glad that they have the honorifics track. There’s still a few things that jar, but overall, there are fewer moments than I expected where I went “Huh? Oh.” And I do really find it less intrusive to have the honorifics than the always slightly awkward attempts at translating them. When watching the extras, “Maria-sama ni ha Naisho” shorts, the versions are the original subtitle track and even knowing that, I still find it a little odd to read “Mother Maria” and “Lady Sachiko.”
The plot is still hours of the most delightful nothing I have ever enjoyed. The non-adventures of average girl Yumi, as she is drawn into the rarified air of the school student council, is still by turns touching, funny, sad, funny, snarky and funny.
I just finished reading the 24th novel, and taking this huge step back was a chance for me to see just how much both Sachiko and Yumi have matured into the women they have become a year later. It makes me want the fourth season of the anime so much more, so everyone can get to know Touko the way I now know her. (She’s not the same girl as in Rainy Blue, I can tell you that. Neither is Kashiwagi what he seems to be.)
The *only* thing I really want to complain about is this – attached to the box itself was a sheet of paper with a synopsis for Season One that, when I attemtped to remove it, got stuck and pulled a bit of the cover picture off, thus ruinng the look of the box. Now I have to keep the stupid paper on. I really was annoyed by this – there was no reason to glue it to the box cover! I don’t even like boxes, but come on – if you’re going to ship me a paper box, please don’t glue stuff to it.
In every other way, I was delighted beyond measure to step back and once again be introduced to and fall in love with the lovely ladies of Lillian.
Art – 6
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 3 (with an extra point for Sei’s “birds of a feather” comment in regards to why she was sure that Kashiwagi wouldn’t make a pass at Sachiko.)
Service – 0
Obsessive Marimite Fan – 100
Overall – 8
I think this box set would make a really good gift idea for a young lady in your life that is just getting into anime. A nice change of pace from the Death Note kind of thing. ^_^