Yuri Anime: Maria Watches Us, Volume 4 (English)

September 28th, 2008

If you were among the many that ran out the first second you heard that Maria Watches Us was available in box set, it’s likely that you did so more for this one volume than for the rest of the series. Because saying you like Sei is, as we all know, like saying the sky is blue. :-) (Which, by the way, was part of one of the questions I sent in to Konno Oyuki-sensei last month when Right Stuff opened that form for us. I thought she ought to know that we say that.)

And here we are, arrived at *last* at the zOMG! official release of “Forest of Briars” (as Right Stuf translated it) in the US. Surely I am not the only person who thought that we would never, ever see that.

In the winter of her 17th year, Sei suffered a parting that was very painful, she relates to us in the opening.

Yumi overhears classmates talking about Rosa Gigantea, and then rumors of a book begin to filter though the school. A book, she later reads and finds to be about two students at Lillian who attempted suicide to be together. Yumi finds out that Sei’s past includes some kind of situation that makes it a likelihood that she is the author of the book!

Sei’s honesty is pretty stark, and she admits to having been in a situation that’s pretty similar to the one in the book. Neither Yumi nor Yoshino seem particularly surprised to learn that Sei fell in love with another student. Yoshino’s biggest concern is that Sei might have been hurt, so she decides to find out who wrote the book, only to learn that it was a memory of a distant past and nothing, except by coincidence, to do with Sei.

It’s hard to imagine, having seen only the teasing, openly grope-y Satou Sei, that there was a time when she was withdrawn from everyone and cold. And that the reason she changed was not, as one might expect, because she had fallen in love. In fact, it was quite the opposite – her heart had been broken, forcing her to lean on other people and see how many people genuinely cared about her. In “White Petals,” we watch Sei meet, fall in love with, be rejected by, reconcile with and lose Kubo Shiori. A lot of the novel had to be cut out for the anime, which really is a shame, because it’s an excellent novel. (Including at least a *little* recognition of the issue of lesbian identity.) But what is left is still a very moving story…and the source of 90% of Youko x Sei slash, as well. lol

The last two episodes are the Valentine’s Day date episodes, in which Yumi losing sight of Sachiko for a moment is turned into a laughably absurd cliffhanger and which also had a great scene truncated, so all we get of Yumi listening to Sachiko changing in the jeans shop is a little clothing noise and Yumi blushing – but it’s enough. ^_^

Shizuka and Shimako continue to confuse fans, because both are so difficult to read. But, watching their date now, with all those novels between this episode and me, I find them an utterly fascinating pair. There’s a line towards the end of their date that characterizes them perfectly. If Rosa Gigantea hadn’t existed, then we might have been soeur, Shizuka says. But she does exist, Shimako says. And so, Shizuka concludes, taking Shimako’s hand, we are both happy. It’s a great line.

Yoshino has her moment of satori about why stalking is bad and ends up having an armful of crying Chisato, then turns around and gets mad at Rei for not being more considerate of the girl’s feelings and getting an apologetic embrace from Rei in return.

And so, with the addition of the Don’t Tell Maria-sama extras, we come to the end of the first season of Maria Watches Over Us.


Art – 6
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 8
Service – 0

Marimite Fan – 100

Overall – 10

Now I have to go and watch it all over again in a marathon. And memorize the novels. Perhaps start camping outside a Japanese bookstore in anticipation of Before Graduation which is due out next month. (I’d add “stalk Konno Oyuki-sensei” but I learned my lesson from Yoshino. ^_^)

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7 Responses

  1. HtoK says:

    *sigh* This volume always manages to get me a little verklempt. And I’m always so pleased to see how objective you are in you ratings system. If it were left to me my Loser Marimite Fan rage would lead me to shout “Marimite is the best show ever!” from the roof. I wonder when we will get to see the various questions asked and Konno Oyuki-sensei’s response to them.

  2. Eric P. says:

    I was very fond of and thought the final episode left a lasting impression. I don’t know why, but journalist Tsukiyama Minako turned out to be one of my favorite characters, so it was nice seeing her have the moments she did in this episode. And while Yumi and Sachiko were on their ‘date’, Sachiko takes a break from school life and thus a break from her normal self, and we get a glimpse of her cutting loose in her own way and just having fun with Yumi–watching her trying to get into Yumi’s taste in clothing was really cute and amusing. All the other character moments Erica mentioned were notable too.

    And yet there’s even more to tell with these characters, so I do look forward to the next season set.

  3. eric – what a great comment about Sachiko. I’d never have thought of it that way, but you’re absolutely right.

    As an aside to that episode…. In the novels, Sachiko is so pleased about her new jeans, that she mentions them to her grandfather – who runs out and buys her an absurdly expensive pair of vintage jeans. She wears them when she meets Yumi to go on the trip to her summer house – Yumi instantly identifies them as the kind of jeans she wouldn’t be able to touch, must less buy. lol

  4. I love Marimite! I’m reading the light novels right now and is up to the dates! One of my favourite scenes in the Yumi x Sachiko date is where Yumi thought Sachiko ran off! I thought that scene was quite touching.

  5. grace says:

    i watch and re-watch this first season series ever since i got it. and vol. 4 is just so poignant. i can’t wait until the next season dvd set comes out!

  6. BruceMcF says:

    zOMG I’m such an idjit. I’m in no real position to accumulate anime, not knowing which continent I will be living in next year, which besides poverty is keeping me in the rental queue … and nobody I could come up with to buy Maria Watches Us for.

    Then I read the Morris County Library recounting … smacks headthe local library, of course.

    I can even pre-order and watch it myself first, before it lands in its permanent home.

  7. Victoria says:

    I’m ashamed to admit it: when I first began watching Marimite, I was skeptical because Yumi struck me as the stereotypically timid female lead in shallower shojo and shonen animes. Guessing (correctly) that the manga would be more detailed than the anime (I couldn’t find the novel translations yet), I downloaded the scanlations in hopes that it’d give more depth to the characters than the first few episodes did.

    Well, I was right, and when I stumbled into the Forest of Thorns/White Petals chapters, I was caught for good. Sei deserves to be remembered as one of greatest masterpieces of fiction ever to be created. Then, as I continued watching the series for more White Rose interactions, all the other characters began to grow on me until I found myself liking everyone, especially Sachiko, and Yumi shows a surprising amount of development not found in a lesser series.

    Oyuki-sensei sure knows how to build her characters. She makes it REALLY hard not to care for them. Even if the series is relatively sweeter and more innocent than my usual fare or anime in general, it’s sweet and innocent in a believable, charismatic way unlike say, the sappy unrealism of Fruits Basket.

    I doubt my path to becoming a Marimite fan is too typical, but is it really? I just want to clarify because I’m somewhat of a habitual literary critic, and I can’t help but pry into people’s minds in general, especially those of fandom.

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