Maria Watches Over Us Anime: Season 3, Volume 3 (English)

June 18th, 2009

There I was, surveying my domain, which is to say I was staring at my pile of things to review, and I saw the Season 3 boxset of Maria Watches Over Us. It came into my mind to review “Ciao, Sorella”…and, I smiled. Because this particular OAV makes me smile. Every time. Smiled when I watched it raw, right after it was on Japanese TV, and again when I bought the Japanese collector’s edition (complete with marble-pattered photo album) and again when I saw it subbed and yes, again when I watched it – twice – from my shiny happy boxset from Right Stuf/Nozomi.

This is the last of the third season, the last OAV for the series to date. To write the novel, this was the first time Konno Oyuki had ever gone a overseas trip for reference – and it shows. This book reads like a tour of Italy in the company of Yumi, Yoshino and Shimako. Which is exactly what it is. Many fans were disappointed with the OAV, as nothing happened. Since Lillian is the Talking Heads “Heaven” and nothing ever happens, this seemed spot on for me.

Yumi, Yoshino and Shimako are off on their second-year class trip and, as befits a private school for rich girls, they don’t go to Okinawa, they go to Italy. On tour they see exactly the same things anyone sees while on a group tour of Italy. Relax, when you watch this. Have some gelato because one does while on tour of Italy, and smile at the goofy pictures of the girls pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa because, as Tsutako says, just because something is typical doesn’t mean it can’t be good.

There is a little drama in this story – Yoshino’s dark secret, Shimako’s angelic tears, but there is *way* more comedy than drama. Most of the drama is turned into comedy.

Here’s my three favorite scenes:

Yumi, Yoshino, Tsutako and Mami on a gondola ride, listening to the gondolier talking in broken English, which none of them are really fluent in, about the Bridge of Sighs. He tells them about the legend of kissing the one you love as they pass under. They look at each other like – what on earth are we supposed to do with that information? In the book, Yumi actually thinks that out loud and they talk about coming back when they have someone. Yumi thinks it might be fun to return with Sachiko.

Shimako, in tears at the sublime “Last Judgement,” standing there with Yumi, when Yoshino walks up and says, “Don’t you think Jesus is a little fat?” Awesome Yoshino moment.

And in Florence, a budgie that says, “Firenze senbei,” which was not what I adored about this scene, but that the OTHER thing the parakeet says was, “Stop it already, Satou-san.” ^_^ The win scene of the book.

There is little Yuri in this series, as there has ever been. This series is about relationships that are labeled “sister” for a good reason. There is love, of course, and I’d even go so far to say that some of that has been romantic, but forever platonic, or nearer to it. Sachiko’s admission of having missed Yumi may not make much of an impression on you, but it warms the cockles of my heart, as my late grandmother used to say.

One more thing before I forget….

Shizuka! Squee!

Even a Shizuka drive-by is wonderful (there was one late in the novel series, in which we saw her in passing at a train station. And of course there’s the wonderful story “The Little Match Girl” in Variety Gift.) How much more wonderful to have some full-blown Shizuka time. Always a pleasure to see our old friends.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 1
Service – 2 (there was actually a little service in this one. Did you blink and miss it?)

Overall – 8

Now the Third Season is behind us, and we have nothing to do but await the Fourth and start collecting Special CDs and Drama CDs again! And pray to the Pizza Hut gods that they are willing to finance a final series of OVAs.

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8 Responses

  1. Katherine says:

    And pray to the Pizza Hut gods that they are willing to finance a final series of OVAs.

    lol

    It would be fantastic if they would animate the final novels. I need more animated Marimite goodness!! ^_^

  2. kieli says:

    May I ask a question? I know it may be redundant so I will apologise in advance. If you were a Marimite newbie (relatively speaking), which drama cds would you choose to purchase? I would love to have them all but, alas, I am on a budget and am trying to save and get all of the Maria Watches Over Us DVDs at once. Thank you for your help!

  3. As I watched Angels & Demons, I was a bit amused to recall Shimako’s amazement at the Last Judgement frescoes at the Sistine Chapel.

    Overall, I liked this episode (and a bit of Yumi’s “service” in the tub), YamaYurikai’s Guide to Italy. xD

  4. Senbei says:

    Kieli, I can guess what Erica is going to say about this but I want you to know before you run off any buy, think about buying one of the primary DCDs. The specials are either half-narration, half-talk back session with the seiyuu, or else mostly talk back. The talk back sessions are a lot harder to follow if you don’t have near-native fluency, and they really aren’t interviews. Also, the women are forever screaming into the microphones and it can give you a headache. That being said, the specials also tend to have the best narration stories. So it’s a tough call. I think I’ve listened to Cherry Blossom and Ibara no Mori the most–they have superb acting (which isn’t to say the others don’t).

  5. @kieli – An interesting and not at all redundant question! My two favorite Drama CDs so far are “Ibara no Mori” and “Nakakiyono.” Ibara because Toyoguchi megumi does most of “Shiroki Hanabira” as a monologue and does it excellently well. “Nakakiyono” because the short “Answer” make me laugh until I cry, every time.

    If I had to pick a third, it would be the 6th DCD, “Valentinus no Okurimono” because it has “Rosa Chinesis’ Greatest Day” another short that I adore.

    I hope that helps!

  6. sarcastic_weasel says:

    I agree with Senbei: if your budget is tight, avoid the DJCDs and stick to the original Drama CDs. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them, to be honest. (But the DJCDs are more for people with extra cash to burn.)

    At 3000+ yen a pop, you’re kind of limited to what you can get on a tight budget, so pick the ones with the characters/scenarios you like the best on them. E.g. if you’re a Yumi fan, then I’d steer clear of some of the Yumi-free CDs.

    There really aren’t any clunkers out there.

  7. kieli says:

    Wow! Thank you all for your suggestions (Senbei’s comment definitely gave me a chuckle)! Thankfully, I do have a few vendors that I frequent most often who have great prices, especially where DCDs are concerned (I started purchasing the HxB DCDs from them a long while back). DCDs can often be hit or miss (as it was with the HxB ones…the mini-DCD I find to be the most hilarious to date but Vol 3 didn’t do much for me), thus my request for suggestions. I’m off to put them into my shopping cart. Thank you again for your help! :D

  8. yuuki says:

    Finally finished this series last night. Though I had to bring the discs to work to watch certain scenes, because when you “rent” they don’t always work at home. It was great to see Shizuka again. Here small performance in the structure was really moving as well. I had to go back on that one. And of course visiting the “Last Judgment” is a sight to behold. As I agree with Shimako only to find myself laughing at Yoshino’s bluntness. And I had to do a double take on the budgie. It was too cute and funny at the same time. It had me wondering if there was someone playing a trick. As the mysterious ghost of Sato wanders Italy.

    And of course the Sachiko/Yumi moment. Sachiko cracks me up so much. I think that’s what I like about her character. When she’s expresses herself. When it’s business it’s business, but when it’s personal it’s personal. And then some. But you gotta love when she’s embarrassed. You’d swear a favorite porno mag fell out her bag.

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