I want you all to know that I REALLY tried. I took a deep breath, smiled and prepared to do my very very best to approach Maria Holic Volume 1, with an open and cheerful mind. It is absolutely obvious that Maria Holic is meant to be read as broad parody of Yuri tropes. (Yes, yes, pun intended.) What it is, however, is broad and crude.
Kanako is attending a very elite all-girl’s school where she hopes to become closer to the memory of her late mother who was a student there, and to find a soulmate, because she is attracted to women. Kanako is portrayed as a typical “onnazuki,” a person who likes women, but is too hapless and hopeless to get a girlfriend. Kanako falls for practically every girl she sees, which is both cute and sad at the same time.
Because this is not a romance, but a “comedy,” Kanako immediately falls into the clutches of physically cute, but emotionally sadistic Mariya, who is really a boy cross-dressing for reasons not yet mentioned. (I know they will be. I’m reviewing *Volume 1*.)
Kanako blunders around the school both befriending and be-enemying various characters, and generally making a fool of herself for our “entertainment.” The people around her act in ways that make no sense, except that they are meant to be exceedingly broad parodies of typical Yuri tropes, and so act like those tropes unrestrained by sense or sensibility.
I want you to know that I did my best to not read more into this manga than was warranted. I will *not* rant about how Maria Holic is not only anti-Yuri but anti-woman. I squelched that pretty hard as I sat there gritting my teeth, feeling more and more cranky as I read.
I will not talk about how a feminist reading of this volume made me want to grab up my friends Mr. Knife and Mr, Hot Tar and take them trick-or-treating with me, because that would be me being ridiculous and you’d all take me seriously.
What I will say is this – I found the anti-lesbian “humor” painful. At one point, Mariya calls Kanako “lesbo girl” and it really, really upset me. It was meant to be hurtful to Kanako. We’re supposed to find humor in her reaction to this. But, when in a single panel she pleaded with her dead mother (or the Virgin Mary, it’s really moot which,) “why is everyone picking on me?” I lost it and started to cry. If you found that line funny, I hate you. It’s as simple as that. It wasn’t funny, it was cruel. Bullying is not amusing.
When I reviewed the Mariaholic anime, I said that the anime was, at it’s core, about the emotional torture of a young lesbian. I can see that the manga is not quite that – it’s colder, more dispassionate. Where Sasamekikoto plays with typical Yuri tropes in a goofy way, drawing on their faces, if you will, Maria Holic is more mean about it – flipping up skirts and then saying *we* overreacted.
Overall – For me, it’s in negative numbers. Too many tears, too many nosebleeds, too much pain.
The very worst thing about this series is knowing that, instead of finding love in a healthy relationship, Kanako will be fall prey to Stockholm Syndrome, and Mariya – who is loathesome – will become progressively more sympathetic until we can justify what will clearly be an unhealthy, unequal, unreasonable relationship. Once again, it is Mariya on the cover, not Kanako. And that says everything there is to say about this series.
Thanks to Okazu Superhero Dan P. for sponsoring today’s review!