What’s not to like about a manga called Butler Girl and Senorhita? (English translation provided by the book cover, so don’t bother correcting me.) Well, sadly, in the case of Shitsuji Shoujo to Ojousama (執事少女とお嬢様) there was way more not to like than one might reasonably expect.
When I opened it up, I had already violated a few of my sanity-preserving expectations rules. I expected it to be light-hearted, I expected it to be fun and for some reason, heavens knows why, I expected it to have a good plot. Probably because of all the potential plots *I* might have chosen, most of them were fun and light-hearted and a fair number were good. So when I started reading and the plot immediately bogged down into depressing and emotionally torturing, I was not pleased. Nor was I amused.
Hinata is a nice, slightly lazy girl whose parents run away to another country to avoid a debt, leaving her behind. She’s offered a position working for the family that sponsors the elite girls’ school she attends, by the chairwoman of the school. She’s not thrilled but, it’s be a maid or live on the street, so Hinata agrees. Unfortunately, she’s a) not going to be a maid and b) not working for the lovely and cultured chairwoman, Tsugeyama Saori. Hinata is going to be a a) butler and b) be working for Saori’s younger sister, star of the school, Saki.
Even more unfortunately, while at school Saki is lovely, gracious and cultured, at home she’s a spoiled, tempermental brat with a sister complex. Hinata is thrown to this wolf, who quickly sees a chance at making someone with no power to fight back miserable…and does. Saki is horrible in every way she can imagine.
At the point where she drags Hinata in wearing long butler morning coat and a collar and chain, I really almost stopped reading. Shades of Maria + Holic and abuse of the weak as “comedy.” Ick.
I will says this for this book, every time it got *just* on the edge of intolerable, it pulled away quickly and found a not-horrible way to solve the problem. It was apparent that the creator had a strong sense of where that line was and why it should not be crossed. Nonetheless, the story kept veering close to that line, over and over. And over.
At school, Saki wants no one to know about the whole butler thing, but still insists that Hinata serve her…which makes it look like they are too close for comfort. The story comes out so at least Hinata’s best friend knows and can help them to preserve the farce.
Saori’s butler, Haruna (also female), tells Hinata that her Number 1 priority is to love her mistress and with that, Hinata works hard at not trying to keep up with Saki’s antics, but to lead her on the path of righteousness. It works. Saki stops acting out so much and starts to appreciate Hinata more. Using the old Cutey Honey maxim that all S&M Queens want, in reality, to be dominated, Hinata starts to dictate the terms of their relationship, all the while wrapping herself in the role of “butler.” In a chapter that should have been touching, but wasn’t really (for a lot of reasons) it becomes apparent that Hinata’s feelings are starting to approach more than just a butler’s love for her mistress.
When Saki’s admirer from another wealthy family, Sorako, arrives, things spiral downward fast, ultimately ending up in a shooting (no, you didn’t misread that – Sorako attempts to murder Hinata) that makes Saki start to realize that Hinata means something to her after all. And in a grand finale that again, wasn’t really anywhere as near as wonderful as it could have been with loads of icky groping, fake kisses and other tediousness, Hinata becomes the prince to Saki’s damsel in distress.
And then the book ends in a massively unsatisfying non-joke. Sigh.
I spent the entire time it took me to read this ready to stop reading at any moment. With such hi-larious antics as beating up innocent Hinata, random men feeling up Saki in public, school bullying and other yucks, I felt half-brutalized myself through the series. I spent the entire time thinking how it *didn’t have to be this way.*
Art – Moe, of course
Story – Pissed me off
Characters – Coulda been contenders
Yuri – Gatchi Yuri
Service – Obviously
Overall – 4
It could have been a great book, with a fun fantasy setup and a happy/romantic/sexy butler and her mistress ending…only, it wasn’t. And it makes me kind of angry that it wasn’t. There ought to be a law that a love comedy should be free of demeaning sexual and emotional harassment. Sheesh.