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Pioneer presents
Hand Maid May #1: Maid To Order (2000)

"Master Kazuya, your face is getting red."
- CBD May (Maria Yamamoto)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 11, 2002

Stars: Maria Yamamoto, Takayuki Yamaguchi, Mikako Takahashi, Yugi Ueda
Other Stars: Kyoko Hikama, Miwa Yasuda, Omi Minami, Rye Kugimia, Steve Cannon, Ian Hawk, Wendee Lee, Robert Machemer, Owen Starr, Judie Sokie, Lia Sargent
Director: Shinichiro Kimura

Manufacturer: CADDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (13+ copious fanservice)
Run Time: 01h:32m:40s
Release Date: August 14, 2001
UPC: 013023155695
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-A-A C+

DVD Review

There is a time for serious, thought provoking subject matter, and then there is time for something fun like Hand Maid May. On the surface it may appear to be just another of those animes where the geeky nerd boy is surrounded by a batch of beautiful admirers, but the plot devices (pun intended) are a little quirky, and the central protagonist is just plain cute—the one word that sums up this eleven-episode series, originally broadcast on WOWOW and serialized in Monthly AX. Disc one, Maid To Order, is the first of three, containing the episodes How Do You Do, Am I any Use At All?, What Should I Do? and Please Don't Look!

What could be the ultimate development in cool computer accessories? For Kazuya Saotome (Takayuki Yamaguchi), a fairly shy and nerdy engineering student, his current mission in life is to create a squid-like interactive robot named Ikariya (Miwa Yasuda), a task that he has been pretty unsuccessful at. His neighbor, the landlady's daughter Kasumi Tani (Mikako Takahashi), who considers Kazuya "hers," tries to be encouraging, and keeps an eye on him from her room across the courtyard. Despite his lack of success, Kazuya has an arch nemesis in the villainous Kotaro Nanbara (Yugi Ueda), a pompous and wealthy loudmouth who feels Kazuya has been undermining his accomplishments since they were kids. Nanbara hatches a plan to derail Kazuya's latest project by giving him a disc infected with a malicious computer virus. Instead, his revenge causes the accidental ordering of a cheerful, 1/6 scale, one foot tall robotic maid named May (Maria Yamamoto)—but there is a catch. The Cyberdyne Company that produced the Type G99 cyberdoll expects to be paid for her, to the tune of $1,450,000, and sends Sara (Kyoko Hikama), a tenacious, ramen-loving agent, out to collect payment. When Nanbura finds out about the little lady, he also sets out to do what he can to separate May from Kazuya, but there is something special about the little cyberdoll, and breaking up this pair will be no easy matter.

Being a foot tall has its disadvantages, especially when trying to clean house or cook the meals. It also doesn't help when your battery keeps running out, requiring constant recharging through your strategically placed USB port. There is a lot of apologizing for her "short" comings, and her adventurous nature makes for the first story we follow, as a succession of agents attempting to recover her parade through the following episodes.

While following a fairly standard comedic concept, Hand Maid May's overwhelming charm forms a huge part of its appeal. The female characters are all pretty likeable, from the spunky Kasumi, conniving Sara, nine-year-old Rena, or the brainy Kei, who shows up in episode four. The male characters are a bit of a different story. Kazuya is likeable enough, and unlike many characters in his position, he actually is a bit of a perv, finding himself curiously absorbed by the displays of female attributes and undergarments he happens to encounter, though he is oblivious to the attentions he is receiving from the women around him.

The highly egotisical Nanbara, on the other hand, is completely over the top, and could easily be found annoying. So far, the show manages to limit this factor outside a few scenes, and all is easily forgiven with a flash of May's smile or her embarrassed and apologetic blushing. Despite a fairly well-trodden plot path, Hand Maid May delivers in its silly cuteness, and it's hard not to be taken by the little cyberdoll. The show does feature an over abundance of fan service, from the plethora of low angle panty shots, bouncing bosoms, and the voyeuristic hunt for May's USB port—this isn't children's entertainment. Lots of fun if you can tolerate the ecchi content.

Did I mention it is cute?

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Aside from a bit of aliasing in places, this looks really good. Colors are sharp and vibrant, black levels solid and the image clean and crisp. Nothing much to complain about here.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is presented well, with appropriate directionality. The bottom end is a little light, but that isn't really an issue. There is no distortion or other defects present. We get another great J-pop theme song, and the English dub is pretty good, though not nearly as cute (there's that word again) as the original Japanese.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Character introductions
  2. Clean opening and end credit animation
Extras Review: "Gaze in awe at the amazing Kotoro Nanbara!"

The enjoyment of the extras here will depend in large part on whether you enjoy playing games with your discs. The disc opens with a screen that puts you in Nanbara's room, where the English voice actor tells you to select the most appropriate response to view the disc. Selecting the wrong answer plays a brief Nanbara message and sends you back to the room. Selecting "Mr. Laaaaarge" will display Nanbara's tonsils, and eventually let you into the main menu.

The language on the menu voiceovers, as well as much of the extra content, is dependent upon what is chosen in the setup menu and, unfortunately, can not be switched on the fly from the supplements. The appendix area contains all the extras, most of which aren't readily accessible—again, something that you will either find amusing or annoying.

The movie selection gives an error message, since this content is on another disc in the series, as are the majority of the choices in the CDS submenu and the Kimura file 2, which are spoken character introductions. Most of the CDS content is just brief audio excerpts, and as stated above, dependent on the disc setup for the language.

The disc does contain clean opening and closing credits, which are available by selecting the two video windows on the supplements screen and pressing up on the menu buttons while on the topmost text selection. Not an obvious feature.

Since I am not an English language fan when it comes to anime, I wasn't too crazy about the implementation here, preferring a text based supplemental section, but points are deserved for effort and for those who will enjoy this.

The insert card features a (panty) shot of Kasumi on the cover, with a somewhat risqué group (panty) shot of the female cast, some of whom we haven't met yet. The back shows May straddling her duster, with, you guessed it, another (panty) shot. Do I sense a theme here?

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Short and sweet, our little foot-high cyberdoll, Hand Maid May, is sure to captivate. A familiar theme gets a new twist, as the cyberdolls roll out in this hilarious, fanservice-laden comedy series. While some of the ecchi content may put people off, May is simply irresistible and just so darn (I can hear my editor screaming)... cute!

 


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