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Pioneer presents
Hand Maid May #3: Memory Failure (2000)

"Don't you think you're sort of overdoing it?"
- Kasumi Tani (Mikako Takahashi)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: February 08, 2002

Stars: Maria Yamamoto, Takayuki Yamaguchi, Mikako Takahashi, Yugi Ueda, Kyoko Hikama, Steve Cannon, Ian Hawk, Wendee Lee, Robert Machemer, Owen Starr
Other Stars: Kikuko Inoue, Miwa Yasuda, Omi Minami, Rye Kugimia, Shinichiri Miki, Nobotushi Kanna, Dorothy Meledrez, Pajama Lee, John Holmes, Lynn Fischer, Judie Sokie, Lia Sargent
Director: Shinichiro Kimura

Manufacturer: CADDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (13+ for fanservice, mild language, themes)
Run Time: 01h:39m:21s
Release Date: December 11, 2001
UPC: 013023159297
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A-A C

DVD Review

Oh, my, my, my. The third and final installment in this "short" TV series brings to a close a new favorite. The adventures of the loveable mini maid have developed well beyond just a fanservice fest, into an endearing experience I wouldn't want to pass up for the world.

After the "big" surprise on the last disc, and the subsequent arrival of Mami (Kikuko Inoue), Kazuya Saotome's (Takayuki Yamaguchi) home is overflowing with young ladies, each of whom has a crush on the unsuspecting young engineering student. In There's So Much I Want (a fitting title for this reviewer...) a storm is brewing, and preparations are being made. This episode really adds depth to the show, by giving a great back story to Kazuya and Kasumi's relationship, further enhanced by May's reaction, which makes the remainder of the show all that much more poignant. The annoying Nanbara becomes comic relief as a typhoon descends upon the apartment complex, and our cast is in risk of being swept away in more ways than one.

Besides That...I Believe You sets up some competition between our cyberdolls, with Kazuya as the prize, and if you thought Nanbara was a nuisance, just wait until you meet...well, I won't spoil the surprise. As the show winds down, the set up for the final broadcast episode is a doozy.

Finally, May shows what she's made of in My Best, and the importance of her decisions is brought forward, which really punctuates everything that has happened so far. Her motto since Day One is called into play as the series has an unexpected but sadly resolute ending, coupled with an interesting structure that bypasses the opening song and instead tags on an epilogue. I laughed, I cried, this was one wonderful show, but wait, we're not done yet! While broadcast as ten episodes, the DVD release goes to eleven with a bonus episode to wrap things up—and what a finale! If you wanted more of May, you have it five times over in Never Give Up.

With an underlying premise that has seen many incarnations in anime, Hand Maid May manages to rise well above the ordinary with a touching story that has plenty of ups and downs, twists and surprises. The character development is exceptional, and I found it impossible not to be taken in by our little star and her band of companions. Each character had a great and distinct personality, and I even warmed to the boisterous Nanbara by the end. I did feel the level of fanservice well exceeded what I'd deem necessary, but it did add an additional layer of comic infusion with the near constant blushing going on throughout the cast. The Japanese voice actors did a superb job of conveying their parts, with their English counterparts not quite keeping up to par, but good nonetheless. My only regret is that this series was so...short (pardon the pun). I really hope we see a spin off sooner than later. This was way too fun to miss.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Once again the presentation looks great. Vibrant colors, solid blacks, no signs of rainbowing and only typical amounts of aliasing here and there. A fine-looking disc.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio, while not exactly bass heavy, is well-balanced tonally, with a fair amount of directional dialogue. No technical deficiencies were noted in either the original Japanese or English dub tracks. A pleasing presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean opening credits
  2. Character extras
Extras Review: Thankfully the startup feature on disc one is not repeated on the subsequent discs, allowing immediate access to the menu, once again featuring voiceover, which is language selectable, though the voice has to be playing to switch.

More error screens are present in the extras section. What works on this disc are only the last data set for all the CBDs, the rest of the options direct you to the disc they are on. Interesting the first time, kind of annoying after.

Disc three features two more, semi-hidden, clean opening credits variations, accessible by selecting the two video windows on the supplements screen. Pressing up on the menu buttons while on the topmost text selection.

The insert card this time features a half-dressed May on the front, May in nothing but an apron on the foldover, and Mami and Sara in their skivvies on the back. No shortage of fanservice here.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

I find it somewhat strange that an anime series could have the kind of impact Hand Maid May did, but it just goes to show that having great characters and a solid, moving story can override any of the shortcomings of relying on the eechi aspects of the series as a selling tool. From its catchy opening theme to its conclusion, Hand Maid May delivers in spades—hilarious, sad, exciting and unpredictable, all in only a ten-episode run. This three DVD set covers the extras department well, with a complete clean credits collection, a decent image gallery (on disc two), plus lots of extra artwork on the inserts. I loved this little show about a tiny housemaid with a huge heart. Highly recommended, just heed the age warning.


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