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Odex Private Limited presents
Hand Maid May (R0) (2000)

"It doesn't matter if you're human or a Cyberdoll."
- Satome Kazuya (Takayuki Yamaguchi)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: July 26, 2002

Stars: Maria Yamamoto, Takayuki Yamaguchi, Mikako Takahashi, Yugi Ueda
Other Stars: Kyoko Hikama, Miwa Yasuda, Omi Minami, Rye Kugimia
Director: Shinichiro Kimura

Manufacturer: Cross Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (fan service, comic violence, mild language)
Run Time: 04h:18m:54s
Release Date: June 20, 2001
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+BA D-

DVD Review

Anime is always strong on wish fulfillment, with geeky males surrounded by gorgeous women, all crazy about them. One of the more recent and winning variants is the short series, Hand Maid May, about the misadventures of a computer geek and his tiny robotic handmaiden, May.

Satome Kazuya (Takayuki Yamaguchi) is trying to develop robotic intelligence when he accidentally orders from Cyberdine (over the Net, of course) a hand maid robot. When the robot, May (Maria Yamamoto), arrives, Kayuza is somewhat disconcerted to find she's only 12 inches tall. His new robot soon falls in love with him, as does his sexy neighbor Kasumi (Mikako Takahashi), intellectual Kei and Cyberdine delivery/collections woman Sala (Kyoko Hikama). Over the space of ten episodes (plus an eleventh denoted as a 'movie'), the robotic world and the human world overlap to a significant extent, fueled by the human-like robots of Cyberdine and the machinations of wealthy and spoiled Nanbara Kotaro (Yugi Ueda) to obtain May for his own. Of course, there are problems aplenty just in the fact that Kazuya doesn't have the money to pay for May, leading to fears she will be repossessed by Cyberdine.

While the early episodes have a significant emphasis on a leering fan service (comically rendered ironic by a later episode where the female characters disapprove of some of Kazuya's risqué videos), soon a good-natured charm takes over. There's plenty of comedy and romance, and the character design is winning as well. The romance is fun, and always quite off balance. The female characters are all obsessed with a soap opera, "Love Tornado," that forms a detached and comic observation on the goings-on of the series proper.

Even in the short run here, the characters quickly develop a personality through odd quirks, such as Sala's addiction to massive quantities of Ramen noodles. At times Kotaro is a bit overbroadly done, but the positive qualities of the characterization more than make up for this failing. The thematic material isn't all frivolous either. The question of what constitutes human intelligence and how that memory really might be different from that of artificial intelligence lends the subject a bit more depth than it might have otherwise.

The series shows signs of growing repetitive quickly, with Sala and Kotaro trying to get May over and over. The producers apparently recognized this and by episode 5 have thrown some major changes into the works (including a fundamental alteration for May herself). This helps keep the series fresh and interesting through to the end. Indeed, I was left wanting more.

This Singapore version is region 0 and in NTSC format so that it can be played on any US DVD player without special equipment. Licensed from Pioneer, this is not a bootleg. Priced substantially lower than the Region 1 discs, this makes for an attractive option for anime fans on a budget. It includes the original Japanese openings and endings, so those for whom this is an important point will definitely find this disc of interest, since they're not on the Region 1 Pioneer discs.

I'm not ordinarily a sucker for cuteness, but this series is so charming that it wears down the defenses quite readily. The music is infectious, with a enjoyable recurring motif that sounds like Benny Goodman's Sing, Sing, Sing through a Japanese prism.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The full frame video generally looks very good, with excellent color and sharp definition. There is some dot crawl and aliasing present, and one visible instance of pixelation, but overall this looks quite good.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseno

Audio Transfer Review: The only audio track provided is the Japanese 2.0 original, and no English dub is here. The sound is quite good indeed, with nice definition, crystal clear voices and fine sounding music. Occasionally the music has a seriously deep and surprisingly prominent bass. A rainstorm sequence in episode 8 has a very nice enveloping effect. Directionality is pronounced at times, but not overdone. No complaints whatsoever.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 11 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Chinese, Malaysian with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tenchi Muyo in Love 2: Tenchi Forever, Sol Bianca, Boys Be..., Battle Athletes, Nazca, Serial Experiments Lain
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra is a set of promos for other series licensed by Odex from Pioneer: Tenchi Muyo in Love 2: Tenchi Forever, Sol Bianca, Boys Be..., Battle Athletes, Nazca and Serial Experiments Lain. All are quite brief and unsubtitled Japanese. English subtitles are provided in the main series, though they're over rendered in Englese rather than English. Nonetheless, they're generally easy enough to follow. Nothing else, though. Chaptering is extremely weak, with a stop for each episode. There is, however, a 'play all' option for each disc.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A highly entertaining and even moving anime that is full of light comic touches as well as sentimentality. Female viewers may be put off by the fan service and the blatant male wish fulfillment, but once you get past that it's definitely worth viewing. Some minor video transfer problems, but quite a serviceable option.


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