Mariya IseMiyuki SawashiroMinori ChiharaYuka Iguchi
Mayo Chiki
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2011
Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi
Writer: Reiko Yoshida
Original creator: Hajime Asano
Actor: Eri Kitamura, Kana Asumi, Kana Hanazawa, Keiji Fujiwara, Mariya Ise, Minori Chihara, Miyuki Sawashiro, Satoshi Hino, Tsuguo Mogami, Yuka Iguchi
Keywords: anime, harem
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Website category: Anime early 10s
Review date: 1 December 2023
mayo chiki
It's not aggressively repellent. It's not Green Green, or another bad harem anime along those lines that I've tried in the past and then immediately dropped. I managed to reach the end... but by that point I'd lost all patience and regarded it as absurd and stupid.
Our hero, Jiro, has an embarrassing full name and, supposedly, a fear of women. This is implausible nonsense and he's obviously not afraid of them at all. He's afraid of nothing, actually, because his mother is a professional wrestler and his little sister uses ultra-violent moves on him every morning. He's fine with this. Being a punchbag is his talent. The so-called gynophobia is just a harem anime contrivance to put an artificial obstacle between him and the girls and to attempt to explain why he isn't taking advantage of his good luck.
Instead of fear, he gets nosebleeds. That's it.
He's a decent chap, though. Nothing wrong with him, beyond his implausible nobility when girls make a move on him. (If all schoolboys were like this, mankind would go extinct.) As for the harem, I'll list them in order of likeability.
1. SUBARU KONOE the superhumanly handsome chick magnet butler of his super-rich classmate, Kanade Suzutsuki. All the girls fancy him. They make fan clubs that resemble the Hitler Youth and fight wars with each other. Secretly, though, Subaru is a girl! Her idiot father made her go to school as a boy and said he'd ban her from being a butler if her secret got discovered. Both she and Kanade take this so seriously that murder is their first reaction when Jiro finds out in ep.1. (His hand found her boob.)
Konoe's quite nice, though. Nothing wrong with her, except for the attempted murder in ep.1 and that's because she's surreally, absurdly intent on her life goal of being Kanade's butler. She's the romantic lead.
Always cheerful and upbeat. Buxom, pretty and without a mean bone in her body. She's lovely. She's also, though, an absurd cartoon. She's a glasses-loving BL fangirl. If she sees glasses being put at risk, she'll hurl herself to save them, even if this means discarding hundreds of pounds' worth of equipment, or jumping off a tall building's roof.
Ep.13 also thinks she's more attractive without her glasses. Er, no. Definitely the opposite.
Jiro's little sister. She ties him in knots every morning as part of her pro-wrestling practice. She also falls in love with Konoe's male facade and has the brains of a water flea when it comes to transparent disguises.
Gratuitous violence aside, though, she's friendly and nice. She also doesn't want to shag her brother! (That shouldn't need saying, but... well, anime. She's the only one of the five girls never to have a date with him, for instance.)
She settles down a lot. After her first couple of episodes, she's still a violent tsundere but also enough of a human being to be mostly likeable-ish. We understand her issues.
In those introductory episodes, though... yeeesh. She's rude as hell, she hurtles to stupid conclusions and she defaults to violence. A lot. And she can fuck off. Seriously, my shorthand in notes for her was Fuck Off Girl. Her misunderstandings made me ask "was that meant to be funny?" I disliked her so much that I disliked Jun by association, for letting himself get dragged into her silliness instead of just walking away. She doesn't have any friends and we're supposed to care. (Whereas in fact we're going "gee, what a surprise".) Then, she gets worse.
Konoe's employer. Sometimes she really cares about Konoe. Sometimes she's giving Jun a "will obey one order" ticket that Konoe cannot disobey and suggesting that he demand sexual favours. (That gave me the creeps.) Sometimes she's threatening murder to try to preserve Konoe's secret, then in the very next episode she gratuitously pushes Konoe into a situation in which that secret would almost certainly be unmasked. For laughs. She's manipulative, wildly untrustworthy and the kind of person you might emigrate to avoid. (Despite being sexy and a tease.)
And then we have...
The show's not even trying to be credible. It's vitally important that Konoe hides her true gender, but in ep.6 she goes around in a Chinese dress that shows her cleavage. And no one realises. The fan clubs are eye-rolling (as are their Klu Klux Klan outfits). In ep.7, Usami kicks someone so hard that blood splatters when she hits the wall... and it's just throwaway slapstick for a trivial offence. You can cause selective memory loss with violence to make them forget seeing you nude. Ep.12's petition doesn't make sense. (Classmates signing a petition is enough to get Konoe reinstated as a butler? What?) Ep.13 goes through absurd into "head-bangingly stupid" before revealing that we'd had an unreliable narrator.
At its best, this show is warm and nice. At its worst, though, it's so silly that it's almost unwatchable. It's not even trying to maintain your suspension of disbelief. It's the kind of show that thinks it's funny to make you roll your eyes at stupidity.