Maid Sama Volume 6

5.0 out of 5 stars Enter: The Rival

Maid Sama! Volume 6

After the full-blown hijinks of the Butler Battle in Maid Sama! Volume 5, Hiro Fujiwara brings us back to earth with a more serious focus on the characters in “Maid Sama Volume 6.”

This volume starts with a typical set-up, having Misa put in charge of supplying refreshments to the sports teams while they are cleaning up their practice space. Misa is, of course, a terribly bad cook but she puts her heart into anything she tries, and Usui is there to lend a hand as usual. This storyline had some nice revelations about Misa and Usui, including Misa’s acknowledging that the only reason she thinks Usui is interested in her is because she Is the only girl who says no to him, and that she goes on rejecting him because she is afraid of losing his interest. Their relationship is growing nicely, and there were some touching moments in Volume 6.

But of course, in the period of greatest sweetness, there shall come a rival. In this case it is Hinata Shintani, a cool-looking transfer student. Hinata moved away when he was very young, but he has finally returned with the sole goal of reuniting with his childhood sweetheart. Who could that be? And is Usui going to be happy to hear the news?

There are some other great moments in Volume 6 as the class goes on a camping trip that actually turns out to be intense training at a Buddhist temple. This had one of my favorite scenes in the series, where you got to see the girls through the eyes of “Boy Vision.” Yeah, it’s true. Then there are some other heavy moments, as Aoi pesters Misa for being too boyish, not realizing that he is doing to her exactly what everyone does to him regarding his cross-dressing. Aoi thinks it is OK for a boy to dress girlish, but not for a cute girl to dress boyish. Finally, Yukimura’s little sister becomes obsessed with “Prince Usui” and wants to go on a date, but Misa concocts a fiendish plan to set things right. How far will she go to play her role?

“Maid Sama” is one of the most consistently best manga out there, and is always a good time to read. I liked the more-serious tone of this issue, but I know it won’t be too long before the usual wackiness takes over.

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Maid Sama! Volume 4

5.0 out of 5 stars Beach balls and Bikini Maids

Maid Sama! Volume 4

In any manga with this many girls gathered together, they will eventually hit the beach, and that is just what happens in this latest volume of “Maid Sama”(Japanese title “Kaicho wa Maid-sama!” or “Student Council President is a Maid!”). In your typical comic that would quickly lead to lots of close-ups of the girls in their swimwear and most likely someone walking in on someone changing, leading to endless hijinks and misunderstandings. However, as I have learned, “Maid Sama” is not your typical comic.

The story opens with a bizarre little encounter with new character Soutarou Kanou, a woman-hater with amazing powers of hypnotism. Although Usui is immune to his influence (of course) Misaki finds that she quickly falls under his spell, and so Soutarou plants a command in her that, if she sleeps at all during the next 24 hours, she will awaken hating Usui. What follows is a contest between the three to keep Misaki awake. This story is followed by a short story on the various clubs wanting to recruit in-coming middle-schoolers, but everyone wants Usui to join their club first.

The real action begins when all the girls of Café Maid Latte head to the beach resort of Satsuki’s younger sister Nagisa, who are both the aunts of the cross-dressing Aoi. Of course, Usui is along for the ride as well. However, his anticipation of seeing Misaki in a bikini are crushed when she happily steps out in her one-piece school bathing suit, swim cap included. Nagisa is worried about the slow business at her resort, so the girls do what they do best and chip in as “Bikini Maids” wearing their maid aprons and bonnets over bikinis in order to drum up business. Finally, Aoi is forbidden from cross-dressing by his aunts, who want to make him manlier, and the only road open to him to wearing the frilly dresses he so adores is to win the beach volleyball tournament. Misaki agrees to be his partner, but is surprised when Usui puts together a team to oppose them. Why does Usui want Misaki to lose?

The final story in volume four is a “non continuity” tale where Misaki and Usui perform the Japanese fairly tale “Momotaro the Peach Boy.” I enjoyed this, as it finally gave the Idiot Trio a chance to pop up, and was a nice twist on a familiar legend, without taking away from the ongoing story line.

This volume is decorated with a “letters column” of sorts with Misaki and Usui answering reader questions scattered between the pages. They finish up with about five pages of one-line questions and reader requests. Very funny.

I really love the humor in “Maid Sama,” which plays against conventions for your typical shojo book and delivers lots of laughs. Volume four does have more romance in it than previous volumes, and Usui is slowly showing his nicer side to Misaki. In previous volumes, I could understand why Misaki was turning down the “perfect guy,” but here it becomes less clear and you can tell Misaki is questioning her rejection as well. There is an “almost” scene between Misaki and Usui that was nice, and of course they were interrupted at just the right moment.

Series author Hiro Fujiwara’s art continues to be excellent, and I think she manages to move between styles very well. The overly-cute maids contrasts with Misaki’s tomboy looks and attitudes, and Usui continues to be a nice play on the stereotypical bishonen.

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