Hand Maid May anime review

Hand Maid May anime review
Saotome Kazuya is a computer whiz. One day his friend Nanbara, threatens him with a computer virus. Trying to stop the virus, Kazuya ends up making a special order. May is a cyberdoll that arrives at his door a few minutes later and she is 1/6th the size of a normal person, which makes for many awkward situations. Not to mention the fact Kazuya can't even afford to keep May. Cyberdyne is not satisfied with Kazuya's non-payments and will do anything to retrieve CBD May.

We almost made a pretty grievous error. We chanced upon the DVD of this at a local convention, but the entry menu was so frustrating, we just about gave up on this series. We figured, oh well, it's probably just another stupid harem anime with a bimbo cast, lots of cheesecake, and bad jokes. Might as well write it off from the get-go. But we went ahead and watched it anyway, since it looked cute.

It's a damn good thing we persevered through that menu, because what Hand Maid May is a genuinely sweet, well-acted, and thoroughly enjoyable bishoujo comedy that takes a well-trodden and seemingly played-out genre and twists it in clever and entertaining ways. And the show is every bit as sweet and cute as the cover implies, with the winsome May, in a role that could so easily have been irritating or cloying, being a whole lot of fun, while displaying an honest sense of innocence.

Granted, a lot of scenes in this show are anything but innocent, with some rather perverted humor played out for laughs. However, the vast majority of it is situational and pretty harmless, especially since the main male character, Kazuya, is not really perverted at all, but fairly innocent in his own right. The very first episode has a simply classic comedy scene involving, Kazuya, May, and a USB port - that's all we're going to say about that. But there is no explicit sex or nudity in this title, and content of that nature would be horribly out of place in this genuinely cute series. Kazuya may seem like this week's installment of Yet Another Loser Hero, but he's earnest and sweet, more like Love Hina's Urashima Keitarou, or even My Dear Marie's Karigari Hiroshi, than the true loser sociopath Techno from Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy.

A lot of the fun (and conflict) come from the main antagonists: the very rich and outgoing, but always second-fiddle Nanbara Koutarou, who constantly conspires to bring down his "rival" Kazuya (in a Science Fiction update of Jinnai Katsuhiko from El Hazard, with the same English voice actor, to boot), and an employee of the Cyber Doll Company (incidentally named Cyberdyne, yes you may laugh at the reference), a ramen-obsessed and brash young woman with pointy ears named Sara, who is trying to repossess May because Kazuya couldn't possibly afford the exorbitant fee for his accidental order. In comedy, there's nothing quite like seeing perfectly laid plans foiled by using the wrong noodles. And there's plenty of comedy in this pair, who play off each other exceptionally well.

In addition to Kazuya's neighbor, the tomboyish Kasumi (who is pretty much there to help out Kazuya while giving him, and the audience, lots of fan service shots), many of the episodes feature other girls, usually actually Cyber Dolls, who latch onto Kazuya (or those around him) in some sort of way. While that does sort of qualify this as a harem anime, the characters aren't too gratuitous, and we didn't find the sometimes formulaic scenarios to detract from our viewing experience.

The animation is really good for a television series, which should not surprise fans of Pioneer's work. The opening song is definitely cute enough to set up this show, while the soundtrack itself was pretty average, and not entirely memorable. What is memorable though, is the voice acting. In both Japanese and English, the acting is superb. We honestly don't know which versions of May and Nanbara we like better, to tell you the truth. Christi even likes the English dub better than that of El Hazard, which should tell you a whole lot about its quality. Tons of kudos to all the voice acting talent in this series, which despite the dang frustrating opening menu in the first volume, is still one of the best arguments yet for bilingual DVDs in the North American market.

Well-animated, well-written, and well, just darn cute, Hand Maid May truly deserves to be part of every anime fan's collection.

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: Hand Maid May. Watch it now:
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