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Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful - Volume 3 (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000132446
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 26/7/2010 13:41
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    Review for Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful - Volume 3

    6 / 10


    MVM's one volume per month release schedule is relentless, and when you are talking about seven episodes per disc, even a little daunting for a reviewer. But try and stand in the path of the wheels of progress, and you just get crushed into a rather yucky paste. So I'm trying gamely to keep up. This thinly veiled cry for help heralds the arrival of the final instalment of Mahoromatic - Something More Beautiful, a disc that I have been dreading somewhat, and that's just not my usual whimper at the workload. Mahoromatic may be a slightly subversive sci-fi comedy harem series, but it isn't the most perfectly paced one. Having seen the first series, I'm reminded strongly of two volumes of mirth and merriment, topped off with one volume of serious depression. As this second series has progressed, we've also had the two volumes of mirth and merriment. But at the end of the last volume, Mahoro, the android maid with a countdown timer to her existence, came to the end of her countdown. I suppose this final volume is where the depression kicks in again.

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    Mahoromatic is sort of part Evangelion and part Love Hina, unsurprising when you see that studios Gainax and Shaft produced the anime. It's set in an alternate world, where aliens invaded in the 1980s, and a group named Vesper created combat androids to protect the world from the insidious menace of Saint. Following a successful tour of duty, one such android faces the end of her existence. Mahoro has just 37 days left to live if she continues to fight, but if she shuts down her combat programming, that will be extended to 398, and given her exemplary service, her commanders offer her the choice as to how to live out her life. She decides to live out her last days, serving a young orphan named Suguru as his maid. But there is a reason why Mahoro has chosen Suguru. At the end of the first season, Mahoro had an inconclusive battle with the Saint android Ryuga, who was masquerading as Suguru's schoolteacher. Now as this second series begins, Ryuga and Mahoro have made peace, and Ryuga is trying out life as a human, when into Mahoro and Suguru's lap falls the cyborg warrior 370, quickly christened Minawa, who is fleeing her masters in The Management. You wouldn't have expected it, but Suguru's life is actually going to get more complicated.

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    Mahoromatic - Something More Beautiful concludes with four episodes, and MVM have thrown in the Summer Special OVA as a bonus, taking the episode tally up to five.

    11. A Wish, The Colour of Cherry Blossoms
    A last minute rescue by Slash and Ryuga may have saved Suguru and Mahoro's bacon, but their problems aren't over yet. Mahoro has been badly damaged, and worse, her countdown timer has run out. Vesper may be able to patch up the superficial damage, but that's all they can do, yet while Mahoro can finally come clean to Suguru about her part in his father's death, she still can't tell him everything. As for Minawa, Saint have offered to repair the cyborg, which means Minawa will have to go away for a while. As a farewell bash, everyone gets together for a hot springs trip.

    12. Annunciation
    While it seems that Suguru and the rest are getting back to their normal, if uncertain lives, The Management has taken the events from the previous battle and moved on apace. From the debris left after Mahoro's injuries, they've been able to ascertain the nature of Vesper, and have devised a plan to deal with them. They've also increased the level of their spacial displacement technology beyond the capabilities of Saint to anticipate. When the US President threatens to reveal all about the clandestine group, things come to a head. Suddenly the President is assassinated, and Vesper implicated. Also direct pressure is brought to bear upon Vesper's leader, when cyborg 227, Feldrance is ordered to kill Suguru. Mahoro may be living on borrowed time, but Suguru's grandfather begs her to undertake one final mission, to protect Suguru.

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    13. End of a Dream
    Vesper may be in disarray, its clandestine nature uncovered, its personnel under arrest, but it's all The Management's plan to annexe the group. Just to rub salt into the wound, they're throwing a big soiree in the Mediterranean to celebrate, and Suguru's grandfather Yuichiro is invited. He's bought enough time for Suguru and Mahoro to get away, and they've made it as far as the Yucatan. A jungle backdrop, sitting on the beach, watching the sunset together, it seems the perfect time for some confessions, but Mahoro and Suguru's respite is rudely interrupted when Feldrance catches up to them. This may just be Mahoro's final battle.

    14. Na-Geanna
    The conclusion.

    The Summer Special OVA
    It's time for total war. Mahoro has had just about enough of Suguru's dirty thoughts, and is declaring the end of his porn collection. However, erotic publications are a teenage boy's God given right, and Suguru is going to stand up for his rights. The battle is drawn down gender lines, girls versus the boys, and at stake is Suguru's life as an adolescent.

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    Mahoromatic gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, which is as clear and sharp as an NTSC-PAL conversion usually gets, relatively free of ghosting, and smoothly animated. This second series seems to have moved on from the hand drawn look of the first, and it's as clean and bright as most of the CG animated shows of the period. It certainly doesn't look as rough and organic as the first series. It's a pretty straightforward comedy anime, with simple character designs and fairly standard animation, and then one of the action scenes kicks in and you can see some of that GAINAX magic, fluid and expressive action, and with the sort of quirkiness that infuses shows like FLCL and would later show up in Gurren Lagann.

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    You have the usual anime choices of DD 2.0 English and Japanese, with optional signs and subtitles. I went with the Japanese track as always, and found it more than acceptable, if a little typical for comedy shows of the period. This is a show that is getting on in years, and the English dub is also showing its age. It's not Love Hina bad, but it certainly pales against modern efforts.


    The disc has static menus and a jacket picture, while each episode ends in a Satellite Poem.

    This final disc also offers the Clean Credit Sequences, although only the OVA ending. You get an Art Gallery with some 45 line-art and cel images. The disc is rounded off with trailers for Romeo X Juliet and Rozen Maiden.

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    Mahoromatic does it to me again! The first series comprised two volumes of saucy comedy antics, followed by a volume of serious drama and depression. This second series has the same ingredients, with two volumes of comedy that invariably saw a whole lot of nudity and Carry On level humour, and it's all topped off with three episodes which see the humour drained out, and the downward spiral to the inevitable unhappy ending. I say three episodes, as the fourth and final episode goes all Gainax, taking the Mahoromatic story into a completely unexpected direction, which I will refrain from spoiling here. If you've seen Gurren Lagann's ending, you'll now what sort of radical departure from the script to expect, and while it does somehow manage to pull out a satisfactory conclusion for Mahoro and Suguru, it does feel in many ways a disappointment as well. It's definitely a disappointment if you are invested in any other characters aside from the central duo. All I can say is that it is a delight and a relief that this disc concludes with the Summer Special OVA, as this episode takes the show back to its strengths. There's none of the serious stuff, and more of the comedy, and plenty of the scantily clad females and nosebleed afflicted teen males. It's the perfect note to go out on.

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    But somehow the climax of Something More Beautiful turns out to be a lot more accessible than the conclusion of the first series. For one thing, the comedy isn't completely leeched away, and there is just enough lightness of tone, even in the darkness of the story, to not make fans of the first two-thirds of the show completely lose interest. The pacing of the conclusion is also strong, with a fairly detailed narrative unfolding in the final episodes, rather than having just one confrontation stretched out beyond the show's ability to sustain. More importantly is that the story gets a proper conclusion, the confrontation between Saint, Vesper, and The Management has to be resolved, and more importantly, the question of Mahoro's limited remaining lifespan has to be resolved as well. It may not be an ending to everyone's liking, indeed being a fan of the frivolous and saucy side of Mahoromatic, I'm not too fond of the conclusion myself, but you can't say that the story isn't resolved.

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    I'm also not all that fond of the Na-Geanna final episode, although perhaps it's better termed a coda to the story. Personally, I think that what it does to Suguru is little more than a character assassination, and where it takes the Mahoro character goes beyond sci-fi and comedy and into the realm of metaphysics. That it is a happy ending is undeniable, but I keep asking 'What the hell kind of happy ending is it?" Bittersweet is an understatement. But as I said, by at least putting the Summer Special at the end of the disc, Mahoromatic goes out doing what it does best, being silly.

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    I guess that if you bought the first two volumes, you'll buy this one, but don't say that I didn't warn you. For the denouement, it all goes a little too Gainax at the end. I'm just relieved that everyone didn't turn into bright red goo…

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