Now, I have a problem with gender-bender shows. I sometimes feel it is a way to do some kind of psycho-sexual profiling to determine that you would much prefer the company of goats because I happen to like this or that or the other thing. (Don’t laugh; I allowed myself to get one of these profiles in a class and the examiner felt I had the potential to be a molester or rapist. I certainly didn’t get a lot of dates after that!)
I was drawn to this show (which translates out to “The Maidens Are Falling for Me”; also known as “Otoboku”) because I really liked the initial idea:
Mizuho Miyanokouji is your typical male anime dweeb: nothing too flashy, but nothing too interesting. His grandfather passed away and made both a stipulation and provisions in his will for our young charge to attend and graduate from Seio Academy, as Mizuho’s own mother graduated from this very institution. This is great, as this guy would have problems getting back into grade school.
However, complications arise (and you ALL saw this coming). In the intervening years, the academy has now become a girls-only school. Determined to get an education, he decides to cross-dress. Now, he has a natural disposition to looking androgynous, so it makes the transitions a bit easier, although one of his female friends, Mariya Mikado, who also attends the academy, assists in these matters. (Mizuho is the perplexed one in the center; Mariya is winking at us).
Sion Jujo, another classmate, tumbles pretty quick to the fact as to what is going on, but decides to remain silent (she is just off Mizuho’s right shoulder). Now, there is nothing prurient in all of this. It’s not like they are engaging in illicit activities in hiding the truth. I think it is done more to put one over on the teachers.
His/her presence does not go unnoticed and s/he in almost immediately thrust into the spotlight when the election for The Elder (think of it like a mentor program) comes up and, despite being a newbie, wins the title, much to the chagrin of a rival, Takako Itsukushima (blondie to the far left), who makes a spirited argument as to why Mizuho should NOT be an Elder.
Now, the story does not revolve merely around how Mizuho tries to avoid detection, but how s/he really makes an impact on these people’s lives. For a person who had no confidence in himself, he is able to inspire others to believe. He does have a fear that once he is found out, all this work will be for naught and the value of his words is tarnished, but he forges on.
The one aspect that bothered me is that how the students either choose to be fooled or are really clueless in these matters. No one can keep a secret of this nature covered up and how many animes have we seen when the girls are in the locker room and start commenting about breast size and checking each other out? No, just go with the flow.
It is, for the most part, a gentle show, even when the dramatic sequences crop up and you never really fear that he is going to get bounced out of the academy. It is a good looking show and you do have the typical bosomy girls thrusting outwards, but I think that is done more for fan service. I mean, there is no episode where Mizuho has to worry about being a gnomon when it’s physical time (the rest of you can look that up when you get home), although we do have a ghost story sequence and the more he tries to resist being a leader, the harder he is pressed into service. (The girl in white in the front? That’s Ichiko; she’s a ghost)
It is a 12-episode run, but the 13th one (an OVA) is a rather delicious send-up of the Cinderella tale. OK, it is a true filler, but you need a bit of a break.
I did like this show, despite the fact that not only was there a huge suspension of disbelief required, but I had to send it packing to a vacation resort somewhere in the Catskills for the summer. Despite that, I rather enjoyed myself.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Good artwork, but the big eyes get tiresome)
Plot 7 (Just a skotch thin)
Pacing 8 (Slow and steady)
Effectiveness 7 (There could be a bit more tension in the story)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘save point’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 3 (A similar show would be “UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie”)
Overall 7 (A pleasant waste of time)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. How important is getting an education?