Pete Zaitcev (zaitcev) wrote,
Pete Zaitcev


My computer is working on building me a 2.6.18-rc1, so I have a moment to report that I've just marathoned Mahoraba, with one 8 hour break after episode 17 (I'm not 20 anymore, guys, all right?). I wanted to see that show since I noticed it at a con about two years ago. Memory must certainly be playing tricks on me, because the ANN page claims that Mahoraba aired in 2005.

Anyway, coming down from 4 days of around the clock anime, I could not remember the title. All I knew that characters lived in an old single-floor appartment complex in the center of Tokyo, surrounded by skyscrapers, and the place was called "something-something villa". I asked various people on IRC, and nobody had a clue what I was talking about. When browsing in stores, I always kept this target in mind, and no dice. Needless to say, googling was hopeless, but I tried "anime villa" and all other keywords I could come up.

Eventually, I found it, after about a year of attempts. I do not remember how, but it was some clever Google trick. Something like "appartment manager personality tokyo" and filtering from there. Man, I'm persistent-obsessive. So, I found it and filed into the queue file.

On Friday I was looking at various titles at Anime Corner Store, and noticed that Mahoraba was curiously absent. Well, Robert (the proprietor) is known skip on stocking less profitable items, but the ANN hystogram was pretty good, soo... I went to Anime Nation - not there either. And then it dawned on me: Mahoraba is not licensed! Imagine my surprise. That certainly would explain why browsing in stores was no use.

So it was my faulty memory again. I always thought of it as some kind of older show, maybe from 2000. And since it wasn't half bad compared to some garbage we see licensed (Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.) it was inconceivable that it wouldn't. But here it was.

Immediately I ran to Animesuki, got torrent link, and ta-daa: by EOB Sunday I could write a report.

The executive summary is: Deeply flawed, but very enjoyable if the viewer is willing to play along.

The biggest formal problem with the show is that the hero violates the Den Beste Criterium of Good Harem Anime: "the one thing that invariably differentiates [...] is whether the male protagonist gets his act together." Or so it seems at first, so I spent about 8 episodes in impotent rage against the creators of this moron Shiratori. Scholars can argue, I suppose, if the Den Beste Criterium is applicable to Mahoraba, because it may not be a harem show in the strict sense. Shiratori lives in a communal multiplex with all these women, but they are not interested in him romantically, and the (absense of) feeling is mutual. Still, they do abuse him, down to the most harmless one, who drinks his juice from the communal fridge. Mahoraba came dangerously close to flunking it with my panel just by doing this crap and tesing my faith.

There are other problems, both formal and personal. Many aspects are derivative, for example a triangle of Shiratori, Kozue, and Tamami appears to be a carbon copy of the main triangle of CCS. Plot is holey and is held together with deus-ex-machinas of various stripes (fortunately, I don't give a damn). The biggest personal complaint I have is the filler. Mahoraba is a very clear example of show which would have a much better story if it were told over 13 episodes instead of 26 (plus-minus). Same allegations were levelled against Chobits.

To break up what seems to be turining into another of those hateful reviews, here's one curious thing I noticed. Very often when Shiratori moves, he becomes very similar to Tomo Takino from Azumanga Daioh. It's uncanny, because his character design is not very similar to Tomo's. Nonetheless, the effect is spooky. It is as if they retained an animator who just could not help himself or herself to do the same thing. When he stops moving and sits or stands, the effect dissipates. I wasn't able to capture a good illustration. The same effect is noticeable with another character, Sayako-san, who seems to steal facial expressions from Sakaki-san. It is not as pronounced though, so we can put it down to stock eyes etc.

Liked: more yes than no, and OP was rockin'
Rewatch: unknown at this stage, but probably yes

P.S. Mahoraba and Maburaho are entirely different things. Seriously, people, please pay attention. I understand that Japanese are masters of using confusing combinations of similarly sounding syllables, but still...

{Update: I threw together a few notes [link] separately, because a) this entry was getting too long and I did not want two entries for Mahoraba, and b) the addendum is spoiling, but I despise LJ "cut" feature. Using colors and selection at LJ is a chore as well, because entries can be seen in custom styles. Also, this diary is syndicated with aggregator's styles.}

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