Original Run: July 26, 2000 - September 27, 2000 Number of Episodes: 10 Genre: Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Hand Maid May. Reader discretion is advised.***
Kazuya Saotome (voiced by Takayuki Yamaguchi) is a university student living alone. He likes to tinker with his computer, and he has a knack for both electronics and robotics. He is also extremely easy going and a bit dense to the nefarious nature of some people.
As a consequence of that, Kazuya accidentally purchases an item from a mysterious company. When a package arrives, Kazuya is shocked to discover he had ordered a fully autonomous, albeit miniature robot of a pretty maid named May (voiced by Maria Yamamoto).
As the two start living together, it becomes clear that May is much more than a robot. She has feelings and is like any other person. Also, whether they realize it or not, Kazuya and May are developing an unbreakable bond between each other.
All cards on the table, I chose to review Hand Maid May for the novelty of showcasing a series that, at the time of this post going live, is nearly twenty years old. It is only in retrospect do I realize how silly that sounds, and I think I paid the price.
This show was terrible, plain and simple. Taking into account this series’ age, for Hand Maid May, there are three possibilities:
- It was awful, even for its time.
- It didn’t age well in the slightest.
- Both 1 and 2, and I am leaning towards this choice.
So, that begs the question: What were some positive aspects of this series?
First off, let me correct myself. “Positive aspects,” plural, needs to be changed to “positive aspect,” singular.
Second, please know, I am about to stretch and claw at whatever I can to say something here. I already made the mistake of watching this series, so I might as well add to this string of bad decisions by forcing myself to write on its behalf; even if only temporary.
With that in mind; I thought the animation was alright. This is where I feel my desire to highlight an older series came from, and I can’t promise I won’t do this again in the future. After all, a current hurdle anime today are trying to jump over is the use of CGI animation. There are plenty of examples that have created an optimism of what can be. However, there remain a lot of growing pains and the medium, as a whole, hasn’t worked out the kinks.
Therefore, when looking back to the year 2000 with shows like Hand Maid May, the option to throw in piss-poor CGI whenever and wherever possible simply wasn’t there. Well, that, or the desire to do so wasn’t as prevalent. Granted, this idea is rendered somewhat hard to defend since the first episode of FLCL (a genuine masterpiece for anime in case you don’t know) aired four months before Hand Maid May. But FLCL was a glorious exception; thus, I will stand by my argument.
With that said, what was it about Hand Maid May’s animation that worked for me?
Considering this series’ faults, it was quite energetic, and the visuals sufficiently reflected that. Albeit, high energy doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. Still, it was good this show didn’t have sluggish animation alongside its infuriating cast of characters, convoluted story elements, and irritating brand of loud-humor.
Where does one even start?
I know. Let’s talk about Hand Maid May’s visuals.
But Odyssey, you just said…
I said the animation was decent. However, what was animated was nothing more than hamfisted fanservice. Even twenty years ago, boobs could jiggle up, down, and every which way as the result of a slight breeze. When female characters spoke, often only their breasts were in the shot (again, dancing their physics-defying dance). Worst of all, Hand Maid May was one of those shows that apparently couldn’t help itself.
Even when this series was trying to have a serious moment – “serious” being a relative term – it wouldn’t stop with the fanservice.
Oh look, many of the characters are on the verge of death and are suffering incredibly, this is the perfect moment to throw in an up-skirt shot.
In case you are wondering, I’m not about to say that if the rest of Hand Maid May were better, this would have been something which could have been ignored. It may have been more tolerable, sure, but it would have remained distracting. As it happened to be, though, the rest of the show wasn’t better. In fact, the awkward fanservice wasn’t even the worst aspect; not by a long shot.
Hand Maid May didn’t have much of a story. Instead, it had plot points which formed something akin to a narrative. Whatever you want to call it, the result was the same. It was overly complicated, poorly paced, and for some reason, it sometimes made very little sense.
For instance — and please tell me if I’m wrong — I had assumed the whole reason behind this series was for May to be miniature in size. Well, color me surprised when halfway through the show, that idea was utterly abandoned. For reasons which involved a lot of unnecessary shouting and slapstick, May got a full-size body, and this story became an even more run-of-the-mill harem comedy.
Also, time travel existed, because, of course, it did.
But what does it matter? A lot, it matters a lot. Nevertheless, neither the fanservice nor the story was this show’s lowest. That dubious honor went to this series’ characters; as in, the entire cast. They were what made Hand Maid May such a slog.
When we were lucky, we only had to deal with the dull ones like May and Kazuya Saotome. They weren’t too bad, but they are proving to be forgettable. Still, that is immensely more preferable than someone like Kotaro Nanbara (voiced by Yuji Ueda).
I hated this character so much. Hand Maid May was already going down without Kotato’s help; he just ensured everything was much more painful as it happened. I would say he was like a rat; except I don’t mind rats and I wouldn’t want to insult them. Kotaro had one of those faces that screamed, “Please punch me as hard as you can.” I had thought — or more likely, hoped — he was going to be a bit player, but alas. Kotaro was a prominent figure throughout Hand Maid May.
By the way, Kotaro was just the most intolerable. Other characters were like him, but, thankfully, not as bad as him.
Here is where I would typically comment on how fortunate it was Hand Maid May was only ten episodes long, except I can’t do that this time. Since this series was actually ten episodes too long, I am glad to be done with it.
It always annoys me when people say the anime of today is nothing like the anime of yesterday. Outstanding shows are coming out now, but there is a lot of trash too; I will admit that. However, the same was true twenty years ago.
Only the truly great series are remembered fondly. This was not one of them.
This show did try to do a lot. The problem was, it failed to pull anything off. With a weak story and horrible characters, this series should remain a footnote of anime history.
Hand Maid May is one you can skip.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Hand Maid May? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.