Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Impression: Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season

One of my more anticipated series, Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season ("Marimite 4th," from here on) did not quite meet my initial expectations but did provide a few good laughs, a bit of foreshadowing of some little drama involving one of the new characters, awesome Sachiko moments, and a mention of the older Roses, namely, Sei and Youko, OH EM GEE!!

And now, for some proper first impressions:
EPISODE 01: Big Shock at the School Festival
More Screencaps from Marimite 4th 01
OP: Chizu Sanpo (kukui) [4shared][YouTube]
ED: Kumori Garasu no Mukou (Hikita Kaori) [4shared][YouTube]

The new OP and ED themes have caused quite a stir in the fandom. Personally, I liked the instrumental version of "Pastel Pure" because of its simple elegance and hated the vocal version. I have yet to form an opinion on "Chizu Sanpo," however, as I got too distracted by the clip of Yumi, Yoshino and Shimako careening around the entire school via a magical portal. WTF? The same goes with the ED theme if only for the unabashedly gay NOTSUBTEXT all over the place, hot though it is.
ain't no tea, baby, just magic
this is hot, BUT
i have a thing for kimonos

Anyhoo, this episode basically is about the Yamayurikai of Lillian Girls' Academy deciding to do a school play version of the Torikaebaya Monogatari, which is about two siblings who decided to switch genders. It seems that Sachiko has determined that Yumi and her look-alike brother, Yuuki, will play the two main protagonists, whether they like it or not.
girl is reduced to a blithering idiot

And so begins Yumi's troubles this season. Of course, it doesn't end there as one of the new girls in the show, the Bean Pole (a.k.a. Kanako), has issues about men in general and her father in particular and the other new girl, the Power Drill (a.k.a. Touko) gets into some drama with the Drama Club.
the new girls

I haven't actually seen the "third" (NOTE: I put this in quotation because the episodes are released as DVD specials and therefore do not comprise your regular season) season of Maria-sama ga Miteru so maybe that explains the slight disconnect I'm feeling. The Haru season ended with the great Sachiko x Yumi make outup after that little tiff they had over Touko and Sachiko's dead grandmother, and that's pretty much the last image I have of the series. So when Marimite 4th picked up right where the "third" season left off, I find myself in unfamiliar grounds. It's like, "Wait a minute, this is not the Marimite I remember" or something like that. Plus, I don't remember this to be quite so ohmygodnothinghappens but that's probably just me and my occasional short memory loss.

Let's dissect. The episode's highlight is, of course, Sachiko and her Fearsome Sparkly Eyes of Doom (TM). Damn, and I thought Youko is a manipulative bitch but oh how I am mistaken! Youko has spawned a demon:
the eyes say it all: "Yumi, you, me, SECKS AFTER TEA!"
"Yumi, it's about time for the ritual gang-rape. Gokigenyou ~"
"Are you having un-Christian thoughts, Yumi?"
"You can expect my habitual awesomeness, tea, and date-rape on our first-year anniversary."

Production value is not as great as, say, episode 01 of Season One, but better than a lot of the crappy episodes from the Haru season. At least, we don't see any of the characters in off-angle or just badly drawn. I have issues about the OP and ED themes but the insert music -- "Pastel Pure" in violin -- is perfectly dreamy.

The new characters I like. Touko-chan is totally tsun for Yumi while Kanako, though too morose for this show, is sympathetic enough to make me not hate her on first sight (oh, but she is tall). Arisu...I don't think I've seen him before and that's why I was all WTF when he started spreading his flaming gayness all over the episode. Is he a significant character? Probably not. Looks like he's only there as a comic relief. So going back to Kanako, at least this girl is going to have the next episode to resolve her current existential malaise.

Speaking of the next episode, OH. MY. GOD:
is that Sei-sama's new waifu? nooooo
i totally had a heart attack when i heard Sei and Youko are going to join the festivities
lol, Youko should have stuck with her corporate power woman look

Well, at least, I have something to look forward to next week. Maria, I don't think I can watch this series without my favorite older Roses around. UNLESS Sachiko finally strips Yumi's clothes and has her way with her or something equally incredible happens with Shimako, Noriko, and tea-flavored jell-o.
More Info:

Official Website
Wikipedia Article
Marimite 4th Season @ ANN
WATCH Marimite 4th Season Trailer