Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final Thoughts: Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season

...meanwhile, in the final episode of Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season, NOTHING HAPPENED. And Touko is too cute in this episode, it gave me goosebumps.
EPISODE 13: In Search of You
More Screencaps from Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th 13

Picking up from the last episode, Sachiko makes her move by asking Yumi to stand up. But before Yumi could do as she asks, Touko arrives at that moment, crying Yumi's name. Then, she quickly walks over to Yumi and apologizes for all her misdemeanors, then asks her to make her (Touko) Yumi's little sister. Naturally, Yumi is shocked. She stands up but remains speechless. While the girls are busy staring at each other, Mami announces that the search for the Roses' cards is over and orders all participating students to return to the assembly area. As for Yumi's red card, it turns out that she's been sitting on it all this time and although Sachiko figured it out, she gives in to Touko, saying only that though she asked Yumi to stand up, in the end it was Touko who made Yumi stand up.

And so the red card goes to Touko. We all know that Yoshino's card was found by Chisato so that leaves only Shimako's, which was never found and instead goes to the student who made the closest guess. Later, Yoshino, Shimako and Noriko press Yumi for details on the great Touko x Yumi soap opera but apparently nothing has been decided yet. Much later, Yumi meets up with Touko to discuss their upcoming date. In the course of their conversation, Yumi decides to give Touko her rosary but before she can they are interrupted by Touko's senpai at the Drama Club. Touko leaves, telling Yumi to leave the 'little sister' issue until after their date.

Not long after, Yumi and Touko's important day arrives. But instead of the usual places, Touko brings Yumi to the Matsudaira Hospital outside of Tokyo to meet her grandfather. It turns out that the grandfather knows about Yumi through Sachiko's grandmother, Sayako. After the meet, Touko shows Yumi around the hospital, explaining that she intends to take over the place some day. Also, Touko reveals that she is not the Matsudaira's real daughter but that of a young couple who died in a vehicular accident. Touko's real mother is her foster mother's high school classmate at Lillian Academy. Hearing this, Yumi realizes that this is what Kashiwagi referred to as Touko's secret and begins to understand her a little bit more. The two hug each other and it becomes pretty much set that Yumi will give Touko her rosary with Sachiko watching over the proceedings.
That's the end.

I don't really have much to say about the series..... Honestly, I don't. What can I say about a bunch of school girls who perhaps maybe probably sway the other way and their little everyday dramas? NOTHING HAPPENS for thirteen episodes. I mean, I'm sure there are a few minor issues tackled here and there and there were some genuinely good moments but that is all that the series is good for: moments (and very rare at that).

Watching this current installment of the series and thinking back on the previous seasons, I'm beginning to suspect that the reason I even got into the Maria-sama ga Miteru franchise is the awesome characters of the previous seasons. I'm referring to the original Roses, of course -- Youko, Eriko and Sei. Not that I don't like the current Roses now. For instance, I really, really like how Noriko turned out and her friendship with the others, particularly Touko and I don't mean that in a lesbian way. Heck, I'm not even getting into that because this series is so mild you can choose to view it every which way you want. As a matter of fact, until I got to Episode 10 of the first season and did some reading on the franchise, I had no idea Maria-sama ga Miteru was even a yuri series. I just assumed that in a Catholic girls' school like the setting for this series, students commonly experience all forms of admiration, however extreme some of them may appear to be. Even now, I still just see the relationships of these girls as platonic, although I do indulge myself in the occasional crack pairings for fan service and for the laughs.

Anyway, so going back, I think that this latest installment of Maria-sama ga Miteru didn't do a thing for me because these characters, while likeable, aren't Youko, Eriko or Sei. And because of that, I just can't bring myself to care about what happens to them. That I believe is why I don't particularly like Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th. When you have a series that is anchored not on its plot (because it's virtually nonexistent) but purely on its characters, and I, as viewer, don't like the characters, then you've got a problem. Because no matter how good the series is and what great values are being imparted along the way, you can't make me care one bit.

But let me be fair to the series, its maker and the fandom. The fourth season is GOOD. Character development is still the name of the game and we see the younger generation of Roses come into their own. Touko, I think, has the most development as she realizes and learns a few things and finally come to terms with Yumi. Noriko, I've already mentioned several times, her character revelation happens entirely in the background but is not the worse for that. I consider it a testament to the brilliant script and the excellence of the source material when the story's main focus is Yumi and Touko but does not forget all the other characters even if all it does is offer a word or two that is more revealing than an entire episode devoted exclusively to that particular character. Thus, while Yumi and Touko resolve their issues, we see Noriko coming out of her shell, Shimako's hands-off approach to being an onee-sama (and thus becoming more and more like Sei), Yoshino and Rei's heartwarming and frequently amusing tiffs, and Sachiko's benevolent hands in most everything Yamayurikai-related.

Production values are also pretty consistent. I guess this is the result of the tie-up with Pizzahut. I think I miss Pastel Pure as an OP theme, not that I don't like Chizu Sanpo (the song grows on you after a while). As for the ED theme, I don't really have any comments about the song other than that it's a suitable choice. Also, I have nothing but gratitude for Studio Deen for the fan service of the ending clip. lol

Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th is an okay series. Not as good as I would have wanted it to be but that's only because I'm biased towards the previous seasons. In all honesty, if you are a fan of the Yumi x Touko pairing or just want to try something light for a change, you might enjoy this. Incidentally, I read that the light novels are finally complete so for those people who are following the light novel versions, this offers a chance to relive your favorite character's life at Lillian before saying your final goodbye.