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Hanaukyo Maid Team #1: Welcome to Hanaukyo
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Written by maehara   
Monday, 03 May 2004 00:00
Hanaukyo Maid Team - Volume 1A manga that apparently is so good they made it into 2 separate anime series - it's Hanaukyo Maid Team...

1 - Master?!
When Tarou's mother died, her dying wish was that he go to live with is grandfather in Tokyo. Fair enough - a guy's gotta live somewhere - but nobody told him is grandfather was one of Japan's richest men & that he kept an army of maids training to look after his every whim, physical or otherwise - so when Tarou arrives at his new home, he's overwhelmed by the sheer number of women eager to make in happy in every way (and I do mean every way...). It's up to head maid Mariel to explain the situation to a shocked Mariel...

2 - Tarou's School
Tarou's first day at school since inheriting the maids - and by his express request he's going to a local state school, not wanting to be stuck in a school with a lot of rich kids. Like all new kids, he's expecting it to take a while for him to settle in, but with the maids working behind the scenes it proves to be easier than he thought - although their tactics are sometimes a little drastic...

3 - The Hanaukyo Household's Great Disaster
Tarou meets Ikuyo, the bespectacled maid who's the technical whiz of the maid team. Holed out in the Mecha Division's labs beneath the mansion, she spends her time working on some weird and wonderful inventions. When Tarou visits her, she's working on Tenki-kun, her latest idea that's meant to control the weather - although he seems to have more of a talent for mansion-destroying than anything else...

4 - A Rival Appears?!
While Tarou's working on the rebuilding of the mansion, a giant airship appears, carrying Ryuuko Jihiou, heir of a rival family to the Hanaukyo's. She's come to see who the new head of the family is, and she's more than a little disappointed when she sees it's a 'midget' - although in his own way Tarou does manage to make a lasting impression on her...

5 - About Mariel
A day at the beach for Tarou and the maids, and Tarou's happy just to lie on the beach and admire Mariel in her swimsuit. Not a quiet day for long, though as Ryuuko appears in the family battlecruiser... Later in the day & the gang retreat to the local hot springs, coincidentally run by Tarou's classmate, Sankouda. When Sankouda tries to go peeking on the maids while their in the hot springs (what guy with normal hormones wouldn't), Tarou tries to stop him - but not before Sankouda notices that Tarou seems to have the hots for Mariel...

6 - A New Face Arrives
Konoe, head of the Defense Division, arrives back from Europe, and with her the relaxed days at the mansion seem to have ended. She's not at all happy at how security at the mansion seems to have become so lax since Tarou arrived and is determined to tighten things up again - and dont get her started on Tarou's insistence on working... As usual, though, Tarou has his own way of bringing her round to his way of thinking...

7 - Tarou's Day Off
It's the weekend - most people look forward to the weekend, but not Tarou - he has an army of maids back home to keep in gainful employment, which means is time is spent at their beck and call, with the ever-watchful Mariel standing by to fire any maid who Tarou feels isn't required. Faced with the prospect of any ex-maids turning to unsavoury professions (possibly involving red lights or street corners at night...), poor Tarou's weekend turns into pure hell...

8 - The Brain of the Hanaukyo Household
Tarou already knows Cynthia, the youngest of the maids and a mute girl - but Cynthia isn't entirely all she appears - she has something of a split personality, and by night the other side, Grace, comes to the fore. Grace is a real computer whiz & is head of the Information Bureau. When the family computer systems are faced with a hacker attack, it's up to Grace to save the day - but it's daytime, which makes getting hold of Grace easier said than done...

One of these days I'll get used to the pacing differences between anime & manga. I think I'm often spoiled by seeing the anime first... In this case, though, the first attempt at a Hanaukyo anime (by m.o.e.) strayed from the manga in a few places, so there were enough differences here that I couldn't just flick through the book with half an eye on the pages. Less of a reliance on fanservice in the manga, too - the m.o.e. anime put directly on screen a lot of things that the manga just hints at. Have to admit I'm not sure which is the best approach...

Take away the majority of the fanservice, though, and you're left with a story that is almost pure sitcom, with a hint of romance (Tarou & Mariel, maybe) thrown in, and it works really well. In theory there's a huge cast here, but the scope of the stories is limited to a small enough group of the maids that you don't lose track of who's who. While a lot of the characters are pure stereotype, the stories are well enough written that things aren't too predictable.

Not a bad way to pass an hour or two, then. Ironcat, the company releasing the series, had some problems between volumes 1 and 2, but volume 2 is finally on sale, so here's hoping they can finish the series without any more hitches.


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