First Look: Shounen Maid

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Alternative titles: Boy Maid
Manga Adaptation by 8bit
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

When his mother and supposedly only living relative dies, Chihiro is left homeless and alone… until his filthy-rich his uncle shows up that is, and immediately sticks Chihiro in a maid outfit.

Artemis’ verdict: Breathing A Mental Sigh Of Relief, Still Not Watching It

This isn’t my kind of show, but it’s also not the kind of show involving either blackmail or leering uncles with an unhealthy interest in elementary school kids, regardless of how the synopsis makes it sound. No, this is a definite comedy (and not the ecchi kind either), pretty likely to be relatively family-friendly all the way through.

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That’s the good news. The bad news is that Shounen Maid still isn’t a good series, mostly because its comedy consists of a bunch of overused tropes and uninspired characters. Chihiro is basically the little boy version of Ouran High School Host Club’s Haruhi and Toradora’s Ryuuji put together, in that he’s a very independently-minded guy who takes a slightly manic approach to cleaning. The fact that his uncle puts him in a maid’s outfit is clearly supposed to be more amusing than creepy (the uncle is a legit costume designer and seems like the kind of guy who’d dress up everyone from his secretary to the postman if he could), but I found myself more bored than anything else. In fact, none of the jokes here are especially funny, and while Shounen Maid is pretty obviously going to go for some heart-warming messages about family and belonging, there’s absolutely nothing here we haven’t all seen numerous times before. Given that everything else about the show – artwork, animation, music, etc. – ranges from poor to average, I can see no reason why anyone would really want to waste their time with this.

Aqua’s verdict: No Frills Attached

As Artemis has already stated, you can rest easily: Shounen Maid is actually surprisingly innocent. There’s certainly a certain element of pandering to a certain fetish here, but it’d be a bit hypocritical to slam the show just for that when we watch anime about underage girls almost making out with each other on a weekly basis. In fact, Shounen Maid, with its bright colours, tame humour and strong focus on such timeless Disney-esque themes as finding a home and mourning the loss of a beloved parent, at times almost feels as if it was actually made for children. Unfortunately, because of this, Shounen Maid is kind of, well… boring. I don’t think it even tries to be funny enough to properly fish after the comedy label, so what we’re left with is the most cooking and cleaning I’ve seen in an anime since Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works.

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Nevertheless, Shounen Maid actually quite tries to figure something out with the material it’s been given. While the production values are sub-par and the directing is nothing to write home about, the script actually takes its sweet time highlighting different facets of the characters’ personalities without ever feeling like it’s moving too fast. In fact, it’s not until past the episode’s halfway point, after it’s been made abundantly clear that he’ll be working as Madoka’s housekeeper of his own volition, that Chihiro dons his frilly maid outfit. Unfortunately, all of the goodwill in the world can’t save Shounen Maid from being a slog to watch — it is neither poignant family drama, nor comedy nor highly questionable fanservice-fest for kiddie fiddlers. It’s an anime that, at this point, is mostly about chores. And I know Japan loves itself some maids, but I don’t think it’s particularly interested in what they usually do.

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