Maid Sama! Book 1

Misaki is an attending a former all-boys’ school that’s now co-ed but still mostly male. She’s president of the student council and something of a disciplinarian when it comes to school rules. She also works in a maid cafe after school.

Popular boy Takumi has plenty of girls in love with him. He finds out about Misaki’s maid job secret but surprisingly, keeps this juicy gossip to himself, which confuses her.

Maid Sama! Book 1 cover
Maid Sama! Book 1
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There’s a lot you have to accept to enjoy this book. Let’s start with the back cover description of Misaki as an “overachieving feminist”. What’s overachieving about working hard to get good grades, make her school better, and help support her family? She has an over-developed sense of responsibility, maybe, but Takumi has the same status (without having to work for any of it), and he’s assumed to be just fine. She studies hard and has also worked out, so she’s physically strong, which is another thing we’re supposed to think makes her a freak.

The “feminist” part is just plain wrong, since there’s no discussion of the problems of male/female equality. In fact, the book assumes male superiority is the natural order of things, and we’re supposed to find it funny that Misaki bosses around boys in contrast to serving them in her “other life”. She works hard to bring order and cleanliness to the school, because without any girls around, the boys were lazy, dirty, sex-crazed slobs. (This is not a flattering stereotype for men.) Wanting students to be clean and polite isn’t feminism; it’s just maturity.

We’re told Misaki hates males because her dad abandoned his family, leaving them with debts, which is why she has to keep her job, but this supposed man-hating isn’t really shown in the story. What we see is that Misaki doesn’t much like anyone, male or female, because few of her peers have her work ethic or self-confidence. If you read closely, you’ll notice that her “tough girl” daytime persona is as much an act as her playing maid in the evenings. No one wants to know or value the real her, which is why she mistakes Takumi’s curiosity and concern for pity.

He takes care of her when overwork makes her sick and praises her strengths and skills. In other words, he’s a fantasy boy that many stressed teens, torn among too many responsibilities, could enjoy. Otherwise, he hasn’t got much personality. He’s naturally smarter, stronger, and superior to her, while she’s just waiting for him to conquer her (as her boss describes her maid personality). He always knows just what to do or what lesson she should learn.

I guess I’d find the story more plausible if I believed that the maid job was demeaning. To me, it looks like another waitress gig with an unusual costume. Thankfully, the outfit and behavior isn’t visually sexualized.

The art is exaggerated when showing emotion in a style better suited to a manga dealing with life and death situations. Most of the time, the style is familiar and unremarkable. Although the story is told from Misaki’s perspective, it’s really a male fantasy, where the scary, strong, smart, self-possessed girl turns out to secretly be subservient to men. It’s sort of funny to read, until you think about what its real messages are.

The book contains four chapters of the main story plus “A Transparent World, a stand-alone earlier work by Hiro Fujiwara. In that, a girl admires a classmate from after. He passes away suddenly, but she gets a second chance with his ghost. It’s got a very different tone from the main story, which is a frantic rom-com, and I liked it better. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

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13 Comments

  1. [...] of Time (Kuriousity) Julie on vol. 12 of Love*Com (Manga Maniac Cafe) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Maid Sama! (Comics Worth Reading) George R. on Memories Off 2nd (light novel) (Okazu) Billy Aguiar on vol. 1 [...]

  2. This manga series is very good. it is a lot like real life but still a bit un-realist with a heart worming high-school romance. They cariter are not always what they seem nd you never know what will hapen next. It keeps you on the ege and wanting more.

  3. Does anyone know that there’s an anime coming out this year for maid-sama??? People have been saying that but I dunno if it’s true.

  4. i watch maid sama…it’s a story of a hard working student support’s her parent like me….i do as a maid and after school i work…..i can relate of it. misaki ayusawa is a self confidence and a hard working person….

  5. “it’s really a male fantasy”

    Hahaha, as usual, leave it to a woman to interpret everything backwards. This book is a typical FEMALE fantasy, of finding a male who is perfect in every aspect, have perfect timing, stronger, faster, knows how to pin a girl to a wall, and, most important of all – he’s secretly filthy rich. Because hey, thats how women are, either you are perfect or you dont exist.

  6. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    It’s both a male and female fantasy, but it’s mostly a female fantasy due to the theme being Misaki and her maid job.

    Leave it to a sexist to interpret everything the right way and ignore the parts that don’t suit their tastes.

  7. I like your logic! By your reasoning, the recent Catwoman comic relaunch is also a female, not a male, fantasy because it’s all about her and what she does — never mind the pages focusing just on her boobs.

  8. “Female Fantasy”? “Leave it to a sexist”? Women want a man that’s perfect or they don’t exist?
    Oh my God, puhlease. Feminist’s don’t want your perfect, chivalrous, Prince Charming. They just want equality. People like you don’t know anything so why don’t you pick up a book for once (try The Feminine Mystique) and learn a little about Feminism.
    Also, this is the only

  9. whooops accidently pressed enter.
    Anyways, this was a really good review. I’ve read a whole bunch for research and they’re all positive. And fair enough, it’s an entertaining Manga/Anime but I like it when people look a little deeper. x

  10. If a feminist is looking for equality then people should just inherently stop looking for sexist, or otherwise, undertones in everything.

    That is like saying the Avatar movie (not the last airbender) is racist because the crippled white guy ends up being the hero of the story.

    Over-analyzing things is as much a bad quality as being blatantly ignorant of facts. And look at that, the reviewer does both.

  11. Re: Yeah
    Totes, man. The best way to solve a problem is ignoring it! Look at pollution! It stopped existing the moment I moved to a cleaner neighborhood and just happened to look skyward when the clogged up drains cause floods.
    And Avatar was a kickass movie. It’s not racist!
    Not
    (http://www.progressive.org/node/138817)
    at all
    (http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/09/the-10-lamest-white-savior-movies/avatar)
    racist
    (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/between-the-lines/200912/the-racial-politics-avatar)

    Nope. What “White Savior Complex”? What are you talking about?

  12. If we try to pick and pull every little word apart to see its “real meaning” we’re just looking for trouble. So just read the books and enjoy them and stop trying to start an argument that Niether Sexists nor Racists will win. Hell yeah Avitar rocked the last air bender not so much the anime is better.

  13. I just can’t see it as a male fantasy.
    It’s written by a woman, using a genre targeting females aged 10-18, and published in a magazine that has a 97% female reader base.

    I will say this: it meshes horribly with feminist ideals, but men or male fantasies aren’t really to blame. Quite the opposite. It’s pure princess fantasies, about getting to be strong when you want to, and oh-so dainty at other times.
    The fact that it comes from the other direction doesn’t make it any better… but give credit where credit’s due, and the same goes for blame.

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