Wednesday, October 2, 2013

He Is My Master





PLOT: Alright, to begin with you may be wondering why on earth we watched this series. He Is My Master came out back in the peak of anime when everything was being pitched as a must watch. Being young adults of little discerning taste we stumbled upon this series hoping for a comedy, and ending up sorely disappointed.

He Is My Master serves as a good example of how harem and moe began to become quite common place. I suppose there was always an element of it, but 2005-06 really marks the era for me where it was becoming hard to find series to watch that were more than just fan fodder.

To sum up the plot, you have a horny rich heir in need of maids and with a tendency of acting like a sleazy pervert. Unfortunately a couple of young girls desperately in need of a place to stay and work end up indebted to him and have to work off their debts, which as you'd expect is impossible given their clumsiness.

So the running joke of the season is essentially that we get to see poor young girls exploited and sexually harassed by a self-entitled young man. Which is of course okay because he secretly loves one of the sisters. I suffered my way through this series hoping to God that there would be one redeemable quality. This was of course before I'd seen years upon years of harems and moe shows pumped out onto the market. Looking back, if I saw this series come out on the market today, I'd never give it a shot based on the plot alone.

Nowadays, I'd skip this one based on the main artwork alone. Too bad we were once young, inexperienced, and na vely thought that every anime had to be good in some way. This could be a cautionary tale!

PLOT: I'm fairly certain that a large portion of why we watched this is because our little brother found it funny. I never understood what he got out of this show (I get it a little better with Mahoraba), and that's probably because I'm so completely not the target audience for this show. Not only am I not attracted by the character designs, but I also have a difficult time with rape and molestation jokes at this scale.

He Is My Master follows a jerk of a teenaged millionaire, whose parents died and who just wants to have fun without consequences in his mansion. At the start of the series, he needs new maids, so Izumi and Mitsuki accept the job and move in to work for him. Little do they know that their existence is going to become constantly being fap fodder for their perverted "master," Yoshitaka. Seriously, the guy has video cameras all over the house and makes his maids (who are 13 and 14) wear skimpy little outfits while they work for him.

Later on a third girl, Anna, works for Yoshitaka, too. You'd think this would even out the dynamic a little, but she's really working there so she can chase after Izumi, which means every single character in the show want to sexually harass Izumi in some way. Do they never take a break?! There's supposedly a plot at work here, as the sisters work to gain enough money to pay off a giant debt, but mostly the show follows the group's shenanigans in the mansion as they all try to molest Izumi. It's not a good time.

This is also one of those shows where every thing broken adds on debt, so it's impossible to escape from the indentured servitude.

SETTING: Like most harem series and pornos, the setting has an otherworldly quality that would never exist in the real world. In this case the young millionaire, Yoshitaka Nakabayashi lives in a large mansion alone with three young girls and is able to do as he pleases.

In order to facilitate the comedic elements, artistic licenses are taken to allow for wacky scenarios to take place. Yoshitaka is an insanely smart young man, and so is therefore always coming up with wacky new outfits and means to assault his maids. The mansion works as a bubble secluded from the world where anything goes without real believable consequences. I find this type of set up to be very hard to relate to and just straight up lazy and pandering.

SETTING: What is it with this idea that having a mansion and being rich is so awesome? Somehow, because of these traits, anime characters always manage to get ahold of everything and have all the spare time in the world needed to create things. Case in point, Yoshitaka. He can get ahold of whatever he needs to harass his maids, and he has a closet full of clothes he wants to dress his maids in. He Is My Master runs with the idea that having the privilege of being both rich and male gives Yoshitaka the power to do whatever he wants with his maids, and all they can do is go along for the ride. Yoshitaka's mansion is integral in creating that situation, complete with its video cameras and panopticon feel. Not only is it lazy, but it's also super creepy. Why is this setting such a fetishized place?

CHARACTERS: As I already stated, the millionaire perverted kid is Yoshitaka. I suppose he undergoes "development", if by that you mean he develops feelings for his victims. Does that justify his behavior? No.

The maids comprise two sisters and a third maid who joins them later. The older of these two sisters, Izumi Sawatari, is considered the main love interest despite her reluctance to being continually assaulted by everyone. Her younger sister is very free spirited and tends to support the harassment of her sister and likes the revealing outfits they wear for work. I know this is supposed to be a comedy, but I find it very revolting that a sibling would encourage and help someone make their sibling feel uncomfortable, especially in a sexual manner. Right

So the third maid is an over-the-top bisexual who is in love with Izumi as well. She goes above and beyond in order to try to impress and grope Izumi. Eventually she even plans on moving away and getting married to Izumi, despite her affection being obviously one-sided.

You may be wondering, just what got me through this whole series if the cast was so awful. That would be the adorable alligator, Pochi, of course. Pochi is also a social deviant and tends to cause more grief than anything, but at least he's a cute mascot character, even if he is rapey.

Pochi gives me such conflicted feelings . I probably couldn't put up with him now, due to his constant attempts at raping Izumi, but I thought he was cute when we watched this. I guess his character design's cute enough to win over the less-jaded fangirls out there.

CHARACTERS: There's seriously no character development in this series. Everyone fits within a certain type, and you either find it funny or are disgusted. Some harem shows at least attempt to give their characters realistic emotions and develop, but He Is My Master is too obsessed with crass gags to worry about any of that.

Yoshitaka, as you might expect, is the one-sided male pervert of the show. He's rich and parentless, so there are no obstacles to what he can do, and there's no one to tell him no. He's a tyrant on a misogynistic rampage, sexually harassing Izumi whenever he gets a chance. Sure, he supposedly loves her, but really that's a cheap gimmick to make this level of sexism marginally okay.

Izumi, as the constantly-harassed main character, should be more relatable, but she becomes a caricature of a person with her violent reactions and inability to leave the situation for a better job. Sure, she needs to earn money, but her self-esteem has got to be worth more all of the abuse she suffers at Yoshitaka's mansion. Plus, Izumi's somehow supposed to develop feelings for Yoshitaka, which boggles my mind and is a giant slap in the face to any kind of logic.

The three remaining characters all roll together to be a group of perverts who also want a piece of the Izumi-harassment pie. You'd think Mitsuki, as Izumi's sister, would be better than that, but no, she somehow finds it hilarious to constantly embarrass her sister. And, as mentioned above, Anna's a bisexual who's so in love with Izumi that she can't help but harass her (because that's how Japan thinks bisexuals are). Finally, there's Pochi, who can't escape the ridiculous allure of Izumi, even though he's an alligator. I used to think he was cute, but now I'm just appalled by all of it. Couldn't there be another gag in this show other than molesting Izumi?

After re-watching the first episode for this review, it's pretty apparent that the alligator rapes Izumi (didn't really catch the brutality of that when I was younger). He chases after her, pins her down, rubs on her, then "gets it out of his system". Right

ART STYLE/ANIMATION: Since this is a harem comedy, there are of course going to be moments of diligent focus aimed at fan service. We get to see Izumi's breasts bounce fluidly through space, and are granted wonderfully-lit shot up her skirt over and over. Aside from that the animation is pretty middle ground. Things get super wonky for comedic spirit to cue us in that we're supposed to laugh.

I found the transition from manga to anime rather awkward concerning the character designs. The backgrounds and objects themselves seem to be a different style than the faces and body designs of the the characters. It's as if the manga was very washed out and sketchy and they couldn't quite agree on a middle ground to settle on. I'd say too that the whole set up of building and characters is fairly standard harem fair. The most unique aspect would be the giant smushy alligator they carry around in a luggage bag.

ART STYLE/ANIMATION: Part of why I thought this show would be okay is because it's by Gainax, who brought us such great things as Neon Genesis Evangelion, His and Her Circumstances, and FLCL. However, what I failed to take into account is that Gainax's other main staple is fanservice, and so He Is My Master falls right into that group of shows that I have no desire to watch.

The character designs most stand out to me about this show. The animation's pretty standard, but the character designs are individualized enough to stand out from other moe series. He Is My Master follows a trend that I've never understood, where the characters have fully-pubescent bodies but have the square, flat heads of super-deformed characters. I find it really creepy to sexualize the bodies of characters who look so childlike in their faces, and this show is no exception to that rule of mine. Furthermore, the characters have a slightly sketchy look to them that feels inconsistent with the rest of the show. This should really could've used more work in the art planning stage.

OVERALL: So I know I was pretty hard on this show, but I will admit it does have some great laughs. If you can put your politically correct mindset on the back burner for a while, I think this series can adequately entertain you for a while. However, by now it is rather dated, and MUCH better moe/harem/dating series have come out, with MUCH better development and fan service. I'd say even if you were a fan of the genre, this probably isn't worth visiting. Trust me, I love trashy moe comedy, but this doesn't do anything new for the genre and would only be back pedaling for those who are already fans. For those who aren't, there is way too much groping and sexual harassment for a casual viewer to get into.

OVERALL: Keeping in mind that I'm not the target audience and find the jokes appalling, I absolutely cannot recommend this series. It spends too much time sexualizing and objectifying young girls for my tastes, plus the art style doesn't even bring anything to the table. The only thing I ever remember this series for, aside from being so bad, is its catchy opening song.

If you are into moe harem shows, I still can't recommend this to you. The characters are all so one-note that I can't imagine there being any real draw, unless you like humiliating women. If that's your cup of tea, then I guess this show's for you. Otherwise, avoid it at all costs.


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