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October 08th 2010

Maria Holic-Book One

By Minari Endou

Review by Dominic Chan

There have been books and novels that had me battling through just to get to the last page because the plots are uneventful and chapters drawn out. Even when the story sucks and is uninspiring, the artistic direction can at least have me hooked.  Manga in that sense appeals to me, the Japanese imagination is absolutely second to none.

Fan of Japanese Manga that I am then, it is very rare (or never) I pick up a manga and have to spend two weeks of endurance in order to read through the first issue, unfortunately Maria Holic took me three.

I tried not to be subjective; I definitely avoided comparing it to successes like Saint Seiya, Dragon Ball, Doraemon from the past, or indeed current mega hits like Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece.  But at the end I can’t help but find Maria Holic borrowed bits and pieces from past mangas, and totally failed to deliver even a scent of the manga “X” factor.

Maria Holic tells the story of a transfer student Kanako (the protagonist) first reporting to an all girl Mission School called Ame No Kisaki.  Kanako is so very excited because she is a lesbian.  She met the dream-like head girl Mariya (kind of the antagonist), who is blonde (blonde Japanese girl?), and ended up sharing a dorm room with her.  Mariya is really a boy dressed up as a girl.  I mean…come on! Can there be a cheaper, less imaginative, more forceful, more desperate way screaming for the attention and the interest of readers??  And the plot after that? Well she moved in…she went to classes with all the pretty, hour-glass-shaped (shapy Asian Girls?) fellow all-female students and teachers (lucky for Kanako) and….. few things really happened after that and through the first issue.  I can’t help but be convinced that the majority of Japanese men, (or at least the portrayal of them that is widely known) the sadomasochistic sex crazed Japanses men, really getting off on this idea, on their train journey home from working 7am-10pm.

Artistic direction is plugged in almost straight from others like Sailor Moon, but with much less colourful charaters (ok! it is printed in black and white, but maybe I actually read the colour print and its so dull I failed to register).  It urgently struggled to be humorous; all the gags here were invented years ago in classics like Kingyo Chuiho, Crayon Shin-Chan, Ramma ½…in the 90s!  I do recall other classics which suffered badly in plots like Chibi Maruko Chan, but at least it was very very cute; some that suffered from ultra dull storylines like Maison Ikkoku, but at least it was very romantic.  Maria Holic just had nothing.

Having said that, for some unexpected reason, I was actually drawn in towards the end of the first issue.  Characters slowly grew on me?! But then by that point, book 1 finished.  Could it be because I was frantically trying to scrape some rewards for my time invested in Maria Holic that I had me interested? I think so…Maria Holic Failed.


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