Friday, April 8, 2011

Maid-sama! Volume 8

By Hiro Fujiwara. Released in Japan as "Kaichō wa Maid-sama!" by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine LaLa. Released in North America by Tokyopop.

Yeah, I should have realized they'd dial it back a bit. After the big love-love revelations in Volume 7, it was somewhat inevitable that we would not have the relationship progress even further, mostly as this is an ongoing shoujo manga and you have to save some ammunition for future plot twists. As a result, most of this volume deals with Misaki unable to deal with Usui's feelings for her, and blushing like a red light.

We do get some further development of Hinata, Misaki's childhood friend who's returned in high school looking slim and cute. He's pretty much doomed to not win, and has become even more aware of it in this volume thanks to Usui. (Usui is refreshingly blunt about his relationship with Misaki whenever she isn't around or isn't listening, and clearly regards Hinata as a threat to be eliminated as soon as possible. It's hard not to feel bad for Hinata, who's a great guy who simply suffers from not being Usui. He even notes his friends warned him before he moved that she may have fallen for someone else in his absence. Of course, he'll keep doggedly trying.

We also meet Misaki's mother and sister in this volume. Her mother is pretty much what I expected, basically looking completely exhausted (remember Misaki is working at the maid cafe to earn money to help her family after their dad ran out on them), but her sister Suzuna is an immediate scene stealer, given multiple quirks that I'm drawn to (emotionless girl, snarker, seems to have astonishingly good luck), and in the anime, she was actually introduced into earlier scenes which the manga didn't have. Speaking of the anime, it was announced at about the time this volume went to press, and we see the various characters getting excited about it.

The second half of the volume deals with the upcoming midterm elections. Misaki is running again, and is trying to get Yukimura to get more fired up about it. Several of the boys are not happy, as they're tired of being told what to do by Misaki, and decide to find a candidate of their own to run against her. Their choice is a very odd one, as it's Kanou, the repressed hypnotist guy who went after Misaki 3-4 volumes ago. Kanou clearly wants nothing to do with this at all, but is unable to say no as he's quickly swooped up and promoted by the other guys. Best part of this chapter was Misaki noting that, even with all the things she's accomplished as President, it won't be worth much if no one cares after she leaves. She really is quite a responsible young woman!

There's two more side-stories here, both of which ran in the spinoff magazine LaLa Special. The first doesn't quite work for me, being very unfocused. It's about the three idiots again, and how one of them used to be the big badass delinquent at his old middle school. So when his old underclassmen go looking for him and find a doofy Misaki-loving goofball... they're upset. And so they kidnap Yukimura, who is dressed in drag for no reason whatsoever, and our heroes have to dress up as delinquents to save him. Intended, I expect, as pure fanservice, the only reason anyone would want to read this is seeing Misaki look like she stepped off the pages of Hana to Asuka-gumi. The other side-story here is Misaki overthinking whether she should make Usui a lunch, and is sweet but slight.

After the big romance of Volume 7, much of this volume does feel like a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, reading about Misaki is still fun (though try not to take a shot every time she blushes, drinking game fans) and I look forward to seeing the outcome of the student elections in Volume 9.

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