Written by Masahiro Yokotani & Miku Oshima/Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo/Music by Tatsuya Nishikawa/Based on the Manga by Minari Endou
Full of youthful enthusiasm and less-than-pure intentions, Miyamae Kanako enters Ame no Kisaki–an all-girls Catholic mission school–where she hopes to find her one true love. Lucky her, she meets her ideal in the person of lovely underclassman Shidou Mariya before she even reaches the school buildings. Not so lucky, said ideal turns out to actually be a boy (cue Kanako’s hives breakout) who is disguising himself as a girl–and who is more than willing to blackmail Kanako into not revealing his secret. Worse still, Mariya starts rooming with Kanako to better keep her in line–along with the help of his kuudere maid Matsurika who is always ready to lend a helping hand, especially when it comes to keeping Kanako in her place. You might wonder why Kanako puts up with such treatment instead of just packing her bags and leaving . . . that is, until you see her nosebleeding over all the other adorable girls in the school.
Maria†Holic has got to be one of my favorite anime ever–even though I must admit there are a lot of people I’d never share it with, for obvious reasons. The entire story has a fun fairy-tale/comedy sort of feel, even while presuming to be a slice-of-life school story. In other words, the improbable is actually the most likely turn of events in most cases. The characters are excellent–overdone for comedic effect, but excellent in that style. Mariya in particular is fascinating: sadistic, smart, an incredibly good actor, sensitive to others’ feelings, essentially selfish. His Japanese voice actress, Yuu Kobayashi, is one of my favorites, and she does an outstanding job with Mariya’s character (as well as with the opening and ending songs!). Kanako also is outstanding–as being the most forgettable character ever! It’s really quite remarkable that a yuri girl whose nose is gushing and who is constantly plotting some kind of trouble can disappear so utterly from memory; it’s only recently after several re-watchings that I’ve been able to consistently remember her name even. The art is one of the primary reasons that I would recommend the anime (as opposed to just reading the manga, which is very similar in plot/characters/etc.). The anime definitely emulates Endou-sensei’s lovely art style, but it also brings in a huge variety of fun styles such as stained glass, chibis, and parodies of other anime styles. Really, Maria†Holic is a fun anime–one that you can tell the artists had fun making–and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a solid slice-of-life comedy with bits of sadism and ecchiness thrown in (an a completely not outstanding yuri lead).
Note: This series comprises two seasons of 12 episodes each, the first titled simply Maria†Holic and the second, Maria†Holic: Alive!.