>DVD Review – Class tensions and gender bending drama

>The third season of “Maria Watches Over Us” strengthens the girls’ romantic ties with warm dialogue and imagery.

The newest release for the Maria series is set in Lillian Girls Academy during the summer break after season two. As viewers may remember from the previous seasons, the student council is organized under a nobility system, in which each grande seour (big sister) appoints a first-year student as her petite seour, or little sister. It resembles an intern system in some ways, in which the upperclassmen assign certain tasks to their apprentices.

In this year, petite seour Yumi Fukuzawa spends her summer break with her grande seour, Sachiko Ogasawara. Although the vacation starts off as a boring moment of solitude, Sachiko has her own reasons for hiding out in a summer cottage. Rival families are looking forward to laying shame on the Ogasawara family name.

There’s plenty of other interesting events, including a joint festival with the all boys high school next-door to the Lillian Girls Academy. The boys high school council features a completely improbable cast of characters, including two twins, a buff guy who works out, a geek, Yumi’s little brother and a guy who wanted to grow up as a girl.

Yet, as fantastic as the third season turns out, the story still retains a warm, pleasant tone. Better yet, most of the story is now centered on the two main characters, Yumi and Sachiko. This new narrative focuses our attention on the two women whom anime fans fell in love with first. The ultimate affirmation of their love for each other takes place during an entertaining school festival story, complete with cosplaying guys and panda costumes.

The new OVA format, or original video animation, makes each episode more poignant than those in the previous two seasons. The one-hour episodes also make for richer stories, strung together in a continuous narrative without interruptions. The story tends to ramble during the long sports festival and the school trip. These last two episodes feature more still images than actual animation, but the show still maintains its steady momentum of conversational comedy.

Overall, “Maria Watches Over Us” will immerse you into a warm world of girls’ romance, with beautiful character designs and charming stories. The episodes shows these touching relationships without any plot holes or cheaply drawn animation. Although the story tends to drift off in the last episodes of season three, yuri fans will definitely enjoy “Maria Watches Over Us.”

Extras: The OVA continues the excellent “Maria Watches Over Us” comedy segments, “Don’t Tell Maria,” a series of out-takes for every episode. These short blurbs include some epic parodies of the opening narrative, including an epic one involving the all boys school. However, the best jokes involve the exaggerated height of Yumi’s newest friend.

Image courtesy of photobucket.com


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Filed under Maria, Maria Watches Over Us, OVA, romance, romantic, shoujo, yuri

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