I really didn’t know what to make of this series when I first started watching it. Maria-Sama ga Miteru has been going on for three seasons and one OVA right now, and this review is going to be of the first of the bunch. It tells the story of a very strict Christian school and especially the elite students: the student council and the ones around them. The focus isn’t so much on the management-tasks of the council, but much more about them being the role models that they are, and their relationship with their so-called “Soeur”: an underclassman that they pick out to be their “sister”.
My initial impressions on this series weren’t exactly good. The beginning episodes were just too… boring, and there wasn’t really anything that made me want to watch the next episode. The drama mostly revolved around things that were hugely overstated: the characters really made a fuzz about even the smallest things that their co-stars did wrong. I can understand how gossip is supposed to be an important part of the show’s themes, but it really didn’t interest me at all.
Yumi (the lead character) didn’t help either, as out of all the characters she was the most annoying one, which is something you really don’t want to happen to one of the central characters in a series. She’s naive, just keeps whining about all sorts of things, she lacks background (that may be saved for the future seasons, though) and all in all, her story just isn’t as interesting as the other ones of this show.
But oh my god, the side-characters really were amazing, especially within only 13 episodes. While nothing much interesting happens in the first half of this show, the cast really comes alive in the second half. I especially loved Sei’s story, with one magnificent episode dedicated to her past standing out as the absolute highlight for me, but all members of the side-cast are rich and colourful, they have a deep story behind them and are very subtly developed.
And the side-characters really are the ones who are solely able to carry this series. The character-designs are well done, but the animation has quite a few bugs here and there, and you also don’t want to watch this series for the storytelling or setting: they do their job of being solid and staying in the background, don’t have any flaws, but also don’t stand out either.
So yeah despite Yumi I just can’t look negatively at this series. Good things come to those who wait, and that definitely applies to this series. There’s lots of character-development, but it all has a sense of subtlety, which is pretty rare in anime, and even Yumi isn’t the worst of characters once you get to know her a bit. And while she may be featured often in this series, there still is plenty of time in which the rest of the cast has the chance to get fleshed out. I’m interested what the other seasons can add to this series, because there’s plenty of potential left after only thirteen episodes.