This week the Maid Latte gang, plus a certain honorary part-timer/ bodyguard, are treated to a stay at the Manager’s Sister’s beach house. Good times. In turn, the audience is treated to lots of kyaa kyaa and comedy moments. Still good times. And a new ED. Bad times. BAD, BAD, BAD!!!
(*Takes a deep breath to calm down enough to do this bit*) Okay… it’s the start of the summer hols and the three bakas are on their way to spend all their money and free time at Maid Latte. Only to find that it’s closed. Cue some very upset bakas. Meanwhile, the Maidos are on their way to the beach to stay at Nagisa’s (Manager’s sister’s) beach house, where Aoi has also been shipped off by his daddy to learn to be more manly. As the girls explore, Misaki discovers Usui and gives him the third degree and a slapped wrist when he says he’s there as a bodyguard. I.e. to guard her body, especially if she’s in danger of drowning and about to suffer the indignity of some other bloke giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (apparently Usui was about to demonstrate). Misaki soon leaves him and races to the water for a swim. Wearing her unsexy one-piece school swimsuit, cap and goggles. To the puzzlement of the other girls and to the severe disappointment of Usui. While swimming, they observe that their (at-one-lonely-end-of-the-beach) beach house is doing poorly in contrast to its competitors. So, the Maidos decide to help out in attracting more business for Arisa by doing what they do best. Cue Maid café on the beach.
The Maid café is of course a hit and the hitherto sceptical Misaki decides to help out, so the Manager swiftly lends her a bikini. Which Misaki is just finishing getting changed into when a sleepy/ sunphobic Usui walks in on her. Cue some very flustered faces. Usui clearly can’t function very well in the heat and asks a silly question regarding the likelihood of Misaki planning to go out like that, to which Misaki responds in the tsundere affirmative, at which Usui promptly plants a hickey on her back. The result: several bikini-clad Maidos joined by one T-shirt-clad comrade watched by a very efficient bodyguard. The day ends with a grateful Nagisa putting on a BBQ for them and some free onsen tickets also turning up and being offered to the girls. Which, for some reason, invoke the appearance of Dark Honoka who, er, entertains everyone with a ghost story about the local paths being haunted. Misaki is suitably terrified, but the others decide to carry on to the onsen anyway and Misaki is set to join them, when she remembers the hickey on her back and decides to stay behind under the pretence that she feels dodgy. Usui also stays behind to look after her, i.e. to suffer her wrath. However, before you can say ‘oh-look-they’ve-got-the-beach-house-alone-to-themselves’, the penny-pinching Misaki makes the horrific discovery that the girls have left their free tickets behind and runs off to catch up to them and hand them over.
Of course she gets horribly lost. And freaked out in the dark, having nothing but Dark Honoka’s dark words about dark spirits to keep her company. And then come the sudden white light and rushing footsteps… Fortunately it’s just Usui, who’s locked up the beach house in order to catch her up and walk with her, but Misaki is even more freaked out and in tears at the sudden shock and arm-grab from Usui. Who promptly apologises and hugs her. Until Aoi interrupts them and tells them off for such shameful flirting. Misaki goes back to her tsundere self and vehemently denies the cross-dressing shouta’s charges of flirting/ dating/ liking Usui, while the latter wanders off. Soon, they all reach the onsen, only to discover – to Misaki’s horror – that the Manager had more tickets after all, while the ever-practical Usui, seeing as they’re already there, drags a reluctant, still-in-drag Aoi to the mens section of the onsen. And then, something f***ing awful happens.
…i.e., after that brief pause promising the imminent onset of the throbbing intro to Heidi’s catchy soft-rock number ‘Yokan’ and semi-naked, intense-eyed Usui in iron bar-grabby mode, we get…
Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhh!! It sounds bloody awful!!!
(*Swabs at her bleeding eyes and ears and tries again to continue*) Right, without warning, you simultaneously get a really crappily drawn picture of the Earth and this strained emo warbling, swiftly followed by a cacophonous metal – yes METAL, and not the good kind – intro, jarringly thundering into action. Next, the crappily drawn Earth, with flowers instead of land mass and a ginormous untranslated signpost sticking out of it, zooms off leftfield of the outer space backdrop and a one-eyed Usui appears, drawn and coloured to look more like a Star Trek character than the awesomely cool and kyaarific bishie that he usually is. And then come the roses. And we’re not talking glossy, sparkly, beautiful and above all appropriately placed ones. We’re talking a flat, poorly drawn scarlet plague of them, incongruously filling up the screen in clumps at a time, in time to every other bar of the sucky sounding beat and guitar accents. And then they turn a sickly orange… and a flat purple… and a dull blue.
After the queasily technicolor rose display, we get a close up of a very boring navy-blue suit enclosing an expressionless Usui, who is apparently inside a European looking mansion, later with one hand against a window pane looking suitable sad this time as he watches/ remembers the cute little version of himself (recycled from the previous ED and thus acceptable) who is in turn sadly watching a freaky, model-esque outline of a lady coloured only in phychedlic shades of vomit-yellow. Then his sad little face morphs into a happy, normal-size Usui face and then we get a pic of Misaki. Hence the very obvious reason for his happy face. Hereafter, the visuals improve and we get shots of the two of them basically having a lovely-dovey day out, with what looks like a reluctant Misaki having been treated to a new look and lots of sneaky pics taken of her, with a couple of shots of another as-yet-unknown male character appearing, before it’s back to more Usui x Misaki moments and snapshots, before her otherwise lovely face is replaced by another incongruous, technicolour rose epidemic, followed by a final ‘couple’ shot of Usui with his arm around a blushing tsundere-faced Misaki, while the s**tty music mercifully finishes in the background.
Okay, I’m sorry for the rant and, having now forced myself to view it five times, I’ve come to the following conclusion: it’s still terrible. My love for the old ED aside, the new song is horrendous and the first half of the visuals and the overall presentation is just as bad. I can see the influence of future manga scenes, but everything is just horribly jarring and Usui spends half the time either in emo-mode or zombiefied or like an emo-zombie. And Misaki, despite the pretty makeover, seems to be wearing a completely wrong shade of foundation for her skin type. I.e. tomato red. Think not so much the awesome Prez, but more like typical shoujo heroine of the lesser, doormat-variety school of shoujo heroines.
Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, some thoughts on the actual episode. Lots to love in this epi, and highlights included: the three bakas (of course) at the beginning, especially the in between chibi and normal faces thing they had going on in that split screen shot; the scenes with Usui shamelessly lying around looking hot (ahem), for some reason I find even his lazy side refreshing; the three kyaarific scenes with the near kiss, the hickey and the embrace (that’s the way to use flowers and sparkles!); and Aoi’s near-tsundere moment with Misaki, who knew he’d like a spank on the bum from her so much eh.
Lowlights, apart from the ED, weren’t many, but included, erm, unless I’m in a picky mood (can’t think why) a certain slowness of pace, at least in the first half of the epi? I guess it’s because there wasn’t much conflict in this epi, mainly fluff. As you’d expect from your typical at-the-beach/ onsen shoujo epi. For example, the Ouran at-the-beach epi is one that comes to mind, i.e.: Tamaki’s reaction to Malibu-Barbie Haruhi. If comparing Tamaki and Usui is kind of like comparing a puppy with a cat. A cat with a very kittenish side to him of course.
Finally, next week is part two of the beach house trip, so more kyaa kyaa and comedy ahoy, with the latter no doubt arising from the unlikely Misaki-Aoi beach volleyball tag-team we glimpse in the preview. Thus, hopefully we’ll get some more character development for him too…
Rather than just more cross-dressing gags. Hmmm…