A deconstruction of Japan’s most vibrant subculture
These days, it’s hitting me hard that my computer is outdated and not as powerful as it was some seven years ago, which means that it’s able to run fewer and fewer games as the years come by, and it’s definitely hard to ignore when more games fail to launch on your PC. I’m too broke to get a new computer, so for the time being, I’m shifting my focus to other media, not just video games. This isn’t news since I’ve been talking about more than just video games for a while now. But it’s becoming more evident that, eventually, my PC won’t be able to run anything anymore, and I’ll probably stop writing about video games at some point altogether. So, I want to try something experimental this time because unless I get a new computer, I might have to write about anime more frequently. That’s right; there’s another Japanese cartoon I want to talk about, primarily because I ran out of things to pull out of my… never mind.
Japan is often known for its vibrant and vividly colourful culture, frequently applied creatively using themes that in other places would probably be considered embarrassing (which is perhaps why I was sceptical to write about this in the first place). However, that doesn’t stop them from trying, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The idea of “maid café” is esoterically Japanese and is considered a subculture of the popular fad known as “cosplay”. Though I don’t like it, as people use it as an excuse to celebrate Halloween every day of the year, it’s pretty popular –and not just in Japan. But maid cafés are still mostly just in Japan, as I am not even sure what they are.
Akiba Maid War portrays the subculture of the maid café in a satirical deconstruction of how people perceive this on the outside, in that it takes something childish and flamboyant and turns it on its head. The anime tells the story of a teen girl who achieves her dream of becoming a maid in Akihabara, a place known for emphasising the otaku subculture. However, she quickly learns that her dream job has an even darker subculture lingering underneath, where the costumed servers indulge in various illegal activities such as gambling and murder-for-hire, among other questionable things, and the result of their payday often ends in mayhem. It turns out that this anime is more of a blast than I initially assumed. Though I would never write about this under normal circumstances, if anyone enjoys an excellent choreographic display of colours and murder, this is one to try out.
So… there’s no manga to this?
One of the worst things about anime that’s based on manga, which comprises something like 90% of all anime, is that the events that unfold in the anime have already happened in a different medium (the manga, in this case), which means that there’s a good portion of people who watch the anime knowing full well what’s about to happen. Some keep this information to themselves while others troll the web by spoiling the series for everyone, and because I’m the former, things that happen in the anime usually don’t come to me as a surprise. This is not the case with Akiba Maid War, as this anime is 100% original, which is a rare find, but it also means that people need to learn what will happen. More so, an original anime implies that it doesn’t have to follow conventional standards that define the plot structure of other shows. Specifically, I mean that the characters don’t waste time explaining everything and giving away exposition at every turn, especially during fights. The fights are colourful and well-choreographed with no distractions whatsoever… well… for the most part, since there was a lovely song accompanying all the headshots. But yeah, what’s up with that?
The characters are vast and colourful, each with their own vivid personality. There’s the bubbly protagonist, Nagomi, who only ever wanted to work in a maid café but inadvertently got herself tangled in her co-workers’ messy and hazardous lifestyle. Then there’s probably the true star of the show, Ranko, a loyal and very serious veteran in the scene, often confusing patrons with her deadpan hospitality (which, by the way, comes off as hilarious). Still, she already knows the ins and outs of being a maid café worker and gets the job done better than anyone else, often resulting in corpses filled with bullet holes. From the resulting dynamics between the various characters to the near-farcical situations, their manager gets into proves to have some comedic value because I rarely find anime funny. Still, this one made me chuckle a bit. But upon finishing the first episode, my expectations for the subsequent episodes are that they would all have a tremendous and flashy fight scene that both poke fun at the flamboyance that is the culture of maid cafés, as well as having some magnificent choreography filled with lights of various colours and blood everywhere, and that’s pretty much what gets my interest going in this weird anime. If there’s any criticism I have is that the situations can be somewhat cringe given that adult women, albeit young ones, have to act childishly in front of adult men to give off the impression that they’re adorable, even though such behaviour can be somewhat discomforting. But overall, the show surprised me with how entertaining it is, and I could definitely enjoy watching more of that.
Akiba Maid War is a decent watch, and people who want to turn off their brains and watch something flashy without too many words will probably find this one enjoyable… if you’re a weeb. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone unfamiliar with anime culture because it’s too esoteric to understand. Still, it should entertain people who want to see colours moving in front of the TV screen.
Anyways, I better get a new computer so I wouldn’t have to talk about subjects like these again… it’s almost embarrassing.