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Maid Sama! Graphic Novel 1

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Reviews of this title:

S Han - May 7 2010
Rating: Pretty good!
The most unrepentantly cool female character in shoujo manga!
I'm not the biggest fan of shoujo manga typically, but Maid Sama! is really a cut above the usual formulaic love story. What impressed me most was the main character, Misaki Ayuzawa, who is the most unrepentantly cool, tough girl protagonist I've ever seen in shoujo or shounen manga. You read on the back cover that she's the top of her class, student council president and physically strong enough to contend with the average boy, which makes her sound like some kind of overachiever's Mary Sue, but she's really not--her portrayal and the writing in this manga are so smart that she comes across as a real, fleshed out character--the sort of fair but abrasive overachiever who WOULD be student council president at your own school. As realistic as her archetype is, it's not one that's seen in shoujo manga too often and having her star in a love/growing up story is very refreshing!

So now that we have this unusual but very interesting main character to follow, we've got this really hilarious set-up to go along with her: ball-crushing Misaki the Student Council President has a secret double life as a sweet, subservient (if only superficially) maid at a Maid Cafe. It's a long story how she got to working there despite her dislike of the festishy job, but one day, a boy named Usui from her school sees her at work and discovers her secret! Surprisingly, Usui doesn't blab it to the whole school and instead starts visiting her cafe regularly, trying in his own way to become Misaki's friend (she really doesn't have any, though everyone admires/respects or hates/fears her). Usui is, of course, the school heartthrob and a genius/super martial artist in his own right, but unlike most of those heartthrob types, he's strangely tepid and typically doesn't get involved with girls. He finds in Misaki an interesting enigma and ends up falling for her. So far, it's one-sided in this volume, but he does win man-hating Misaki's respect and there is much potential for an interesting relationship between them in the future. Very interesting story! (and funny as all heck too~)

I also HAVE to mention the beautiful one-shot story called "A Transparent World" that is included in this volume. Really sweet and sad (but hopeful?) love/friendship story about a really shy girl named Michiru who befriends her long-time secret crush--after he dies and comes back as a ghost! Don't worry, it's not scary at all--it deals gently with death and second chances in a way that is by turns humorous, sweet, sad and moving. Beautifully written and quite different in tone to Maid Sama! but just as fabulous. I highly recommend this volume to all fans of interesting manga~