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Good things come to those who wait

Around half a year ago I was complaining in a LJ entry about being unable to find a particular manga. Mahoromatic had been one of the first animes I watched and really loved when I got into the genre and it also reinforced the idea that no people on earth can fuck up a story's ending more than the Japanese. I have no idea if it's a genetic talent or simply an ability honed over the years but there is something almost pathological about it. I first ran into the concept due to Evangelion, which if you've ever seen the tv series speaks for itself. Coincidentally, I'll be back at some point in the next few days to write a bit more about Evangelion.

Anyway, back to Mahoromatic...



Oddly, while I remember quite clearly ranting about the anime's ending, I can't seem to find a corresponding LJ entry. Maybe I wrote it out on some forum I was on at the time or I'm simply remembering a series of conversations as a post. To summarize, Mahoromatic is a sci-fi/romantic comedy wherein aliens have discovered Earth and the interaction has sparked conflict. At the beginning of the story, it appears that the aliens or Saint as they are known collectively are attacking the planet and humanity is defended by Vesper, a secret organization based on Japan. Vesper's greatest weapon is a combat android designated V1046-R Mahoro. As the story begins, the war has been going on for years and Mahoro has faced and defeated everything Saint could throw at her. The problem is that her power source is non-rechargeable and she only has a month of operational time left before she shuts down completely. Out of gratitude for her service, Vesper offers her another option. If they remove the majority of her weapon systems and she stops participating in combat, her operational time could be extended to close to a year. Basically, they offer her the chance to have a life away from war and fighting, even if for a little time. She accepts their offer and decides to devote her remaining days to taking care of a 14 year old boy named Suguru, as his maid.

This might seem a bit implausible on many levels but there's actually some backstory and justification. Suguru is an orphan, his mother having died in a car accident when he was very young and his father having passed a year or so ago. What he never knew is that his father was actually a commander in Vesper and Mahoro's superior/friend. During one engagement where a crazy nutjob was planning to launch a nuclear strike, he was captured and held hostage. Mahoro found him with time running out and he told her to shoot him in order to take out the nutjob with the missiles using him as a shield. Cue angst, hesitation, a pulled trigger and an immediate Heroic Blue Screen of Death. When given the chance, she decides to use what time she has left to try to atone for what she was forced to do and take care of the orphan Suguru.

Now, while this all seems pretty heavy and angsty, the majority of the series actually plays out as a romantic comedy. Suguru and Mahoro adjust to living with one another with many hijinx and touching moments. Toss in a bunch of friends and a big-boobed shotacon teacher and it's a barrel of monkeys. It's only at the end of each of the two seasons where the show takes a serious turn, often causing a serious case of mood whiplash. Within a couple of episodes you go from jokes about boob-enhancers to life and death struggles.

This reaches insane proportions with the finale of the series which registers as a mindfuck of the first order in my opinion. In short, Mahoro sacrifices herself to save Suguru and in the last episode but he feels she betrayed him by not always being there like she promised. Then there's a time skip of 20 years. We find that the loss of Mahoro all those years ago has absolutely destroyed Suguru. He went from a bright, optimistic, caring kid to Han Solo's evil, scruffy brother. Well, not evil exactly but a cynical, somewhat debauched, loner who spends his time as a bounty hunter on alien planets. During the course of the finale, he's betrayed by a "friend" and stabbed through the back with a freaking lightsaber, causing what is likely a fatal wound. He staggers about, cracking dark jokes, and in an alley Mahoro appears out of the blue. She says she's there to take him home and they walk off together. The end.

Is that fucked up or what? Now, I'm leaving out bits and pieces and you can put together a couple of different theories about what really happened. Some people believe Mahoro was reincarnated by Saint and sent back to Suguru. Others think that Suguru was simply hallucinating as he went toward the white light and that Mahoro was just a final dream before dying. No matter what conclusion you come to, one thing is clear and it's that the ending sucks donkey balls.

Ever since this clusterfuck of an ending, I've been hoping to find a copy of the manga which I've read contains a far more sensible ending to the story. Mahoro still ends up sacrificing herself but her return, even if delayed, makes sense. Not to mention the effect of her loss on Suguru is more tragic rather than degrading. The manga wrapped up years ago but until now, I've been unable to find an online copy of it. This is even more ridiculous given that the English version of the manga has also been published for years now and is even available on amazon.com. I debated whether I should just buy the damn thing many times, but I knew that I wouldn't be satisfied with just picking up the last volume. If I got one, I would want to get them all and ~$80 seemed a bit pricey to me. Luckily, it looks like the interwebs has finally caught up and someone scanned almost the entire manga. The only thing I'm missing now are a few chapters from the middle, which weren't vital anyway.

I began reading as soon as I downloaded it and finished it yesterday. Not only was the ending infinitely better than the anime IMO, there were also many storylines that were never animated in the manga. There was even a festival arc where Minawa (another android who moves in and pretends to be Mahoro's sister) gets a pet chick.



Things didn't exactly turn out well there, but all the new stories were still spiffy. In celebration, I also tracked down the various Mahoromatic soundtracks and I've been listening to them as well. There was also a live concert a few years back with all of the voice actresses from the show and spiffy only scratches the surface. I know it won't mean anything to those of you who haven't actually watched the anime, but this song/performance is win.

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