Shōnen Maid certainly isn’t your typical series with “Shōnen” in its title. He doesn’t fight ogres or trolls, he isn’t transported to another world and turned into something he wasn’t before. But, he is waging a war against something. A war against dirt and grime. Donning a maid’s uniform, Chihiro Komiya, won’t let a speck of dust touch the window sill or corner of any room no matter what it takes.
It isn’t too shocking if this is your first time hearing of Shōnen Maid. It could have easily been overshadowed by the likes of other anime of that very season in 2016. While it got started, we also got the likes of My Hero Academia and Re:Zero, which were both highly-regarded anime that will go down in history.
“Those who do not work shall not eat”
Shōnen Maid follows Chihiro after the tragic death of his mother. Despite his apathetic nature to almost everyone who talks to him about coming to school that same day of mourning, he simply didn’t have anything to do as already prepped dinner, did the laundry, made his bed, among other things. But, with his mother gone, he’d have to figure out where to live.
Thinking he’s all alone in the world, no family to turn to, he wasn’t sure what to do to put a roof over his head. It all flipped upside down when he met Madoka Takatori, an eccentric costume designer after “rescuing” him from a small dog. At first confused, it’s learned that he wasn’t alone in terms of family, but rather ostracized by the hands of his mother who wanted nothing more than to live on her own terms rather than to sit in the lap of unrewarded luxury.
Unwilling to simply live without a purpose with his estranged uncle, they figure a compromise, in return for staying in the home, Chihiro does what he loves most, cleans it as their live-in maid.
Shōnen Maid is one of those that once you watch its first episode, you know that it isn’t going to keep a bubbly tone, it will flip flop between touching moments between a distraught child and his uncle welcoming him with open arms.
The movement is fluid, the pallet blends together well, and the concepts are humorous and attention-grabbing enough to retain my interest. While I do enjoy slice of life, I know that sometimes they can drag on, and sometimes their core episode concept can feel a bit bland, but I didn’t feel like Shōnen Maid had that nearly as badly as other series in the genre. Sure, it had some of the tropes expected in a slice of life, but what tropes were there were used to peddle character development.
Sometimes, series don’t have to try hard, either, it’s not a gut-buster anime, you won’t laugh out loud too much, but you’ll hearty chuckle every now and then. Whether it’s the clean freak tendencies (and a cockroach) that leads Chihiro to automatically begin cleaning the kitchen before he even was offered to become their maid or it’s the reaction to when he got his “uniform.”
Most of the comedy is because of the duo of Madoka and Chihiro. It’s clear that the older of the two cares for him, he wants what’s best and understood when he didn’t want to stay in the house without giving back. He’s clingy to him and clearly wants to watch him grow up.
Chihiro – on the other hand – is the more responsible one, the one that keeps Madoka in check when to make he doesn’t bring a stray cat in or something. Often, the times I find myself chuckling are when he’s engrossed in cleaning and taking care of the house after school. He quickly changes into his “uniform” and laments how much he loves to clean, even going as far as getting a vacuum and deep cleaning that very same day. He’ll never argue to clean. He’ll even go out of his way to do so. The two’s dynamics play off of each other in my eyes.
All’s well that ends well
The biggest flaw I saw in Shōnen Maid was the lead up to the finale felt a bit flat, especially when we get to it. It threw the generally grounded nature of the anime out the window that I grew accustomed to in its 12-episode run.
That flaw aside, it did end on a sweet note, an anime that didn’t feel like it needed a season two to retain some level of glory. It wasn’t begging for one and frankly, I’d think it would be difficult to top it. They’d likely wind up reusing jokes that simply would feel stale if used for another 12 episodes. I’m not saying I’d turn away a season two, but I think this 12-episode run is all we’d need. It ended with a neat bow on top, or rather, some frills.
Shōnen Maid isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like a slice of life anime, obviously it’s an easy pass for you, but if you like comedies that you can watch, have a hearty chuckle, and feel for the main characters, this is one to put on your watchlist.