Maria Watches Over Us (2004 IMDb)

Categorization

A shell of friendly intrigue over lots and lots of hints at lesbian romance.

Subject

A French Catholic all-girl high school in Japan. Yumi is starting her first year and quickly stumbles into the very select student council. Sachiko, next in line for one of the highest positions on the council, randomly chooses Yumi to be her intended successor. Yumi refuses at first.

Commentary

Effective as a comedy. It's filled to the brim with cute nervousness, exaggerated mystery, poetic fluff, superficiality and romantic undertones. Actual studying and religion play an extremely small part in the plot. I don't think Jesus is ever mentioned. Eventually the romantic undertones extend into stories showing pairs of girls embracing one another or kissing, all very tastefully done. The pace is slow, the visual and auditory aspects are top notch, and the metafictive ingredients add to the humour. Sachiko is encouraged to provide more fan service to a theater audience. Sweet, subtle and hilarious. Great bonus material too. Based on a series of novels.

The word “yuri”, as in Yamayurikai, means both lily and lesbian. A “sapphire” in some highlighted lyrics alludes to Sappho.

Japanese production animation series

Sequel:

Maria Watches Over Us Season 2: Printemps (2004)

Categorization

Plain continuation of the original series.

Subject

The next term at Lillian. Yumi gets a rival, forcing new developments with Sachiko, and various other things happen to the rest of the Roses and soeurs.

Commentary

A bit more talk about religion, but still no Jesus. To pray in front of Mary is not called prayer, just “putting one's hands together”! The brief juxtaposition of Yumi's brother with the older bishounen in the first episode reminds me of the typical shounen ai cover, with bizarre cosmological implications. Marimite's world might be a more polite, universally sensitive and bisexual version of our own. Behold the infernal shoujo glory of the sudden unfurling rose petal backdrop when you get there!

Japanese production animation series