Movie: Anime dealing with cute young ladies that are actually androids in disguise is pretty common these days. Some of it has to do with the male fantasy about attractive women, particularly in French Maid outfits, and some of it has to do with the idea of high tech androids that could serve in a multitude of capacities. In the last volume of the series, Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden: Something More Beautiful (vol. 3), the series wrapped up its two season run with some definitive conclusions, tying up all the threads.
I saw the first DVD of the first season about a year ago and in terms of the six volumes, it set the stage quite well. The premise is that Mahoro, a combat android, served her country well and was allowed to retire. Due to a technical limitation (ala: Blade Runner), she has a limited time to exist before she terminates. If she lives her remaining days as a combat android, she'll use up the remainder of her life quickly but if she lives as a regular person, she'll have several hundred days to enjoy so she chooses to become a maid for a young man, Suguru. Throughout the series, Mahoro was called upon to use her special powers to protect Suguru and his friends, reducing her life in the process. She selflessly does so, even though it is no longer her duty and she develops feelings for her charge, just as he does for her over time.
Not having seen the middle four volumes, I can't definitively tell you what has led the show to the point of this volume but it appeared that there were three groups vying for power, Management, Vesper and Saint. Each of them has an agenda and Mahoro is an integral part of it due to her advanced technology. By the end of the episodes, most of the conflict has been resolved but these last episodes contained all the usual themes of betrayal, loss, friendship, and duty. I liked it enough that I hope Geneon releases a boxed set at a discount to see what happened in the volumes I didn't get to see. The story seemed fairly complex and designed to allow you to interpret things for yourself in some cases, particularly the final episode, set in the future. Like Mahoro, we are all on a fixed clock (due to our biology), and how we choose to live our lives tells the world a lot about us.
I'm going to rate this one as Recommended but I think you'll want to see it from the beginning since there was obviously a lot going on throughout the series. There were some adult themes here too but most of them were conveyed in such a way that even younger kids will be okay with most of what took place, especially compared to other releases by mainstream companies. Here's a list of the five episodes included this time:
Episode 10: Things I Like
Episode 11: A Wish, The Color Of Cherry Blossoms
Episode 12: Annunciation
Episode 13: End Of A Dream
Episode 14: Na-Geanna
Picture: The picture was presented in anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. I saw minimal grain and other defects, no compression artifacts and the colors were bright and clear. The anime style itself was somewhat limited in terms of movement and complexity but it served the purpose of the series well.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dubbed track, both in 2.0 Dolby Digital surround. The vocals and music were quite clear on both tracks but the nod for depth goes to the English track. It sounded better in terms of music and sound effects although the vocals were slightly better on the original Japanese track. I'm not a subtitle snob, even though I generally prefer the original track, and each track here had some value for fans.
Extras: The extras were very minimal and added little value to the DVD but considering there was five full episodes of the series, this isn't a problem for me. The extras included a non-credit ending, a short art gallery, some trailers, a double sided DVD case and a paper insert that listed the chapter information.
Final Thoughts: I liked this one as it had a lot to say. Granted, some of the story would've probably been better had I had the chance to see volumes 2-5 (the numbering is weird since there were two seasons with three DVDs each), but it did have some minor stand-alone value. The technical aspects were solid and there was a lot of value since the DVD included five full episodes. If you enjoy android science fiction with both comedy and dramatic aspects included, you'll likely enjoy this one too.