It’s been a while, but after almost five years of existence, one of the most important yuri anime of all-time finally gets a review here on YR. Let’s not waste anymore time and just get to it already~
Synopsis: When Yumi Fukuzawa entered the Lillian Girls’ Academy, a prestigious all-girls Catholic school in Tokyo, she never imagined she would catch the eye of beautiful and demure Sachiko Ogasawara, one of the school’s most popular students. Now Sachiko has offered to be Yumi’s soeur, her “sister” and guide for all her years at the academy. The whole idea has Yumi completely flustered—after all, they hardly know each other!
The entire campus is abuzz with rumors about the two of them, but Yumi is conflicted over accepting Sachiko’s offer. While she admires Sachiko, being her soeur would also mean constantly being at the center of the entire school’s attention!
You’d think that such an influential yuri anime like this wouldn’t have to wait several years to get a review on here, but for me, Maria-sama ga Miteru (or MariMite, for short) has always been intimidating. Whether it was the all-girls Catholic school setting, the perception that it would be an overly straitlaced and serious affair, or any number of other reasons, I’ve been wary of getting around to watching this series.
Now that I’ve managed to finish the first season, I’m wondering why I hesitated for so long. Despite outward appearances, the first season of MariMite isn’t as drama-filled as I expected. Yes, there are definitely times where things can get a bit heavy—Sei’s story arc immediately comes to mind—but I was surprised that things went as smoothly as they did.
Strawberry Panic this isn’t, though, I enjoyed how this was more of a character-driven story that had plenty of character development. If I were to compare it to another yuri anime, I’d say that it somewhat resembles Aoi Hana, thanks to the emphasis on the characters, as well as generally being a little more realistic than other yuri anime. Since Aoi Hana remains one of my favorite yuri anime, needless to say that I was more than content with how things played out.
Had MariMite pushed the romance aspect more—I’m looking at you, Yumi x Sachiko—I feel like this story could’ve been much more entertaining, yet the mix of drama, romance, and slice of life still was easier for me to enjoy than I thought going in. I’m sure some people might find this anime a little on the boring side, though, I’m glad that I wasn’t one of them.
While I can’t say that I absolutely loved this cast of characters, I can say that many of them grew on me over the course of the season. Beginning with Yumi, she’s an ordinary high-school student the likes of which you’ve seen in so many other anime, yet her cuteness and innocence made her more appealing to me than a lot of similar characters from other shows. She’s not a very complex character, but she’s charming, and I think that she’s the type of person that makes it easy to root for her.
By “rooting for her”, I mean hoping for the best between her and Sachiko. Similar to how Yumi resembles a character type that’s extremely common, the same can be said of Sachiko. She comes across as the ideal ojou-sama, and it’s hard not to take a liking to someone like her. She ends up dealing with some emotional issues of her own, but throughout it all, Yumi is always there for her, so that was great to see.
Yumi and Sachiko are sort of interesting in their own way, however, it was someone else that completely overshadowed them, in my opinion. Of course, I’m talking about the Yuri Anime Legend herself, Sei.
Literally every other character in the anime conforms to the strict guidelines of the academy, yet Sei breaks the mold and is the only one who seems to play by her own set of rules. She’s playful, flirty, and completely unlike anyone else at Lillian. That’s great and all, but underneath that lively exterior is someone that’s actually incredibly caring, and over her two episode story arc, my perception of her completely changed. I liked her before, but that was enough to put her over the top and make me completely understand why she’s definitely a yuri anime legend.
Naturally, Sei is by far the biggest contributor to the yuri in this first season, and without spoiling things, let’s just say that she’s part of the most serious and emotional relationship in the show. There is no Amane x Hikari-like sex scene here, and a kiss is really the furthest things go from a physical standpoint, yet there are other ways to express your love for someone, so this was still very satisfying.
Sei’s petite soeur is Shimako, who seems to be the complete opposite of Sei. Honestly, out of the eight girls shown in the picture above, Shimako was probably the least interesting to me. Okay, check that. Eriko—who seems to be Ritsu (from K-On!)’s twin—earned that title, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care all that much about Shimako.
Rei and Shimazu appear to be involved in a more serious relationship than Yumi and Sachiko, which probably contributes to me liking them quite a bit. Since it’s an all-girl’s school, you gotta have a bifauxnen character, and Rei is that character. It’s cute how she’s surprisingly feminine, while Shimazu is the one who’s a little more of a tomboy, and there’s just more happening in their relationship compared to Yumi and Sachiko, so I found their relationship to be more entertaining. I wouldn’t have minded if Shimazu was a little less melodramatic, but that’s the only real issue I had with those two.
It should be noted that having an openly lesbian relationship in an all-girls Catholic school would likely be frowned upon, to put it mildly (and Sei would know this firsthand), so I don’t think it’s too much of a surprise that the soeur system in use at the academy skews more towards romantic two-girl friendship than anything else. That’s certainly not the case for every pairing, but even then, the heavy subtext makes it obvious that something is most definitely afoot.
Also, it wouldn’t be right to leave out the Rosa Chinensis herself, Youko. Among the three Roses (Chinensis, Foetida, and Gigantea), Youko is generally viewed as the leader, and she also happens to be Sachiko’s grand soeur as well. Actually, for most—if not all—of the season, you could argue that Sachiko had a closer relationship with Youko than she did with Yumi. Yumi even realizes this herself, but once we see how much Youko really does care for Sachiko, it makes perfect sense. I don’t really have anything negative to say about her, though, she wasn’t incredibly memorable for me either.
In my book, Sei is the big winner, when it comes to the characters. While the other girls may have likable traits and personalities, there’s just a certain something missing that Sei manages to have in spades. If you’re looking for a yuri anime that has kisses or other physical contact, you’re likely to be disappointed with what MariMite has to offer. However, if you’re in the market for a more personal and tender look at the purest form of love, I think you may have found what you’re looking for~
Almost fourteen years. That seems like an eternity, but I was actually kind of little impressed with how MariMIte looks. The basis for this are the beautiful character designs, which generally lack the moe aesthetic that saturates the current anime landscape. It’s a style that’s pretty refreshing, as everyone is long and lanky and they really pull off the refined, ladylike look to a T. The overly large eyes can seem a little weird, but I think that can sometimes makes character’s faces seem more expressive, especially for someone like Sachiko.
Aside from the characters themselves, the rest of the art is more or less average, so it seems the bulk of the effort was spent there. Visually, this is a very simplistic anime that doesn’t stray too far from what is expected, but even though this is an older anime, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that it has a timeless look that has aged gracefully~
Moving on to the audio, the music of MariMite makes extensive use of strings, woodwinds, and the piano, giving it an elegant and majestic sound that perfectly fits with the theme of the series. As lovely as it may sound, for me, this style of music doesn’t come across as incredibly memorable, save for the lovely OP and the fitting inclusion of Schubert’s Ave Maria. All in all, the presentation couldn’t be more suitable for an anime like this, and together with the visuals, they combine to really sell the setting of an all-girls Catholic school.
In the yuri world, so much has changed since MariMIte‘s premiere, and a good portion of that is a direct result of this anime. It’s probably not the most exciting or captivating yuri anime that you’re ever going to watch, but MariMite remains a foundation piece for yuri anime. Whether you end up enjoying it or not, I think everyone owes it to themselves to at least take a look at this iconic anime.
“A yuri classic, but I just couldn’t hop onto the hype train for this one.”
Reporter: “And now for a live look outside YuriReviews headquarters.”
You sure know how to attract a riot, don’t you, L? 😛
LikeLiked by 2 people
I only watched it just recently myself (the first season, that is), and I’m not incredibly hyped either.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it definitely isn’t anywhere near my top yuri anime spot in the slightest, hell, there are anime which don’t even have any solid yuri content that rank higher than it on my yuri roster.
I’d say Yoshino x Rei is my otp for this series, their relationship is really… adorable, in a sense, my highly-refined yuri instinct tells me that Yoshino definitely takes the lead in the relationship, since Rei is kind of an adorable oaf, either way, I like it.
My 2 favorite characters would probably have to be Sei and Yoshino, they called out to me more than the others and I enjoyed every second of screentime they got.
I think Yumi is really the kind of protagonist this subgenre of yuri calls for, a bit weak in head, simple-minded yet emotional and supportive; that said, I’m not a massive fan of her, I feel like they could’ve given her a more active role in things, it feels like the characters kind of revolve around her and she doesn’t actually get much done of her own free will, it’s more her getting bossed around by her onee-samas a lot, like I said, I’ve only watched the first season so far, so I don’t know if this changes later on.
Lastly, I enjoyed the refined atmosphere that the anime creates, it’s relaxing and definitely far more laid back than one would expect from an anime of this subgenre, I feel like they could’ve given the yuri side of things a nice dosage of super ultra gay steroids of imminent homosexuality, but what are you gonna do amirite.
Addendum: I said I wasn’t super hyped and then went on to talk about it as if I’m super into it.
This show was like ultra-mild underseasoned curry with cheap meat in it, it’s still curry and therefore good, but it could’ve been done better, preferably with a helping of piping-hot cumin infused basmati rice and homemade naan bread.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Is it wrong that this made me hungry? Man, i need some curry now.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I can understand that. This is the type of show where I think it’s pretty easy to not fully embrace. This one isn’t my favorite, but it’s a lot closer to the top than the bottom. It’s very unassuming.
Early on, I wasn’t sure I’d like those two all that much, yet they turned out to be surprisingly cute. With the way things went in this season, I think it’s somewhat likely that I’ll jump on that bandwagon myself, sooner rather than later~
I think I have a soft spot for the characters that have suffered more, so it’s not that much of a surprise that I liked Sei so much. And the longer the season went, the more I found myself liking Shimazu. Fun fact: For like 2/3 of the season, I was confusing Shimazu with Shimako. I feel dumb… 😀
I’m hoping Yumi x Sachiko turns into something more substantial in the following seasons. They stalled out early and didn’t really pick things up until the end there. *crosses fingers*
Ahh yeah I’ve always been afraid to watch MariMite because I never really knew what to expect from it. Maybe I’ll finally give it a go now, too.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think that there’s a lot of this going around. I have yet to watch this too, but may actually give it a go now. 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person
Nice to see the older shows piquing you guys’ curiousity a little. 😛
LikeLiked by 2 people
Hmmmm looks interesting, I might give it a try but the way their eyes were drawn looked a bit weird.
Also, from last night even to this moment, I wasn’t to able to connect to all WordPress sites, including Yuri Nation as the browser said it took too long to respond. Any here who had experienced this, pls tell me a way resolve it, I’m currently at my wit’s end right now due to frustrations.
I eventually grew used to it, but Yumi’s irked me more than I would have liked. 😀
I haven’t had any problems myself. Maybe try another browser to see if it’s unrelated to WordPress or your internet connection?
I found it interesting reading the comparison to Strawberry Panic. In my eyes, Strawberry Panic feels like MariMite, but MariMite does not feel like Strawberry Panic. I sometimes describe StoPan as a MariMite fanfic.
I feel this might just be one of the first things the site has covered that conforms to the classic Class S relationship, rather than a homosexual-parody of it. That said, it has… more homosexual pairings rather than the strictly Class S friendships, but you get my point.
I was a little on the fence with the first 2 seasons of this. It was so…. so…. soooo… slow. I don’t so much mind the slow pacing, but the animation and music was also ridiculously slow. I ran it at 1.5x speed and for almost every scene, I didn’t really notice a difference…
Speaking of which, there’s a huge quality jump in Season 3, in pretty much every way IMO. Will you be keeping up with the show?
I did like it, though. Especially Sei; you’re right in that she just makes scenes she’s in invaluably different, and that’s not just because of her overt flirting. Her rowdiness and bending of the rules was really important. Sachiko’s sassiness appealed to me too, but after the opening arc it wasn’t nearly as emphasised.
Yeah. For me, it wasn’t until the emphasis shifted from Yumi and Sachiko to other things (like Rei x Shimazu or Sachiko’s man-hating ways) that were more involving. I might’ve done that more myself, but I had to keep an ear out for that music. 😀
I’m planning on it. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I just intended on reviewing one season or if I tried to condense the entire series into one review. Since you mentioned it, I’ll be looking forward to that season~
I think the show needed someone like her, and she definitely delivered something that would have been missing had she not been there.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Aaaaah! My favorite series finally gets reviewed on here and I’m late to the party! (Seriously, I’ve watched this show enough to write papers on it.)
This series literally starts off with a three episode arc about how equal power and consent is necessary for any sincere relationship to develop. This is more than just a definitive yuri series; it’s probably the most feminist/progressive anime.
How does this exist. What. An anime. About Catholic schoolgirl lesbians. I can’t even.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I just love the Catholic and rosary types of setting for Yuri animes. Although this did not have nearly as much yuri as I wanted it was a bit more realistic. My top Yuri animes is Probably “Strawberry Panic” but that is only because it has more yuri in it. This show was not meant for viewers to get “hyped” up about. This show is a slice of life anime and a lot of those don’t usually get you hyped up like an action anime would. I really love this show and my favorite character would have to be Sei. I love her personality in other yuri animes you don’t have someone like Sei, you might have a flirtatious character but Sei was more than that as stated Sei was also really caring and wise. Which is what really brought me to like her. Overall this show is good for people who like melodramatic yuri love. After the first season it became apparent that there would never be any physical things happening with Yumi and Sachiko. But I really love this show and would rank it in one of my top yuri/slice of life animes.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ah, an individual of discernment and taste, ready to join the Marimite Army! Marimite shows all the forms of human behavior which we call love. Sei is most definitely the MVP of the Marimite universe. I would like to have her as a buddy. Sachiko suffers from Rich GIrl Syndrome, and can be as cold as a block of ice. Yumi often goes to Sei for human warmth because Sachiko just cannot open, she is so tightly wound up and as a result, wounded! She often accuses Yumi of not being open with her, when she is not being open to Yumi and fails to tell her what is happening in her life. Without information, Yumi tends to fantasize all sorts of possibilities. Not my favorite character! Sei is also the most interesting because her loves are so deep. Shizuka Kanina is in love with Sei. I will not talk further in case you have not completed all 4 seasons. I liked everything about “Strawberry Panic” except the ending. I so wanted (Tamao X Nagisa) to happen. Tamao is a sweetheart, Shizuma, well the less said the better!
I can’t be the only one who saw vibes coming from Suguru kashiwagi. I couldn’t tell if he liked Yumi or not. But if my prediction is correct that means this show isn’t all Yuri. They probably won’t ever end up together though considering Suguru’s first impressions on Yumi. I’m not going to spoil but it made Yumi hate Suguru for a long time.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Fans generally hold that Suguru Kashiwagi is gay and that he has a crush on Yuki Fukuzawa, Yumi’s younger brother. Basically subtext in the Anime, but explicit in the novels.