Akiba Maid War is 2022’s best anime about gun-toting maids waitresses

Akiba Maid War is 2022’s best anime about gun-toting maids waitresses

“The violence is part of the job,” says Nerula, an alien-themed service worker at the maid cafes in Akihabara, in a moment of nonchalant, outright absurdity like the new original anime Akiba Maid War have now conditioned me to expect and love. In a series with an outrageous display of bloodshed, it may be the show’s commitment to a straight-faced matter-of-factness about the violent lives of cafe girls that makes it even funnier, with the characters internalizing “moe moe kyun” as guiding light. the principle for which they bleed (“moe” has a broad meaning, but mostly means a “sweet” vibe). It feels like there’s more anime than ever this season, but even in the midst of a season filled with high-profile shows like Chainsawman, Bleach, and Mob Psycho 100Akiba Maid War deserves your attention.

Directed by Sōichi Masui (Sakura Quest) and produced by PA Works (also responsible for this year’s Ya Boy Kongming!) and Cygames, it’s a strong contender for funniest anime of the season, an original that manages to hold its own in a season packed with heavy hitters. A broad homage to yakuza films and other gangster pictures, Akiba Maid War replaces the criminal fraternity with maid cafes dotted around Akihabara, each acting as an arm of one of two wider groups – the animal-themed “Creatureland” group and the sci-fi-themed “Maidalien” group – that compete for control of the area and bristle against a weak peace agreement.

A yellow haired anime girl in Ganguro makeup wearing a pig themed maid outfit cheering along with a black haired anime girl in an identical maid outfit.

Photo: PA Works/Sentai Filmworks

It’s somewhat (and there’s an extreme emphasis on “some”) reminiscent of works like Kinji Fukasaku’s yakuza films, as if someone threw a crumpled apron over his despairing and influential Battles Without Honor and Humanity saga; different in tone, but traces the evolution of warring gangs over decades and the betrayals and cycles of violence that transform them. Creatureland Group’s bid for business dominance has echoes of the Yamamori gang embedding itself in the capitalist conglomerate Tensei Group. While the show explores the ins and outs of what it means to exist in moe mob, the underhanded policy is compounded with echoes of the gore of Takashi Miike’s work (the mind will also wander to Tarantino, given the shared inspirations). The main difference is that the gangsters in this show also spend their time decorating omelettes with ketchup faces.

Akiba Maid War is about contrasting these tributes with the sweetness that their characters so sincerely represent. You can say it is in close proximity to this year’s Lycoris recoil, which played with the conceit of teenage killers who use a cafe as a front as the story unfolds a long-running conspiracy plot. Although both enjoy the gap between cute and deadly seen in the girls-with-guns-action subgenre, Lycoris uses contemporary surveillance and authoritarianism as its set dressing rather than criminal activity, while Akiba Maid War playing things more exclusively for laughs.

A brown-haired anime girl wearing a maid outfit with pink pig ears spills a pink-colored drink on a customer's face.

Photo: PA Works/Sentai Filmworks

The idealistic Nagomi is the audience’s way into this absurdist story. Unaware of the barbarity of her chosen profession, she learns the hard way through various skirmishes with other rival cafes, confronting each other in dialogue with animal threats, all admirably engaged in silly puns with complete seriousness. When Nagomi joins the pig-themed Oinky Doink Cafe in the first episode, she befriends the seemingly gloomy Ranko, an elderly maid who is recovering from an as-yet-unrevealed crime.

However, Nagomi and Ranko’s first outing together is nothing short of a disaster – Ranko introduces Nagomi to the reality of maid service, massacring a rival cafe on an errand originally intended to offer the two as sacrificial lambs to sweeten an ancient beef. The result is a confused set piece for the ages, with the episode spiraling out of control after an incredibly dark gag where blood from a headshot whistles out of the wound and onto poor Nagomi’s maid outfit not once, but three times in delayed succession.

The shock of the moment turns to utter mayhem, with a shootout spilling out into the streets as episode director Tomoaki Ota returns to the Oinky Doink Cafe, where Nagomi’s colleague Yumechi is performing a high-energy number called “The Pure Maid’s Master-Killing Kiss”. The intercut sequence times Ranko performing elaborate feats of gun-fu with wotagei (essentially a type of dance performed by idol fans) to the resulting uptempo and vaguely menacing interlude about exploding hearts, with Ranko bouncing rounds to the beat while stabbing and weapons both take the role of glowsticks. To borrow some critical language, it tears.

A purple-haired woman in a maid's outfit stands in the middle of a dark street littered with the bloody bodies of dead maid waitresses, holding silver pistols in her hand that glint in the light of a crescent moon overhead.

Photo: PA Works/Sentai Filmworks

The show could have burned out quickly after the shock of the first episode, but it constantly morphs and repeats itself on what could be a single joke premise; within the context of the story itself, violence is only expected. The seventh episode goes into all-out war after a real tragedy, with a classic soundtrack and sax solos scoring blood feuds. The eighth upholds the hallowed anime tradition, the baseball episode, complete with extreme roughhousing and, of course, a double murder. An early favorite of mine is the third episode’s trip to a fight club, which quickly turns into a riff on Ashita no Joeevoking Osamu Dezaki’s classic 1970 boxing anime with freeze-frames of cross-counters and other iconic poses, as well as the manager turning into a meaner version of Joe Yabuki’s trainer, Danpei.

The third episode also provides an excellent introduction to Zoya, a Russian foreigner struggling to fit in due to her stoic appearance, who battles Ranko physically and ideologically over whether the two can even be considered “cute” or worthy of to be a maid. The show goes one step further by playing out her backstory via a dramatic flashback, as she switches languages ​​to Russian in yet another moment where the show surprises the viewer with how seriously it treats the details (in a wonderful touch, Zoya’s voice actress, Jenyaintentionally leaning into her native Russian accent to land the role, aggressively rolling her R’s).

A purple haired anime girl in red boxer shorts with pink frills beats a silver haired anime girl in turquoise blue boxer shorts.

Photo: PA Works/Sentai Filmworks

Aside from the plot, the personalities of the goofy main cast are fun on their own – Ranko is an obvious standout from the moment she arrives, as she earnestly and very earnestly performs maid duties with gloriously monotone cadence. Just as there is more to Akiba Maid War than its surface absurdity, there are also compelling complications to Ranko, who is both ruthlessly violent but also the most receptive to Nagomi’s naivety and quixotic pursuit of peace.

Then there’s the manager, an eminently watchable weasel who never stops trying to exploit whatever slight advantage she can get, exploiting everyone in her care; she’s so terrible that she returns to being completely watchable as she continually sinks to new lows. Not to mention that the Oinky Doink girls count among their ranks Okachimachi, an arsonist in a panda mascot costume who quietly acts like a real panda.

While there’s a lot more going on in terms of the show’s clever comedic timing, the surface touches are a joy to experience in their own right. Each episode begins with a shotgun blast of 90s ephemera through the seedy video textures and The Prodigy-esque rave sounds of the opening song “Maid Daikaiten” (sung by the cast). The grimy synths suddenly morph into the kind of sugary pop song you’d expect from a maid cafe, in an extension of the show’s hilarious tonal collisions. (The ending, however, is a fun soulful traditional enka track sung by Ranko’s voice actress, Rina Satō).

A purple-haired woman in a pig-eared maid outfit swings a gun, walking down a street lit by neon billboards while holding the hand of a brown-haired woman in an identical outfit and a white blouse covered in splattered blood.

Photo: PA Works/Sentai Filmworks

Within the context of the episodes themselves, there’s a fun clash of rough brushwork and colorful glitter amid some surprisingly well-choreographed fights, all of which help place the show in this crazy parallel universe of this time period. It helps that the writers also know when to be sincere and when to be silly, when to upstage Oinky Doink’s handmaidens, as well as when to make their victories self-defeating—as well-intentioned as a couple of them are, which they defend themselves, they also get lost in several turf wars and battles that threaten to tear their livelihoods apart. Such moments also show the authors’ clever commitment to deepening a sense of history in their absurdist restoration of the district, which is connected with how Akiba Maid War expands into other genre parodies as the story escalates its depiction of an adorable criminal empire filled with stone-cold killers dressed as farm animals.

IN Akiba Maid War, as mentioned before, brutality is simply an everyday part of the job as much as handing out flyers, and the show has a lot of fun showing the various degrees this infiltrates the details of running Oinky Doink. As it does so, its homage to yakuza films is thrown into a meat grinder with a wealth of other genres and anachronisms in the establishment of its alternate history from 1990s Akihabara onwards (in the world of Akiba Maid War the relationship between maids and violence is a proud tradition of 200 years, with festival and all). That, and you have cosplay girls throwing down gambling rings and fight clubs. What more could you ask for?

Akiba Maid War is available for streaming on HIDIVE.

See also  Most Iconic Anime Shapeshifters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *