Maid War Chronicle has all the appeal of Charlie’s Angels (the 2000 film, not the original series), set in a pseudo-medieval fantasy Europe, with art by Ran, the one-named mystery man who drew Mao-chan.
Cacao was a circus star before she was personally chosen to be a palace maid by Prince Alex. The adolescent Prince is a pervert beyond his years, copping a feel when he gets the chance and forcing his six maids to cool his tea by having them blow on it one at a time.
When Arbansol is invaded by a neighboring kingdom, the Prince and his maids escape. They manage to acquire the Kingdom’s magical weapons and the Prince dubs his maids Knights. Cacao is the only maid who can fight thanks to her athletic prowess. The story proceeds through a couple of one-shot chapters before introducing more (male) characters in preparation for a longer story arc.
Maid War Chronicle has a beauty that’s only skin deep. The maids are designed nicely, which is great, but they’re lamely named after chocolate bonbon flavors (Mint, Liqueur, Bana), and their personalities fulfill pervy ensemble comedy series stereotypes similar to Love Hina or Galaxy Angels. The main difference being the art in Love Hina is stronger and the comedy in Galaxy Angels is funnier.
The book opens with a map of the fantasy kingdom, which is required by (unwritten) law in all fantasy books. The occasional landscape splash pages of the castles of Arbansol are well rendered, but the book isn’t consistently as well-drawn.
The real downside to Maid War Chronicle is that it feels too close to its sales pitch. “Maid knights fight to protect their prince in a medieval fantasy Europe in this cross between Charlie’s Angels and He is my Master!” One pictures publishing executives with little yen signs lighting up their eyes. I’m not immune to that kind of thinking, either. After all, I picked this to review based on the title – it really is marketing gold!
What was I thinking? Because I like Emma I might like this? I don’t like Mao-chan – I should have more carefully considered the consequences of my choices! Ran takes on a book about maids? I am an idiot! Congrats to Del Rey, this title must be money in the bank if it had the power to short-circuit my better judgment based on the title alone.
In the worst chapter, the maids encounter some shady dudes who have captured an exotic giant cat in a cage. Bana feels sorry for the cat, and sneaks into its cage at night, vowing to save it. There is something very wrong with this scene. Bana strips off all her clothes and cuddles naked with the cat. It’s not really explained why it’s necessary for Bana to be naked; the darker-skinned maid only says, “Bana came from the jungle too…” Leaving aside her gratingly irritating speech patterns, it’s really annoying that she’s the only non-white character and she’s also a savage. It’s not as bad as the equivalent savage character in Battle Athletes, but it’s still exploitative. Also the giant cat turns out to be a shape-shifter who is also a giant naked savage woman.
I assume part of the fun of the ongoing series will be learning the backstory of the different maids. In this volume, we get to learn about Mint – you can tell she’s the smart one because she wears glasses and she’s always reading a book. In my opinion, Mint’s story isn’t very memorable. We get to learn a lot about Cacao’s story, but her inner conflict about keeping her maid job is paint-by-numbers writing.
I’m not the core demographic or the intended audience for this title by any stretch of the imagination. But a good manga title should still be enjoyable beyond the target market. Maid War Chronicle is dull, but at least it’s not painstakingly boring. At the very least, the nudity and a sense of befuddlement kept me awake while reading it.
Publisher: Del Rey
Story and Art: Ran
Rating: OT 16+