Maid cafes are an increasingly huge part of Japanese popular culture and are common elements in various anime. One of the most prominent examples of this trend is in Maid Sama!, a series which ran from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s. The manga and anime follow Misaki Ayuzawa, the top student of the now co-ed Seika High, who earns herself a reputation as a snooty, dictatorial know-it-all. Due to her family's circumstances, however, she also has to secretly earn money by working at a maid cafe. Rival student Takumi Usui soon discovers this, using the information to his advantage before ironically falling in love with her.
The setup is somewhat similar to the classic romantic series Kare Kano, with Maid Sama! also lasting about as long. Having gone on for almost ten years, here's how to read the Maid Sama! manga, as well as watch the anime adaptation.
Where to Read Maid Sama!
The original manga was written and drawn by Hiro Fujiwara and is comprised of 85 chapters contained in 18 tankobon (volumes). The series focuses mainly on the comedic aspects of the main characters' interactions, especially early on in their relationship. Many reviewers have noted that these comedic highs help to overlook the somewhat clichéd nature of the characters and premise. Much of this comedy has been praised as being noticeably free of the low-hanging fan service usually rife in maid-related manga and anime, though. Later points in the story also take a slightly more serious turn, as well as a look into how Japanese societal rules and status can affect relationships.
The series' publication during an immense wave in popularity for anime in the West saw it translated into English. This was initially handled by Tokyopop, but the license is now carried by VIZ Media. Eager readers can get their hands on physical, 2-in-1 copies of the manga volumes via either VIZ Media's official website or through Amazon. Brick and mortar retailers such as Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble also carry the manga.
Where to Watch Maid Sama!
The 26-episode anime adaptation of the manga premiered in 2010, running from April until September of that year. These episodes were further bolstered by a one-episode OVA special. The studio behind it was J.C. Staff, who worked on several other romantic comedy and slice-of-life anime such as Toradora!, Azumanga Daioh and Food Wars!. Due to the series being produced before the manga completed, the ending is different than what would be eventually written in the source material. This can make the anime's ending seem somewhat abrupt for fans of the manga, and there sadly hasn't been a second season or remake to finish the story in its entirety.
Despite these changes, the anime was very well-received and is considered one of the best in its genre from the 2010s. It's also widely available to fans in the West. The series can be streamed through Hulu and Netflix, with both dub and sub versions available. Playtech Asia also offers the Blu-ray collection of the entire series, though it is widely out of stock from other providers. With so many cheap and easy ways to enjoy both versions of the series, Maid Sama! is ready to please anyone in the mood for a comedic love story.