The thing most casual viewers of animated pornography of which MAID SERVICE most definitely is don’t understand is that this is pretty tame. Yes, it’s at times torturous, and, of course, it’s at other times more than a bit disturbing … but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from that current critical favorite, HOUSE OF CARDS, it’s that sex – in its purest form – is rarely about just “sex.” Rather, everything in life is about “sex.” (Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that everything in life tends to be about sex from some angle or another.) Sex, by contrast, is about “power,” and that message is something very near and dear to the central message (if there is one) behind MAID SERVICE.
You’ve got maids – often defined as “subservients” – and you’ve got “service” – a word that connotes that there’s a ‘master’ in the relationship. You throw those two words together, and you’re bound to get combustion. On that point, MAID SERVICE does combust, indeed.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Needing to ascertain some measure of income in order to continue paying for her college tuition, Momoko finds herself duped into serving as a house maid to the charming young man in her class, Takaaki. The problem is that Takaaki has much more on his mind than just being a nice guy, and, before you can say “put on that maid outfit,” he has her half-removed from said maid outfit in order to satisfy his every sexual whim, perverse or otherwise. However, Momoko soon realizes that, even with her virginal complexion, she isn’t enough to keep the man happy. He’s on a path to surround himself with more beautiful women … but why does it seem as though he secretly favors Momoko? Is she truly important to him in some way she doesn’t understand, or could it be that she reminds him of something that he’s tragically lost? Temperatures will be raised in her pursuit of getting to the bottom of it … while Takaaki’s getting to her bottom!
The story is rarely what brings any viewer to any hentai: mainly, it’s the action. Hot & heavy preferred. And plentiful, so long as the characters are at it. Rather than mince words about whether or not MAID SERVICE is legitimate ‘hentai’ (tip: I don’t think it is, per se), let’s just agree on the point that it’s definitely sexual, undeniably pornographic, and curiously nihilistic in tone. Our lovely heroine – erm, victim – is Momoko, who finds herself (based on events which occur before this two-part, one-hour animated drama begin) in dire financial straits. Enter a young, wealthy suitor – Takaaki – who’s willing to be the answer to her prayers … and voila! Instant porn set-up!
Of course, what Momoko didn’t know is that nothing in life ever comes for free, and, from the outset, Takaaki dials his amps up to eleven (as they say) in extorting whatever carnal delights he can from the comely lass. As any wealthy man-of-the-house would be, Takaaki’s appetites are tremendous, and it becomes apparently early on that no single orifice of this young woman’s body will escape his mischievous attentions; eventually, his hunger is so insatiable that he must have other girls brought under his grasp, and – naturally – you can’t have two girls in one animated sex film without there being some girl-on-girl opportunities.
To MAID SERVICE’s credit, the story does actually try to tap into some authentic themes exploring just why, where, and how Takaaki developed these psychological addictions. Granted, these sixty minutes don’t allow time for any deep analysis; as one might slyly realize, the flick’s plenty ‘deep’ in ways the viewer probably expects more readily.
Still, SERVICE isn’t as bizarre as some other forms of hentai I’ve had the good fortune (and misfortune) of seeing. The bulk of the action centers on Takaaki’s control – his control of his house, his control of his reputation at school, his control of the ladies who fall under his grip – and he’s always the aggressor, leading to incidents of forcible assault, bondage, and mild to perverse violence. It’s the other stuff – the potty variety – that I just didn’t care for (nor have I ever) that ends up cheapening what might otherwise serve as visual foreplay for interested couples. Could it give one ideas? Sure. Could it give one inspiration? No doubt. Could it interest you in trying everything you see from start-to-finish? Meh. I’m guessing “not.”
MAID SERVICE  is produced by Circus and Digital Works. DVD distribution is being handled by Critical Mass Video. For those needing it spelled out perfectly, this material contains graphic adult content and is definitely not intended for minors. Also – for those needing it spelled out furthermore – this is a Japanese spoken language release, and the disc offers up either subtitles or an English-dubbed track. If it’s special features you’re looking for, then you’re in store for what they’ve tagged as ‘outtakes’ (clearly produced as part of an in-joke, I hope) along with some animated art galleries and trailers for other Critical Mass releases.
RECOMMENDED. If MAID SERVICE does anything (other than the obvious titillation), then it reminds us how closely linked our sexual appetite can be to deep-rooted psychological problems. Whether that be attempting to fill the void left from a lost mother or trying to come to grips with some inappropriately developed control fetishes, the characters in here struggle to let their identity heal and, in the process, work through a lot of hot’n’heavy carnal issues. Again, I offer these few words not as endorsement of any particular proclivity but rather as an observation of what stories of this nature tell us about ourselves. (Well, maybe not you or I, but psycho-sexual civilization at a glance.)