O Maidens in Your Savage Season – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: When the girls in a high school literature club ask themselves, “What do you want to do before you die?” one of them voices a shocking ambition — and now they’re all preoccupied by their friend’s unexpected answer! (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: O Maidens began the season by offering a healthy mix of comedy and emotion focused on five girls and their struggle through puberty and budding sexual desire and romance. Each girl of the group offers a different avenue of young love, anything from the innocent, heartfelt, doubting romance of a childhood crush, to a girl, spurned by her more attractive peers, to then even less innocent plot lines. The show isn’t afraid to dabble with the darker nature of sexuality that women often face at a young age, like pedophilia or their own attraction to older men. Handled right these less savory elements could act as powerful drama, highlighting some of the dark and upsetting things young woman can sometimes face growing up. There’s plenty of anime touching on what a young man’s early love life is like, anything from the perverse to the more innocent, and even a few anime focused on the bubbly, innocent romance we’ve come to expect from a girl’s young love. O Maidens plays with elements rarely seen or even discussed in today’s discourse. But by episode 5 the series goes a little off the rails, tackling its more troubled elements, like Pedophilia and forbidden romance, in ways that sit far and away from addressing their truly abhorrent nature.
Linny: Three of the girls continue to have chaste, pure and even relatable experiences in regards to love and attraction. There’s Kazusa’s tale of childhood friends turning into earnest, awkward attraction and having to then deal with the insecurities and self doubt that brings about. Rika, another of the more innocent girls, goes from an uptight and mocked outcast to discovering her own beauty through someone else’s eyes, while still battling her own inner morals and ideals. Finally Momoka rounds out the more innocent plot threads, as she’s reunited with an admirer and learns that sometimes rushing into a romance may leave you disappointed. These three girls and their stories might ring true for some viewers, even if some are built around more typical romance tropes, or just feel outright heartwarming to others, making them good models of innocent and inexperienced young love. That said, I do feel that Rika’s character being severely judgemental of others and so uptight that she struggles to open up and connect even with her new boyfriend makes her come off as someone bound to rub certain audiences the wrong way. Her self righteous rants and pointing fingers at others needs to stop and she needs to become more honest and authentic for her to become a truly likeable character. Right now she’s one hell of a tough cookie to feel sorry for, when it almost feels like she’s the author of her own misery.
Tom: The more questionable elements stem exclusively from the plots surrounding both Nina and Hongou. Hongou is an aspiring author who is jerked around by her editor in terms of the type of content her debut novel needs to be in order for her to get published. Hongou’s story leads her down a rabbit hole of online sexting, only to discover that the man she’s been sexting with in someone from her daily life. Nina’s story involves her radiant beauty, and the kind of disgusting attraction that gained her before she even hit puberty. Both stories touch on upsetting things many young woman deal with as they grow into adults. But the show handles these topics in the absolute worst way, at least thus far, failing to truly address the problematic elements and either playing it for laughs, or sidestepping the issue in such a way that people who should be labeled as sickening deviants end up coming out as, somehow, decent looking?
Linny: Yes, the problem with Nina and Hongou’s story lines isn’t so much that it’s touching on these topics, but rather how it chooses to handle these controversial elements. While the show has regularly had jokes and gags in every episode, cementing its comedic side, it then tries to inject comedy into these topics, involving pedophilia and grooming, where it ends up feeling disrespectful and flippant of their extremely serious nature. Hongou’s extremely scandalous relationship and interaction with an older adult is often used for comedy and it is a hard pill to swallow considering how disturbing the real life equivalent is. The story also has this man going from actively encouraging to scandalized at Hongou’s behaviour as if the story can’t decide which approach to take: honest reprehension or turning it all into a gag. Moving on to Nina’s story, the show feels like its condoning an older man, who made no secret of his attraction to her pre-puberty, simply because he never actually touched her sexually, besides rubbing his face all over her feet. In fact, the show depicts Nina as being upset that he never went beyond that, which is a disturbing vein of thought. Again, the show also sends mixed signals because they have Nina calling the man a creep in other scenes so it’s highly frustrating how O Maidens/Mari Okada (the original writer) brings up these really scandalous and upsetting real life topics only to be so flippant or even comedic about them. If the entire show was nothing but comedy, it still would feel like a really uncomfortable comedy and considering O Maidens has clear moments when it’s trying to be authentic and relatable, these sore moments leave an extremely bad taste.
Tom: O Maidens has become a real mixed bag as we’ve hit the mid season. Three of the plot lines/girls are stand out in my opinion, and actively work to save the show. The other two girls and their stories are active detractors, and my final opinion will really depend on whether the story can course correct or not. As it stands I still think O Maidens is worthy of a recommendation, but only just. And even then that Recommendation is coming with huge as hell caveats.
Linny: As someone who picked up the first volume of this series in manga form and was blown away, excited to see more of what seemed like a funny and also heartwarming exploration of female attraction and early encounters with romance/sexuality, I am now a lot more apprehensive and disappointed with how the story seems to be handling certain topics. As Tom mentioned, if you can stomach the show’s handling of those topics, you may still be able to enjoy the show for the journeys of the other girls and their much more palatable tales. But it could be understandably a huge hurdle and deterrent for others and thus, O Maidens in Your Savage Season goes from a strongly recommended premiere episode to a much more lukewarm, even sour maybe, Take it or Leave it, with a very strong caveat to check if you will be okay with how it handles certain, uncomfortable topics.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is available for streaming via HIDIVE.