The offbeat world of Maria Holic promises that there’s much more to be revealed.
Maria Holic, Volume 9, by Minari Endou, is the latest English-language release of the popular Japanese manga. Maria Holic‘s soapy teen drama takes place at an all-girls Catholic boarding school. The series’s beating heart is gangling, awkward Kanako Miyamae. Her attempts to find her ideal lady love amidst the trials and tribulations of her roommate’s ire and the mess she makes of boarding school life drive this manga’s episodic action.
Kanako is flaky, dramatic, and highly influenced by her peers. In other words, she’s a typical teenager. Mostly, her days are portrayed as lighthearted romps where trivial, everyday issues snowball into avalanches of dramatic incompetence. Like that of any teenager, Kanako’s life often takes place within the confines of her room, but her situation is complicated by the presence of her roommate, Mariya Shido, and Mariya’s live-in maid, Matsurika Shinoji. Kanako seems to idolize—and perhaps fantasize about—Mariya because of Mariya’s hyper-femme appearance. However, Mariya and Matsurika routinely demean Kanako, using the term “lesbian” as an epithet. Although Mariya’s identity is veiled from the other students, Kanako is forced to keep his secret, increasing the tension between them.
Kanako seems closeted, and her quest for same-sex romance plays for titillation. Actual relationships and romantic connection don’t come into Kanako’s plans, but raging hormones and hypersexualization do. Her objects of affection are presented as just that—objects—and the male gaze is evident in Kanako’s fantasies, where women are largely depicted as anonymous bodies to be groped. Kanako’s desire is also presented hand in hand with physical ailments, such as nosebleeds and blackouts, manga shorthand for sexual perversion and deviance.
Maria Holic, Volume 9 continues rather than concludes Kanako’s story, revealing many of her foibles and playing her personal growing pains for laughs. Something may be lost in translation in the treatment of Kanako’s sexual identity, but the offbeat world of Maria Holic promises that there’s much more to be revealed.
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