Under Your Radar: He Is My Master

TRUST by Masami Okui

I will always have faith
As I hold onto my never-ending dreams
Trust me, my way

I don’t mind if, at times, these feelings may lead me in circles
What’s wrong with being a little positive?
Just be yourself

But you know, a jumbled-up scenario
Will gradually lead to a loveable tomorrow
(Trust my way)

The wind brushes against my cheek
We can continue at this breezy pace, both comfortable and fun, for all time
These feelings will never change
As I hold onto my never-ending dreams
Trust me, my way

Radar Logo 2

He Is My Master Volume 1 CoverA bit late, but this week’s Under Your Radar covers the gag series known as He Is My Master. He Is My Master (Japanese: Kore ga Watashi no Goshujin-sama) was a manga series that ran from February 2002 to February 2009 in Square Enix’s Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine, making it a Shōnen manga. Other series that run or ran in that magazine, for the sake of context, include Nagasarete Airantou, the Saki spin-off Saki: Episode of Side A, Soul Eater and Fullmetal Alchemist.

The series was created by the husband and wife duo Asu Tsubaki (the wife, who handled the art) and Mattsu (the husband, who wrote the story). For the record, both of those names appear to be pen names.

The series went on indefinite hiatus when the pair divorced and Mattsu was unable to find a new artist. This made the manga end at five volumes with no conclusion. There was an anime adaptation in 2005 that was 12 episodes long and actually did reach somewhat of a conclusion, however. Seven Seas released the manga in English, though it is now out of print (albeit still in stock for normal price in a few places, making it not too expensive if you know where to look). Sentai Filmworks released the anime in a sub-only DVD set, and had it streamed on The Anime Network. The anime has been dubbed in French and German.

We open with 14-year-old Izumi Sawatari and 13-year-old Mitsuki Sawatari running away from home due to reasons we later find out concern the deaths of the parents of their pet alligator Pochi and the perverted nature of their father. The two are on the street and need to find shelter, eventually spotting a help wanted poster in front of a mansion, to hire maids.

HIMM Sceenshot 1

It turns out that the mansion in question is owned by 14-year-old orphan Yoshitaka Nakabayashi, who received his family’s fortune when his parents died in a car accident. After the pair chat with Yoshitaka, Pochi ends up on the loose, which results in Izumi breaking a vase worth 5 million yen. While Izumi was going to turn down the position, Yoshitaka forces her to work off the debt as a maid.

My first reflex upon seeing that number was to check how much that would have been in USD when the series began. When the manga started its run (February 8th, 2002), that was worth $37145.35 USD. On the day the anime first aired (April 7th, 2005), that had become the equivalent of $46099.92 USD. That should be the equivalent of well over a year of work as a maid already, depending on what her wages were like, but Izumi’s misfortune didn’t stop there.

HIMM Sceenshot 3

She, her sister and Pochi tend to ruin expensive items on a fairly regular basis, so her debt actually increased over time, instead of being paid off gradually, even with Mitsuki also working as a maid with her. Izumi certainly didn’t do herself any favours by refusing to act politely to her boss, doing everything with a heavy dose of contempt and outright denying most of the easy ways out of the situation. That said, she does manage to pay the whole debt off with outside assistance a few times in both the anime and the manga, only for something to happen to either negate the payment or cause her to owe Yoshitaka significant money again.

The entire series is basically a series of events that humiliate Izumi. Fueling this is the fact that everyone else in the mansion seems to have it out for her: Yoshitaka is an unrepentant pervert who will do anything necessary to get what he wants, going to far as to make mirror-floored stairs at one point in the manga (the anime paints him in a slightly more positive light towards the end). Mitsuki seems to always do whatever she finds the most fun at any given moment, and a lot of that fun is at Izumi’s expense, either monetarily by adding to her debt or by slowly ruining Izumi’s sanity. A third maid, Anna Kurauchi, later starts working for Yoshitaka voluntarily for the sake of staying close to Izumi, who she had fallen in love with. Both Anna and Pochi join Yoshitaka in trying to get into Izumi’s pants, to her chagrin.

HIMM Sceenshot 2

The comedy that ensues is actually rather hilarious, though the manga eventually started to make me feel bad for Izumi after certain events restricted her to an absurd degree. The manga also made me hate Mitsuki, while she was more playful and less of a bitch in the anime. To be perfectly honest, even if you ignore the differences in art direction, the anime and manga still feel very different from each other due to the aforementioned differences in characterization causing major changes in how things play out, as well as events that take place when the anime does its own thing. This makes them very distinct works, despite sharing the same broad characters and locations.

Something I found rather irritating, however, was the redundancy between Yoshitaka, Anna and Pochi. While Pochi served as the reason for the sisters running away from home, he didn’t need to be a pervert. Just being an alligator would have been funny enough. Similarly, Anna’s character did not need to be a pervert. She’s actually introduced as being madly in love with Yoshitaka after mistaking his perverse actions for gentlemanly ones, and Izumi tries to get her to see that she’s wrong. Had she not completely shifted to being a lesbian almost immediately, she wouldn’t have felt so redundant. Had those two been different like that, the series would have certainly felt a lot more varied than it was.

He Is My Master Manga Art
This art’s in the manga’s art style. It evokes a somewhat different feel from the anime.

The anime’s ending was somewhat interesting. After becoming completely free from Yoshitaka, Izumi willingly returns as his maid, calling him her master for the first time, and accidentally breaks something again, leading her into simply repeating her situation again. While that would make no sense with the manga’s characterization, the anime’s Yoshitaka had him secretly take an early marriage suggestion from Izumi’s mother seriously (the idea being for her to marry into wealth so as to completely remove the debt). While Izumi steadfastly denied such a development, Yoshitaka secretly sewed a shockingly innocent wedding dress to match her proportions perfectly, just in case she changed her mind some day.

The manga makes it perfectly clear that such a thing would never happen under their characterization, but I’d have loved to have seen how things would have progressed from there. Ultimately, however, Izumi’s fate is left to our imaginations.

Verdict

He Is My Master is suitably funny, albeit with too high a pervert concentration. That said, if you’re only gonna check one out, make it the anime. It has, in my honest opinion, superior characterization and, unlike the manga, actually ends. I’d certainly have no qualms with reading and watching it again. And, y’know what? I think I’ll go do that now.

Unjust

Izumi’s debt for the day:

¥1,052,639

The End

EBTNI’ve delayed Did Not Finish (again) because things came up. Don’t worry, I’ll get it out eventually.

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