Maria Watches Over Us is a lovely anime that shows that no matter the ups and downs, friendship will prevail in the end if it is truly meant to be. Based on Oyuki Konno’s Maria-sama ga Miteru series of light novels, Maria Watches Over Us is a drama/slice-of-life anime that chronicles the lives of several girls at Lillian Girls’ Academy in Tokyo. Our main character is a first year high school student, Yumi Fukuzawa. A few events happen to her that end up putting her in the life of a very popular second year student named Sachiko Ogasawara. Sachiko asks Yumi to be her petite soeur-“little sister”. Will Yumi accpet this invitation, knowing that not only did she just meet Sachiko but it will also put her in the limelight at the school?
The main driving point of the show is the relationships between the soeurs, particularly the ones who are called ‘Roses’. These girls are on the student council, have a meeting place called the Rose Mansion on school grounds, and are considered to be the most popular girls in the school. Whilst many of the girls at the school will take soeurs, if you are picked by one of the Roses, you can consider yourself lucky. The other girls will see you as set apart from the rest and a future leader of the school. This is the group of girls that we follow during the first season of Maria Watches Over Us.
The relationships portrayed in Maria Watches Over Us are not what you may expect. While they are innocent in nature they also take on many aspects of a romantic relationship. For instance the story line surrounding Valentines Day is wrought with problems that you would find in a more prevalently used boy-girl romantic story line. In Japan on Valentines Day it is customary for girls to give boys something, normally chocolate. With the absence of boys at the school, the popular girls take that place. The younger sisters at the Rose Mansion fret over what they are going to get their big sisters for Valentines Day, much like they would for a boyfriend. This is just one example of romantic aspects placed inside the sister relationship the girls have at the school. Considering this takes place at a Catholic School and is the driving force to the story lines, it is an interesting aspect to the show.
There are two episodes in the middle of the anime that seem to break the mold of the show. First they are out of the timeline and second they deal with the past of one of the sisters in the Rose Mansion that breaks the non-romantic romantic relationships that take place at the school. In many ways they really seem out of place within the timeline of the other episodes. Considering they are sandwiched between episodes that cover Valentines Day, and they take place during Christmas time. It is confusing at first and can take away from the impact of both story lines. This is not to say that the episodes should be excluded. They deal with romantic love popping up in an all girls school and do it quite respectfully and beautifully, but they could have gone elsewhere in the timeline. For instance before the Valentines Day story arch, falling in a logical time line.
For an anime that deals with mainly female characters, the character designs are done in a way that makes the main characters easily distinctive from each other. Not only in appearances such as height or hair color but also demeanor and facial expressions. This helps to keep track of who the girls are as well as getting to know their characters.
Included in the Nozomi four DVD release is the entire first season along with special features. The special features include Character Bios, Nozomi entertainment trailers, liner notes, and Specials 1-7.