The main heroine of Episode 10 is Maria, the perfect maid of the Sanzen’in family. On the official record, Maria remains one of the two main heroines. This point has not been mentioned in this episode. For the matter, Nagi did not mention it for herself either.
The predicament for Maria, as I perceive, is that as a main heroine of the series, her involvement has been heavily restricted. When things are all right and peaceful, we see Maria lazing around with nothing to do – she admits that much herself. When things get serious and people have to contribute, Maria is seldom on the “battlefront”. Rather, she would take actions to make sure that things do not go very wrong for Nagi. While this is also extremely important, it doesn’t really make her a “main heroine” – we would expect her to help tackling the most glaring problems.
Yet, this is Maria’s style. She remains a subtle figure all along, so there might be difficulty finding her “spotlight chapters” to animate. God helps her in that there is at least one chapter and one arc which fans keep asking for animation, and finally the production team say yes: hence we have the “chibi-President chapter” (Ch. 160) and the “Hayate-Maria date arc” (Ch. 189 – Ch. 191) in this episode. Incidentally, these materials are all pre-Athena-saga.
Sure, there are also some chapters after the Athena saga which could be animated, including Ch. 304, Ch. 348 and Ch. 349. Yet the demand for these chapters is insignificant next to that of what has been animated. In fact, if they are not animated, we can expect a considerable (and understandable) uproar among the fans.
Chibi-Maria has always been a legendary character. The reason, of course, is that she was the only “legitimate lolita” (even the 13-year-old Nagi is too “old” by this definition) who was also the supreme overachiever – at least, before chibi-Athena in the End of the World arc. We have other “legitimate lolita” in chibi-Nagi, chibi-Isumi and chibi-Hina – heck, we even have baby-Maria and baby-Hina – but only chibi-Maria was the undisputed overachiever. The 10-year-old Maria was as good as the 16-year-old Hinagiku, how about that?
Of course, a cute little ponytail is always a bonus point.
As Ch. 160 is a pre-Athena-saga chapter, Eight is still the boyfriend of Makimura. It is perhaps the first time in this season that Eight doesn’t end up being beaten, so perhaps he is better staying with Makimura than with Gilbert. Then again, if we can foresee how bad we would end up by being with the bad people, we would have stayed away from them in the first place.
As was the “Maria’s photo book” which Nagi tried to sell with her doujinshi during Comisun, I suspect that Maria actually knew that she was being filmed, hence you could see her looking at the camera. I just can’t believe that this is merely a coincidence.
The downside of Maria being the child overachiever is that she struggled to have a “normal” childhood. As she was 5 to 6 years younger than her classmates – her “problem” was even more severe than Nagi’s – she had to mature quickly so to be able to lead the school as Student Council President. She couldn’t even allow her (somewhat) childish song to be heard by Makimura. As such, Maria ends up being more matured than average 17-year-olds like Ayumu – she is more like 23 years old to me. For a girl who doesn’t like being described as a “senior”, Maria has the “original sin” of being too matured.
Meanwhile, Maria was very inexperienced in romance. Of course she had a lot of “pursuers” at school, but a bunch of 16-to-18-year-old boys chasing after a 10-year-old girl really does look like crime… Maria, on the other hand, was not physically and/or mentally ready for a romantic relationship. As such, her first “date” (fake or not) with a boy comes so long after she graduated, while the boy in question is still in his second year in high school. While a lot of other girls head down the “normal routine” of finding their first love at school, Maria is a little bit of an anomaly.
Makimura isn’t doing much better either. While she attended a grade appropriate for her age, she was too intellectually advanced that she could present thesis at high school – those things are for doctoral students, you know. The problem for her was that she lacked the social and common senses to match with her intelligence, so she was a disaster in scientific researches, and ended up having to “retrain” herself at Hakuou as a teacher.
Being a child prodigy is not always a good thing. Makimura struggles in her career, and although Maria seems to be doing fine now, I actually worry that something might go wrong for her because of her excessive mental maturity.
Understandably, both the stalkers – Hinagiku and Ayumu – drop their line of “I want to go on a trip”, because they wouldn’t have the long holidays to go on trip (it’s September, remember?). Hinagiku also drops her “dirty thoughts” about Hayate and Maria; apparently the production team find it unnecessary for Hinagiku to show how perverted she is in this episode. One more thing: Hinagiku shows her femininity by embracing the giant doll, although at this stage I do not find such a trait surprising any more.
In fact, the involvement of Hinagiku and Ayumu in this episode seems unnecessary. In the manga, at least they found the motivation to go on a trip as they both saw Hayate dating Maria. Now that without the trip, the only point of their involvement appears to be to confirm that the two are in fact not dating. As for their girly anxiety and jealousy…
The date arc is supposed to ship Hayate-Maria – I believe it did in the manga – but somehow I feel that it doesn’t work in this episode. Hinagiku’s doubt of whether their explanation is true has been cut, so there goes the ambiguity (for Hayate and Maria) and anxiety (for Hinagiku and Ayumu). The effect is that when Maria makes the monologue “Someday, I hope I’ll find someone like that…”, I honestly believe she would be looking for someone other than Hayate, instead of having some interests in him.
As such, I have some doubts over this otherwise rather loyal adaptation of the manga: If this has been a “shipping” episode, then I think it falls (a bit) short. If this has been a “sinking” episode… then why does it have to be so?
Maria’s ED is “Promise” – you haven’t forgotten that Hayate has promised Maria a birthday present, have you?
This, supposedly, concludes the “manga animation” part of the season. For episodes 11 and 12, we would again have original story written by Hata himself. The “Next Episode” preview hasn’t told us anything other than the phone ringing. This is some suspense.