There’s one ED explained for you.
There’s so much warmth in Shounen Maid that it seems to spill over the sides of the cup. I love that about it, because as a medium anime tends to run cool when it comes to emotion. Shows like this which wear their hearts on their sleeves are very much the exception to the rule, and to a certain degree it’s understandable – when you get it wrong going this route, it can go really wrong. But there are plenty of manga that aren’t afraid to try, and it’s nice to see them be chosen for adaptation once in a while.
So, those guys in the ED? Yes, they’re members of an idol group called “Uchouten Boys“, and I kind of look at this development in Shounen Maid the way I did the imouto complex in Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge – sure it’s overplayed and as a trope, one I dislike. But it really all comes down to the interpretation. Shounen Maid takes on this topic the way they do most of them – with good-natured wit, a lot of kawaii, and positive energy. The key player in the group is Ryuji (Hanae Natsuki), the youngest – he’s sixteen, and looks younger – and that’s the problem (at least as far as he’s concerned).
I’m not looking to Shounen Maid for hard-hitting criticism of the idol trade (which certainly deserves it, as events this week unnecessarily remind us), and we don’t get it. But what does work within the series’ tonal range is a kind of wry acknowledgement of the silliness of the exercise. Yes, there’s pretty much a requirement that a boy band have a shota, somebody for the girls to squee “Cute!!” at – and Ryuji is that guy in Uchouten Boys. That means he can’t wear long pants on stage, which is why he’s come to Madoka’s house to plead his case. Good luck with that, of course, but his presence does provide a vehicle for him to understand what he’s doing as a kind of give-and-take – not wholly unlike a much less savory version of the one that exists between Madoka and Chihiro where it comes to the latter’s maid outfit. Chihiro even uncovers a hidden benefit when he wears his uni on a shopping trip to shut Ryuji up.
As usual, the second chapter is the deeper and more “serious” one, though the topic is seemingly upbeat – it’s Madoka’s birthday. Chihiro is vexed at his inability to think of a good present (it’s a measure of what an odd boy he is that he gets his thrills looking at gravure shots of vacuum cleaners while lying in bed), but the main point is that he cares enough to be upset – Chihiro is now fully aware that for all Madoka’s irritating idiosyncrasies, he’s exceptionally generous of spirit. A trip to Miyako’s house to brainstorm reveals a lot, starting with the fact that Miyako is so rich she makes Madoka look like pre-Madoka Chihiro. Her dad has given her a house with a restaurant kitchen as a birthday present, one she intends to use to bake a cake – her usual birthday present to Madoka (by tradition – he taught her how to bake when she was a child).
The most memorable scene of the episode comes when Chihiro is playing with Antaro in the (enormous) gardens. There he meets the elderly woman he saw at the park last week. Like Madoka she’s terrified of dogs, but that provides an excuse for she and Chihiro to have a conversation this time. Her identity is still a mystery, though she appears to be a visitor at Miyako’s estate rather than a resident. Her gift-giving advice to Chihiro is simple – think about what makes the “annoying old man” happy and go with that. There’s obviously something more in the Oba-san’s eyes here, but she’s an inscrutable one, and Chihiro seems none the wiser.
When I read this chapter in the manga, my initial thought was exactly where Chihiro went – cats – though I confess my idea was to get Madoka a hypoallergenic feline (yes, they exist). Rather, Chihiro pulls out all the stops for a cat-themed party, including dressing all the guests (even Keiichirou, sort of) for the occasion. A little indignity is a small price to pay to make a family member you love happy – one could almost look at that as the essence of being a loving child, in fact. We indulge our parents even when we find their indulgences silly and embarrassing, and almost without realizing it Chihiro has seen Madoka become a parent in his eyes (even if there are times when their roles seem to be reversed).