Maria-sama ga Miteru or Maria Watches Over Us is about the lives of the students in Lillian Girls' Academy. In this school there is a system of sisterhood where the higher grade students chooses a younger student to be her little sister or petite soeur. The story focuses more on the student council group called the Yamayuri council, which is further divided into three groups of roses.
The Chinensis family consists of the main characters of this show: the ever stern Sachiko Ogasawara, who just recently christened her new petite soeur, Yumi Fukuzawa, and Rosa Chinensis at the head of the "family", Mizuno Yoko, who only acts mostly as a supporting character in the series. The story is told mostly through Yumi's point of view. The Foetida family consists of Rosa Foetida Eriko Torii, her younger sister, Rei Hasekura and Yoshino Shimazu, Rei's cousin who is her petite soeur by default. The Gigantea family has the fewest members which consists of Rosa Gigantea Sei Sato, and Shimako Todo, who is in the same class as Yumi.
A fair warning: If you think you're going to watch a show with explicit yuri scenes, you're going to have to think twice. This series is mostly about character development and relationships, and it will be slow and VERY melodramatic. If you're into these kinds of things, however, then you will be right at home. Plus there are a lot of humour, innuendos and teasings sandwiched in between!
The first episode may confuse a lot of people, like me, because they introduced ALL of these characters at once even before the opening theme song! I think there were just too many to remember when you started, so I hope this review can help you out a little if you plan to watch it. The first arc involves the Rosa Chinensis en bouton (French for rosebud), Sachiko trying to find a petite soeur so that she can avoid becoming Cinderella. She didn't mind it, but unfortunately she has to be in the play with an actual guy, and she doesn't like guys... Wow a nice start already! Fortunately for Sachiko there's a girl right behind that door who doesn't have a grande soeur yet, and she's a fan of Sachiko! Unfortunately she won't go down that easy... Doesn't it just make the chase more fun that way? Hehehe.Yay for conquest!
The Foetida family. Yoshino (the one with pig tails) was very sickly in the beginning, but she becomes very lively later on.
The story eventually moves on to focus on the other roses and their family members, and even a I-want-to-join-our-bodies flashback story! So yes, there are a little bit more than what I've said in my warning. The story flowed well between these arcs, and you get to see more character developments, especially Yoshino. Shimako also had her moments at the end, so it didn't look like as if she was neglected. It did get a bit confusing near the end because they stuck in a Christmas Day story in between a Valentine's Day story. You're going to have to get used to this if you plan on continuing on to the second season because there will be a bit more time jumps. They do stand alone quite well thankfully.
As for the animation itself, it looks good, very flowery with pale colours, perfect for the moments when they need it. This is created by Studio Deen, so I saw many similarities of these characters with Elie from Rave Master, which I didn't mind. I did notice some differences between episodes, but the quality is consistent enough since it's a short series. The DVDs are in Japanese only, but they do provide you with two sets of subtitles, one normal and the other is where they keep all the honorific. I find the second set to be more logical, because you keep seeing "Lady Sachiko" in place of "Sachiko-sama" in the first set... I loved the extras too, a very humourous take on some of the episodes, a hit and miss for some, but cute overall!
I am fairly addicted to this series. I truly am a yuri maniac. Aside from my warning about the series, it's highly recommended. And now more pictures! I took over 100 screenshots after all!
Not too much, but some screens are taken from later in the series.
Yumi gets teased a lot about her face because she always shows her emotions on it.
Rosa Gigantea, Sei Sato, is one of my favourite characters, especially because she's always teasing Yumi to get a rise out of her and Sachiko.
Sachiko in kindergarten... so cute, just like a Nendoroid, but wow she's so stern even when she's in kindergarten!