If you don’t want to be protected, then I don’t want to be served

by eternal on August 22, 2009

Maid moe

I like maids. You like maids too, right? We all like maids. Everyone likes maids. There’s nothing wrong with that, as far as anime fandom goes. But sometimes, the whole goshujin-sama concept can be a little…disconcerting. No, this isn’t about taking the concept too far and why moe is the cancer that’s killing anime; it isn’t a rant about sexism in Japan, or an elaborate way of saying that my fetish > your fetish. It’s simply a voicing of opinion: a short complaint on the ironic little subdivision of moe called maid moe.

Reading Hinano’s post on the insistence of the man to protect the woman in nearly all Japanese media, including female-targeted otome games, I started thinking that her complaints sounded a little familiar. Being a male visual novel fan, however, this isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing: it’s mainly the irony that caught my eye, the irony that a female-targeted story would put the female characters in a lower position. Whether or not that’s a wise move on the part of the Japanese otome game industry doesn’t matter much to me, though, because it already led me to finding a similar case quite close to home.

Maids. Servants. The trend of having a female character whose sole job is to please and provide for a male. She can be a literal maid like the twins in Tsukihime, or she can simply be a doting little sister like Kaede Fuyou, but the end result is the same: they exist only for one man, usually the protagonist who you play as.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike maids. I actually find them quite interesting! Shows like Maria Holic, Hayate no Gotoku, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, and about a million other anime out there wouldn’t be the same without the presence of the maid characters. Maid costumes are great, too, albeit from a different perspective. But having said that, doesn’t something about the single-minded attitude of those servant-type characters bother you?

Like they say, different strokes for different folks is the rule of thumb when it comes to moe. There’s nothing right or wrong about being attracted to a certain personality type. However, just as the protective bishounen of shoujo manga are supposed to be a dream come true for the female readers, there’s something about the pure devotion of eroge girls like Nemu Asakura that turns me off, even if their incessant showering of affection is supposed to be a good thing. Maybe I just like the traditional moe characters that pander to the male instinct to protect, but either way, I know I’d enjoy my visual novels a lot more if I could help a clumsy girl cook breakfast instead of being served the meal in bed.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

digitalboy August 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Yeah, I really have no affinity towards maids, I just find their presence as a fetish funny. My little brother is apparently a meido guy and I always give him shit for it. I dunno, I just never got it. Maybe because there aren’t as many loli maids?


Baka-Raptor August 22, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Perhaps girls look up to female maids the way I look up to Maid Guy.


Seinime August 22, 2009 at 11:05 pm

So butler type visual novel or something? Intriguing.


zzeroparticle August 22, 2009 at 11:25 pm

I’d take the side that says the single-minded turns me off because of how they turn into mindless automatons who don’t seem to have any interests beyond pleasing the male leads for those shows. Maybe that’s because I’m the kind of person who dislikes having someone do something on my behalf when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself.

Interesting that in the examples you cited, the maids are enjoyable because they actually have some personality to them beyond the affection-machines that seem to afflict the others.


Nyanna August 15, 2014 at 12:05 am

How neat! Is it really this siplem? You make it look easy.


CCY feat. tl;dr August 23, 2009 at 12:04 am

Seinime’s idea interests me. A reversal, where you are the maid / butler and you live to serve someone else? Now it reminds me of a little tabletop game called Maid RPG, that I haven’t tried yet.

In a sense, it’s not too different from popular visual novels (many of the typical archetypes fit well; just picture Hayate converted to a VN) and it’d be a good twist. So many interesting ideas, so little writing time.

But yeah, now I’m just derailing myself; I agree with your viewpoint on maids, as well as understand why others could like such archetypes. I think there’s an important difference between devoted girls and maids; the first type chooses to live their life towards the purpose of one person, while the second may not have been able to make that choice.

I feel it could lead to differences in character dynamics, although I can’t think of a maid / master duo where the two weren’t predisposed toward each other to start.


Jesus159159159 August 23, 2009 at 12:08 am

I <3 Mrs. Doubtfire!



Micchi August 23, 2009 at 1:32 am

I don’t really like maids, but maid outfit is cute on some chars. Some maids do serve you, but grudgingly so (although some are subchars). VN Kaede is a bit dull. The showering of affection isn’t a problem so long as there’s more than one side to her, or a reason why she acts the way she does.

Like A Butler. The protagonist ends up being the butler for his childhood friend due to certain circumstances. Come to think of it, I need to play this.

Also, yes. Need more loli maids.


I-K August 23, 2009 at 3:25 am

Meh, maids are boring. I like Sakuya though (who serves a female loli vampire, hmmm)


Chris August 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I have to admit that I’m kind of a fan of maids, but not the super subservient type. I think that the prevalence of maids in anime can be boiled down to two lines of thought. First, the super subservient maid type is otaku wish fulfillment, and the other line of thought is that maids still reflect the real world role that women have in Japanese society.

To the first point, the subservient maid as wish fulfillment, if you think about it you only see the fawning/subservient maid type girl in those late night niche anime that cater to the hardcore anime otaku. I can’t remember the last major mainstream anime hit in Japan that featured these girls. So, I think that the subservient maid girl is a dream “come” true for those otaku that have little to no social skills when it comes to dealing with real girls/women.

Now, the maid as stand in for how Japanese society still views a woman’s role in society. While Japan may seem likes it’s a high speed train rushing towards the future the reality is that a woman’s role in Japanese society is still closer to what her role in Japan was 50 years ago. For the most part when Japanese women enter the workforce they’re only considered temporary workers unless they’re in certain professions like nursing. Even though a woman may have a college degree when they enter a company they’re considered non-career track and are expected to stay only long enough to reach retirement (marriage). Those women while they may have assigned job duties they’re still expected to make coffee/tea of the men, pick up their laundry, get their lunches, and perform other housewife like duties. The term for these women are the office lady or (OLs or ofisu redi) and some firms still consider their female workers to be office hana or “office flowers” meaning that their only job is to look good and act pleasant and only stay long enough to be plucked.


Hinano August 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Butler Type visual novel:


choux August 24, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Ah, but just because a person’s a maid/butler doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re in a lower position. In Haruhi, Mikuru is definitely useless and annoying, but Maid guy is definily the one who wears the pants in that relationship (kind of…you know what I mean).
I don’t particularly like or dislike maids (though maid uniforms are fun to draw), and I never play Otome games because they just feel odd. In eroges, at least, there’s still a good chance that the girl’s the one in charge, in otome games the odds are MUCH lower. Well, I guess the fact that it’s much harder to find a pretty guy than a pretty girl is also a part of it. For instance, I find the characters in that link Hinano gave to be pretty ugle overall. But that’s just me going off topic.
But personally, I’d LIKE someone to cook breakfast for me in the morning.


Hyatt August 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Yeah, the whole meido heaven aesthetic is one I’ve been noticing in… pretty much every anime I’ve watched in the past few years. I must admit, I’m a bit torn on the subject myself. As a feminist I should be reeling but… God, those maids are pretty.

I do agree that it seems to be mostly wish fulfilment though, as well as a self-repeating dialogue as to what Japanese women are expected to be in this day and age. Subservient, domesticated, ever attentive to their goshujin-sama’s needs. It’s probably a bit telling that “goshujin” can refer to either a person’s husband or their master. Now that I think about it, the maid kind of resembles the yamato-nadeshiko-brand childhood friend in terms of kindness, femininity, and dedication to the male lead. Maybe it can even be taken as an extension of what kind of wife such a figure would grow up to be. You know, except in a sexy uniform.

It is good that we’re seeing sort of a reversal of this in the butler trend that’s been happening lately, due in no small part I think to the success Kuroshitsuji has had with female anime fans. Though it is a shame that for all the maid cafes popping up left and right around Akihabara, there are, as far as I know, only a few butler cafes. ;-; Such a pity.


ETERNAL August 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

@ digitalboy: I think clumsy-loli-maid might work, since the first two attributes would balance out the third, but that’s just hypothetically. I dunno how a loli would look in a maid costume either.

@ zzeroparticle: I couldn’t think of too many examples so I had to cite the ones that are actually good. Even for the characters referenced, though, their maid-attributes didn’t contribute to my liking (or not disliking) them.

@ CCY: In most normal VNs, the maid would be willing enough to do her job like you said, so it isn’t much of an issue. I think it’s more like zzeroparticle said: the single-mindedness is what I don’t like, and that technically has nothing to do with being a maid. It’s just more likely to find mindless devotion in maids than in any other archetype.

@ Micchi: You and digitalboy now have me thinking about loli maids, but I’m not sure if it’s a good combination. An artist’s opinion would probably help because I’m awful at visualizing things.

@ Chris: Indeed, I expect that’s why maids are so common in anime, but it’s the “wish fulfillment” part that bothers me, mainly because it doesn’t fulfill my wishes. Incidentally, it’s a little ironic that maids can be considered attractive thanks to their actions – the whole concept of moe is about letting the male protect the female, not the opposite.

@ choux: If the maid and protagonist act more or less normally around each other, then it wouldn’t bother me, just like an over-devoted imouto would bother me even if she’s not a maid. But yes, meido-heaven and breakfast in bed certainly would be like a paradise IRL, but it’ll always miss the mark for me in terms of moe.

@ Hyatt: They’re pretty indeed. Maid costumes have to be one of Japan’s greatest inventions, even if they weren’t the ones who invented it.


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