Ranko’s tragic past, a new love interest, and a panda’s secret intersect in a bittersweet tragedy.
Episode 10 – “To Die for Love: Tears Fall on Electric Town”
I was wrong about the turtleneck-wearing dude. Akiba Maid War tied the clues together better. The loose threads of Ranko’s past and the mystery of Okachimachi the Panda come together in a woeful tale. The sad ending theme music with Ranko walking along the beach at sunset makes more sense now. One aspect of Japanese drama is the “almost-happy ending.” The wistful unsatisfying end captures the Japanese spirit of “it can’t be helped” (仕方ない, shikatanai). Western fairy tales usually end with, “and they lived happily ever after.” Japanese dramas show you the hope of a happy ending but take it away right before the conclusion. The characters then survive past the story’s telling, grateful for their circumstances. But wistful for what could have been.
Here in Akiba Maid War, Ranko can’t even be mad at Okachimachi for killing Ranko’s chance at happiness away from Akihabara. The panda thought she was saving Ranko’s life! Past events and history made it more likely that the Creatureland Group’s hitman would follow his orders. We had one clue that he would not. During the maid festival, Mr. Suehiro, the turtlenecked regular, tipped Ranko with a handful of acorns. Because they’re the favorite snack of hogs. Then he bought a pearl ring for Ranko as a nod to the famous saying, “casting pearls before swine.” It would prove that Suehiro loved her and wanted to start a peaceful life with her. Away from the violence and harsh business of the Akiba maid culture. But the sins of the past caught up with the vengeful times of the present. What will Ranko’s “almost-happy ending” be after this?
There’s an apt pun in the Akiba Maid War episode title: メイド心中 電気街を濡らす涙雨. メイド心中 can be read several ways. If it’s meido shinchuu, we have “a maid’s true motives.” 心中 (shinchuu) means “in one’s heart, true motives, or mind.” But 心中 can also be read as shinjuu, which means “double suicide, lovers suicide.” A Japanese audience would have been primed for a plot along the lines of Romeo and Juliet. But in Akiba Maid War, one of the lovers lived, setting up the “almost-happy ending” in the story’s conclusion.
Oh no! A maid in danger! Ah, crap. It’s the black turtleneck man who’s sweet on Ranko. He’s a hitman for the maid mafia! We’re watching Akiba Maid War, so we should expect these things. He reports directly to Nagi! Will Ranko be his next target?
Ooh. Look how busy the Oinky Doink Café is! The Lady Omoe prize, which Nagomi won in the last Akiba Maid War episode, comes with benefits. The café also gets a cute statue! Har. A swine-themed café would have a menu item named after a swine-based saying. How would “Pearls Before Swine Coffee” taste? Ooh, flirting about pearls with Mr. Turtleneck. Nagomi reminds the other maids that they’re not supposed to have relationships with customers! Huh. The maid mafia has strict rules and harsh punishments. We’ve heard about cafés losing their group affiliation, then other maid cafés violently crushing them. But those disaffiliation consequences apply to individual maids too. Lots of foreshadowing for star-crossed lovers of maids.
Ah. Mr. Black Turtleneck has a name. Mr. Suehiro. Does that mean we won’t have to remember his name by the next Akiba Maid War episode? Eeeh! Maids can’t date their customers! Of course. The bringer of bad luck instantly agreed for Ranko, then set an appointed time. Tenchou thinks Suehiro is a banker because he carries a metal attaché case. Does she not remember what town she works in? His fashion choices scream “hitman.” Ack. I thought Mr. Turtleneck was in the panda costume! I was wrong. So, who’s in there?
Akiba Maid War dishes out more foreshadowing for a melancholy ending. Ranko jinxed her chance at happiness by proclaiming she cast aside finding it when she joined the café maid business. The dialogue reads like West Side Story, the gangland musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Sweet, sweet Nagomi. She has no experience with dating but knows how to make herself cute. Let’s make Ranko adorable!
Hey, what is up with Okachimachi? The panda is getting in Ranko’s way! Time to gussy Ranko up. Yumechi and Shiipon are experts in makeup and fashion. I would not take Tenchou’s advice on how to handle money as a woman. Ranko became a handsome woman of a certain age. She’s a knockout! Aw. I like how often Ranko smiles now in Akiba Maid War. Nagomi double-jinxed Ranko’s hopes for love, though. Okachimachi is passive-aggressively blocking the elevator. The tension and curiosity build! Wow! Okachimachi talked! The panda is a girl!
Date scene montage. It’s not lunch for Akiba Maid War until the ketchup decorations are done. Ranko and Suehiro went to the zoo. The panda there won’t talk, will it? Squee! Blushing Ranko is cute too! Can maids afford to hope for warm futures? Aw, man. Suehiro was supposed to kill Ranko today, but he couldn’t. He wants to run away from Akihabara with Ranko! They kissed! Ranko only has one day to agree to board a train with Suehiro.
Finally, Akiba Maid War will spill the panda’s story. She sounds like every other naïve girl to come to Akihabara to become a café maid. Oho! Okachimachi remembers Suehiro from her past. Then Okachimachi needed to shoot the head of another maid café! And we’ve caught up to the first scene of the first episode! Okachimachi was the maid who shot Ranko’s boss! And Suehiro was there to kill her afterward! Dead maids tell no tales. Okachimachi escaped his choking attempt, only for a car to strike her. Lucky for her, Suehiro thought his job was done. But she survived and dressed like a panda mascot. Then took the train station’s name across the street from the panda station. Tenchou discovered her years later, still passing out flyers at that same intersection.
Okachimachi heard rumors that Ranko got thrown in jail for avenging her kind boss. How long was it between Tenchou taking in Okachimachi and Ranko starting to work with Nagomi? Okachimachi thinks Suehiro only wants to murder Ranko. Will Ranko get revenge against Okachimachi first? Classic bait and switch tactic here.
Ha! I knew it! Ranko couldn’t kill Okachimachi. The panda maid wears pig ears too! Suehiro bought something at a jewelry store. Squee! Will he propose to Ranko? Aw. Nagomi feels sad that Ranko is leaving her. She calls leaving the maid café for marriage “graduation.” Oh, come on, Akiba Maid War. I hate this shifty narrative device of showing scenes with context knocked out. The rain falls on Ranko, which gives us the second part of the episode title. Uh oh! Okachimachi shot Suehiro! Ranko won’t get her happily ever after ending now. Suehiro has long enough to smoke a cigarette and spill his guts about his orders.
Okachimachi came back, and Ranko needed answers. The panda says that Nagi, Ranko’s former sister-maid, was the one who ordered the hit on their boss! Nagi was ultimately the cause of death for two of Ranko’s loved ones. Ranko will need to be an Akiba maid, the whole hog, to deal with the final villain. Now the ending theme has full context for Ranko’s story.
Oh, epilogue time for Akiba Maid War. It fills in the blanks for Suehiro’s intentions. He disobeyed Nagi and bought a pearl ring for Ranko. Casting pearls before swine. For a beloved piglet.