Oh hell yes, this is what I’m starting with.
I decided to start with MAZE because I thought, oh, that should be relatively easy, how much could I possibly have to say about a not particularly novel 90’s mech series that’s in all likelihood aged extremely poorly? But it then occurred to me that this show is by this point obscure enough that I actually should probably give a quick overview of the plot…
MAZE tells the story of a young woman, known as Maze, who wakes up in a fantasy world with a bad case of amnesia, and in rapid succession finds herself acting as the protector of an imperiled princess, Mill Varna, and piloting a mech which Mill can summon. Unfortunately, she’s a terrible pilot! Fortunately, she turns into a man when the sun sets, and male Maze is an excellent pilot! Unfortunately, he’s a raging pervert! Adventure ensues, an entourage is accrued, and our heroes try to defeat the evil kingdom of Jaina, which ran Mill out of town after killing her family.
So, MAZE is, in terms of plot, pretty standard stuff, and there’s a fair bit of it which I can only imagine would seem wicked archaic at best at this point. But I loved it when I saw it as a young teenager, and in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that the fact that it is surprisingly queer was probably part of it.
Mill’s got a crush on both female and male Mazes, and is pretty emphatic about it. There’s the classic mercenary pair of Aster and Solude, where Aster’s the straight guy and Solude’s the lesbian woman, and they both love booze and pretty women; obviously Solude gets an episode where she comes across her ex-lover and there’s bad blood between them because her ex killed their mentor and its all quite dramatic (this is always an A+ storyline in any show). Later femme gay boy Ranchiki surfaces, with the also-classic “carrying a torch for my liege” touch. And I haven’t even mentioned the villains! Brothers Chic and Gorgeous (yes, really) share a relationship that has incestuous overtones, while final boss the Creator shifts between male and female forms constantly.
At some point and in some way virtually every member of the cast wants to jump Maze’s bones. And most members of the cast are fairly persistent about presenting their individual cases, for better or worse. Also, incest plays a pretttty big role later in the show, although to say in exactly what manner would spoil a big ol’ plot development, and I’d hate to do that to those of you in ignorance. Suffice to say, if you dig incest, you’ll probably be pretty happy with that particular aspect.
Oh, yes, and there are mechs. Hmm. Well. They’re not really much of a draw, as you may’ve gathered from my failure to have mentioned them thus far. Here they’re known as Demi Armors, and the one piloted by Maze is Dulgar (or Dulger, depending on your romanization of choice).
The R1 DVD release from Central Park Media, by the way, had one of those bad covers which induce so much nostalgia in certain corners these days:
The mech doesn’t even look like that, and they’ve awkwardly included the least important of the core cast sprouting out of male Maze’s back while leaving out more important cast members, BUT it is accurate that male Maze is showing off his underboob there since his shirt generally is open throughout the show. Oh! And, that reminds me! The CPM release aged Maze up to a college student, but we get some flashbacks mid-way through the series in which she’s in a high school uniform.
So am I telling you to watch this? No, no, I am most assuredly not telling you to watch this. Have you ever loved something while also figuring that its in reality probably pretty terrible? Because that is how I feel about this show. And, if you do decide to seek it out, at the very least stay waaaay the hell away from the OAV, which includes rape and is generally pretty icky.
Anyway, in closing, the first ED was GREAT and you should watch it: