This series developed itself in a different way than I expected. I had expected the 'battle' between Yumi and Sachiko to last the whole series. However, after a few episodes, this issue is resolved and a new issue arises which has to be resolved in the next few episodes. It's refreshing: it keeps the middle ground between episodic and overarching plot.
The stories themselves aren't that great: some things seem very important within the micro-cosmos of the school while, to the world outside the school gates, they seem quite trivial. For instance, when one of the 'en boutons' (the little sisters of one of the three student council members) gets a rival in the election for their position on the student council next year -- that's a big deal to the students. But if you're out of high school yourself, you know issues like that aren't that important.
The stories are about the characters, which I liked a lot. There's a lot of emphasis on how the girls interact and how they react to eachother. This gives the series a very 'human' feel. It also means that people who want some kind of action in their anime might not enjoy it as much.
Visually, the series is somewhat of an oddity. The decors and backgrounds are nothing special. However, the character animation is top-notch. There's a lot of detail in how the characters move, and their mannerisms. It seems the animators have put a lot more effort in the way someone brushes a loose strand of hair from their forehead, than something like walking from one end of the room to another.
And yes, there is a hint of shoujo-ai (especially the flirty Rosa Gigantea, who hugs Yumi rather tight whenever the opportunity presents itself [much to the dismay of Sachiko]), but it's done very tastefully.
The catholic angle is rather down-played. The students treat Maria-sama as they would any other Shinto kami, which is amusing to see.
- Very character-focussed storytelling;
- Plots are resolved within a few episodes;
- Great attention to detail in character animation and lush character designs.
- Un-inspiring music;
- Not all plots are that 'important' to those of us on the outside of the school;
- Slight over-dramatisation at points.
I've enjoyed this series tremendously. I'll give it an 8, but if you want any kind of action in your anime, steer clear.