Night of the Servants OR How Anime Ingrained the Awesomeness of Maids And Butlers Into Our Minds

Tonight I argued with my mum while making dinner (don’t worry, it’s like a sport for us) about butlers. I had remembered reading somewhere that Butlers were the head chef in a household as well as chief of staff. My mom refuted this as ‘bullshit’ because she had evidently grown up with TV shows about butlers and thought that she knew them better. Well, I know how inaccurate US TV shows from the 70s are, and I was pretty sure that my precious manga authors knew a lot more, so I, too, was confident. (Of course, I could not find any information online regarding butlers being chefs, so I guess I lose. I’m sure someone with a ridiculous knowledge of butlers will comment with the answer.) But after the debate, I had to ask myself – since when was I so defensive about butlers?!

Well, obviously anime did it. Anime has done a lot to make butlers and maids fucking awesome. Kuroshitsuji is about a butler with the powers of hell on his side. Hayate the Combat Butler <- that was a statement. Sure Ladies Vs. Butlers doesn’t do a whole lot for their case, but the point is that there are a lot of fucking butlers in anime. And what’s more, these stories tend to be written by people who are obviously big fans of butlers, as they glorify the hell out of the profession, using exposition points to correct misconceptions about their duties and make it look like the profession is nothing short of secret ops work.

And don’t get me started on maids. Maids are more of a fetish thing in anime, more amazing not for their expertise in pouring tea during mortal combat as for they expertise in giving a fantastic blow-job while covered in the drinks they just tripped and spilled all over themselves, but nonetheless, it is glorified. And not all maids are an S&M moe fantasy, because some of them are ex-military warriors who can catch up to, latch onto, and demolish a moving car before being blown up AND SURVIVING.

I wonder if the obsession with butlers and maids is part of the mystique of the rich. The idea that a rich person’s right-hand-man should be the most amazing person alive, or that to work in an exorbitant mansion, you must be able to give a serious blow-job. Or maybe it’s just the usual power fantasy, or even just the sweeter side of a romantic ideal of people who do everything for you. Of course, it could just be those damn sexy uniforms. Maid outfits have that classic look of lolita fancy with a striking black and white design and butlers… well, ZZ Top put it best.

Every girl's crazy 'bout 'im.

Whatever it may be, butlers and maids have become integral to modern anime, it seems. Their presence is not even blinked at. When a maid or at least a maid cosplay shows up in some anime, it never strikes me as out-of-place, but rather expected. I know it must be widespread, because even my younger brother has a maid fetish, and he’s not really a man of fetishes. I realize now that my perception of maids and butlers have been totally skewed by anime. If I tried to discuss anything related to maids or butlers with a normal person, I don’t even think our imaginations would slightly match up. they’d be thinking ‘dirty servant’, while I’d be thinking ‘sexy badass.’

How do you feel about maids and butlers? Been swept up in the craze yet?

(All of my post titles are references to Hayate the Combat Butler, but this one is actually a direct copy of the chapter title ‘Night of the Servants’ from book 2)

(This is another post I kind of tried to do in the style of my Honey-Bunny. Yes, I’ve settled on that name.)

21 thoughts on “Night of the Servants OR How Anime Ingrained the Awesomeness of Maids And Butlers Into Our Minds

  1. Fuck yes butlers. I think you hit on a lot of points on why the butler fetish is so popular, but a lot of what does it for me is that it’s a sort of subversion of traditional masculine roles. That, and I can’t cook/clean/take care of myself to save my life ;w;
    And I definitely need to marathon Kuroshitsuji over spring break.

    • I wonder, how much is it a subversion? In Kuroshitsuji, I would definitely say that Sebastian wears the pants in the gay, pedophilic pseudo-relationship. Sure the little guy bosses him around, but he’s not fucking fooling anyone.

      Butlers don’t really cook/clean/etc, so much as tell all of the other servants to do so, though I’m sure he would perform the most personal and professionally important jobs (such as protection from ninjas, expert foot massages, sending people to hell, and crazy buttsecks.)

      • Ah, I meant the whole man-servant thing in general~
        A man completely who is completely devoted to you yet remains emotionally cold due to it only being a job…it really is a romantic concept! Oh man, now I want to do my own post about butlers/manservants…

        And the more you describe it, the more I want to watch it! I read the first volume of the manga, but the really shojo-y approach to layouts and story telling really put me off. Surely it’s better in the anime?

  2. Their popularity probably has something to do with the privilege of being served, and the courtesies and manners such a hierarchy entails. Japan is a very hierarchical culture, and therefore servants/butlers/maids serve really well as Western imports into the ladder of servitude. There is also probably the “mystique” of something Western and already full of its own traditions.

    It is a job that requires a lot of emphasis on appearance and outside composure. So, it makes it a very popular occupation to hold as a cover, while maintaining another job at the same time.

  3. Butlers and maids are so unrealistic in anime…but they’re frickin’ awesome, so it doesn’t matter.
    I was going to say something slightly more substantial, but I forgot it already. =.=

    • Too bad he spells it with a “G”. Everyone knows that said name is spelled this way:

      Jeffrey

      If the person in question is undeniably awesome. Truly, anyone with the name Jeffrey is the man.

      NOTE: I make an exception for Geoff Sanderson, the best hockey player ever, and I guess I can make an exception for the butler in question, because the Fresh Prince is one of the most awesome shows ever.

  4. You’ve now made me realize that the status of “maid” and “butler” holds a different meaning to me than to most people thanks to anime. The maid fetish (and its butler equivalent for female fans) is certainly a phenomena in Japan – just take a stroll through Akihabara or go to a host club.

    You list good reasons behind this phenomena in your second to last paragraph. I think the most prominent reason is simple wish-fulfillment. Wouldn’t it be great to have a servant whose life revolves around you and who has amazing powers with which to protect you? (add in a secret identity or mysterious powers to make them more interesting). Since Japan is a country with very formal relationships, especially the “servant-master” or something similar, like “employee-boss” and “employee-customer,” glorifying these servants into something awesome is appealing.

  5. I think my comment got eaten by the Internet monster. Alas.

    The in-a-nutshell version: The thing about anime maids, in my opinion, is not only that they’re possessed of myriad talents, but that they’re also asked to deliver those talents with the utmost grace and poise, to act in a manner most befitting of their house. So in a way, they’re more ladylike than the ladies they serve.

    And unfortunately, I think your mother’s right about the butler/head chef thing. A butler would approve the head chef’s menu, and perhaps make changes to suit the guests, but making the actual menu and running the kitchen would require a separate position.

    This is the first time anyone has ever called me “Honey-Bunny.” So I guess that means it’s all yours. :)

    • I have no idea what happened to you original comment D: Can’t find it.

      :D Hey, I’ve never been called ‘cupcake’ myself. That’s probably the cutest thing I’ve ever been referred to as LOL.

  6. I think my first exposure to the concept of maids was that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry hires a maid to clean his apartment. I still think of it whenever the subject comes up, as you can see.

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  9. You guys forget the prototypical awesome butler: Wodehouse’s Jeeves (particularly as portrayed by Stephen Fry.)

  10. Maids rule. If they’re not the pornographic kind (though i completely understand why so many guys get worked up over the idea). The outfits alone are just too cute.
    And o sweet mother of god… I WANT WANT WANT Sebastian to be my butler. It kinda sucks that he’s only out to get your soul… But on the other hand, no soul means no getting in hell either. Hmmm… Life full of delicious sins with a butler who can do ANYTHING… Or a regular life with the chance to go to heaven… Hmmm… Actually, when somebody would really offer me the choice i think i’ll say farewell to white clouds and golden wings. :P

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