When I first heard the title "Maid Sama!," I was sure it was a shonen harem manga. You don't hear of too many shojo with the word "maid" in the title. But this is one of the few that do.
Misaki Ayuzawa goes to a school that only recently started accepting girls. She's smart and a hard worker, and she managed to become the school's first female school council president. Misaki strictly enforces the rules at school, especially with the boys. She doesn't care much for men and is seen as a strong, independent woman. However, unbeknownst to her classmates, Misaki has an after-school job as a waitress at a maid cafe. She hates having to play such a sexist role, but she needs money, and it has to be an easy job if she's going to keep up with her school work. Misaki tries to keep her job a secret, but then Usui, the most popular guy at school, finds out. He starts frequenting the cafe, and Misaki thinks he's just laughing at her. But he may have deeper motives...
This is all pretty formulaic. Misaki is a pretty typical heroine. She's strong and self-sufficient, and she thinks guys are pigs. She's also completely oblivious to Usui's advances. I appreciated the fact that she doesn't need the hero to save her from tough situations. Usui is the kind of hero who's popular, cool, and reserved. All the girls love him, but he's interested in the heroine's inner strength. Usui is more mature than Misaki and tries to advise her, even though she just gets angry. He likes to tease her to get her flustered, but you know he's just waiting for her to come around. Fortunately, though, he doesn't try to make her think he's blackmailing her. He's straitforward with his intentions, though Misaki doubts his honesty.
The story is certainly nothing new, but the manga-ka puts in fresh scenarios to keep it interesting. I especially liked her take on the popular school festival plot. The pacing is also good. The art's nothing special, but it's pretty. It won't really wow you, but the characters are still plenty good-looking.
"Maid Sama!" doesn't break any new ground, but it's good at what it does. If you like this kind of manga, it's a good one. It's also good for those who haven't read much shojo as they won't notice the cliches. Most shojo fans should find something to enjoy here.