Naheal Reviews: Mai-Otome

Naheal reviews
Mai-Otome

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Genre: Magical Girl. Slight tech emphasis.
Release Date: American Video Release: March 2010
English release name: My-Otome
Reviewed language: Japanese, English subs

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A spiritual successor of Mai-HiME, Mai-Otome takes place on a fictional world which is never explicitly named in the distant future. Many characters from Mai-HiME make an appearance in this Anime at various points throughout the story, some being complete transplants while others are modified or even changed completely with the new setting.

This time around, the story follows Arika Yumemia, pictured right, as she trains to become an Otome, this setting's elite guard. When you're first introduced to this character, she seems shallow and uninteresting until the story begins to progress. In keeping with the tradition set by Mai-HiME, Mai-Otome specializes in character and setting development, this time building from the ground up with the setting and focusing on a mostly new cast of characters.

While initially, it'll seem odd that these girls and young women make up their elite guard, it's explained early as to why. Each Otome is injected with nanomachines to enhance physical capabilities and to manifest some form of armor, weapons, and further abilities, such as flight. If a Y chromosome ever comes in contact with these nanomachines, they're utterly destroyed and the person's body creates an immunity to these nanomachines. Thus, in order for them to work, they must be within a woman who's never had sex with a man, which brings up a point on this series.

Perhaps due to the importance of sex, or, rather, the lack thereof for these characters, sex is often treated as a very serious subject with them. That said, there's an air throughout the series of regular fan-service. In a typical anime, this would not be a problem, but the average age of these characters rests at around 15-16. Nudity is used, though nothing explicit is ever shown, and rape can be used as a potential story point. Furthermore, there are a few "taboo" situations which I won't get into here to avoid spoilers.

Another change from Mai-HiME to Mai-Otome is that they actually moved more towards the Magical Girl genre rather than away from it. "Costumes", or their armor and weapons, are used for characters and, while they are portrayed as public, there is still a heavy feel of a Magical Girl anime with a fairly serious tone at times.

Despite, or, perhaps, because of, their approach to sex as a story element, the story of Mai-Otome still remains a strong point. Characters bond, build friendships, deal with betrayal, fight feelings of attraction and love, and struggle to find their place in the world as they learn how to use their powers. Like Mai-HiME, there's a jigsaw puzzle of a background story if you pay attention.

Yuki Kajiura returns to compose some of the music of the series. The soundtrack still delivers in setting the tone and feel of a setting and situation while still standing out on it's own and enhancing the situation itself. Even if you don't enjoy the anime itself, the soundtrack is worth listening to.

The translation from Japanese to English this time around doesn't quite work as well; one reoccurring joke at the expense of the main character is a name convention roughly translated to "Antsy". This doesn't quite work as well in the dub, but it works nonetheless. Further, the bilingual pun tradition remains from Mai-Hime.

I did notice a few voice actor changes for carry-over characters in the sub, but I'm unsure as to whether that would happen in the dub as well. While a little jarring at first, they still managed to keep the basic feel of the characters that they're portraying.

Bottom Line: If you enjoy the Magical Girl genre, you'll probably enjoy this anime. If you go into this anime expecting to see something that's essentially a sequel series to Mai-HiME, you'll probably be a little disappointed, but enjoy the series nonetheless.

A little late in reading this, but that's fine.

Sounds a little more predictable and generic compared to how your review makes the other series sound, but that music is still damned awesome. I suppose I'll have to check it out regardless whenever I get to HiME. Still a lovely review.

Aby_Z:
A little late in reading this, but that's fine.

Sounds a little more predictable and generic compared to how your review makes the other series sound, but that music is still damned awesome. I suppose I'll have to check it out regardless whenever I get to HiME. Still a lovely review.

It is... somewhat. I was ultimately disappointed, but I was expecting it to be about as good as Mai-HiME. It still follows the format of "get to know the characters in exploit of the week then watch as everything gets ripped apart", but it's far closer to the Magical Girl genre than Mai-HiME was.

 

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