I’ve been putting off this review for a few days now, because I haven’t been able to think of a good place to start. Normally I’d start out the story section with a longer version of the synopsis listed above, but it’s hard to do so without spoiling the twists and turns of Mai HiME. Thus, I’ll have to go about things a little differently this time...
Mai HiME starts out feeling like a typical (though darker) magical girl type series. We are introduced to a variety of characters who all attend (or will start to attend) the same prestigious academy. Some of these characters seem to possess strange innate abilities that are somehow linked to an ominous red star that hovers alongside the moon. Of course, where there are special powers, there are monsters! The magical girl element comes into play due to these monsters, since the girls tend to be kicking monster ass for the majority of the first half of the series. Interspersed with the monster mayhem is a great deal of character development and slice of life situations in general, much of which is lighthearted. These early episodes reminded me quite a bit of Stellvia, which also combined action and plot with a number of light school kid type scenes. One entire episode, for example, is based around a cooking contest.
I’ll admit, these first episodes were decent, but nothing extremely spectacular. You could tell there was something up with the monsters - some plot point that hadn’t been introduced yet - but nothing tangible at that point. I found myself becoming steadily bored... until episode 8 hit. Without a doubt, most people will talk about it being a turning point, a sort of wake up call that makes you think "wow, maybe there is more to this than first meets the eye". In this episode, something quite dark and serious happens, which is definitely reminiscent of the rest of the series, that’s for sure.
The actual "OMG DAAAARK" aspect kicks in a little after the halfway point, and stays downhill the entire time. Think of X TV, but with younger folks, and you have Mai HiME’s second half in a nutshell. Then again, it’s not completely the same... the plot is different, the stakes are different, and the pacing is different. Still, though, it’s damn similar, and really caught me by surprise. Instead of staying a fairly neutral (borderlining dull) magical girl slice of life deal, it becomes something very dark, very serious, and very depressing all at the same time. The story comes out of nowhere and is rich, detailed, and amazing. Twists and turns abound, characters grow, live, and die... and in general, it makes for a moving experience.
But what is the actual story, you ask? I can’t tell you, it would ruin the fun. Just trust me on this one... the beginning is NOTHING like the end of the series. If you dropped it after a few episodes out of boredom, and enjoy tragedies, I urge you to pick this back up. Very seldom have I seen anything that comes out of left field to surprise me like this did. It went from an original score of a 6 overall, to around a 9, and that says something. There are only a few things I think didn’t fit well in Mai HiME. First, there’s the pacing of the first half versus the second half. I’ll admit that I was a bit bored in the first half, and part of that was because of the almost unnecessary character development or frivolous episodes. Then again, after getting to the second half, I really appreciated all of the work that was put into making the characters grow. Remember Kenshin TV? Many people including myself hated the first 20 something episodes, but found they were an invaluable addition once Kyoto arc hit (since they helped build up the relationships and such in our minds). Mai HiME is no different; these slower scenes helped us become attached to the characters and thus, made the tragedy involving them that much more sad. The second thing that I really didn’t enjoy was the fan service, but I really don’t think it was as prevalent as some people say. The main offender was definitely the breasts that jiggled unnecessarily every time one of the girls would stand slightly different. Trust me, as a female, real breasts really don’t do this unless the person’s breasts have been replaced with flimsy plastic molds full of jello. Now, admittedly, the jiggling didn’t happen ALL the time, thank god... but still was enough to make me annoyed. Other occasional ecchi bits were thrown in, such as one of the girls accidentally having her skirt fly up, but these scenes tended to actually be genuinely funny. It wasn’t flaunted like a harem comedy, and was infrequent enough to not become a focal point. I’m not sure why people complain about it as much as they do, because I didn’t find it to be very bad (and you are talking to someone who doesn’t like ecchi at all).
In general, Mai HiME’s story started out really slow but interesting, and became something amazing that I’d recommend for anyone. If you like darkness and tragedy, the story will be right up your alley. One thing I will mention is the ending, which although might have been a bit too cut and dry, was still decent, even though everyone else seems to say it’s terrible.
Like the audio, the animation is top notch. Colors are brilliant and vibrant, and the level of detail is high. Backgrounds are gorgeous pretty much everywhere, including the panning overhead shots of the school. Fighting scenes are definitely beautifully choreographed, combining shots of the monsters attacking, the girls transforming (not always the same, and definitely not cheesy), and their companions fighting back. All of the monsters themselves were wonderfully designed, looking creepy sometimes and downright scary other times.
Character designs were good as well, though there were a few I had problems with. Namely, Mikoto looked like a small animal (though she acted like one as well). Besides that minor fact, the rest of the animation was stunning and interesting to watch.
Did you like the music from .hack//SIGN? Madlax? Avenger? Guess what? The woman behind Bee Train was in charge of the music in Mai HiME, and that spells one thing: perfection. Well, in this case, near perfection... but who’s counting? Absolutely gorgeous ballads accompany most scenes, especially in the second half of the series when the tone becomes dark and foreboding. The intro and outro songs are catchy, but definitely not a must-have as far as which songs I’d want on the soundtrack; this literally is the only reason I marked the section down.
If the music needed to be lighthearted and fit the tone of the slice of life feel (of the first half of the series), it did so, marvelously. During fight scenes and in general, the last half of the series, Bee Train’s signature music shone through with haunting pseudo-opera type vocals and deep dark synthesized beats (combined with orchestral instruments). I can’t say enough about the music; it was amazing. Though Mai HiME’s plot was amazing by itself, the music really helped with the mood and feel, and made my viewing experience so much more enjoyable. And hey, unlike other series that Bee Train does the music for (hack or Madlax, anyone?), this won’t put you to sleep!
One really major thing I must point out, though, are some of the voice actors. One of the girls sounds like a man, and Takumi sounds like a 20 year old adult, and he’s only 14! The first time I heard him talking I could have sworn he was Mai’s older brother, until he started calling her oneechan. Everyone else’s voice actors played their parts just fine, though.
Mai HiME’s story is as strong as it is because of the characters, so it should be easy to see why this section is rated highly. We are introduced to a variety of characters who all have their unique roles and personalities, and they all fit together very well... well, most of them at least.
First, we have Mai. Why does everyone hate her? I hear this all the time and really have no idea why. The only argument I’ve heard is that she’s angsty or whiny but I really disagree. Mai has had a crappy life but still manages to stay positive since she’s had to raise Takumi. All she knows is her hardship and thus, when she goes through more hardship, it seems only natural that she’d react the way she did. Truly, I think Mai is a very realistic character; maybe people just didn’t like her because she wasn’t a stereotypical anime girl, who knows?
Other characters include the cold and reserved Natsuki, the optimistic little brother Takumi, and a whole mess of others. Each has their own quirks and grows on you in time, even though at times it seems like there are too many characters to keep track of! The interpersonal relationships between all of them make the tragedy of the latter half of the series that much more compelling and moving, and you easily will feel sorry for what the cast has to go through. Even the villains have their own likeable (or hateable) characteristics. I think the best part about the characters is how deep they were, and how much they were developed. Each character seemed to have something in their past that was stirred up in the present. These dark histories always seemed to give the characters more depth, and helped you to empathize with them a bit more (especially once the tragedy hits). I don’t feel like there was any sort of weak character except one: Mikoto. She truly was one of the most useless characters I’ve ever seen, but that’s the designers fault for giving her the temperament and appearance of a forest creature. She didn’t walk; she bounded like an animal on all fours. She didn’t talk about normal stuff, she spoke in third person like Pai in 3x3 Eyes. She was obsessed with food, constantly looking chibified in nature (distracting and unnecessary). She also clung to Mai like a 3 year old. All in all, her character annoyed the hell out of me and quite frankly I wish she hadn’t been involved at all.
In general though, a very strong cast of characters.
Mai HiME started out feeling like a 6 in my mind, with its interesting but fairly dull story, seemingly average characters and all around, an average magical girl type feel to it. Once the second half hit, though, it skyrocketed up to a 9 easily, and that’s where the score will stay. If you watched a little of Mai HiME and gave up because you thought it was boring, dull, or too girlie, please think again. Though misleading, the end is so tragic and moving that you’ll be glad you finished it too. Don’t get hyped up by the ending because it’s not as bad as people make it seem to be, and don’t pass up the chance to watch this wonderful series. From the music to the visuals to the great characters, Mai HiME is a great watch all around.
The creation of My-Hime most likely started with Sunrise designing an anime from the ground up. The show would boast amazingly entertaining melodrama, some fantastic action scenes, and hordes of famous seiyuu - in other words, the basic groundwork for Best Show Ever.
There was just one chink in the entire concepts armor: when all was said and done, the animes story called for a ridiculously large amount of characters. Alongside Mai, the primary heroine, the storyline needed droves of supporting characters in order to be fully fleshed out.
As a result of this decidedly bloated cast, the project gained an enormous amount of inertia. Most anime can get by with one or two episodes to introduce the characters and set up the story, but My-Hime needed something much more lopsided just to get the gears in motion. The question, then, was how to keep the 15 or so expository episodes from being deathly boring. Sunrises "solution" to this dilemma was three-fold: fan-service, obligatory action scenes in every episode, and some of the broadest, most generic comedy that Ive ever come across.
Unfortunately, while this approach seems to have worked wonders on the whole of the community, the beginning is some of the most tedious tripe that Ive personally ever had to slog through. Pretty colors, lame jokes, and improbably stacked high-school girls can really only take a show so far, and in this case they fail to take the show anywhere at all. I normally would never have bothered to continue watching something so bland, had it not been for a friend that insisted that the show improved substantially.
Fortunately enough, he was right; amazingly, the show pulls together and becomes something actually entertaining and worthwhile. The final half is a blissful cocktail of angst, action and romance, and there is something almost epic in the way that the huge cast of characters all independently battle against their fate. Near the end, the anime reaches the kind of dramatic crescendo that is usually reserved exclusively to the top echelon of anime.
Regrettably, My-Hime's story possesses far too many flaws to actually be considered as such. The most important is the aforementioned reliance on generic ecchi in the beginning of the show. In addition to this, however, the final episode reeks of deus ex machina, and feels contradictory to where the story had gone up to that point.
Nevertheless, when all is said and done, the immensely entertaining second half somehow manages to redeem the narrative as a whole. Although sitting through the first part was an absolute chore, I ultimately came away satisfied.
This is some of the better animation released in 2004. Action scenes are colorful and creatively choreographed, movement is fluid and realistic, and the character designs are all fairly appealing. There isnt anything groundbreaking here, but there certainly isnt anything to be ashamed of, either.
Yuki Kajiura actually manages to pump out something halfway unique in this one, and still delivers a superb soundtrack. The show is also filled to the brim with famous seiyuu. Normally in an anime, Im happy if I can recognize one voice actor; for Mai Hime, I was able to identify four. Needless to say, the voice acting is all basically flawless and is the one redeeming part about the characters.
Sadly enough, the characters are a total mess. In short, there are just too many characters to realistically develop over the course of 26 episodes. This would have been fine if most of the characters were relegated to supporting roles, but the bulk of individuals that could be considered "protagonists" makes the cast as absurdly top-heavy as Mai herself. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that most of the characters seem to carry an extremely damaging "top-down" design; instead of creating a story around a cast of characters, the characters appear to have been designed to fit specific roles in the story. Because of this, they feel very much like products on an assembly line: cliched, tiresome and lifeless. Only the fantastic voice work manages to somewhat redeem them.
As a whole, My-Hime is easy enough to recommend to people who enjoy large ensemble casts, a little bit of fanservice, and some nice action scenes. However, those looking for a consistent, intelligent story may be frustrated by the large amount of filler at the beginning of the show coupled with the disappointing end. As a whole, I enjoyed the show enough to not regret watching it, but the shows' numerous flaws prevent me from actively liking it.
The story gets off to a strong, albeit somewhat cliche start, slowly introducing us to its ever-expanding cast of characters and the world of Hime. Our protagonists are thirteen young girls chosen to protect the school from Orphans, mysterios creatures that roam around the campus and are considered a threat to humans. But here comes the nasty bit, by using the powers they've been endowed with, they need to put their most precious person on the line. While this is indeed an overused formula, My Hime took a different approach, evolving into something much darker as the story progressed and incessantly shocking its audience with plot twists it delivers without scruples.
The first episodes are rather light-hearted, providing only subtle foreshadowing of what's to come in the latter half of the series.While this approach ensured the final episodes to be as shocking as possible, some may also find it very off-turning, for the amount of padding out resulted in some rather silly episodes and, at least in my opinion, it could've spent notably less time developing its characters, which weren't that complex in the first place.
The first half is a colorful medley of engaging action, mushy drama and mild fanservice with some rather obvious shoujo-ai overtones to round it off. And while certainly does not sound promising to more serious watchers, once you turn off your brain and push your suspension of belief to the extreme you might find yourself enjoying this anime!
Why I mention suspension of belief is because the shows is riddled with quite a few plot holes and unanswered questions that cover some major aspects of the series. It's pretty obvious that the directors decided to direct all of the viewers' attention on its characters, thus leaving a handful of loose ends.
Well, here I shall adress what in my opinion the biggest issue of the series. THE ENDING. To say it was dissappointing would be downplaying it. It was absolutely underwhelming and unsatisfying in every way imaginable, single-handedly undermining all the built-up and the bombshell of emotions the last few episodes had managed to achieve.
But boy, can it be dramatic! By the 20th episode, the light tone is completely gone and one is suddenly being bombarded with emotional overflow and jaw-droppingly powerful moments of pure tragedy one would never expect after the 20 episodes of goofing around.
The overall look of the series is fairly pleasing to the eye, with bright colors, fluid motion and glossy action sequences. Considering this show is almost 10 years old, the fact alone that it's still better that most of what comes out nowadays is an achievement in and of itself.
As for the soundtrack, it was composed by the ever-so-great Yuki Kajiura, so I don't think much needs to be said. While it may not be quite on the level of .hack//Sign , My-Hime's soundtrack serves to enhance the mood, rather that generate it (which is the case with the latter-not that's it a bad thing :) ). The OST on a whole sports but a few truly memorable pieces, but each tune perfectly accompanies the scene and is right up there with animation in overall quality.
The characters, being the heart of the series, are quite a colorful lot. Mai stands above most heroines in this type of shows, being neither too whiny nor too brassy. She is also very indecisive, constantly doubts her decision and wants to lead a normal life instead of being a Hime which makes her relatable in a way (even though I wanted to punch her for some stupid decisions she was making, but nevermind ^^; ).
I won't even bother to explain each character in detail, for the simple reason the sheer number of them notably exceeds the usual 3-5 prominent characters. While the central part of My Hime's cast are only Mai, Natsuki and Mikoto, there's a whole flock of secondary character in store that just wait for the time they shall finally step into the limelight. Developing more than 10 girls in a 26-episode series is no easy task, but Mai Hime raises to the occassion, giving each character a fair share of development. Still, most of them are rather simplistic and not all that compelling. The real problem, however, are the baddies of this show. What are they motives? Why do they persist in them? It's seems as if the creators didn't care to rationalize their methods and just assigned them to play out their roles.
Overall, Mai Hime is a roller-coaster ride that manages to be both exciting and emotionally engaging, though only if you decide not to take it too seriously. However, it's also notably flawed on many levels, which keeps it from reaching greatness and being something truly special. Still, it's exceeded the boundaries of its genre, so give it a shot, you might very well love it!
Review contains major spoilers. It is advised not to be read by those who haven’t seen the show or those who intend to do so.
Animation is done by studio Sunrise, which means there will be cool robots, mosters and explosions. Directed by Ohara Masakazu who also made The Girl who Leapt through Time, and Accel World. Hardly a talented individual.
The best way for someone to enjoy this anime is to perceive it as an otaku fan catering dark fairy tale. As long as you are willing to allow your emotions to be constantly manipulated by the looks of cute girls, overblown drama, and improbable resolutions just to have a happy ending, then you will definitely like it as so many thousands of people did so far. On the other hand if you try to see this as some sort of mature, cryptic, deep story of manipulation of ideals and the dark side of love then you will most likely want to smash your screen.
My HiME is very good at keeping you interested in watching, as it keeps changing the apparent formula every now and then. First it presents things as if it is about a dozen girls with superpowers, teaming with monsters in order to protect their land from other roaming monsters. Even if you don’t like the premise, the show keeps bombarding you with a dozen different date-sim girl archetypes, light ecchi comedy, as well as names from mythology that make you wonder if there is more behind all that and you start comparing each monster with the psychology of its master. By the time you get to know all the girls and their basic backdrop (and truth be told they all have somewhat interesting meat around their bones) WHAM the story suddenly changes to a death tournament. The girls now need to fight each other until There Can Be Only One. The winner gets a wish fulfilled by some alien star entity, the losers die and/or have their most loved person disappearing as penalty (thus they can’t just give up or go kamikaze because their most cherished person will die).
After the story gets darker, the fuzzy initial impression is replaced by a far darker atmosphere and suddenly seemingly important characters start to die like flies. This feels so shocking that you just need to see what happens next. This is no longer some date-sim premise, nor a mahou shojo variant. This is a death match against your very own friends and the deaths of characters the viewer liked so far create further wowing and interest to see what happens next.
And then the finale comes and… well… it’s just an excuse to have a happy ending. Not just one where more than one girls survive. Come on, it is obvious what the wish will be all about and if you have a bit cunningness you would see it coming since the start. Yes, time resets and it is as if nothing ever happened. Everybody is alive again, the viewers rejoice that their favorite girls are still their imaginary wives, and the fandom is free to write a billion fanfics about them without feeling out of place because they should be dead.
As you understand, the dark overtones of the anime are just cheap tricks to mess with your emotions. They surprise you with the death tournament and you go all OH NO POOR WAIFU, WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? And then the ending comes and you go YES MY WAIFU IS ALIVE AGAIN; BEST ANIME EVER! Of course, if you are a viewer with taste for good storytelling, chances are you will just say “Oh, so everything was pointless and we were all fooled to think something important was going to happen. I just wasted my time on this.”
Thus it really is a fairy tale for otakus. All the shock factor in the series is just a very cheap method of the scriptwriters for luring in all those who are used to simple anime and not in seeing main characters die. And then they reward them in the end by Dragonballing them back to life so everybody is happy. How nice! And how immature for the same reason. Where is the responsibility of your actions if you can negate them with magic? That makes you feel bad for caring about them in the first place. It will even feel like you were cheated to care about something completely pointless.
But you know what? If you shut off your brain none of what I mention here matter. The production values are good, the girls are colorized, there is one waifu for all tastes, there is action, betrayal, death, magic, happy endings. Shallow entertainment but offered in spades.
And to all those of you who liked it, don’t miss the chance to watch “Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica” and “Clannad After Story”. Same treatment. But in case you want to see how good the premise could have been, don’t miss the chance to read the Battle Royale manga. Now that is a story where it matters when someone dies.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 0/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Historical Value 2/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 2/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 1/3, Characters 2/4
(92.47%) FINALLY! A GOOD MAGICAL GIRL SERIES:
I'll be honest with you. I an NOT a fan of most Magical Girl anime, you can thank Sailor Moon for that, the fact that a lot of the other Magical Girl anime out there, like Mermaid Melodies for example, are basically rip-offs of Sailor Moon. However, every once in a while you might come across a Magical Girl anime done right. For me, My-HiME is one of those anime. My-HiME, which actually translates to "My Princess" is one of the first anime shows I had ever watched, not including Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or Sonic X, and I gotta say: even after watching about 20 more anime, My-HiME still remains in a VERY high place in my top favorites. My-HiME is actually more of a Fantasy-Romance Drama than a Magical Girl anime because even though the magical aspect of the show is there, the focus is never directly on the Magical Girl aspect but is pointed more towards the characters' reactions and relationships, which is a big reason why I like this show so much. They don't follow the general Magical Girl formula that most in the genre seem to do.
(40.05%) STORY: (8.9/10)
My-HiME (in a shocking twist that has never been seen in anime before) takes place in some prestigious school called Fuka Academy, which is a large system of schools consisting of an Elementary School, a Middle School, and a High School. In this school, rumors are always floating around about strange things happening. The setting of the first episode is quite different than in most anime in general. Our main character is MAI TOKIHA. She and her brother TAKUMI, who has a heart problem, are transfer students on a cruise liner to Fuka Academy. Shortly after they are introduced, MAI sees a red "spec" next to the moon that TAKUMI can't see. During the course of this episode, we are introduced to many of the main characters, and I use the term "main characters" very loosely, mostly because almost all the characters are main characters. Asside from MAI and TAKUMI, we get MIKOTO MINAGI: a young childish tomboy girl who is always carrying a black sword around and claims to be "looking for her brother", TATE YUUICHI: a teenager who already goes to Fuka Academy and is a member of the student council, SHIHO MUNAKATA: a middle school girl who always follows TATE around and always calls him "brother" even though they aren't related, NATSUKI KUGA: a serious, lone-wolf teenager who has a pair of oddly-shaped pistols and a wolf-like monster following her around who appears to be trying to kill MIKOTO in her first appearance, and NAGI HOMURA: a "young looking" smart-alec who serves as a sort of referee, similar to "RYUK" from Death Note, throwing in comments here and there. Take note that I'm only describing these characters as they FIRST appear. There is quite a bit of information that I'm leaving out of these character descriptions. Anyway, we soon find out that MAI, MIKOTO, and NATSUKI, as well as many other unknown girls are "HiME" which, in the anime, stands for "Highly Advanced Materializing Equipment". HiME are special girls selected by fate who are granted special powers allowing them each to materialize weapons known as "Elements", and summon a huge monster known as a "Child", as well as being the only ones besides NAGI who can see the "HiME Star", which was the red spec MAI saw in the first episode. As far as the MAI, MIKOTO, NATSUKI, and the rest of the audience knows, these girls have all been recruited to Fuka Academy to fight monsters called "Orphans".
The first story arc is the one that turns most people away from the show. Mainly because there's not much going on, aside from the first episode. There are a couple semi-filler episodes. I say "semi-" because these episodes do include major plot points, so you can't skip them because they're boring. That's not to say that I thought they were boring. For me, I was interested in figuring out who the other "HiME" were that I wanted to keep going. There is one plot-hole, however, that really bothers me more than it bothers most people. In fact, from what I've seen, most people ignore it, but for me, it bothered and still bothers me from beginning to end every time I watch it, and that is: "Who (or What) the heck is NAGI?". This show does a great job in giving every character, except NAGI, some depth, which is a huge plot-hole for me, because he is a very important character throughout the show as he's usually the one who explains all the plot elements. Don't get me wrong, this plot-hole, in no way, ruins the show for me. It's kind of like the "Holy Office of the Index" in "11Eyes"; it didn't ruin the show for me, but it did leave me with a few questions. Anyway, after this, we get a huge, unexpected, and dark plot twist that no one saw coming, not even the Main Villain. Obviously, I can't go into much detail here, but I will say that you will be introduced to a couple good villains. From the end of that story arc onward, it gets darker and sadder by the episode. Many of these scenes are worthy of "CLANNAD". The ending of the anime is the deciding factor for most people who watch this show. I thought that it was alright. It definitely wasn't enough to make the show bad. It's usually dependent on your preference for an ending.
"My-HiME" takes a different approach to the Magical Girl genre. Normally, when the characters have their transformation scenes, their entire outfit changes. Also, the magical familiars are always materialized and are small cute animals or something. But, in "My-HiME", the characters' weapons materialize without the use of the transformation scene. Instead, the transformation scene is used to summon the magical familiar. Also, instead of the familiar being a cute little animal, the familiars are huge, mecha-like monsters, most of which are named after Japanese gods and goddesses. There are the "Child"-sss... Yeah they didn't really do very well with the naming... Maybe it's a translation error, or something, like it meant something else in Japanese or rolled off the tongue much easier in Japan than it did in English. I don't know, but anyway, the things they do with the concept of these monsters can range from some pretty obvious plot-points like giant monster/mech battles or a Pokemon-esque kind of sorry, but there are some unexpected and downright unfair and depressing things they use these monsters for, which I won't give away, but I'll just say to brace yourself.
(43.65%) CHARACTERS: (9.7/10)
All the characters in this anime are brilliant. If any of these characters fit under a certain steriotype, then any other characters of those stereotypes should take notes from these characters. It's also kind of difficult to decide which characters other than MAI should be considered the main cast, because most of the characters get the same ammount of screen time.
To start off, we'll take a look at the main event. MAI TOKIHA is one of my favorite protagonists, as well as one of my favorite female characters. Her personality is an interesting idea and really breaks away from the common "generic main character" steriotype. I consider her to be the minimum required personality in order to get the audience to really connect with her and consider her three-dimentional, but enough with that and into the character, herself. MAI, on the surface appears to be your typical high school girl with the heart of gold and who always chooses to do the right thing and save her friends when they're in trouble, etc. She harbors a strong and deep care for her brother, since he has a sort of heart disease. She also takes in MIKOTO, as a roommate and treats her like a little sister. These, along with being a HiME and the "fate of the world" being in her hands, and with some of the plot twists that happen later on, she always tries to keep all that stress built up inside, and always keep a positive attitude in most situations. However, there are a few excellent scenes with her that involve her cracking and letting it all out, sometimes in tear-jerking ways and even sometimes in almost frightening ways. The way her character develops in the anime is almost perfect. I say almost because I told myself and all viewers that I would never score something as perfect, so for that sake, I'll just say maybe some of the things she says or does, or maybe just the fact that she's involved with most of the barely fan-servicy scenes, that might keep me from considering her perfect, but overall she deserves to be considered among the most complex female protagonists, for sure.
Next, I'll talk about the only other obvious main character. MIKOTO is nowhere near as good as MAI, but still holds up as one of the better "sidekicks". Mainly, her childish nature is pretty entertaining. Also a Hime, after meeting and befriending MAI, she gains a very overprotective personality when she's with MAI. The fact that she's an innocent and ignorant character makes some of the scenes involving her and MAI not only at times humorous but also heartwarming. Her overprotective attitude toward MAI really shines through later on in the anime when things start to heat up in the story. Let's just say that the scenes involving her and MAI in that section of the anime may make you feel sorry for both of the characters, especially when it all gets peiced together in the end, and good God, I shouldn't say any more than that.
Here's what I'm not sure about. I don't know exactly who else to consider a main character because, asside from the really obscure characters, everyone gets a pretty equal ammount of screen-time. So, I'll just go over the first three other characters. YUUICHI is probably one the best "normal guy"/"average joe" characters I've seen in anime, so far. Asside from not having a real generic design and personality, he's got to be the most realistic portrayal of a high school boy in an anime I've seen. He is the main love interest and so many of the scenarios he's put in with MAI are what you'd expect a real average high school kid to act in those types of situations. Many of the lines he gets are just the icing on the cake. They can be cringy, but most people talk like that when out in these situations. He's not the most unique character, but he's definitely a standard in the stereotype.
SHIHO comes off, at the beginning, as a pretty annoying character, and almost a side character. She's best friends with YUUICHI and since she's been friends with him for years, she calls him her "brother" most of the time. Despite calling him "brother" many times in the anime, SHIHO actually has very strong feelings for YUUICHI (no spoiler here, it's made clear in the beginning of the anime) and this, along with eventually MAI, spawns a love triangle that, while it seems very one-sided, it does lead into some very good and dramatic scenes and even whole episodes of plot-twists.
Now we'll talk about NATSUKI, and NO! this will NOT include anything about SHIZURU (watch the anime if you want to know about that), so yeah... NATSUKI is basically our introduction to the term and concept of the HiME. She's portrayed as this kind of lone-wolf, no-nonsesnsical, and tomboyish tough girl who just kind of plays by her own rules. She does eventually grow a good friendship with MAI, MIKOTO, and... SHIZURU. Even though she's probably considered a main character along with MAI and MIKOTO, as she in included in most of the box arts for the anime:
(and even in the spin-off which doesn't even star any of these three characters)
anyway, even though she's in the cover arts, she really has just as much screen time as all of the other "secondary" characters, in other words, not nearly as much as MAI and MIKOTO. Now, even though her kind of character is pretty common among fantasy anime, there are enough subtle originalities in her character that I still consider her a great character.
Now, I won't go into specifics on any other character, not even the "villains", just because for one there's so many, and two there is too much spoiler risk and part of the experience is figuring out who is who (as in the HiME). Overall, I'd say this is a brilliant character cast and the only thing that keeps this score lower than perfect is that, once again we don't know who NAGI really is.
(ANIMATION: 9.1/10 - SOUND: 8.2/10 - FEELING: 9.0/10)
The animation for My-HiME was fantastic. This anime was made in 2004, ten years before the making of this review, and it still looks great. As for the character designs, this anime is set in a high school, so it is okay for the designs to look a little generic. You can definitely tell the difference between the characters. Interestingly enough, and I kind of see this as a "fun fact", but I don't think I saw one pair of characters with the same hair color. When they were present, the action scenes were great just good. There wasn't anything really outstanding about them, but I was able to keep up with what was going on, and once you get farther into the anime, the action scenes have great motivation to them, so that saves it. The designs for each of the familiars were really cool. On the other hand the designs for the orphans were weird, to me. I don't know, just the way some of them shape-shifted and morphed was just ugly and awkward-looking.
The Japanes Dub was a little better than many others I've heard in the past, including ones from the future (hopefully you get it). I definitely think it's interesting that the voice actor for MAI actually sings in most of the vocal songs for the series, including the opening. Not only that, but her name is Mai. Mai Nakahara, to be exact, but still... I think they knew what they were doing when they were casting the voices. I do, however think the English Dub is the way to go. I know I say that for almost every anime, but that's because I've only reviewed anime with good dubs so far. Anyway, I like that they didn't have very many recognizable voice actors. I think the more unknowns, the better. Otherwise we'll just be hearing the actors and not the characters, down the line. I think YUUICHI, specifically had the best and most realistic voice in conjunction with his character design and personality. I do, however think that NAO and TAKUMI's voices could have been a little better. TAKUMI's more than NOU's, and let's not leave out the most hilarious one that you'll be like "WTF!?" the second you hear it, not that it's bad. I actually kind of welcome it, since I am from the south, but SHISURU FUJINO's voice is just priceless, in a good way. I do think both performances could have been better, but if I were to choose, it would still have to be the English Dub. I think what it comes down to is whether or not you think MAI looks like she should have a high or deeper girl voice. I prefer the English Dub precisely because when I first heard the Japanese Dub, I was like, "MAI's voice is just way to high-pitched for me to go all the way through the anime with this."
The music was half-and-half. The soundtrack was outstanding and is my favorite one to this day, just barely topping 11Eyes and Fate/Zero (Made by the same composer). The soundtrack was composed by Yuki Kajiura, so of course it's going to sound great. From the tear-jerking and emotional track, "Ensei" to the dark choir effects and electric guitar of "Kagutsuchi Kourin", this soundtrack is one of the only ones that I can remember certain individual tracks, almost note for note. On the other hand, the opening and ending themes were easily forgettable. The opening isn't misleading or anything, it's just not exciting or dramatic, which is the kind of opening this show should have had, in my opinion.
To sum this up, I strongly reccomend this anime for anyone who likes Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Character Development, Betrayal, subtlety, and of course, fantastic border-line tear-jerking drama.