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!
overall score: 7/10
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