My-Otome is nothing less than a total disaster as far as I'm concerned. This semi-sequel to 'Mai-Hime' is one of many anime-shows that tries to combine many different genres such as comedy, action and drama; but it is a colossal failure in every way imaginable.
The basic story is, like many aspects of the show, incredibly derivative. It's the tale of a young girl named Arika Yumemiya who wants to enter a highly prestigious school called Garderobe where girls are trained to become an Otome, unbelievably powerful warriors who serve as vanguards of a country's militia. It is through a series of bafflingly outrageous coincidences that our young heroine manages to enroll at the normally way out-of-her-league academy and from then on, the story kicks off.
Doesn't sound very original, does it? Well the rest of the plot is every bit as standard: Arika manages to make friends at Hogs- *cough*, I mean 'Garderobe' after a somewhat rough start, she is quickly confronted with all kinds of shady characters, ancient conspiracies are unveiled, hidden lineages are discovered, friends become enemies, enemies become friends and there may also be a love-triangle or two to complicate things along the way. Textbook definition of 'cookie-cutter'.
A complete lack of originality can be compensated for by an outstanding execution; but Mai-Otome falls flat in that area. Main offender is the atrocious plotting. Plot-points and characters are introduced only to get put on hold until several episodes later if not dropped entirely, characters 'die' only to turn up (relatively) unscathed later, things happen for no logical reason other than that they're supposed to happen for the plot to move in the direction the creators envisioned (a character even remarks in one of the later episodes that the way some previous events transpired doesn't make any sense) and well-meaning side characters hold back crucial information that may be of great help to the clueless protagonists only to have said protagonists befall some grave misfortune that could have been prevented if they had been better informed.
And this doesn't just happen once or twice. The series is LOADED with moments like this. Pretty much any scene scene that isn't filled with incredibly cheesy fanservice humor (a particular plot-device essentially serves as a setup for countless scenes of ecchi-humor involving girl-on-girl 'action') or third-rate soap-opera level angst about love and/or the duties and burdens of an Otome from some of the protagonists is how I just described.
It's clear by now that the story didn't keep me watching this; so maybe the action-sequences were able to offer some redeeming value? Sadly they weren't. The fight-scenes are incredibly unimaginative and poorly animated, most of them ending with an Otome obliterating an opponent with her strongest attack. And all of that is assuming that fight scenes do occur on-screen. I say this because the series is filled to the brim with moments where two characters are set up to fight, only to switch to other events just as the fight starts. All of this makes for a viewing-experience that is frustrating at worst and unfulfilling at most, even for the biggest of action-junkies.
Production-values are nothing to write home about. The art and animation are unremarkable at best though I will give the series credit for the catchy opening-tune as well as the fact that the many characters are all easy to distinguish from one another (even if a lot of them are recycled from Mai-Hime). Oh, and some of the attacks have effects that look pretty cool.
Between the awful story and largely unremarkable production-values there's really no reason I to check out this series. Even those who were fond of its predecessor, Mai-Hime (which I found to be entertaining though highly flawed), will find little to love. The new characters are nothing special, the action is less frequent and less impressive despite being much bigger in scope and the returning characters (even though they're actually 'alternate reality' versions) don't develop or contribute to the plot in any meaningful way. There's even one particular character whose personality and abilities are a complete 180 from the way she was in Mai-Hime and several who seem to be thrown in just so fans can point them out.
I could go on and on about the abysmal plotting (like how the main character is defeated by a powerful foe only to get launched to another dimension where she just so happens to meet a powerful figure mentioned earlier in the story who can help her get stronger), the paper-thin and highly archetypical characters (you KNOW there's a problem when the most interesting characters are ones that mostly got their characterization from the previous series), the constant skipping out on action-sequences and the complete lack of any creative ambition whatsoever; but I think I have already made my point very clear so I'll just wrap it up.
Whether you're a fan of Mai-Hime or are just looking for a fun-packed action-adventure series, Mai-Otome is a totally derivative, awfully written, largely unfulfilling and completely frustrating series that reeks of being conceived for no other purpose other than to make a quick buck. It's not worth your time. Skip it.
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