Yuri Anime: Mai Otome

April 7th, 2006

moccThere were so many things wrong with Mai Otome (or Mai Zhime if you prefer,) that I had very low expectations of it from the first. And with the cataclysmically badly written reset ending that made the first 24 episodes of Mai Hime meaningless, I expected a train wreck at the end of this series.

I’m pleased to report that my low expectations were surpassed. ^_^

Don’t get me wrong – Mai Otome is not Haibane Renmei…or even Stellvia. It’s a fanservice-filled action romp through several tedious fetishes with a plot thrown in for good measure. But given that, the ending was pretty damn good. The key point, I think, is that unlike Mai Hime, which was very serious in all the moments outside the fanservice-based moments of “humor” (look, heh heh, her tits are big! Heh, look she has no underwear, heh), Mai Otome was actually fairly light hearted, (with copious amounts of fanservice-based “humor,” as well, duh.)

Things the end of Mai Otome *didn’t* have:

– Giant Shizuru x Natsuki lovefest reunion

– Nina getting a clue

– Mashiro comprehending that rebuilding the palace was *still* a bad idea for her subjects – even if it had her happy giant sunflower on it, instead of a giant laser.

– Spontaneous reincarnation of every person who had previously died. (They sort of brought back a few key people, but that was done with an actual tie-in to the plot. And it was nothing like the “our viewers are idiots” mass reincarnation from Mai Hime.) In fact, they so very did NOT bring some people back, that I can only assume that that was the major complaint they had heard on the first series.

Things the ending *did* have:

– The calvary thundering down the hill to the rescue about three dozen times. And as stupid as each one was, I enjoyed it every time. :-)

– A really amusing, if obvious, gag involving Miss Maria.

– Chie and Aoi lovefest reunion

– Haruka getting a moment of actual cool

– All the Otome getting a moment of actual cool

– An epilogue which not only made some sense, but gives the most obnoxious plot complication (Nina and Sergey) a chance to reset in a semi-organic manner.


Art – 8 (On a head-to-head comparison, the art for Mai Otome is SO much better than that for Mai Hime)
Characters – 8
Story – 7
Music – 7
Yuri – 5
Service – 8

Overall – 7

Overall, I really think that this ending was as good as we could have hoped for from this series. This summer there are 4 Mai Otome movies slated for release…let’s see if they can manage to not ruin the TV series for us, shall we? ^_^

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14 Responses

  1. AJ says:

    I really don’t get this. How can you rate this show better than Mai Hime? Even if Otome had a decent ending the show was terrible. 2 decent episodes don’t make up for 24 shitty ones. And I guess this is just personal taste but I didn’t like the art in Otome from the design of the robes to the school uniforms to the whole locations.

  2. You don’t have to agree, but I think that Mai Hime was actually quite serious for the first 24, so that the final bad episodes really made the whole thing seem poorly executed, self-important and overblown.

    in Mai Otome I was relieved that the entire thing was presented as trashy, so the trash ending was consistent with the rest of the series. My expectations were kept consistent.

    As for the art, well, so we disgree. but I saw a picture which did a character by character Hime/Otome comparison and there was no question in my mind – Otome was better. I thought the school maid uniforms were idiotic, too. I wasn’t talking about that – I was talking about the amount of money spent on the production.

  3. Anonymous says:

    But the fact remains that up until that terrible ending, there was no comparison between the two. I mean, Otome itself would have no leg to stand on if it hadn’t been for the fact that we came to love the characters in hime, no one would even be discussing this. All the new characters were poorly executed stock, from the clumsy yet energetic girl and her uncanny tenacity to the to nice girl Erstin (whom I liked, but only due to my predispostion towards . . . well, you know.)

    Also, recently I rewatched hime, and I have to say, it’s animation was actually rather good. No “Clash’n’fall” choreography, pretty people and outfits, awesome Children. Alright, excessive pantyshots, but so what? This is anime we’re watching, after all. Though the last episodes unquestionably detracted from it, it was still more enjoyable in a trashy way than otome. And I prefer to mentally gloss over perceived flaws in favoured programs anyway, so as far as I’m concerned the cheerful front at the end was merely a manic front to cover the underlying and insurmountable personal issues that the festival caused. I consider this a generous move on my part, much like the mental deletion of all but a few select episodes of the last three seasons of Xena, or Buffy, or the X-files. I just didn’t even feel compelled to do that for otome. It wasn’t even worth the effort of double-thinking.

  4. AJ says:

    Oh well I always saw Mai Hime as a comedy so having half the cast dead and the other half insane wouln’t be such a funny ending. I didn’t really mind the ending, growing up with Sailor Moon I got used to ressurections ^^

    That’s probably also a reason why I was so disapointed with Mai Otome, the whole thing was so trashy and I didn’t expect it to be. That and they reduced my favorite character to a fat cat!

    This just hit me as strange comparing it with your other anime reviews where you mostly said what I was thinking.

  5. Oh well.

    Life’s just a chain of disappointments.

  6. Anonymous says:

    A convenient closing to any arguement. ^_^ My parents used to say that to me. No wonder I turned out such an optimist- expecting mai-otome to be good, silly me.

  7. Ju says:

    This entry has received quite a number of comments already, I see. I, like others, am suprised. For many reasons, but I only feel justified in mentioning one.

    At first I wrote a long objection, as I get excited about art. But it seemed mildly pointless as your opinion is your opinion, and unfortunately my objection came off more as an attack on it than someone babbling about nitpicky art things :).

    However, I must at least say “I object” because quality-wise, the art for Otome frequently made me want to scream with frustration (characters’ eyes going in different directions, face mutation, sudden loss of detail, etc etc). HiME did not bother me like that. It’s been a while do I do not to trust my memory of being rather impressed, but I know I did not want to slap the animators. Short of you watching Otome and HiME again (lol, not something I’d do…) I’m not sure how your opinion on this might change but… I cannot help but be baffled. Maybe I misunderstood something?

  8. p says:

    I generally thought Mai Hime was a comedy and involved a lot of play on the magical girl genre as opposed to a true representation of fan service or fetishes of any kind. I mean, jeez, it’s based on a video game. By the time we get to Mai Otome, the parody has really worn off. They don’t actually *parody* the maid genre, they just throw maid costumes in and expect it to be funny. I think it was probably a lot more funny to the creators of the show than it could ever be for the audience. Still, Mai Otome doesn’t reach the comedic effect of Mai Hime.

    Now, compared to Mai Hime, Mai Otome’s story makes a whole lot more sense, but the ending is so easy that it’s pretty pathetic. Rather than resolve any conflict in a meaninful manner, everyone simply completes their pre-established roles. That was actually the funniest part of the series, but, as opposed to the maid costumes and supposed “fan service,” that wasn’t meant to be funny.

    Personally, I thought the art was simply more “fantasy,” as opposed to actually being better. Almost every character design is lifted directly from video game RPG’s. It is in this way that I can’t see the art as any better. Besides, budget has to do more with consistency in the animation, not the actual art.

    The clincher for me that Mai Hime is more enjoyable is the characters. The main trio of Mai-Mikoto-Natsuki is infinitely stronger and more believable as the focus for a show than Arika-Nina-Ers. The highlight of the show for almost everyone I know was the appearance of Mai and Mikoto near the end. So, while still enjoyable in a disgusting way, that’s a key sign that Mai Otome isn’t as successful.

  9. Demon Eyes says:

    Ermm…I couldn’t help but notice that Mai/Mikoto isn’t mentioned.

    Everyone seems to forget them despite Mai beeing all for Mikoto.

  10. nanikore says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t think much of Mai Hime. I was bored by it, frankly. Mai Otome was more interesting, and not because of those fanservice (which were bad and made the show cheesier than it had to be) but because of the hard lesson that the substitute queen learned. I thought that was good. In other aspects, the show was somewhat disappointing to me, especially on some of the ending parts. The scene where the two girls doubled as space re-entry vehicles… what was THAT? Their nano-machine-whatever suits weren’t on, for Pete’s sake. You’re right about the Sergey-Nina intergenerational twist; That was annoying.

    In the beginning I thought the show was going to be about how the main heroine struggles “to the top of the hime world”, sort to speak. That didn’t happen. The series seemed to have taken a great big shortcut, and stuck a bunch of fodder as substitute.

    It was still better than Mai Hime, though.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, I pretty much felt that Otome’s ending was almost as bad as Mai HiME’s. Too many scenes where someone would save everyone’s behind at the last second.
    And the mad atmospheric re-entry thing. Sure they gave Yuri (Arika-Nina naked hug), but surviving? I’d think the ending would have been better if they both died in each others’ arms in the re-entry, and being immortalised as a Legend and bittersweet lesson to the masses.
    That would have been better than the plot holes left (how did Arika & Nina survive; and especially Sergay – ‘Sir Pimpy Gay’, as some people call him. He should’ve become a vegetable as we were led to believe)

    Anyway, I heard Erstin’s going to be resurrected in the OVA. :P

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m just curious what you mean by saying Mai-Otome “…is not Haibane Renmei”. I’ve been perusing your blog to find good Yuri anime and since you mentioned an anime I had seen before I am curious of the mention.

  13. I mean that it is not a unique, well-constructed piece of art. I mean that it’s a lowest common denominator piece of silly trash. Fun, but in no way “art.”

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