Archive for the Mai Otome Category


My Zhime (My Otome) Anime, Volume 5 (English)

August 17th, 2008

Volume 5 of My Otome brings us to the beginning of the fall into dread. Where up until now the series has been primarily a schoolgirl fantasy with a backdrop of bigger issues in the political sphere, Volume 5 shatters our and the characters’ innocent point of view with cruelty.

Windbloom is invaded, Garderobe is taken over by Nagi “for protection”, and the girls of the school find their loyalties tested. As the plot catches up to us, there’s less and less room for the kind of happy-go-lucky scenes that filled the first half of the anime. This volume is about loss and war.

However, because a Mai series is not really a Mai series without service, the extras jump in to fill the gap. In “Erstin’s Last Smile,” we get some heavy duty bath service starring Arika, Nina and of course, Erstin and her breasts. It’s a win for Nina x Erstin ‘shippers, of which I am sure there are many. Certainly, the Erstin goes lesbian scenario of the Mai Otome Miss Maria was Watching: Garderobe Secret Diary, Vol. 1 Drama CD implies that that is where Ers-chan’s feelings lie. The other extra presents us with a rather unlikely, and somewhat disturbing, Yuri pairing in Mikoto the cat and Aswald’s Midori.

Volume 5 is not happy, but it is crucial, if we are to have an actual story to care about. Another good volume of My Otome.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Characters – 7
Story – 8
Yuri – 1
Service – 5

Overall – 7

And my thanks once again to Ted the Awesome for being a hero and sponsoring today’s review!

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My Zhime (My Otome) Anime, Volume 4 (English)

July 10th, 2008

Welcome to Volume 4 of My Otome, the straightest volume of this otherwise quite gay series. (Don’t worry, it gets gay again later.)

Before I forget (which I am often wont to do,) thanks go out to Eric P. for his kindness in sponsoring today’s review!

So, in Volume 4, we spend most of the volume following Arika, who is suffering from a nasty (and I mean that both ways) case of lovesick. In other scenes, the Federation begins to crack and several of the countries start to gear up for war. The worst possible thing occurs and two Meisters are ordered to fight.

Also in this volume we finally see that Tomoe has been the viper in the nest all along, as she sets Arika up to be attacked and throws Miya under the bus for it. We also get the first, brief, glimpse of her evil gayness, but it’s only a hint at the moment.

Speaking of gay, Shizuru leaves and we don’t get a tearful scene between her and Natsuki, just a quiet moment of regret which speaks volumes about the trust and intimacy between the two of them, but is just not gay enough to make us happy.

And, just as Mashiro is unveiling her new castle on graduation day at Garderobe, the entire story is turned on its head and war breaks out. Windbloom is invaded.

As usual, we’re really not paying attention to that plot stuff. We’re watching things like Nina’s obsession with hot sauce, Erstin’s snuggle deficiency, and Akane and Kazu’s deep abiding love for one another that practically brings their countries to the brink of conflict – off scene, because no one cares about their countries anyway. However, their story, with its fabulous Graduate-style climax continues in the most amusing extra to date, in which the two lovebirds are interruptus pre-coitus, to preserve both Kazu’s country and Akane’s Meister-dom. I couldn’t stop laughing when I noticed that the motel sign read:

Villa Motel

In Room Coffee
Cable-HQQ-Phone

*Someone’s* been driving the roads of America. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 7
Characters – 7
Story – 8
Yuri – 1
Service – 4

Overall – 7

If, for some reason, you *are* following the plot, this is an excellent volume.

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New Anime Season Winter 2008: Mai Otome 0 ~ s.ifr OVA 1

February 29th, 2008

How many of the Mai series have you followed? I slogged through some of the HiME and Otome manga before calling it quits and I avoided Arashi completely. (For some reason, the manga is so much more vile than the anime and light novels, it’s genuinely intolerable to me.) I’ve watched all the anime, read the light novel and listened to two of the Drama CDs. Much of which I have reviewed here at Okazu. :-)

Which brings us to today’s topic, the newest of the anime releases, Mai Otome 0~S.ifr, OVA 1. (Available in English from Funimation.) This series clearly looks like a step back in time, an origin myth if you will. And like all epic beginnings, it starts off with good epic CGI, epic action and epic background music.

Sifr Fran, our heroine, starts the episode off having been kidnapped by our old friends, the Schwarz. She is saved by a Windbloom combo of Bruce Windbloom and his Meister Rena, with an assist from Sister Shion and her Meister Raquel and one of the Five Pillars of Garderobe, Elliot Chandler.

Once Sifr is safe and sound, we introduce everyone, including Arika’s eventual mother Rena Yumemiya, who pretty much doesn’t look at all like what we would expect. And if you have been keeping up on all of the different iterations, you may recognize Shion and Raquel as Shion and Mayo from the Mai HiME: Destiny light novel. For sanity’s sake, I refuse to even think of that at the moment – it’s just easier to take S.ifr as a whole new ball of wax and learn everyone the way they are presented to us.

Rena is greeted with much Yuri loving by Elliot. Apparently Elliot and Rena were in school together and Elliot misses Rena *a lot*. This is followed by some teasing of Shion, that in a lot of ways was very annoying, because even as they were implying that Yuri relationships exist in both Garderobe and Church, they explicitly state that its forbidden in the Church, and it’s a dirty little Otome secret. UGH.

We’re also treated to some bath service and nudity, because apparently we like that kind of thing.

Sifr is still the target of Schwarz, and while Elliot appears to be on our side, she receives an order from the Garderobe headmistress to kill Sifr if Schwarz gets a hold of her. Schwarz helpfully attacks, there’s some good action that Sunrise animates quite well, much better than the “peacetime” scenes, all of which precipitates two things. Peace-loving, violence-hating Rena is forced to materialize fully and fight off a Miyu unit, M-9, and Elliot is forced to show her hand. Rena wins the first battle, and ties on the second and the world explodes as Schwarz flies off with Sifr.

Personally, I’m betting no one died.

Lots of stuff to come in the second OVA, including Rena getting her sapphire robe, and erm… stuff.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 7
Music – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 5
Service – 5

Overall – 7.5

For a first episode, I think S.ifr had pretty much every bang we can expect for our buck. I particularly liked the fact that there were less panty shots than usual, (replaced with the slightly less scuzzy obsession with adult breasts) and there were definitely more adult characters per square inch than in all the other Mai series. I’m looking forward to getting to know Garderobe’s new Headmistress, especially. She has EPL written all over her. ^_^

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My Zhime (My Otome) Anime, Volume 3

February 10th, 2008

Sincere thanks to Ted for sponsoring today’s review! Be a hero and sponsor a review of your very own by purchasing something off my Yuri Wishlist. You’ll get my sincere thanks, and the adoration of everyone who reads and enjoys the review. :-)

My Otome, Volume 3 is a total gyroscope of a story. You know how a gyroscope spins so fast that it looks like it isn’t really moving? That’s pretty much the feeling you get watching this volume of My Otome. Nothing is happening, but it’s not happening so fast that there’s an illusion that the story isn’t moving. Only, it is.

The first big exam for Otomes-in-training has arrived, and as is usual, the protagonist has no clue what anyone is talking about. Every else in Garderobe knows that this cross-country trek and cooking competition is a major portion of their grade – how Arika manages to not have heard of it even a little approaches a kind of genius. Sabotage strikes Arika and poor Erstin, and although they both survive, lots of nothing-really-happenings happen as a result. Sergey and Arika have a tense encounter, Nina starts to move her dislike for Arika out of “rival” into “person I most want to see die horribly” and Tomoe turns out to be Evil, and Psychotic. We’ve already seen evidence that she is a Lesbian, so we can add her to the list of EPLs.

The other main “nothing really happens” arc, actually explains a lot to us, the viewers, although just about none of the characters have enough pieces to put anything together. In a thoroughly predictable twist of fate, it turns out that Queen Mashiro, Nina and Arika all share a birthday. Huh, how ’bout that.

Mashiro meets and is befriended by the Prince of Zipang, Takumi, but as both are incognito, they just think that the other is a commoner. Arika (because of course, with all the graceful, accomplished and beautiful Otomes-in-training at Garderobe, the only one who could possibly take Mashiro’s place is the one bumpkin in the place) pretends to be the Queen, while poor Akira, who is already pretending to be a boy, now has to pretend to be the Prince of Zipang as well.

Shizuru proves that her gaydar is good and sees right through Akira’s drag king act. Later, when Akira *has* to use her mouth to give Takumi medicine, Shizuru is completely unflappable as everyone else reacts to what appears to be a m/m kiss by pointing out that that’s another type of love. So the Graceful Amethyst comes through like a seasoned lesbian. Points to her.

Important stuff does really happen in the middle of all this silliness and chaos. Among them, the development of a definite triangle between Nina, Sergey and Arika is probably the most icky-making, but it is pretty significant.

On the good side, we get to see Chie and Akane materialize. ^_^

It’s episodes like this that pissed off a lot of viewers. Where My HiME was, about this point in the story growing very serious, My Otome simply refuses to. I see that as a positive – we’re not being fooled into taking this more seriously than it deserves. But I can see where the humor wears thin, too. I will give it this – until Mashiro used Marie Antionette’s line about “let them eat cake” I’d never really thought about it as an expression, not of disdain, but of complete cluelessness. (I’m not in the habit of thinking about Marie Antionette much, I’ll admit.)

The one extra is bizarro world side story as Shiho “maki-maki”s everyone, causing much of the havoc that fills the exam arc.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Characters – 7
Story – 6
Music – 7 (I like the various materialize themes)
Yuri – 1
Service – 7

Overall – 6

My *only* complaint about the anime remains the same as was the first time. What complete ass makes girls trek cross-country in the woods wearing bloomers and boots? That’s just absurd. I hate the writers for doing that, and every single person who found that cute, sexy or otherwise in any way not completely dumb.

I’d also like to register a complaint with Amazon. PICK A SPELLING, for pity’s sake. My Otome, My Hime-Z, My Zhime. Pick ONE. Stick with it. Thank you. It’s like Ikkitousen all over again.

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My Zhime (Mai Otome) Anime, Volume 2 (English)

November 11th, 2007

My Otome, Volume 2 is as close to a pile of service with a plot attached as is just about possible. In fact, if you only care about the story, you could easily skip the first three episodes of the volume and lose nothing at all.

Once again, my thanks to Ted for his generosity and sponsorship of this review!

The volume starts off with a slightly different spin on the typical “bullying the newcomer” plot complication. Someone has stolen Arika’s uniform and sold it to that bastion of fan perversion, Backstage. After lots of chasing and stuff, Irina comes up with a clever, plausible and all-together incorrect explanation for the missing uniform. This is followed by a “mysterious” sponsor who offers to pay Arika school expenses, as long as she keeps her grades up and writes regularly. I honestly can’t imagine anyone watching this series have the slightest doubt at all who the sponsor is. It’s one of the least mysterious mysteries ever.

Next up, a clever (this is me rolling my eyes) reason for a tentacle monster to appear in the pool, thus giving the writers a chance to use tentacles, bathing suits, bouncing breasts and Yuri in one fetish- and stupidity-filled episode. I’m torn between imagining that the writers hate themselves or their audience more. Can’t quite decide.

In the last episode the plot makes a cameo appearance. We learn that there’s a big church organ in the basement of the castle, that Arika and Mashiro and Nina all seem to know different bits of the same song (was that ever explained? I can’t recall if it was….) and in a surprise move, Arika and Mashiro against all rules, including those of common sense, become bonded as Master and Otome. The ancient Harmonium sounds, surprising everyone on the planet and foretelling some serious shit that is about to happen.

The extra has, wait for it, *more* slimy service. Juliet/Nao gets the girls to wear ridiculous lingerie and crawl all over one another and films it for a quick buck online, one assumes. I like that she has no morals and isn’t burdened by any personal sense of right and wrong. I could even take the random – here, wear this underwear. But the filming. Makes me want to take that knife and hot tar out of the closet and start doing a little service of my own.

Yuri in this volume is primarily Erstin’s feelings for Mopey Nina. I wish that that had been given some depth, but basically it will remain a gag plot complication. However, I still feel that Nina’s reaction to Erstin’s bizarre assumption that Nina was feeling her up in the pool was the single best thing she did in the entire series. Coulda killed her right after that and it would have been fine with me.

Art – 7
Characters – 6
Story – 6
Music – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 7

Overall – 6

This is probably the low point for the series for me. It felt like they were wasting my time, when they could have been telling a story.

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