Tokiha Mai has a strange birthmark, and just off to the side of the moon is a mysterious red star, that only she can see. Her younger brother, Takumi, has a heart condition and needs medicines to keep his condition under control -- he is on the waiting list for an operation in the USA, but that costs a lot of money...
They parents are both deceased, and then Mai gets the offer of a full scholarship at the Fuka Highschool, they go there by boat. During their trip, they meet two other students of their prospective school, when a strange girl with a large sword is fished out of the water. Mai performs CPR on the girl.
Later that evening, the ship is attacked by another girl, who is accompanied by what seems like a robotic dog. She fights with the drowned girl, wrecking the ship completely in the process. Mai gets caught up in the middle of this fight, and finds out that she has special powers like the two fighting girls...
So begins Mai's 'carreer' as a HiME (Highly-advanced Materialising Equipment) at Fuka highschool. She befriends the two fighting girls (Natsuki and Mikoto), and learns of the plight of the HiME: they have to fight monsters called 'Orphans', using the weapons they materialise out of thin air and aided by their 'Child' (a biomechanical monster). Nagi, a mysterious Cheshire Cat-like boy, guides the HiME on.
There is another group, called First District, that seek to employ the power of the HiME for their own ends, and it is not exactly clear what role the director of the school plays either...
The fights against the Orphan are all staged by either Nagi or the Sears Foundation, to test the HiME (and, in the case of the Sears Foundation, to find out who the HiME are). The first story-arc is about how the Sears Foundation tries to gain the power of the HiME for their own nefarious ends. At one point, they even come to the school with a full private army and a laser-shooting sattelite (think the SOL from Akira). The HiME, a disparate bunch at first, are forced to cooperate to defeat the Sears Foundation and their nefarious plans.
Just when the HiME start to cooperate, Nagi has a chilling message for them: it is the ultimate destiny of the HiME to fight amongst themselves, until only one remains. This is the one who will gain tremendous power, and will marry Lord Obsidian -- an ancient evil that is reborn every 300 years. And every time, the HiME will have to have their 'carnival'. There's a catch: when the Child of a HiME is killed, the person they care most about dissapears, and they lose the ability to summon their Child ever again...
At first the HiME will have nothing to do with it, but through various machinations of the First District and Nagi, the fighting starts and people start to lose their loved ones... Mai tries to stop all this, but she is unable to -- until she alone is left!
The series has an eye for detail, and is meticulously animated. There is a huge cast, but every character has been given lots of character and unique manners by the animators and the top-notch voice actors. Add in the combination of kick-ass fights and a mysterious background, and you have a winner!
- Great animation, great voice acting;
- Large cast of nicely fleshed-out characters;
- Interesting story with interesting twists.
- Slightly more fanservice than I would have liked.
Overall, an 8.5.