Anyway, we've finished watching Mai Otome, a spin-off series of My Hime. My first episode review of Mai Otome is here.
On a far-away world, technology has been lost -- except the nanotechnology to create Otome, women who can use the nanomachines to fight. This technology has been locked away in the school called Garderobe (the materialised weapons and armor of the Otome are called 'robe', so that figures). At this school, girls from all over the world enroll to become an Otome. When they graduate and become a 'Meister', they are bound by a contract to a Master -- a person of noble or royal blood -- to guard them and to do their bidding.
The lives of the Otome and their Master are bound together: if one dies, so does the other. The Otome fight in ritualised wars -- and the ruler of the losers simply dissapears. The Otome have awesome power, so there is not much use for conventional armies. As a result, the world enjoys a certain amount of peace, and those conflicts that arise are quickly finished via Otome combat.
But not all is well in the world: there is a shady organisation called 'Black Valley' that want the power of the Otome for their own nefarious plans, and there is also the Aswald, a group of cyborgs who have their own agenda as well...
Our main character, Arika, travels from far away to the city of Windbloom, to enroll in Garderobe. Her grandmother told her that she was the daughter of an Otome, and she has a certain jewel that is somehow linked to her mother. When she arrives, she meets Nina Wong and her (adoptive) father Sergei, and she makes a nuisance of herself. But then she helps Nina fend off an attack of the Black Valley on the princess of Windbloom, and due to special circumstances, she is allowed to enroll into the school.
At first, the series turns into a moe school story. We see Arika make friends, deal with the inevitable harassment of the inevitable evil schoolmate, and she encounters a whole cast of characters that help or hinder her in her dream to become an Otome.
But by the time Nagi makes his move (aided by Black Valley), the Otome are powerless to stop him from taking control of Windbloom and Garderobe. Nina becomes Nagi's Otome, and Arika and her friends are forced into hiding. Of course, in the end all is well again, but there are some setbacks along the way.
Contraty to Mai Hime, the theme of 'friends having to fight each other' is quite underdeveloped here. The heart-wrenching scenes of when a Hime loses the person most dear to her are conspicuously absent -- but that doesn't detract too much of the series.
All the old gang is present, but this time in different roles. Natsuki is the headmaster of Garderobe, Mikoto is a cat and Alyssia is a bird! But on the other hand, some characters retain their bratty, cautious or loud-mouthed behaviour of the previous series. It is fun to recognise the characters of Mai Hime and to see their new role in this series.
As with Mai Hime, the cast of characters is huge, but this time around there seems to be less time reserved for character development -- some characters have only a very, very minor role. The focus is definately on Arika and her companions and direct opponents, which gives the series sometimes a plot twist that feels quite like a deus ex machina.
Designs are attractive (they have to be, in order to maximise the moe), and the voice acting is pretty nice. The music is OK, with an opening and ending theme that are appropriately genki.
- An interesting world and technology;
- An interesting look at the franchise;
- Looks good;
- Satisfactory ending.
- Some plot twists feel like a deus ex machine;
- Cast of characters is perhaps a little too large.
All in all, a quite enjoyable romp. An 8.