February 18, 2006

First thing I’d like to say is… Mai Tokiha is a very pretty and kawaii bishoujo!!! She’s also a hot cutie and kick ass!!! Okay, maybe not so much the latter as compared to the rugged Natsuki, the petite Mikoto, or bad-ass girl Nao.
Yeah, I’m talking about Mai-HiME, the anime that’s got me addicted and obssessed over the past few weeks. Haven’t watched such an anime with such intense emotions for a long time. Even after watching it, there’s still that ‘lian-lian-bu-she’ feeling. It warms my heart everytime just thinking about it. *Sniff sniff*. It’s such a great anime.
So what’s so special about this anime you ask? In a nutshell, this sci-fi action thriller is about a group of young girls (12 HiMEs to be exact), who posses the powers of a HiME. That’s the acronym for Highly-advanced Materializing Equipment. Meaning that they have the power to materialize photons into solid objects. You see, it’s not like these girls want to have such powers, they’re born with it. Doesn’t sound that bad, you think? Wait till you hear the rest. How do you tell if one is a HiME? Easy, just look for that mark on some part of their body, which at a glance looked something like that Leaf Village logo from Naruto, or that Fuji Television logo.
Plus, each HiME has an Equipment (which is some sort of weird looking weapon) which is proof that they have accepted a Child as their guardian. Forgive me, there are quite a bit of jargon and terminology here. The Childs are some weird looking robots (which somehow reminds me of Zoids or Beast Wars Transmetal) which sought to protect their individual HiMEs. But there’s a catch. In order to accept a Child and do battle with it, a HiME must put what is dearest to them (whom they love most) on the line. Meaning that, if a Child is destroyed, that particular HiME’s dearest one will disappear or fade away or die, however you like to interpret it. Oh, did I mention too that only HiMEs can see a certain red star in the sky? Is this all getting too heavy and confusing already? It’s gonna get worse.
This series is actually divided into 2 parts. The first part focuses on our heroine, Mai and her sickly brother, Takumi, who has just obtained a scholarship to study at the Fuka Gakuen. Though she isn’t aware that she’s a HiME at first, a series of events will soon lead her to believe and accept her fate as a HiME. This part also see how she tries her best to fit and adjust with her new surroundings, as well as other important characters come to play, which will have some significant impact throughout the series.
So what are HiMEs role in the campus anyway. They’re here to fight Orphans. Monsters not of this world who seem to wreck havoc in our world and only HiMEs have the power to stop them. Somehow they’re attracted to the powers of the HiMEs which are like ‘food’ to them. But surprisingly, it’s not that every episode they fight Orphans and it’s usually 1 or 2 at a time. Still, with such intense battles, the HiMEs manage to keep the battles away from other students. And there’ll always be some reason of what made such an enormous damage to a particular structure or environment. Like a ligtning strike. And they believed it.
Certain episodes will deviate a little from this but will eventually go back to its original point. Like in episode 4, which brings a little hentai element as the female students soon discovered that there’s a bra-panty thief running around in the campus (which is an Orphan). Or in episode 9, where Mai and her fellow friends compete in a cake competition, only to find an Orphan that has a sweet tooth. What about episodes 11 & 12, where rumours of a vampire is preying upon school girls at night. Not so much as in sucking their blood, but leaving them totally naked after each attack! You guessed it. There’s an Orphan involved here as well. But this is mainly to provide some comical relief.
On the romance side, yeah, you’ll know that there’s something really going to happen between Mai and Tate Yuichi. At first they didn’t like each other due to that little accidental ‘perverted’ incident on board the ship. But be careful when you quarrel with someone too much, you’ll end up liking that person. And that’s what happened between them. The turning point’s at episode 5, where Mai’s feeling down and depressed because her friends shunned her out from social outing due to her part time job. With a little words of comfort from Tate, that’s when their relationship started to improve and they develop feelings for each other, much to the dismay of Shiho, Tate’s childhood friend and the one in love with him in the first place, as she will soon discover.
Just before the halfway point, we are introduced to a new character, the seemingly timid Alyssa Searrs. She’s supposed to be the 13th and ‘fake’ HiME and is able to create and control Orphans as well. Infused with such powers when she was born by the Searrs Foundation in order to bring the Golden Era (whatever that is) to the corporation and by also finding the Gate to Valhalla (whatever that is too). But first, they need to eliminate the HiMEs as they believe the Valkyries‘ (that’s what they call the HiMEs) power should be wielded by more ‘deserving people’ (whatever that means also).
So it’s up to the known HiMEs (not all HiMEs are revealed yet at this point) to save the day. What do you expect? If some kindergarten kid blows up your school bridge using some laser satelite and then invade your school compund in full military style, plus threaten the campus’ director, wouldn’t you get upset? This goes way beyond breaking the school rules. Fortunately, the HiMEs manage to put a stop to this and thwart their evil schemes.
But I couldn’t help but felt pity for Akane. She’s one of the HiMEs but she got ‘killed-off’ so fast as early as in episode 8 already. So sad. I wish she could stay a little bit longer.
The second part of the series is a real shocker. In this part, after celebrating their victory over Alyssa and the Searrs Corporation’s invasion, the HiMEs get a rude shock from the ever mysterious Nagi that they need to eliminate each other. Why???!!!! Well, remember that red HiME star only visible to the HiMEs? Now, that star is suppose to bring disaster to the world soon and only the last standing HiME can do it because all the powers of the other HiMEs would be transferred to her. She’ll then be encased in a crystal to do so. In addition, that HiME has to marry the evil Lord Kokuyou, the mastermind behind this ‘carnival’. The good news is, this happens only every 300 years. The bad news is, this happens every 300 years.
Of course, the HiMEs were very reluctant to do this as first. Killing your best friend doesn’t seem to be such a pleasant idea. This is the part where the series become cold, grim, dark and eerie. Very contrasting to the first part of the series. Betrayal, suspiscion and jealousy all add fuel to the already intense situation. And soon enough, with just a tiny spark and misunderstanding, they’ll all start to fight and eliminate each other. Mostly I see it as personal reasons rather than wanting to be the last HiME standing and save the world reason. How did we all get here? A few episodes ago, they were all happy and jolly karaoke-ing together having fun. Now it looks like their killer instincts took over. Yeah… a true shocker, I’d say.
So we’ll get to see the dark side of some HiMEs plus the remaining HiMEs will be revealed. Each fallen HiME will cause a pillar to rise. And after 11 pillars have risen, the door to the Land of Fuka will open and Lord Kokuyou will reveal his true self. By the way, who would expect the vice-president of the student council, Reito Kanzaki, to be the earthly vessel for Lord Kokuyou, and also Mikoto’s long lost brother. Looks like some convenience to twist the plot.
As you may have predicted (so did I), Mai will be the last one left standing. But due to Alyssa as the ‘fake’ HiME, this opened up room for 1 more HiME. She’ll then face off with the dark lord himself, who also seem to have Mikoto partly under his control. But Lord Kokuyou seems to have a different plan of his own. He wants to marry Mai and destroy the existing world and create a new world of their own. Typical. But of course, Mai wouldn’t fall for such cheap things. Plus in order to put an end once and for all to this ‘carnival’, the only way is to defeat Lord Kokuyou himself. But how? Here’s how and what happened.
A revived Miyu manage to slash all the 11 pillars, releasing the previous carnival’s winner the school director, Mashiro. She then uses her power to revive all the fallen HiMEs, including their Childs and dearest ones, as they head to destroy the HiME star. Since the star is destroyed, the sword in Kagutsuchi‘s mouth (that’s another long story if you want me to explain this), which hinders it’s ability to attack the dark lord, disappears and he’s now vulnerable. And with a single blast, the evil lord is destroyed. They should’ve done this a long time ago and save these girls all the trouble.
In the end, it was quite heartening to see that everything returned back to normal and the girls are free from the HiME’s curse. It also went about tying up a few loose ends and summarizes what happened to some of the characters. I also felt a little confused after watching the whole series and felt a little ‘unsatisfied’ as I have so many questions yet to be answered in my head. So I had to search the web to quench my curiosity. Well, it does help a little to ease my tension. But here are still some of the points to ponder:-
– Who or what is Nagi? I mean which side is he on anyway? I know he’s a manipulator and seem to tell what is deemed necessary. Sometimes he talks in riddles which will leave the HiMEs guessing what he meant. If his loyalty is to Lord Kokuyou, after his defeat, he’s still around right? So who is this mysterious Nagi anyway?
– Which in turn, who is Mashiro too? The wheelchair-ridden director of the Fuka Gakuen seems to be soft spoken at first, but at times she seems to be conspiring with Nagi on the whole thing. She does know what’s going around but she always avoid exposing such information, especially to Mai. So, who or what is Mashiro too?
– I think the main reason Nagi releases Orphans is to discover and bring out (that is, make known) whoever the unknown HiMEs are, don’t you think?
– The last episode sees Nagi and Mashiro ‘going back to where we came from’. Where did they come from in the first place?
– Since Fumi‘s Child is the director Mashiro, and Mashiro is encased in the crystal in the Land of Fuka, this really confuses me on the HiME and their Child. Plus, we didn’t get to see Fumi’s Child being defeated, so if Fumi’s dearest one is the director, wouldn’t she disappear too?
– After Mai’s dearest ones Takumi and Tate disappeared, who’s her dearest one thereafter? Since a HiME needs to have one in order to summon her child. Could it be Mikoto then?
– If Natsuki‘s dearest one is her late mother, then before she accepted Shizuru as her dearest one and after she found out her mom sold her out to the First District as a HiME experiment, who’s her dearest one? If nobody, then I guess that’s why she couldn’t call Duran when she needed it to stop Shizuru from attacking Yukino.
– Are we suppose to think that Akira is actually a male until that episode where Takumi accidently found out that Akira’s a girl? I mean all along, I’ve seen Akira as a female. The voice, the body structure (okay not so much the body structure). Or else, wouldn’t it give rise to a gay relationship?
– Why does Nao like to lick her Equipment? Does it taste that good? Hope she doesn’t cut her tongue.
– Did Sister Sanada actually killed herself and her dearest one, Ishigami, on purpose? If so, can a Child really do that to its own master?
– So what’s the deal with the Iwasaku Pharmaceutical, First District, and Searrs Foundation? They just disbanded after Alyssa’s failure and that’s it?
– Speaking of which, what happened to that John Smith character of the Searrs Foundation, which is suppose to salvage the parts of Miyu?
– How did the beads which carries Lord Kokuyou ended up on Reito and Mikoto? I mean, when the beads were destroyed, Lord Kokyou’s true form’s revealed. I suppose, since the evil lord is a giant shaped hourglass, he needs some hunk to move around in.
– Is the revived Miyu a new one or the old one. I mean, what happened to her after the failed invasion? She just sinked into the water with Alyssa with her arms?
– The weird key that Mashiro gave to Midori was supposed to revived Miyu. Did Mashiro knew and had it all along? Was it part of the whole plan (whatever that plan was)? Or was it just to get Midori eliminated?
– After Miyu destroyed the pillars, where did she go to? Then her sword arm which she left there conveniently for Tate to use in a fight against Lord Kokuyou. Did her arm re-grow again after that, or did Tate gave it back to her?
– What about Alyssa’s whereabouts after the defeat then? Where’s she hiding?
– If all the dearest ones returned after the destruction of the pillars, what happened to Alyssa’s dearest one, her father? Well, I guess it’s not important if he’s a mean old guy.
– Remember the part where the fallen HiMEs ride on their individual Childs to destroy the HiME star? We saw all of them except for Fumi and Alyssa. Yeah, it would be real funny to see Fumi riding Mashiro and Alyssa riding a satellite.
– Did Takeda, the Kendo Club captain gave up courting Natsuki at the end? Yeah, after a few unintentional ‘perverted’ events and getting whacked for it or maybe he found out that she’s a lesbian in love with Shizuru later on. Better back off, man.
– When Mikoto says ‘I love you, Mai’, does it mean a lesbian relationship or just the friend-friend kind of love? I mean, earlier on she was asking what is the true meaning of love, right? Same question to Mai in the last episode when she declares ‘I love you too, Mikoto’.
The animation and art of this anime isn’t too bad. But what I like most is the soundtrack and the BGMs (background music). They’re each carefully placed suitably to fit the mood of each scene. From eerie hyms to battle mode ochestra to easy classical guitar picking, they’re all magnificent! Sugoi desu.
Overall, this anime is mainly about feelings, emotions and love, eventhough there are some lesbian relationships (and 1 very obvious one), Mai-HiME is absoultely a great anime. I’d love to watch this all over again. Really felt that warmth in my heart (I’m not kidding, it’s true!) and left a wonderful impact in my otherwise dull life (so true too!). From time to time, I’d think back about it and thought that I’m glad to have watched it.
Plus, I’ve also watched a few of that Mai-HiME Specials. They’re short clips, a minute or so video clips which give a little insight about the characters in the series, their feelings and thoughts. This helps provide and shed a little light on the character and its role in the series. There were some with a little hentai and ecchi element and some which were thought-emotion provoking.
Oh, one last thing I’d really want to say… Mai-chan… MAI-CHAN DAISUKI!!!!!!! Ah… That really felt good.

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