Thirteen girls, each with the ability to materialize "Elements" and summon metallic guardians called "Childs" have been brought to Fuuka Academy to battle mysterious creatures called Orphans. Each with a different personality and background, they must decide who they truly care about and why they fight.
"An overlooked masterpiece that deserves a lot more attention."
I watched Mai HiME long before joining MAL so I didn't know what to say when I first saw the overall rating to be so low. Thus I decided to re-watch the show this past week to refresh my memory and to prepare for this review. If there is one thing my opinion changed about this anime since my first time watching it a few years back, it is the quality of the animation which we will get to in a moment. One short recommendation before we begin the review, get lots of tissue paper when you
watch the latter half of the anime, you'll need it.
Extremely outstanding. Although the first half was somewhat slow to begin with, but the second half just throw you out the window. But without the character introductions and developments in the first half, the viewers reaction will not be as strong in the latter half. In essence, the entire show (episode per episode) was planned so that it can bring out all the emotional effects as it approach the end. That is not to say the anime is boring until the end though. In fact, most of the humorous moments reside in the earlier episodes mixing with some light fan service.
The animation quality is one of the very few things this series could have worked on. As a product made in 2004, the animation level is definitely not the best that Sunrise could have produced.
Absolutely stunning. Mai HiME is one of those rare anime series where the OP and ED are overwhelmed by occasional theme music in between episodes. The soundtracks are so well coordinated that one can truly say the music can play with your emotion.
Due to the large number of casts in the series (there are 13 HiMEs alone, not to mention their "precious" other half), it can get messy the first time watching it. However, once you get past the confusion of knowing the characters, you'll see how well each of the characters are made. The strong links between each of the HiME, whether it is friendship, hate, or romance, all proved to be an important part of the story.
Enjoyment + Overall:
A must watch. I can't stress it enough. MUST WATCH! I don't care if you are a guy, a girl, a homo, an animal, or whatever you may be, I strongly recommend it (don't forget the tissue for the 2nd half). I hope you get my point on how much I've enjoyed this show. As for Mai-HiME's successor, Mai-Otome, I would recommend it just as much as Mai-HiME. Another definite must see!
Mai-HiME sports the story of Tokiha Mai and her brother Takumi as they enter the prestigious Fuuka Gakuen. As the viewer, you're introduced in the first episode to several "HiME's" - girls with the power to materialize their own individual equipment.
Characters include the 13 HiME's, each with a distinct personality and Child - a sort of mecha guardian. Each HiME also has one special person, very important in her life. That makes a main cast of 39 (or 26 if you don't include Childs). From here, there's several more main characters related to the plot as well as quite a few sub-characters. Sounds confusing,
right? Sunrise does an amazing job of maintaining this large cast - main character names will always remain with you (or at the very least, their faces will be memorable) while the few interesting and comedic sub-characters also prove to be very memorable as well *cough*Chie&Aoi*cough* Main characters have backdrops to their personalities, reflecting their actions and continue to develop through the story.
Animation and Sound are top notch as expected from Sunrise and Kajiura Yuki. The soundtrack's most prominent pieces feature language-less vocals mixed with various background music (pseudo techno, strings) which will easily stir the emotion tied to the scene. I truly, have never heard any other anime's soundtrack that can even match the raw power of HiME's. Although the art style is simplistic for characters, you can really tell the difference between Mai HiME and a lower budget anime. Specifically, the battle scenes prove to out match Gundam war zones.
The most important part - the story. Mai HiME features two very different arcs, the first lasting about 16 episodes and setting the stage for the second. The first is a simple "defeat the bad guys while dealing with school, love and drama," however, the second changes the story completely. When I saw the change, I nearly choked on my drink. I won't spoil it, but it's quite the heart breaker. Both however expand on characters and situations to give a very powerful feeling to watch more - While Mai HiME was still coming out week by week, I literally watched each episode 3-5 times ^^;;
Another great part of the story is how each episode inter-connects with another. Something small may happen in say, episode 5 but in episode 8, that something small creates a greater impact that you'd imagine at first. >.> Sorry about the poor explanation XD. To be able to make the viewer put all the pieces together shows an incredibly high level of planning.
Mai-HiME is amazing at what it does. Drama, action, comedy, romance - if you're looking for any of these, watching Mai-HiME will not disappoint. Don't be fooled by the overly comedic appearance though - by episode 8, 15 and 16, you'll be dying to watch more as you sit through some of the heart wrenching situations the people you've seen up till now have to live through.
I have managed, in complete fruitless productivity of my time, to sit down and watch this series repeatedly, approximately 5 times, excluding the very first time I watched it. I had seen a small article in Anime Insider on series' that were slowly becoming growingly popular, and decided that after seeing many dedications of fanfiction and fanart made toward this series, that I'd give it a shot. It takes a lot to get me to sit down and risk any possibility of wasted time watching television, but I was certainly not disappointed.
At first, it seemed to me that I was getting dragged into
another magical-girl-super-happy-fun-time-shoujo-drama bit. But after about episode 3, I realized that there was something...else, a mechanic that seemed to me as cryptically subliminal. I thought, "angst, perhaps?" I indeed did see a touch of dark story that plagued many backgrounds of the main characters in the show. That is what had peeked my interest in the beginning: to continue examining just what made these HiME girls tick.
The company did a very good job of expressing different personalities in all of the characters. Each persona had their own individualism without becoming redundant or too obnoxious. Each girls' CHILD specifically expressed the more deep, introspective psyche to each of the characters' personalities (Natsuki's cool, level-headed demeanor expressed by the ice wolf Duran; Nao's manipulative, sexual charm demonstrated by the slick and dangerously beautiful Juliet; Mai's tragic, yet passionate willpower and strength shown by the power of Kagutsuchi, etc...)
When the characters collide in conflict, there is no awkward dialogue (save for some traditional mou and fanservice-y scenes), and it made me feel as though I had some deep, underlying connection to these characters, caring about their own feelings as if we were good buddies. The story that drives the entire plot, basically: "You will destroy all the lives of those around you so only you may prosper, and you will watch the loved ones of those you have defeated die." Once I took in all of the both large and minuscule details of the plot, I had sunk down so deep into the depths of this anime that I had become enthralled by it.
The dramatic music promotes a heartbroken beauty when watching the incredible art of this show come to life. The use of shadows, flamboyancy of bright and deep color, and the intensity of shading and lining makes this series not so sore on the eyes. Although, like most shows, there are the common examples of "forgetting" to draw in the facial expression or what have you in characters "behind the main scenes".
I hope that others can come to appreciate this marvel of a series that I have come to love. Either that, or I'm just crazy. Nevertheless, I hope other anime lovers out there will come to see this show the way I see it: Beautiful, dramatic, and addicting.
We are given the story of pretentious Mai Tokiha, who goes to a school she can barely afford so that she can mope and pretend to be a loving, hard-working sister who takes care of her terminally ill brother (who should just die, since he has no purpose whatsoever other than to be paedo-yaoi fodder). There in the illustrious Fuka Academy, she meets the ultra-loser Tate, who is a pervert with bipolar tendencies and suffers from a chronic case of 'no personality'. She learns she is a HiME, thus she is given awesome power to control a giant
robot that she cannot unfortunately ride in. She meets other HiMEs who also have giant robo creatures under their control. Unfortunately, they don't all combine to create a MegaZord. Then the Obsidian Lord stirs up trouble, Mai's boobs bounce a lot, her tsundere compatriot Natsuki is half-nude a lot and the other little feral girl runs around and does nothing.
So basically, yes, it's 90201 with robot monsters.
The art was sloppy, the sound was abysmal, the characters were all stereotypes and offensive.
I only liked it because Shizuru gets it on. Sort of. And Tate gets what's coming to him. Other than those two pay-offs, this anime was totally unfabulous. It seriously sets girl power back another century. It would certainly disappoint the Spice Girls, because it was a-zig-a-zig awful.
Everyone has that one anime that draws them in, not only for their awesome characters, but also for their weapons. From dual blades to ones composed of spiritual energy, from a simple straight blade to a thick slab of iron, let's explore these anime swords and their extraordinary strength.