Arika Yumemiya has traveled far in search of her goal: the prestigious Gualderobe Academy. This is the school where young girls are trained to become Otomes, protectors of royal leaders throughout the lands. Here, Arika makes plenty of friends, but some enemies know something about her past that she does not. Nevertheless, her spirit and determination will keep pushing her forward. — Adapted from its predecessor, Mai-HiME, this series is not a direct sequel, but an alternate universe setting featuring some of the Mai-HiME cast (though with different personalities).
Watching this anime should be preceded by Mai-HiME so you’ll get some of the references and connections to the previous, though that’s just my personal taste and it’s by all means a very standalone series on in its own right and doesn’t require the first whatsoever. I just think it’d be good to have that base. There ends up being a fair amount of little fan service jokes that you’d only ‘get’ if you saw the first, though they’ll still be funny if you haven’t seen Mai-HiME.
The first thing I really have to say, is that this is just a great anime. I watched it start to finish without stopping, just like its predecessor. It’s so rare to find animes that keep me enthralled for an entire series, and at 26 episodes, that’s quite a feat. So few animes do that these days. Both of these series though, masterful pieces of art, I tell you. So amazing…
The first thing you have to know going into this anime is that it is not a direct sequel to Mai-HiME. It’s staged in a seemingly alternate universe in a vastly different time and setting, though some elements are the same. Mai-Otome features most of the previous cast, though many with names changed, some with personalities changed, and overall very different roles for some of them, and there’s quite a few new appearances too. Of note, the main character. You will definitely notice that the new main character is definitely no Mai Tokiha. She’s more akin to Mikoto, though not as cat-like, and a fair bit more intelligent and girly.
Like I said though, this is very much a standalone anime, though there is deep connections that will make things make much more sense to you later on. You see, it’s not really an alternate universe, time and reality, but instead it’s like this: They are on a different planet far in the future after the events of the first series, and the main characters really aren’t who they were in the first. They’re, you might say, reincarnations of the original cast. There are a few characters that still exist from the original, and they play a recurring role. They are very much from the original, though there are only, I’d say, 2 of them.
Going into this, you have to keep that in mind. Because if you’re expecting it to be just like the previous series then you’re going to be confused as hell. The main character is Arika Yumemiya, not Mai Tokiha, and you’re going to have to get used to that. Though she’s silly at times, she’ll rub off on you and dig her own little hole in your heart very quickly, so don’t worry. Yes, she does look very different from Mai, and you may be like the Major, and end up calling her Antsy yourself, due to her hair. But overall, she’s a very deep and lovable character. If you give her a chance, I think you’ll love her too.
Now, once you get into it… You’ll see the world is very different. It is a different world, after all. The settings is that of a post apocalyptic future where they’re reclaiming old technologies from Earth, back from the time when the people of Earth came to this planet and before The War (always one of those, right?) that made them lose much of their technological knowledge and made much of the world not quite as beautiful as it once was, you might say. Indeed, it was a very destructive war.
Now that you know that, next thing is that the “HiME” in this series are called “Otome” and they’re very different. Instead of fighting with “Children” they instead fight with… “robes” – and as you may guess from the name, they’re suits of armor. That is, they actually fight themselves rather than using pets, monsters or whatever you want to call them. That, is the major difference. The story, too, is very different. Very different goals in this series than the last. But, I’ll leave that for you to discover.
As for the art and character design, just as the previous series, this one too has amazing and beautiful work put into it. Every character is amazing and lovable. The same voice actors did the voices in this one as well (including the English dub), so if you enjoyed the previous in that respect, then you’ll enjoy this one too. Many characters have the same art, so you’ll enjoy that, and all of the new characters are beautiful and interesting. Some are very unique. It really is a series on its own.
You’ll have to give it a chance and finish the first episode, and after that, I think you’ll fall in love and won’t be able to put this one down.
Now, at least, I think we’d better go into the genres of this one (though a bit later than I did in my Mai-HiME review): Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Magic – there are considerably fewer than the original. Odd. There should actually be monsters, armor, the same “mecha” tag (as some characters have a similar power in summoning monsters to fight for them), oh and more super saiyans and definitely deserves a shoujo-ai or yuri tag.
One of my favorite things I saw in this series was our favorite yuri couple from the original Mai-HiME has been upgraded to a full on couple, though it’s just assumed (very strongly – there’s little to no question of it) and is never directly stated, right from the very first episode. That made me a happy camper.
And well, as the Otome lose their power if they get a Y chromosome (e.g. have sex with a man), due to the nature of the nanites that control their power being destroyed by this chromosome (which means Otome may only be girls, girls that have never been with a man), you can expect quite a few more girls with yuri tendancies, though girl on girl love isn’t the main focal of this series by a long shot. It’s still there though, albeit mostly with overtones and indirectly, but it’s there, I think. I count at least 3 yuri couples… possibly a few more. Though, don’t go in expecting a yuri romance, because you’ll be disappointed. In fact, don’t go in expecting any romance at all, as you’ll be fairly disappointed. Go in for the amazing story and great action and funny occurrences and all the other greatness this series has to offer.
And now, without further ado…
Bandwidth Attack, go! Pics (gallery this time, too lazy)