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My-HiME ep1-12 March 28, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Anime.
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Isn’t it great when you stumble across something by surprise? I wasn’t supposed to start a new series, but a friend convinced me this was great, and what else to do on a lazy Easter weekend than a marathon anime session for no other reason other than you can’t stop! My-Hime is that addictive and the best anime series I have seen for a long time.

High schooler Mai Tokiha and her brother Takumi have received scholarships to the prestigious Fuka Academy. Little do they know, the Academy has more than a few secrets to hide. When the ferry ride over turns up a mysterious girl and a sword, you know its only a matter of time before the fighting begins -and wouldn’t you know it, Mai has magical powers too! She’s a HiME (Highly Materialised Equipment -and no that doesn’t mean anything to me either). She has a cool weapon and a guardian spirit known as a ‘child’. But there’s more to this mystery than your average Sailor Scout.

Actually, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of this multi-genre anime. Of course the high-school magical girl concept is nothing new, neither is a mix with sci-fi conspiracy, nor companion mecha aimed at the toy market. But before you say ‘Evangelion’, this swings a little more toward the light-hearted and far from the angst-ridden self-doubt of Hideaki Anno (at least for now). The cynics deride the corporate need to mix genres in search of the ‘all-encompassing mass audience product’, but any seasoned anime fan knows pulling it off convincingly is something else (that’s why we’re cynics!). Yet My-Hime somehow manages it.

From light-hearted high-school comedy, to well choreographed gun/sword battles, Mai-Hime balances the ‘teen’ aspect of itself with the ‘sci-fi’ intrigue that keeps ticking along (sounds like an anime Buffy right?). With so many elements it’s a wonder they don’t overwhelm the audience, but none of it is rushed and for a series featuring some 20 characters development time is nigh on perfect (are you listening Mitsuo Fukuda?). The animation is luscious, the character designs eye-popping (hey, if you’re going to do a magical girl anime, you expect it), the soundtrack is pure sucrose addiction and the drama tickles your curiosity that little bit every episode, counterbalancing the action’s rush of adrenaline.

I haven’t been this taken with a series for a while. Clearly it pushes all the right buttons, appealing to my comedy side, my action side, my sci-fi side, my romantic side and my love of cute girls who kick ass! But saying that, it never gets ridiculously silly or flippant. The series is self-aware enough to know when it’s taking the piss and there’s always a more sinister undertone, indicating that the story will take an Evangelion like twist. It makes you afraid because they really do build up your love of the characters and I don’t want them to die!!

Things are building toward the climax now with the HiME’s gathering, the big bad being slowly inveiled and everyone’s personal agenda’s inching toward conflict. At the halfway mark, I’m hooked.

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