Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 17


Mai-Otome


One of my favorite anime series of all time is Mai-HiMe. So, much like with Kiddy Girl-and, I was looking forward to the semi-sequel that was Mai-Otome.

Fortunately, it turned out a lot better than that mess.

Mai-Otome does a far better (and, I'm assuming, more intentional) job of distancing itself from the parent series, likely to keep fans from wondering why they can't see certain characters from the original. (In my case, it keeps me from wondering where they are and why they can't handle things.) In fact, while nearly all of the original cast is around as identical descendants, none of them play any significant roles, those instead landing in the hands of the newer characters that were created for this series.

If I'm being completely fair, there's nothing WRONG with the new characters, per se. Certainly there's nothing wrong with the world, which is completely different (for reasons explained in the story) from the one in Mai-HiMe, which conceptually is a much stronger place to tell stories in. The character designs are definitely cooler, the fight scenes are more plentiful (though not quite as awesome, as power-wise the Otome < HiMe), and there are some great character moments that occur between the queen of Windbloom, Mashiro, and the main protagonist, Arika. Plus it's loaded down with shoujo-ai, if that's your thing.

Granted, the reason FOR the shoujo-ai is one of the major problems with the series. There are a few parts of the story that are just creepy. The Otome are girls who are essentially daughters of foreign dignitaries, that have put themselves through the Otome program for the purpose of gaining more prestige by defending their countries. This makes a lot of sense, and is a great theme to deal with for storytelling...until they add in the fact that apparently sex (more specifically, sperm) makes their Otome powers shut off forever. (Eww.)

I'm most okay with this, which furthers the theme of "sacrifice in the line of duty" (because aside from giving up one's life, what could be a bigger sacrifice than denying oneself love and a family?), though there still an "Ick" factor involved regardless of the reasoning. But the development with Nina and her relationship with her adoptive father...I can't begin to conceive of why this was a necessary element other than to please a niche fandom that's even more perverted than me.

All-in-all, the good parts of this series definitely outweigh the bad, and aside from the creepy bits not existing, the only problem with this series is that the tie to the HiMe-verse could've been *just* a little stronger, given what we eventually learn about how it relates to this series.

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