April 10, 2012
I'm quite a fan of Mai-Otome. Or at least, of some parts of it. Pretty much the last 8 episodes of the TV series, and all of the OVA. But there's another series with many of the same characters, which came first: Mai-HiME. I've long wondered about it, and so today I decided to try watching it.
Loads of spoilers about both series below the fold.
The most eerie thing about it is how many characters were in both. They're the same character art, but the situation is drastically different, so they aren't identical.
In Otome, the main characters are Nina, Arika, and Mashiro. Nina and Arika don't appear in HiME, and Mashiro seems to be a bit part. But from the OP, and the first episode, here are some of the parallels:
In HiME, Mashiro is confined to a wheelchair. In Otome, she's queen of Windbloom.
In HiME, Fumi is Mashiro's nurse. In Otome, she's the Predecessor. (And she died a long time ago.)
Natsuki is in both. The magic powers in HiME are different, and Natsuki has the ability to summon what looks like a mechanical dog, which carries two cannons. In Otome, her robe gives her the ability to materialize a really huge cannon. And so I've now heard both versions say "Load Silver Cartridge". Presumably eventually I'll also hear Chrome Cartridge in HiME.
In Otome, Mikoto is the Nekogami-sama, with powers that even the Otome don't have. In HiME Mikoto has a magic sword, which manifests the same glowing eyes as the Black Mountain in Otome.
In HiME's OP, Mai is shown standing on top of the dragon which she fought in the Otome OVA. Apparently it's her equivalent of Natsuki's mechanical dog. (Canon is that the big-bad in the Otome OVA summoned that dragon from the other universe.)
In Otome, Mai is mature and understanding. She's in a strange situation, but she's worked through all her issues, and has come to terms with her situation. She is a source of strength to both Arika and Mashiro, being something of a big-sister figure to them. They never say so explicitly but implicitly she's probably in her mid to late 20's. She's part of the same class as Natsuki and Haruka, both of whom have been Meisters for quite a long time. In HiME she's first year of high school. Her power is flame in both, though.
She does look younger in HiME, but she's still got an amazing figure. However, in HiME it's a plot point, at least in the first episode. In Otome they never really concentrated on it.
In Otome, Shiho is completely nuts. Juliette teases her mercilessly. But she's a full Meister, and in the final crisis of the TV series she was part of the team that fought their way into the heart of the Windbloom castle. She fought just as hard as anyone else did, and all honor to her even if she is crazy about spirals. In HiME she's middle school and at least based on the first episode she looks to be comic relief. (Well, in Otome she mostly was, too.)
Nagi was the big-bad in Otome. Based on the first episode of HiME, looks like he's a bad guy this time, too. Akira Ishida makes a really good villain, you know that? He comes across as being sooooo slimy. And it's evident that this Nagi is going to be just as much of a son-of-a-bitch as the other.
About the only thing I don't like so far is that Mai comes across as a tsundere.
The girls with the power of HiME all have a very specific red birthmark. Or so I assume. Mikoto has it, and it's on her arm, I think it was. Mai's got it, too, and it's on her right breast, in her cleavage. In fact, it's in the same location as the star-shaped birthmark that Mikuru's got. Remember that? (Did the Haruhi series borrow the idea? HiME came out in 2004.)
In Otome, Mai had a contract with Mikoto, albeit entered into in a very unusual manner. And in HiME? Well, nearly the last image in the ED is the two of them in bed together.
HiME would be a total loss without the extraordinary powers, but they aren't skimping on them. There was a wonderful three way fight between Natsuki, Mikoto, and eventually Mai in the first episode, and I have every reason to believe that it's going to happen again.
So I'll give it a few more episodes. But if the angst gets too deep, I may do what I did with Otome and skip to the last part of the show and just watch that.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 09:02 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 10, 2012 09:02 AM (5OBKC)
Posted by: Tom Tjarks at April 10, 2012 09:07 AM (T5fuR)
I just saw Nina in ep 2, but she isn't listed in the credits.
And the two adults in the school infirmary were both important characters in Otome.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 09:08 AM (+rSRq)
So as of the end of ep 3, the basic scenario is in place. That seems to be the end of the first plot arc. Lots of questions, though, the most important of which is, "How many HiME are there?" We know of three. Will others show up? (I'd bet on it.)
Of the three, Mai's is definitely the coolest. She can fly, for one thing.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 09:55 AM (+rSRq)
I recall a lot of fans feeling whiplashed about 2/3 of the way in; you'll know it when you see it. The manga wasn't as Mai-centric, by the way; it was more "Yuuichi and his HiME-harem".
Posted by: J Greely at April 10, 2012 11:17 AM (fpXGN)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 11:44 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 11:45 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: J Greely at April 10, 2012 12:53 PM (fpXGN)
I recall a lot of fans feeling whiplashed about 2/3 of the way in...
They did that in Otome, too, at just about that point. Everything after that changed completely. And that's the part of Otome that I like, and rewatch, picking up from just after the plot earthquake.
I wonder if it was the same basic plot trick? Wouldn't put it past them.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 03:36 PM (+rSRq)
Holy shit. Midori sure is a lot different. Wow!
And with ep 4, the series has taken a huge step down in terms of class and interest. It was a panty thief who made me stop watching Otome originally, and now I know where that came from. Grump grump grump...
I'd like to skip a few episodes, but they're sprinkling essential plot exposition in the midst of all the pandering.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 04:27 PM (+rSRq)
Ep 4 really is the pits. But at least Natsuki is no longer hunting Mai and Mikoto.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 04:43 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at April 10, 2012 04:45 PM (5OBKC)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 04:47 PM (+rSRq)
EP 6, and a reveal about Midori. I'll be damned.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 05:32 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 05:35 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Siergen at April 10, 2012 07:14 PM (3/gGt)
Steven should probably not read the previous spoiler until he finishes or drops the show, though.
Posted by: Mikeski at April 10, 2012 07:24 PM (1bPWv)
It just now occurred to me that Mai is a pretty classic Mary Sue.
On the other hand, Arika definitely isn't one.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 10, 2012 08:08 PM (+rSRq)
I prefer the meta-narrative definition for Mary Sue: "A character inserted into a story who warps the narrative, so that everything revolves around them." Very good for judging characters in fan fiction and other derivative works, relatively useless for judging characters native to a work.
Posted by: metaphysician at April 11, 2012 06:47 AM (3GCAl)
Mai (and Natsuki and Mikoto, for that matter) is a bit over-the-top at the start of the story, but I think that's just the usual "grab an audience quickly" technique. Much like the Kasumi fan-service in the first episode of Hand Maid May is there to hold your attention for the 20 minutes until the title character shows up.
Posted by: J Greely at April 11, 2012 07:32 AM (2XtN5)
Posted by: dkallen99 at April 11, 2012 08:15 AM (2lHZP)
J, yeah, exactly. Plus she's got a tragic past. Her parents are both dead, and her younger brother is deathly ill and needs a heart transplant, and she needs to come up with the money for that. So in addition to her schooling she works all the part time jobs she can. And she worries about her brother constantly.
But even with all that, she's still unfailingly cheerful, and a source of strength to all around her, who rely on her.
That's right out of the Mary Sue cookbook ("How to cook a Mary Sue in five easy steps").
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 11, 2012 09:10 AM (+rSRq)
As far as the re-used characters between HiME and ZHiME goes, the rabbithole actually goes a little deeper than that. Some of the characters were actually either pulled from other works that character design Hirokazu Hisayuki worked on, or are roughly based upon them - Haruka and (Arikas mom) Rena Sayers were pulled from side material for the Cyber Formula series, and there's stuff from ZHiME which has it's basis in Gear Figther Dendoh.
The first Haruhi novel started serialisation in 2003, so the placement of the secret mark is probably just a coincidence. I mean, it's a pretty obvious slightly-perverted place to put a tatoo like that.
I'm a big fan of the show (and the franchise in general) - I think My-HiME was probably the most fun I've had watching a show as it broadcast. The show throws around a lot of misinformation and red herrings that you wouldn't necessarily pick-up watching en-bulk, and what you totally misout in is the very deliberate release of information on the part of Sunrise in order to confuse the audience forward. It got to the point where we were discussing alternatives to things which were really obviously going to happen just because they'd done such a good job of leading us not to expect that. Good times.
Posted by: DiGiKerot at April 11, 2012 09:14 AM (w5Vt6)
Posted by: J Greely at April 11, 2012 11:47 AM (fpXGN)
Re "ZHime" that ain't a zee. It's this character: 乙
And it means "duplicate", I think. Or "Second in rank".
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 11, 2012 12:11 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 11, 2012 12:19 PM (+rSRq)
As a side note, the original working title for My-ZHiME, as it was initially announced, was actually My☆MAiD (as in "Meister Maid"), but obviously they thought better of it before release!
Posted by: DiGiKerot at April 11, 2012 12:50 PM (w5Vt6)
Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo itself is referenced rather blatantly in Episode 0 of Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, if anyone was confused by the scene with Koyomi being put on the Hako bus.
Posted by: muon at April 12, 2012 09:39 PM (JXm2R)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
[spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
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