Mai-HiME

Mai-HiMEType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Fantasy / Drama
Vintage: 2004

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 15 May 2009

Grade: B

A very interesting mix of action, comedy, and drama; this is a series that is even better than appearances might suggest.

Plot Summary
Mai Tokiha and her sickly younger brother are on a ferry on the way to their new school, Fuka Academy. During the trip, they spot an unconscious young girl in the water not far from the boat. The girl is rescued, but soon after she regains consciousness another girl boards the ship, and the two begin a fierce battle which results in complete chaos aboard the ship. The second girl warns Mai not to go to Fuka if she knows what’s good for her, but Mai finally makes it there after all. Mai soon learns that she is what’s known as a HiME, a chosen girl with special powers.

The Review
Boil it all down, and Mai-HiME is a series about cute high school girls with special powers. This must be a pretty shallow series, right? Actually, it’s not. Sure, it’s got loads of fanservice, but even so, there’s a fairly solid story behind it all which keeps it interesting plot-wise as well. Believe it or not, this is a Sunrise production created by some of the same minds as the Gundam franchise. As far as the concept is concerned, the way it plays out it almost seems as if the ones who came up with the story had just finished reading a bunch of CLAMP material. This is fairly sophisticated for a series about pretty girls.

“So, what’s a HiME?” you ask. It’s an abbreviation for Highly-advanced Materializing Equipment, which is the name for the powers that girls who possess the mark of the HiME have. Each HiME has a different ability, as well as a familiar in the form of a mythical beast. What these are used for is what the series is about, so you’ll just have to watch to find out.

The cast of Mai-HiME is quite large, but characters are introduced gradually, so keeping track of them isn’t too difficult. Character interaction plays a big role in the story, and with plenty of characters to work with, the dynamics between them all are always interesting to watch. It was the importance of these interactions which caught me off guard. It’s to a degree which I usually attribute to CLAMP titles, since that is one of their specialties. In more than a few ways, Mai-HiME reminds me of X at times. This, of course, is a good thing.

Mai-HiME is a series that seems to have it all, though to some degree it depends on what you’re looking for. There’s action, comedy, drama, and romance to be found here. There’s spectacular fights between cute high school girls with special powers. There’s slightly disturbing (yet oddly amusing) blatant fanservice monologues at the end of each episode. To oversimplify: imagine if Sunrise commissioned CLAMP to write a Gundam series which uses cute girls in the place of giant mecha, and that’s approximately what Mai-HiME is. It may sound crazy, yet it’s actually very good.

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