My-Hime Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, May 13, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2006
What They Say
The burden of taking care of her little brother and the responsibility of being a HiME begin to take a mental toll on Mai. But the HiME soon get some help from a new HiME that claims to be champion of justice.
Not all the HiME are using their power for good purposes as Mikoto gets involved with Nao Yuuki who seeks revenge on men preying on young girls. During the annual Founders' Festival, one of the HiME learns what the true cost of defeat is for the HiME.
Mai continues to try and avoid becoming involved in dealing with the Orphans but events and new HIME's challenge her resolve.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language adaptation. This is due to the fact that our Toshiba HD DVD player did not display either subtitle track outside of the episode titles. No song or sign subtitles or the full subtitles worked outside of displaying the episode title and any dialogue subtitles that were on the screen at the same time. There is a fair amount of sound effects from the battles and ambient effects spread across both channels while dialogue is generally more center channel oriented. With the stereo mixes, there usually isn't too much that stands out but the tracks here do the job right and it's essentially problem free as we didn't note any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The design of the show is filled with so many rich and vibrant colors while still playing within a mostly traditional school realm that it's almost surprising at times how alive this show looks. The color design is a huge part of it as it flows across the screen but the fluidity of the animation is very well captured here in this transfer. While they do stray on some releases, My-Hime is done up with the credits left in their original form for both the opening and closing sequences while a translated list follows the very last episode in its own chapter. The transfer for the show itself though simply is clean and clear and looks to be free of cross coloration and aliasing as well.
The cover for this volume keeps the focus on the characters that are important for this volume as it has Mai, Midori and Akane together in their work uniforms doing their jobs. While not the most active cover, it's a good looking piece with the detail of their designs and uniforms as well as the general appeal of how they all look. The back cover goes for an interesting look with it being a couple of colors that shift and blend together in the center. The top half has the dark look with the story summary there while the center has a strip of shots from the show. The bottom half is a bit lighter which has the listing of the episode numbers and titles as well as the discs basic features and production information. They layout is decent and fairly standard for Bandai but they do continue to disappoint in having avoided seriously doing a technical grid all these years. No insert was included with this release.
The menu for the show is fairly simple but nicely done in a relaxing way as it has a good looking if somewhat softened image of Mai and Mikoto laughing and smiling at each other in a near embrace while the menu has added some digital cherry blossoms to float by. There isn't any music to the menu but it has some twinkling from the chimes and sounds of nature that help it feel relaxing. The navigation and logo are along the left side which is partially whited out and access times are nice and fast. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras for this volume is kept to the clean opening sequence which is very welcome to have. Listed on the back cover is the character featurettes which are included but are placed between each of the episodes as opposed to in the extras section.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My-Hime in its first volume proved that while it was a fairly by the numbers show it was executed in such a smooth and appealing way that it was able to rise above itself. The early episodes in any series, especially one like this, are fairly standard in that we get a couple that deal with monsters of the week and some that work towards establishing more of the characters and what they are all about and this series is no different but it is very well done.
The second volume continues much the same as what we saw early on, though nothing quite as fan service oriented as the lingerie episode on the first volume, as Mai sees the situations with the Orphan's all around her and how it's going to affect her no matter what. At the same time, we get to have a few more Hime's revealed but not without some consequences. In fact, that aspect becomes one of the more intriguing things as these episodes play out in that we start to understand that there is a real thing on the line for those that follow this path and seeing one of them fail works to reinforce just how dangerous the entire thing is.
The character driven side of the show is slowly grown in this volume as we see some of the medical related issues with Takumi and how Mai is so dead set on doing everything she can to help take care of him. His continued testing and examinations is something that's obviously not cheap so it's something that Mai takes quite seriously in how she's working as many hours as she can even to the detriment of friendships with those in her class. In a nice change of pace though, this is something that doesn't set them against her but rather puts them in a position where once they understand what's going on they're trying to help her without her knowing. The secondary "normal ? characters that populate the show accent the main relationships very nicely here and help to keep the show being more than just about the very core cast.
A good part of what happens throughout these episodes is that we see how the events that Mai got introduced to in the first volume are going to continue around her even if she doesn't want to join in with the program that's being orchestrated at the academy. She's intent on doing things with the focus on Takumi but her nature as someone who wants to do right by everyone and a simple belief in justice in general forces her to take action when she sees the Orphan's becoming involved. Of course in some ways she's being manipulated by others into achieving their goals but it's something that isn't all that difficult to do based on her moral compass.
While the initial episodes focused on Mai's arrival and spending time understanding the basics of the conflict with Natsuki, this volume has brought on board a couple of new Hime's to change up the dynamic. One of the more interesting ones to my surprise is Midori, a character we've seen mostly just as a co-worker at the restaurant with Mai. It's not a surprise that she's a Hime since she's presented as someone in the same age range but it turns out she's actually a bit older as she takes on the role of a substitute teacher at the school which is certainly an unusual twist for what's essentially a magical girl show. Rarely is anyone outside of the main character's age range involved in the same way as the lead never mind it being someone "old enough ? to take on the role of a teacher. Midori's also rather amusing in that she's the character type who is very much into what she's doing so that she comes across as being someone living out a role she should have had a few years earlier, leaving her to be a bit... well, almost clichéd in how she approaches it.
I was also glad to see the arrival of Nao as a Hime but one that doesn't use her powers in the same way as the others but rather almost as a villainess. Her character design alone is appealing but when she brings out the razor sharp fingernail blades with the metallic looking hand and the almost positively evil grin that's in her eyes, she becomes even more appealing. Her agenda isn't completely known at this point and even what's revealed is something to be taken with a grain of salt but the way she uses "compensated dating ? as a way to try and get closer to men to find what she's looking for and then uses her abilities to wrap them up so she can take true advantage of them is priceless. She's a very aggressive and proactive type who doesn't just deal with things after the fact but sets about to create her goals. So far she's the character I'm most interested in seeing how she progresses outside of Natsuki.
The four episodes on this volume do a good job of building up the mythos a bit more of this world and all that's involved while also expanding the general cast and those who will play more of a role in the future. Miyu in particular goes from just being a strange seemingly emotionless character to one that has almost what I think is a shocking change towards the end. There's a fair bit of action scenes across all of the episodes that helps to push the show along and keep people interested in that aspect. While the episodes aren't quite as fully polished and smooth as the first couple of the series, they do continue to look really great overall and without the same level of dropoff that some shows have after the first few episodes.
This volume was a lot of fun overall but a bit awkward due to the technical issues we had with the language options. Having enjoyed the first volume in Japanese and then to switch to just English here made it a bit more challenging at times but overall the experience was still good and the shows charms shine through regardless of the language. The foundation set in the previous volume is built upon very well here as more characters are introduced and the existing ones have more of their motivations fleshed out as well as the overall mythos of the series. While a lot of it is very by the numbers as I said earlier, it's simply very well done and engaging, making it a very enjoyable way to spend some time and keeping me wanting to see more of what's to come.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Featurettes,Clean Opening
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2