My-HiME Vol. #1 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, August 10, 2006
Release Date: Monday, July 03, 2006
What They Say
Sometimes, special powers are a curse...
Mai Tokiha and her younger brother Takumi have just transferred to the Fuka Academy, where a lot of strange things have been happening lately. They learn of the existence of HiME, girls with super-natural powers, capable of summoning powerful entities known as "Children". It soon turns out that Mai is one of these HiME, although her powers have not fully awakened yet...
The HiME are gathered at the school to fight the Orphans, demonic creatures not from this world. However, a mysterious organisation has different plans for them, and the HiME will not only have to put their own lives on the line in the upcoming battle, but also what's most precious to them...
A studio SUNRISE production [Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, s-CRY-ed] that delivers a powerful blend of action, drama and romance!!
1 - A Girl's Most Important Event
2 - After-School Secrets
3 - Dance of Flames / Oath of the Star
4 - Mischief of the Wind
Fuka Academy holds a secret â€“ it's the gathering point for girls with the power to control powerful creatures, and Mai Tokiha's about to discover she also has that power. But what are they being brought together to do..?
Plenty of language options here, as usual for a Beez release, with Japanese, English, French and German 2.0 tracks available. I stuck to the Japanese track for this release. There's good use made of the sound stage for effects and background sound, particularly during action scenes, while dialogue for the most part is fixed to the centre channel. Music tends to feature quite heavily during battle scenes and adds to the atmosphere without getting to the point where it drowns out other sounds. There were no obvious problems.
Originally released in 2004, this is a 1.33:1 full-frame series. As for most Sunrise series, production values are quite high and the show mostly just looks great, with plenty of vibrant colours, background detail and fluid animation. The transfer seems to be free of any problems.
Natsuki, Mai and Mikoto feature on the front over, rushing to school in a very bright and good-looking piece of artwork. The rear cover has the usual promotional paragraph, along with some images from the show and the disc's technical information.
Menus are available in English, French, German and Dutch, selectable when the disc loads. I used the English version. The main screen is a static image of Mai, with a series of clips from the show running along side her and cherryblossom falling past. An instrumental version of the opening theme plays throughout. Submenus are provided for episode selection, language setup and extras.
Along with the usual creditless opening and closing sequences, we get a 3-minute production art slideshow (slight glitch here, as the slideshow starts with a "use left & right to skip through the images" instruction when it's just a video slideshow), and the first 4 "mini-episodes". There are short 1-minute specials that take a humorous look at some aspect of the show (this disc including Mai's generous breast size and Shizuru enthusing over Natsuki's qualities) â€“ definitely worth a look if you enjoy your fanservice.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
When Mai Tokiha and her brother Takumi win scholarships to the prestigious Fuka Academy, it seems their life is decidedly on the up â€“ but even before the pair arrive at the school, strange things begin to happen. While travelling on a ferry, the pair spot a young girl floating in the water. She's not quite dead, as Mai's CPR quickly brings her around, but there's are mark on her arm which matches on on Mai's breast â€“ and a group of people who seem quite keen on capturing the girl for themselves. Mai finds herself caught up in the capture attempt, giving her her first encounter with "HiME", as captor & would-be captive battle it out below the ship's decks - and her first realisation that she possesses the same power.
Not that Mai realises at first what HiME are (it apparently stands for Highly-advanced Materialising Equipment, in case you were wondering) or what they're called â€“ the details come later. But the first episode's battle gives a good sense of the show's action credentials and style, and a little taster of the setting, while introducing the first batch of what will turn out to be a huge cast.
Episode 2 starts filling in the blanks, as Mai arrives at Fuka and immediately finds herself getting the Spanish Inquisition treatment from the Executive Council - for some reason, after her ferry sank she managed to end up lying in the school courtyard with a trail of destruction behind her, and they want to know why. There's also the matter of the mystery girl, who's still unconscious in the school health centre - and of Natsuki Kuga, another student at the school who looks suspiciously similar to the girl who attacked on the ferry. By the end of the episode, Mai's had her first encounter with an Orphan, a demon of sorts who the HiME are being assembled to fight against, and is aware that not everyone's happy that the HiME are all being assembled in one place.
One the one hand are school principal Mashiro (a wheelchair-bound young girl) and the scheming Nagi, who are responsible for bringing the girls together; on the other hand, Natsuki and her associates, who initially seem equally determined not to allow that to happen. In the middle are the other girls, including Mai, who have to make up their own minds whether to play ball or not. For these first four episodes, there's not much evidence of any overarching plot â€“ that comes later â€“ but there's a fair amount of time spent dealing with the show's basic premise and giving the first few HiME to be introduced â€“ Mai, Natsuki and Mikoto â€“ a chance to show off their abilities in some very well-presented set-piece battles. The machines that the girls can summon, known as Children, have a mecha feel about them, so there's a slight giant-robot feel about the action scenes as well. So far, so good.
The cast themselves are as varied a bunch of characters as you're ever likely to see â€“ think of a typical anime personality, and odds are that if someone fitting the description hasn't already turned up, they will soon. That does sometimes make it feel like the creators were trying a little too hard to please everyone who might be watching, but the way the characters are introduced feels "right" and not forced.
So far at least, you couldn't accuse My-HiME's story of being overly serious or heavy-going, but even then the final episode on the disc takes a break from the main event to serve up an episode that's nothing but fanservice and fun. There's an underwear thief loose in the school - the girls get back to the changerooms after swim class to discover all their underwear missing. Mikoto's seen the culprit (an Orphan, natch), but she was half asleep at the time and wasn't paying much attention. The rest of the girls have no clue who's responsible - but Natsuki's particularly pissed, especially after a convenient gust of wind reveals to one of the boys just what item of hers was stolen. That, of course, means war. The panty-thief theme is something that's an old standby of anime humour, but it's done well enough here that it's easy just to go with the flow and enjoy the episode for the mindless entertainment that it is.
There's nothing about My-HiME that's hugely original or different, but the way it's presented and the core cast of characters make it very enjoyable to watch. There's a lot of ground covered in these first episode, as the premise for the series is developed and a little bit of fun is had along the way, and the end result is a show that teases you along and leaves you wanting more. Definitely worth a look.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,French Language 2.0,German Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,German Subtitles,Mini-episodes 1-4,Production Sketches,Creditless opening & closing sequences
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Beez
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2