My-Hime Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: My-Hime

My-Hime Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     September 11, 2006
Release Date: September 12, 2006


My-Hime Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Fuka Academy is abuzz with romance as the Tamayura Festival approaches and even Mai has a date for the festival with Reito. But the mood is ruined when the bridge in the bay suddenly explodes. The next day, armed soldiers of the mysterious Searrs Foundation take over the school looking for the HiME.

The entire school is held hostage as Alyssa's Child, Artemis, orbits above threatening to destroy Fuka Academy and kill all the students. All the HiME will have to team up if they're going to rescue everyone and defeat Alyssa and Miyu, an android built specially to neutralize HiME.

The Review!
The series kicks into some high action episodes with plenty of drama that makes you wonder if the series is peaking early.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Unlike previous volumes where we've had a varying set of technical problems, this disc played without issue in regards to audio and subtitles. We tested it on multiple players and it worked fine across all of them, removing quite a bit of frustration we've had with this series. 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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Miyu and Alyssa take the cover this time in a very emotional embrace while the background is done with a cold feel in combining the purples and whites for the ice. It has a very stark feel but at the same time, even as cold as it looks with Miyu and Alyssa, there's a certain warmth to it. 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.

Menu:
Though it's again just a static shot from the show with a bit of animation over it, the menu looks pretty good again with a shot of Mai looking a bit sad almost as she's walking through the woods that surround the school. 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 right side and access times are nice and fast. Problems we had in the previous volume on our Toshiba HD DVD player are no longer a problem here and the navigation worked without a problem across multiple players. The disc however did not properly read our players' language presets and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The only extra for this volume is a clean version of the special ending from episode fifteen.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moving past the halfway mark of the series, My-Hime almost feels like it's a thirteen episode series that runs an episode or two long. These episodes are almost all action and plot movement as things come to a head and the show starts to shift gears a bit and reveal itself more fully. While it does have a climactic moment to it, the first three episodes on the volume serve more as the closure to the opening chapter of the series before we get a bit of downtime and a look at what's to come.

We've seen more of the twelve HiME's that are around the school but Mai and those who continue to fall within her circle of friends are more concerned about the recent events and revelations with Alyssa Searrs. What they've seen haunts them a bit but it really sticks to Mai and she's a bit more somber than usual which is something that the others try to shake her of. It also comes at a time when her confusion is something that Reito wants to take advantage of. There's a new festival just a day or two away and most of the girls are placing ribbons inside one of the school areas where they write the name of someone they like on it and it helps them to become a couple. Mai has little interested in all of this, unlike the very amusing Mikoto who doesn't quite get the kind of relationships people are praying for.

Ever since Reito's introduction, he's always struck me as something of an evil character because of his looks but that may just be a red herring. While his intentions aren't really cleared up in these episodes, his asking Mai out on a date and the way it unfolds is something that does point toward him having much more interesting and potentially sinister plans for her. His asking her out is shocking enough for her but you can imagine how all the other girls probably feel about it. The one that seems to be the most affected though is Tate since he's liked her since they first met on the ferry ship. But he still tries to ignore those feelings even if their relationship has been skewed in recent episodes. What gives it an added tinge is how Shiho has been trying to keep Tate to herself and how she does her best to pretend that he doesn't have any interest in Mai. It's a tried and true routine in how the relationships are firming up if you've seen any number of romantic comedies.

All of this is good character building and mythos expansion for the show overall but it serves more as a precursor to the larger events that are about to take place. With the Searrs Foundation intending to make their goals a reality, Alyssa has taken a more proactive role in events and is trying to force out all the HiME by first destroying the main connecting bridge to the academy and then by sending in the Foundation's own private military to deal with it. With cards in hand that have photos of the known HiME, the soldiers move through the school and corral the students while trying to capture those that the Foundation wants. Sides are slowly being chosen by those who are aware of the larger scope of things and some obvious revelations are made along the way " especially with Akira " but we get the first full on confrontation between the HiME and the Foundation via Miyu and Alyssa.

Almost like birthing pains in a sense, Mai is forced to look at a new world and accept who she really is as there is a threat that affects not only her brother but everyone else that she's coming to care about in the school. She's not necessarily a leader in all of this, something that Mashiro seems to take on but more as a guide than a true leader, but Mai is the heart and soul of the HiME that are now seemingly gathering around her. She's still ruled very much by her emotions, not surprising for a sixteen year old girl, but she's also driven by a sense of justice and being on the right which makes her a natural for doing what needs to be done regardless of the risk when it's really warranted. Mai's been a decent character for the series and certainly fun but these episodes take her character to the next level where she gains the respect of the others.

In Summary:
My-Hime has been a show that I've felt has been fairly average in what it's doing but is executed in a way that raises it above the norm. It has its clichéd moments and you can see plenty of them coming but it has a certain rhythm and style to it that smooths out those rough edges and makes it much more enjoyable than you would expect. This volume serves as a real turning pointing the show however and works to push it up even further as new revelations are made about the larger picture and certain characters. It also hits up very high in some great action sequences that are combined well with drama. I keep waiting for My-Hime to drop the ball and see it all collapse in front of me but it just doesn't seem to be happening.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Featurettes,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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