My-HiME Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 115
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: My-Hime

My-HiME Vol. #4

By Bryan Morton     January 26, 2007
Release Date: January 15, 2007


My-HiME Vol. #4
© Beez


What They Say
Mai, Mikoto and Natsuki are still in shock from discovering that the Orphans' attacks on the campus were orchestrated from inside their own school. Meanwhile, love is in the air during the Tamayura Festival, but all thoughts of romance are snuffed out when a pillar of light destroys the bridge over the bay. The following day, the school is invaded by armed soldiers sent by the mysterious Searrs Foundation, it seems that Alyssa and Miyu are back and stronger than ever! With the entire school held hostage, the HiME will have to team up to defeat Alyssa and Miyu... but can they put aside their differences and overcome this impossible situation?

Episodes Comprise
13 " Night of the Tamayara
14 " The Targeted Academy
15 " A High School Girl Soars to the Heavens
16 " Parade


The Review!
My-HiME finally gets down to the serious business, with the girls fighting if not to save the world, then at least to save their classmates as the Searrs Foundation put their plans into action. Nagi has a surprise or two up his sleeve, as well...

Audio:
Plenty of language options here, as usual for a Beez release, with Japanese, English and French 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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Another very nice piece of artwork on this volume's cover, with Alyssa and Miyu in a loving embrace against an icy backdrop. The rear cover has the usual promotional paragraph, along with some images from the show and the disc's technical information.

Menu:
Menus are available in English, French, and Dutch, selectable when the disc loads. I used the English version. The main screen is a static image of Alyssa and Miyu, standing in front of the Academy's chapel, with a series of clips from the show running alongside. An instrumental version of the opening theme plays throughout. Submenus are provided for episode selection, language setup and extras " there's a rather long interstitial animation whenever you select a main menu option which soon gets annoying, but apart from that it all works as you'd expect.

Extras:
Following the trend set by the previous volumes, there are four more mini-episodes (featuring Tate, Miyu and Alyssa, and a fun little short featuring Nagi and Natsuki that explains the origins of Orphans), a production art slideshow, and creditless versions of the show's opening and closing credits.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The HiME count keeps on rising - Mai and Midori count eight that have revealed themselves so far (which makes nine if you count Akane, but they don't know about her yet), with Midori reckoning there should be a total of twelve - for a teenage schoolteacher, she seems to know a surprising amount about HiMEs, to be honest. But thoughts of things HiME-related soon turn to more down-to-earth problems - it's time for the annual Tamayara festival, and Mai's been asked out on a date for the day by Kanzaki. Somehow she finds herself agreeing - you know things are never going to go quite according to plan, but this time at least it's not an Orphan causing the complications as Tate finds his jealousy getting the better of him.

Poor Tate. He just doesn't know what to do about his feelings for Mai, and it's a problem he struggles with throughout these episodes " just at the point where Shiho has worked herself up to making a real effort to get his attention, too. Put all that together and there are plenty of complications to deal with. The end result is a good dose of touching moments as Shiho tries to express her feelings to Tate, while he's getting all torn up inside over Mai and Kanzaki and Mai's more concerned about keeping the guys at a distance while she figures out what her HiME powers are all about.

Romantic worries soon get put to one side, though, as Alyssa gives an imposing demonstration of her abilities by destroying a bridge near the school. That's the trigger for My-HiME to go into high gear, as the Searrs Foundation sets their plans to create the Golden Millennium into action " whatever that is. For someone so small, Alyssa packs one hell of a punch, and combined with Miyu acting as her bodyguard she turns out to be a formidable adversary.

Episodes 14 & 15 cover the Foundation's invasion of the school, the retreat of the girls to safety, and their eventual mission to take back the Academy before Alyssa carries out her threat to destroy it & kill the students. This is where action fans will get their fix " after a few episodes where none of the girls really got to show off their abilities, here's a storyline that gives them all a chance to really let loose. As the story reaches its climax towards the mid-point of episode 15, you'd be forgiven for thinking the series was ending early " there's a definite feeling that events are rising to a conclusion, but it's just the end of one arc and the beginning of another, and it's Mai that takes the lead amongst the HiMEs in bringing events to a suitably explosive resolution.

The final episode on the disc brings us back down to earth again " although annoyingly, there are a number of plot points left hanging from the previous episode that are simply ignored, particularly Mai's fate after dealing with Alyssa's Child. It's not quite a reset button, but it's close, and equally annoying " I really don't like it when things are left unresolved, and there are things that happen in episode 15 that are left clearly unexplained.

With Alyssa and Miyu out of the picture, Mai's hoping that the fighting is now over - but Natsuki's not so sure, and with Midori proposing an organised HiME Task Force, it looks like the hard work isn't done just yet. First order of business for the new HiME Force: karaoke night, complete with cosplay. Back at the school, meanwhile, Takumi's about to find out Akira's other secret, while Nagi has a revelation of his own to make: the real battle is only just beginning.

The karaoke sequence was great fun " it's just a series of scenes that's aimed at keeping the fanboys happy, with the girls parading around in various costumes while singing their songs (Natsumi in a maid uniform and Mai in her police gear being the highlights), taking up probably a third of the episode. Elsewhere, it's Nagi's announcement that the fighting isn't over yet and Takumi learning that his roommate's a girl that are the real revelations. The disc ends on something of a cliffhanger, as Nagi is left to explain why the girls must now fight each other, and Akira's left to deal with Takumi now that her secret's out.

In summary:
This is easily the best volume of My-HiME so far. While the overall tone of events continues to get more serious as the series progresses, there's always a good streak of humour running underneath the main story that stops it from becoming too heavy, while the removal of the Searrs Foundation from the scene means we're left with the story going off in a new, unexpected direction. I'm a sucker for surprises, and My-HiME just keeps serving them up. The only real criticism is the way Mai's 'disappearance' at the end of episode 15 was simply brushed aside, with no explanations around her return " it's a big, unresolved plot thread, and to me that's as annoying as a hangnail. Overall, though, the show still has that "give me more!" hook. Highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,French Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Mini-episodes 9-12,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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