My-Hime Vol. #5 - 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: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: My-Hime

My-Hime Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     December 04, 2006
Release Date: November 14, 2006


My-Hime Vol. #5
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The true purpose of the HiME is finally revealed. They must fight to defeat each other's Child until only one HiME is left standing - or else the world will be destroyed. The HiME make a pact among themselves to not attack each other, but forces in the shadows manipulate them and the HiME battles soon begin. Despite all of her efforts to stop the fighting, Mai will lose the person who she holds most dear and is fighting to protect.

The Review!
The challenges are laid clear to the girls which leaves them unsure of how to proceed " until others force them to move.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. In general this is a pretty solid track that has some good effects to its mix but is a fairly standard action show. 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:
Continuing with the pairings, this cover goes for a similar feeling of warmth that some of the previous ones did with Mashiro being embraced by Fumi while standing outside. The background here looks very well done and really adds to the feelings that are trying to be conveyed here. 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:
The first visible sign that something is different with this release is that the static menus of earlier volumes is gone. Now we have a menu that has a static crescent across it where the series logo and selections are located while above is a slow moving set of twinkling stars. The other part of the crescent plays various clips from this volume with a bit of very eerie instrumental music. Navigation is a breeze and the access times are nice and fast. In the credits portion of the menu, it's revealed that Littlehaus has been brought in to do the menus and SpeeDVD for the authoring. This was previously done by Ocean who had some basic technical issues with the release that are now resolved. That means we have time codes and no problems with accessing subtitles or audio tracks both through the menus and on the fly.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My-Hime's fifth installment in the series is one where the show starts to change its pace a little bit. Much of the series so far has been one of discovery for the characters. This has come both from the perspective of each of them learning to get along with each other as well as trying to understand what their being Hime's is all about. The previous volume brought things to a head which gives this set of episodes a chance to really react to all of it.

Nagi's revelations about what the Hime's are set up for and the structure behind it is something that has him a bit off balance. He's always been a bit of a devilish type but his chance to finally reveal what the loss of a Child means has him almost giddy with the position it puts the girls in. Telling them that they have no choice but to be involved and that they must fight in order to protect the ones they love has them decidedly conflicted. Except for Nao who is just ready to dig into this whole mess and make sure that she can get everything that she wants. Most of them don't want to fight since they don't want to hurt anyone, but Mai is especially reminded that she's already killed a Child in a previous encounter and therefore has already killed someone.

These revelations and the way it fits into their lives is something that settles into the next couple of episodes, allowing them to be a bit more quiet and introspective. It may come across as anticlimactic at this point but it allows for the various girls to conspire and plan their little deeds. Not all of them are alone and trying to figure it all out like Mai though, some are working as operatives for something larger while others are just being manipulated. The relationships between the girls is something that's been tense before, but now some of them are finding a safety in numbers mentality. For Mai though, this comes at the worst time as she's feeling like she has to push everyone away.

A good bit of time is spent with Takumi and Akira in the midst of this. With Takumi learning some of what Akira has been hiding, their relationship has been somewhat murky. Interestingly, Takumi now sounds like he's a bit older than he has been in the past. Not only older but a little more world weary and tired. With the news that he has a chance of surgery that will have him in good shape afterwards, he's truly conflicted about how he should feel about it. He's been dependent on his sister for so long, seeing her more as a mother than a sister now, that knowing that the surgery will place even more pressure on her financially has him unsure of what to do. Even more central to him, he's obviously known for some time that his health and dependence have placed a burden on Mai that he doesn't want her to have. Takumi's role becomes far more interesting now both in his relationship with Akira but also his honesty " at least with Akira " about his sister.

With as much character material as there is here, the action is equally as entertaining. While the girls have learned well enough so far to work together, Nagi's words have them set against each other now. Some are more opportunistic than others which leads to some of them being manipulated by others in order to eliminate a Child and therefore a Hime from the game. Similar to earlier battles in the series, these are very high tension and intense battles but are far too short. Mikoto's battle on the beach is a beautiful sequence but it's over before you know it. Mai's loss of composure and pure outrage elevates her to a fascinating level as she's truly reacting to events and emotions within her, but again it doesn't feel like it goes on long enough to have a serious impact. But these and other brief battles are some of the real payoff moments in the show.

In Summary:
Sometimes My-Hime feels like a guilty pleasure. There isn't much between volumes that keeps me thinking about the show, but as soon as its in the player it's just completely absorbing and entertaining. The character growth is solid here while the action is just wonderfully done. And while I fully expect there to be some sort of out regarding the loss of loved ones when a Child dies, this having something to truly protect aspect of the Hime's is an area that's perfect. So many shows have characters who seem to be able to lose and not have anything happen, but in this one there is a real cost. Costs that really work the emotional gamut depending on how it plays out. My-Hime has been something of a slow builder but it has been carefully laying out an intriguing story on top of a standard plot.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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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