My-Otome Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • 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-Otome

My-Otome Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     November 09, 2007
Release Date: November 06, 2007


My-Otome Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Its exam time at Garderobe! While Arika's worried about her written exam's what's really got her stressed is the wilderness survival test. Will she pass when her partner Erstin falls prey to nature? Can Arika rescue her friend without failing? Or will the nomadic group of cyborgs known as Aswald stand in the way of this Otome in training and her Meister dreams?

As the threat of the Aswald is over-come a new challenge arises! A mysterious foreign prince appears in the country of Windbloom with intentions of courtship for Queen Mashiro. When Mashiro goes missing it's up to Arika to step in and put on a farce of royal proportions. Can this Otome fool the prince despite her less than queenly demeanor or will her cover be blown, causing an international incident?

The Review!
While the growth of the leads continues to move along slowly, Mashiro is given more time as she has to start coming to grips with what being Queen is all about.

Audio:
The bilingual presentation of this series is pretty well done as each language track features a solid stereo mix done at 224 kbps. The show has a good mix of action sequences alongside the dialogue while also featuring a very enjoyable Yuki Kajiura score that is nicely expansive. The mix overall comes across well as it handles each of the elements without problems across the forward soundstage. It may lack a bit of oomph and impact in some of the bigger action scenes but it's a solid piece overall. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar to the My-Hime series, the show has a strong visual sense of color with lots of bold bright colors that stand out but don't dominate overall. The combination of this with some very fluid animation could be problematic but everything comes together in a solid way without any real issues at all. Aliasing and cross coloration is generally non-existent and colors are very solid throughout with hardly any significant noise or noticeable blocking. With an average bitrate in the sevens with lots of spikes into the eights, this is a great looking disc overall that really lets the content shine.

Packaging:
The cover art for this release is once again pretty solid as it features Arika in the foreground in her full battle outfit while Nina and Sergay are in the background. It does keep to the girlish tones with lots of shades of purple but it works well for the material and provides for an attractive cover. There's bound to be confusion with the series logo though as it's highlighting the My-Hime aspect more than the My Otome part but that's just part and parcel with how the series was created. The back cover has a good design overall with some of the symbols from the show containing artwork and the summary of what to expect. The discs features are clearly listed as are the episode numbers and titles. Technical information continues to be one of the weakest parts of Bandai's packaging as you have no clue as to what to really expect either in terms of audio or video. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
Considering how bad the initial menus were for My-Hime, these come across pretty well even if they are simple. A series of brief clips runs through the center while brightly colored red and blue borders are around it which also contains the various selections. Unlike the previous volumes there's now a bit of instrumental music that plays along to give it a bit more life. Access times are nice and fast and with no transitional animations it all moves about very quickly. The disc did not read our players' language presets unfortunately and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The special extra included for this volume is called Shiho's Spirals, a four minute animated piece that focuses on Shiho and the world from her point of view. It uses clips from the existing episodes to tell the story and is rather amusing since it's a small dose. In addition to this, there's also a clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My-Otome moves to the middle of the series with this volume and provides four episodes that seem to be more situation and character driven than plot driven. Some elements do make it into the show that tackle the larger issues of the day, but they're kept to the background for the most part and it's actions that are speaking louder than anything else. There is some rather good fanservice included to offset the lack of serious story however which helps propel the series in a rather fun direction.

With Arika being so new to the world of Otome training, watching her go through the motions and getting into what must be done is surprisingly fun. She's got that spunky attitude that lets her achieve and win for the most part but it's tempered with a bit of whine that rarely works in her favor. The first two episode here revolve around a lengthy hike that all the girls have to take without using any of their abilities. The idea is to focus their survival instincts and work in pairs to reach a mountain point some distance away. Not only do they have to survive, but that night they're graded by Otome's on the quality of the dinner that they prepare. Naturally some are worse than others and some Otome's are more critical, but it's a fun piece that has everyone working together in different ways.

The focus falls on Arika which is to be expected but it's surprising in that it pushes Nina off the stage as much as it does. Arika and Ersty are paired together which is good since Ersty isn't the most active person out there. Their journey to the final point lands them in trouble with a snake bit that hits Ersty and puts her out of commission. The recourse they're given to call for help ends up failing on them which leads Arika to go out on a limb to try and find help. That's what leads her into the larger picture material as a group of outsides have snuck into the country of Wind Bloom in order to find something that they believe will aid them in their goal of creating Otome's themselves. The larger storyline about the political issues across the world is being touched on here and there which adds a lot but it's still so small and sketchy that it's hard to really put together.

While action doesn't make up a huge chunk of this series so far, when it does hit it's a lot of fun to watch. The ritualistic nature of it helps to give it a bit of spark, especially since it implies that bit of female bonding in the way they have to kiss the earring in order to authorize it. When they face off against the interlopers, it's rather restrained but the intensity of it is well played out as the more powerful Otome's are there to deal with it due to their involvement in the hike. This volume seems to make out rather weakly when it comes to the action/Otome aspect of it which is disappointing but it fits in with the transitional nature of the episodes.

My-Otome has several things it wants to focus on beyond Arika and it covers a few of those with these episodes as well. One of them is the relationship that some of the girls have with each other that is covered in the past. The arrival of Mashiro's birthday is a big event for the country and when it's discovered that both Nina and Arika share the same day it causes a number of different feelings about it. Nina takes it the worst since she's an adopted daughter and starts to believe that Sergay gave her that day as her birthday for less than welcome reasons. It also comes at a time when Arika and Sergay seem to be getting along far too well

What proved to be the most fun, if the most predictable, was the episode that revolves around the arrival of a foreign prince who has come to visit Wind Bloom. Mashiro learns that it's partially being done as a potential marriage possibility which just puts her in a freaked out mode. Enough so that she performs another escape at a bad moment so that she can get out into the world on her own. She's done this before so it's not exactly new but it does put her in the midst of her people as the celebration of her birthday is underway. She ends up meeting with a foreigner who is visiting the country at the same time and while it leads to a lot of predictability, it's a series of events that works well in starting to show Mashiro what the real world is like and how other rulers are handling their countries when facing similar circumstances. Mashiro is simply far too sheltered and spoiled to rule just yet and needs to be exposed to the harsh realities.

In Summary:
My-Otome is still following a rather straightforward script so there isn't a lot here that's surprising. It is still very much a good looking show that's well executed which has fun characters, a good setting and plenty of potential. It also hits up the fanservice nicely, such as the various beach scenes that seem to show up or the poolside incident which has Shizuru inappropriately touching Natsuki. Even without that the show just has me smiling through most of it and curious to see if they can reach the same kind of drama as My-Hime produced as it progressed. Add in the fun of seeing characters with new personalities and a different set of relationships and I'm enjoying just about every moment of it. This isn't high art but it is a good deal of fun.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Ending,Shio Spirals

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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