My-Otome Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: My-Otome

My-Otome Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     March 11, 2008
Release Date: March 04, 2008

My-Otome Vol. #5
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
As Queen Mashiro unveils her newly restored castle, the slave forces of the Schwarz descend upon Windbloom. It falls to Arika to defend the queen when all Otome are called to battle. Nagi steps forward to claim responsibility for the attack, while doing so he chooses his personal Otome. Presented with the cursed GEM, the Ultimate Black Diamond, Nina must make a fateful decision between friendship, loyalty and love. What fallout will her choice hold for those that are dear to her?

The Review!
With the fall of Wind Bloom, the cast is dispersed and the seeds of unrest are sown both within the academy and within the citizenry. Also includes erotic bath adventures with young girls!

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.

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.

Three of the key characters are given space on the cover this time which reflects from one of the better moments of the series as Arika, Nina and Erstine all have serious and emotional looks on their faces. Though a bit soft in some places, it has a lot of vibrancy in general and is appealing even as busy as it is. 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.

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.

The extras are similar to the previous installments as we get a clean version of the second opening sequence and a little more. That little more are two pieces of great little bonus videos that go a long way towards humanizing the characters even more. The "In the Aswald Village" piece is cute as it shows what happened when Midori found Arika and Mikoto in the wastelands and goes over the top with Mikoto in a very amusing way. The far more interesting one is the "Graduation Picture" extra which has Arika giving Erstine a bath since she hurt herself while Nina is there. It's all very playful but it's like a light doujinshi as it turns some very cute moments decidedly erotic. Oh my indeed...

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My Otome finds itself working in a similar many to My Hime with this volume as it has reached a point where it's simply intent on shaking up the status quo in a major way. This is a good thing in my mind as some series get entirely too stagnant with little surprise about what could really happen. With most anime shows being very limited run productions, original ones that don't have to worry about keeping the manga fans or the game fans happy can play with things a little faster and looser. My Otome really manages to set itself apart nicely with this volume and further establishes my love of it over the original series.

The unveiling of the castle in the previous volume has led to an invasion by the Schwarz which has completely thrown off Queen Mashiro. These are the moments that rulers are tested under and Mashiro unfortunately seems to really fail quite badly at it. Of course, the Schwarz have long been planning things and have set a lot of elements into motion to achieve their goals and Mashiro is a young woman so there is some understanding to all of it. But it does point to how poorly setup the kingdom of Wind Bloom is for handling such things as Mashiro really has nobody to turn to in a crisis situation like this. Even worse is that she cannot rely on the Garderobe because they're equally under attack and dealing with some very nasty enemies in the Schwarz.

Similar to My Hime, not everyone is who they seem to be and we've had that in place for a bit with those that have been trying to take down Arika before she gets too far. What you have to wonder is who else is in the mix that hasn't revealed themselves yet. That comes with this volume and only in retrospect does it become slightly more apparent as to what's going on. Enough of it is covered with character quirks though so it wasn't completely obvious going into it unlike some others. When this revelation does come it's at a pivotal time where allegiances begin to shift and the balance of power becomes clearer as Nagi makes his move. This turns into a real high point of the series as the Otome's find themselves almost at war with each other without realizing just how much they're being manipulated. It has plenty of drama but there's also a good deal of emotional impact considering how well these characters have all gotten along so far. And that's been one of the better traits of the Otome system in that everyone schools together.

The result of all of this is pretty dramatic, both on the personal level and on the national level. Wind Bloom practically eats itself from the inside out as there is a huge and swift reject of Mashiro based on what she's done in the past and the perceived perceptions of what she's doing now. That comes as a striking blow for her, even more so when she sneaks off with other refugees and conceals her identity only to learn how deep some of the vitriol and hatred is. What's even worse for her is that it comes at a time that she's learned she may not be the real heir to the throne and that Arika may indeed be that. Mashiro's psychological descent isn't exactly groundbreaking or new, but it's a twist I wasn't exactly expecting from the show based on the way she was starting to change after getting out into the wild on her own a bit. But it does feel realistic in that we don't always get the time to change things on our own before others take advantage of it.

What continues to be a lot of fun about the show is the way that it weaves familiar elements in a new way. That's been the basis of this entire series but it's built it up wonderfully so that it stands on its own very much now. Midori makes a formal appearance in this volume as we start to get a better feel for the world at large, notably with the Aswald. The original perception of them from earlier in the series wasn't exactly positive but once you start to get to the heart of the matter you can see why it's like it is and begin to sympathize with them more. Arika and Mashiro both end up dealing with them at a time when the world is even more intent on wiping them off the face of the planet and that only serves to push the two women closer together and to realize what their destiny may be. The relationship the two of them have has been interesting from the start but seeing them grow closer in this way is a very enjoyable element.

In Summary:
My Otome goes through a fair number of changes with this volume and they have a long lasting effect on the cast. Not everyone makes it out alive and the view of certain characters is irrevocably changed because of how they act and what they do. And all of this makes it for a far more engaging show as the spies are revealed, the ulterior motives made clear and realizations dawn that not everyone is on your side. This isn't quite the darkest before the dawn but I can see it getting a bit darker still before they try to get past it. But what is abundantly clear is that even if they all do get past it, nobody will be the same and not all of them will make it. My Otome brings in some great fun with this volume, some solid changes to how it plays out and it continues to be wonderfully engaging. Very recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,Graduation Picture,In The Aswald Village

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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