My-HiME: Anime Legends

When Mai Tokiha and her sick brother Takumi are transferred to the boarding school Fuka Academy, she never expected her life to be turned upside down so suddenly. From the giant monsters known as ‘orphans’ unleashing attacks on the school, to the strange group of people associated with them; little could prepare Mai for the burden that come from being a HiME – special girls with the ability to control great powers and beings known as ‘children’. And it doesn’t stop there, as being a HiME means more than just defeating unusual creatures, they must also sacrifice what’s most precious to them.    

My-HiME is a mixture of nearly every genre in anime; its set in high school, there’s romance, magical girl elements, big action scenes, supernatural creatures, a twisty-turny plot and plenty of fan-service. As a result My-HiME never fails to deliver on the entertainment value and hitting the right notes that make it very fitting in Beez’s ‘Anime Legends’ line. Every element of this series is above average, from the presentation to the soundtrack to the characters. Combined with a steady pace with no filler episodes (even in the fan service episode by the beach has a small portion of it dedicated to the story) it’s quite easy to recommend My-HiME to anime fans. Despite this, it is not without its flaws.

The strongest elements of My-HiME are the character development and plot progression. From the very start of the series we’re shown a very large cast of characters spread across the Elementary, Middle and High school years, with barely any adults in sight. We’re thrown into each of their love lives, local gossip, the HiME coming into their power, and of course get the episodes in their swimsuits and the school festival. Aside from 2 minor side characters, everyone has their part to play in the overall arc of the story. All their relationships and feelings are intertwined, creating the various layers and connections that link all the heroines together, sowing seeds into the audiences’ hearts to make the build towards the grand finale all the more epic and emotional. It may not hit you at first, but by episode 8 when the first emotional bomb drops you fully become aware of how much the character’s situation has set in to the point that you actually care who survives and who is sacrificed. For such a large cast that’s pretty hard to pull off, but My-HiME excels at pulling you in with the easy breezy episodes in the first half then suddenly slapping you in the face with the harsh truth of what being a HiME is all about and what these girls must endure. The destruction that the children can wreak, the fast paced battles and varied abilities keep you glued to the screen so you can see who comes out the winner in each episode.  By the second half (disc 4 onwards) the gloves fully come off and all the petty situations such as being late for class mean squat compared to the fate of the world that lies in the HiME’s hands. Lives are lost, friendships are broken and people must work through their emotions to find out what they fight for, all building up one of the best series in a long while.   

However, as these intricate relationships, emotional bonds and well constructed battles fit perfectly together, it’s such a shame that the back story of the HiME and ultimate villain of the piece seems so poorly fashioned. From the start of the series we’re told the HiME must defeat the orphans with their powers, making the early signs of a simple magical adventure. Then not long after we’re thrown names such as ‘District One’ and ‘The Searrs Foundation’, bringing a government experiments air to the equation. Towards the half way mark the phrases ‘Yggdrasil’ and ‘Valkyrie’ come into place, which of course is Norse Mythology, only to be dropped a few episodes later to make way for the government angle again before ‘ancient prophecies’ and similar languages rear their heads. By the time we reach the end, we know HOW the characters got to where they are due to their emotional journeys, but the WHY is so unclear that it’s up to deus ex machina to create an ending whilst trying to hide the plot holes. In the final moments you do feel happy for the characters as you’ve grown attached to them and they get their closure, but you also feel cheap for accepting it because all the emotional turmoil built up is suddenly dropped and we don’t get an explanation for what the heck was going on all this time. It’s sadly one of the most disappointing endings I’ve witnessed, considering the episodes leading to it were great. For the casual anime viewer or one not searching for anything deep will be perfectly happy with the positives of this show to be entirely satisfied with My-HiME. The more observant and emotional invested viewer however will feel be disappointed at the final episode and the lack of explanations.

Despite the cast starting out as a school of anime stereotypes, the main leads and close-linked side characters do have their likeable qualities and decent voice actors to attach themselves easily to the audience. Mai is the busty, red haired female but she’s also dedicated to helping her sick brother by taking any part-time job going and making him lunches, plus even when she resists to becoming a HiME she doesn’t hesitate to help her friends in danger if no other choice is left. Her brother Takumi starts off as a weak, dependant-on-sister type who always seems to land himself into danger, but through his friendship with Akira he learns to fend for himself and help out his sister for a change later on the series. The villainous or the neutral characters of the series are the least developed (thanks to the back story being underdeveloped) and therefore least likeable, but the huge student body supporting the heroines in their own ways more than make up for it.

The production side of the show is top quality; starting with the animation it’s consistently good throughout with hardly any static imagery. Character designs are also nice; with the large cast it can be hard to differentiate who’s who but My-HiME doesn’t suffer from that. Although it is noticeable that everyone above elementary school age has at least D cup size breasts. The orphans and children are given distinguishing features as well, you’re not going to be holding them highly against the recognisable Final Fantasy summons but when they’re on screen you know what you’re looking at.

Kajiura Yuki provides the stunning soundtrack to this series. It’s mostly synthesized but the subtle use of authentic instruments such as piano and guitars, plus the inclusion of the female choir singing heavenly melodies against the fast paced battle music, almost like they’re singing a hymn, make the music shine through every scene. The opening and ending themes (Shining Days and Kimi ga Sora Datta) are your typical Japanese pop with small rock elements running underneath but the energy provided in both of them make them warrant multiple plays across the 26 episodes.   

The dub is a good listen; Carol Anne-Day hits it on the nail as the title character, Cheryl McMaster gives great performances as tough girl Natsuki and Ethan Cole in Reito’s shoes made him one of my favourites. Nevertheless the dub is bogged down by poor performances from some of the side characters; Takumi is given a false start with shaky delivery in early parts of the script, Nagi is one of the most annoying villains in anime history with the wooden acting doing him no favours, and Marcy Lannan forgets how to portray emotions when she performs as Nao.

Across all 6 discs are the same options of extras; clean opening and closing, production sketches plus trailers for Beez’s other works such as Wolf’s Rain and Witch Hunter Robin. The only interesting addition is the mini episodes; there’s 1 for each regular episode of the series and they last about 1 – 2 minutes each, formed of still images. According to the back cover they “will show you everything about the hidden layers of the series!!” In short; most of the minis are where you’ll get your fan service gold from, starting with a mini episode dedicated to Mai telling the tale of her first bra and every episode containing at least one still of the girls in racy positions or just in their underwear. If you take the time to watch them all however you’ll get nice monologues of the characters portraying their feelings over the course of the series and 2 minis dedicated to answering some of the minor questions regarding the plot. Generally they’re fun to watch and don’t take up much time to go through them all.

My-HiME is a rollercoaster with plenty of sudden twists, heart-in-your-throat bends and being turned upside down only for the final drop to be highly disappointing, but the ride is worth it. It is one to put on your list of anime to check out when the funds pour in and a worthy contender for your personal best list, plus Beez’s boxset also makes it a delightful collection to hold proudly on your DVD shelf.   

8 / 10


By day, I work in the television industry. By night, I'm a writer for Anime UK News. Twitter: @lilithdarkstorm

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