My Otome
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Music - KAJIURA Yuki
R1 License - Bandai (Defunct)

During an attack on a castle, a young woman and Otome places an infant, sealed in a pod, into a river to escape certain death. Fourteen years later, a young girl named Arika Yumemiya comes to the city to attend Garderobe Academy. Acting like the complete stranger she is, the sights and sounds of the city excite her as does the prospect of becoming an Otome like her mother. She meets Nina Wang, who's desperate to be rid of this bumpkin, but after rescuing the young princess together, Nina learns there's much more to Arika than meets the eye, as does her father. What is the stone Arika wears around her neck? What are the Slaves? What are the Otome? Can Nina become an Otome?

[26 TV episodes. The series appears to use most of the original seiyuu and cast from Mai-HiME, but the characters are not the same, though some have very similar names. Produced by Sunrise. An OAV sequel is slated for release, possibly later in 2006.]

Note: the "Z" in the alternate titles comes from the Kanji 舞-乙 which looks like a Z -- "舞-乙HiME" (you may have to turn on Japanese encoding to see it). (A Japanese person explained that the 乙 is pronounced Oto, so Oto-Hime or Oto-me. Mystery Solved! ["hime" = princess, "otome" = daughter/young lady/maiden, "otohime" = youngest princess])

R1 License by Bandai as My Otome
[edit] The ↗Mai Hime franchise:

Mai Hime (original story): Mai Otome (spinoff/sequel, different setting):
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 8 7 8 6 6 6 Ggultra2764 [series:1175#1552]
(Rent-/ Watch+)

Not nearly as good as My-Hime, but has its moments nonetheless. My-Otome is a spinoff to My-Hime where the superpowered girls, Otome, serve as servants to lords of varying nations with female lead, Arika, attending an academy where she is taught etiquette and the abilities needed to be an Otome. Characters from My-Hime are brought back here, though most of them are in supporting roles with differing backgrounds and personalities for the most part. This series is more plot-driven compared to the Hime series as the only characters with significant depth and development here are Mashiro, Nina and Arika.

The first half of the series was kind of hard for me to push through as the limited character depth, compared to My-Hime, led to a number of bland characters being introduced and the series mostly focusing on Arika's life at the academy with more emphasis on comedy and increased levels of fan service than exploration of its cast. Hints are dropped of later events to come with the introduction of multiple factions and Nagi having ulterior motives (should be no surprise to those who seen My-Hime). But it was a struggle for me to make it through the first half.

Like My-Hime's second half, My-Otome introduces some shocking developments involving Mashiro, Nina and Arika that lead Windbloom to get taken over and Nina and Akira getting at odds with one another. These made for the more engaging points of the series for me as the intentions of characters were revealed, questions over who is the true ruler of Windbloom come about and the three mentioned characters develop in different directions as a result of these events.

But still, the series is still quite flawed compared to My-Hime. As mentioned, the limited character depth prevents one from getting to know about other characters outside of the mentioned trio, thus limiting any attachment one could develop with said characters and I found the first half to be a struggle for the most part as outside of scenes that hinted of events to come, the comical moments of the series fell flat for me to a great extent and it took a while for me to care about Arika's character, since she wasn't as interesting as Mai from the Hime series. The series also carries a similar flaw as My-Hime in that it has a cop-out ending with how things are resolved in the end.

In terms of presentation, My-Otome retains the same drawing style and visual quality you would find from My-Hime, with a number of reused frames (mostly from Otome transformations) and still shots. Music consists of J-Pop songs used for OP/ ED sequences, light pieces for comical and lighter moments and dramatic pieces for more serious scenes. The insert tracks do their part to enhance key scenes in the series, but didn't stick out much for me and the J-Pop tracks are the energetic variety that didn't really impress me too much.

Overall, I just couldn't find My-Otome to be enjoyable for me compared to My-Hime. While its second half was enough to redeem the series for me a bit, the show's more plot-centric developments limit focus on much of the show's cast and the first half was flat for me mostly thanks to the large focus on school life with Arika not delivering as well with comedy and taking a while for me to care for Arika's character. I suppose your mileage will vary with how well you warm to this spinoff for My-Hime.

Last updated Friday, February 15 2013. Created Friday, February 15 2013.
Buy 9 8 8 7 10 9 Dreamer [series:1175#2279]
Mai-Hime was awesome so after learning about this one, I had to pick it up without a doubt. It was well worth every second of viewing.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork and animation is pretty darn good. Colors are rich and vibrant and at times the backgrounds are just beautiful. As for character designs, all well done and good. At times, the details are a bit lacking in the facial regions but it's not that bad. For the life of me, Nina was just so uber cute I couldn't stand it.

The OP sounded like an alternative piece with female vocals. Not really that catchy but still bearable. As for the rest of the soundtrack, plenty of pieces that give the sense of midevil times. At times, there would be some fun and cachty pieces during some exciting moments. Then at other times, there would be some dramatic pieces with a powerful orchestra almost reminding me of the powerful choruses found in series like X, Tsubasa Chronicles, .hack//Sign.

Series and Episode Story
The sheer amount of characters in this series will make your head spin. Not only are there so many characters, but a great number of factions and groups, it's hard to keep track of everything and everyone. But with that said, even then, you still end up liking or loving most if not all the characters (mainly the girls). Where this series really shines and makes it all the worth to sit through episode after episode, is the amazing plot and tons of subplots with various twists and shocking suprises.

If you've seen and greatly appreciated Mai-Hime, then you'll probably will love the heck out of this one. At least I did.

Overall, this was an excellent series with an awesome plot, exciting episodes and pure enjoyment all the way around.

Last updated Monday, November 30 2009. Created Monday, November 30 2009.
Unevaluated Forbin [series:1175#1573]
My Hime's dub was sorta bad, I sure hope they give this one better treatment.

Last updated Monday, February 05 2007. Created Monday, February 05 2007.
Rent Stretch [series:1175#628]
The only review I could find of this show elsewhere fervently despised it, yet I gave it a try anyhow. I immediately found this to be a fun, easy to watch show. Somehow the keywords which came to mind would be "Silly-Action". I'm pretty sure I correctly guessed the identity of the true princess of Windbloom right from the start, yet the plot as a whole seemed pleasingly unpredictable--maybe because I hadn't seen any of Mai-HiME. The characters are distinctly likeable, even the ones who are initially out to get Arika, like Princess Mashiro and Nina. The ED song has to be the most perky, upbeat tune I've heard in a long while. I didn't know how serious the series would get, but I still can't help smirking when I recall the image we're shown when Arika is described by her nickname "Antsy"...

Mai Otome actually has quite a complex plot, involving "Otomes", "Meistars", "Robes", "Slaves", "Aswald", the "Harmonium", etc, etc, and I frankly never had a chance of keeping track of all the subplots and countless characters. The writing was really pretty slick--I thought the tables-are-turned lesson Mashiro got about what a lousy ruler she had been was cleverly done. This show has a sort of fairy tale feel to it, yet I didn't feel I was being particularly patronized. People seldom get killed or seriously injured, but when they do it's handled in a startling, moving manner--for instance when Arika stumbles across a dead body, which felt genuinely frightening. Perhaps the writers were intentionally managing the amount of violence they dealt out, so as not to trivialize it, but rather to make it as powerful as possible. Seeing as virtually all the characters are female, there were some lesbian hints here and there--not that I'm complaining. Considering how few of the subplots I was able to keep track of, I felt the series had a neat, feel good ending that made sense (for the most part), was fun, and was genuinely touching. My only problem: why was a certain character, who seemed to have gotten impaled, still alive at the end? Nevertheless, a fun, engaging and heart-lifting series that turns out to be much more than it would seem at first glance. In general, I wouldn't say Mai Otome doesn't take itself seriously, but it definitely doesn't take itself too seriously!


P.S: After watching the first episode of Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~ and enjoying it, the thought occured to me to rewatch at least an episode or two of Mai-Otome, partly to refresh my memory and partly for nostalgia's sake. To my pleasant surprise I enjoyed it so much, even as a rerun, that I'm currently rewatching the series as a whole. The sheer "coolness" of the first episode left me with a grin on my face. This show is a lot of fun; it may not be completely original, but I think it skillfully employs tried-and-true storytelling techniques in a manner which one cannot help enjoying. It's not hard to see how a whole sub-genre has sprouted from this show, with omake, a sequel and a prequel. Arika is a character you can truly root for, being cute, honest, friendly, determined and a bit naive. The story is making a lot more sense the second time around, perhaps because I'm watching an episode per day rather than an episode per week. I'm certainly not getting everything (like what exactly is the "Harmonium", who built it, and why is it shaped like a musical instrument?), but the wide variety of colorful characters and the smoothy interwoven plot strands are such fun that I don't have to understand everything in order to enjoy myself. Plus, this time around I can recognize the Mai HiME characters, whereas I hadn't seen that show yet last time. I read a comment that this is basically a shounen fighting series, even though the characters are almost all female; if that is true, it's a good shounen fighting series, because those usually leave me bored and disinterested in a hurry. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a good cat-fight, and a little Yuri to boot? Actually, the majority of the characters have an admirable sense of honor and duty, which kept this from getting kinky; that must be one of the reasons they're so likeable. I get the feeling that the basic plot might have been familiar to somebody who read books several generations ago. As for the conclusion, no, I didn't miss something critical, unless it was so well hidden that I missed it again. I guess a first-rate Otome would have fantastic recuperative powers, so she could shrug off something as trivial as getting run through (but wouldn't that have killed her master?). No matter; Mai Otome left me strongly smiling at the end, and eager to watch the various spinoffs.

My favorite Otome? Haruka Armitage, definitely.

My favorite line: "Materialize!!"

Last updated Tuesday, March 25 2008. Created Wednesday, April 12 2006.
Rent 8 8 6 8 7 8 AstroNerdBoy [series:1175#436]

With the surprise success of Mai-HiME, I suppose it is no wonder that the studio would want to do more. However, how can you continue a series that ended? How about a spinoff title that uses similar characters (same names/faces), but on an alien world? And we'll make it a similar story. Yeah, that'll work.

In order to be unique while retaining the popular characters of the original series, the writers made the character's names and seiyuu the same, but put many of them in different roles. While this mostly works, the animators kept characters that should look like adults looking like their high school counter-parts in Mai-HiME. So it is difficult to believe that one character is a Major with a daughter, another is the school principle, another is the ruler of a nation, and others are adult Otome. I felt those characters should have looked older to make them more believable.

The series starts out pretty good and is much lighter in nature than its elder. So it has more of a comedic element which I enjoyed. The first 16 episodes are mostly episodic in nature with hints to Arika-chan's past and the like. So the big story isn't neglected during those earlier episodes, but it doesn't have the dark overtones. The story opts for fun instead along with some intrigue.

Starting roughly episode 17, the story becomes more serious. Even with this serious part of the series, the writers still inject humor at times to let us know they still aren't taking things too seriously. While the humor is fine, the weakness of not taking the story too seriously is that there are elements that are neglected. For example, what brought everyone to this planet? I would have liked to have known more about the technology too, but that may be asking too much.

Others may complain about the ending much as they did about the ending of Mai-HiME, but it didn't bother me. Let's face it, this is a lighter, happier series and as such, that's the kind of ending you are going to get.

Bottom line: some flaws here and there with the overall story keep me from rating this a "Buy," however I will rate this a strong "Rent" for the fun I had watching it.

Last updated Wednesday, April 12 2006. Created Monday, October 17 2005.

Unevaluated Jan-Chan [series:1175#967]
The first episode is out as a fansub!!

Wow, a different world with a very different story, but all of the same characters (but in very different roles). I loved the Mai-HiME series, (it is a BUY) and the first episode of this (different) series starts off with a fun roar!

Last updated Sunday, October 09 2005. Created Sunday, October 09 2005.

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Official Japanese (Sunrise) Series Web Site
Mai Otome terminology

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