Mai-HiME is one of those shows you watch purely because you have nothing better to do and want a decent story to fill your time. I watched this show on recommendation from a friend who said it was an alright show, with boobs, and violence. He was right. Spoiler: You can see the star too, that makes you a chick.

Natsuki, Mai, and MikotoMai-HiME is the story of boobs with super powers attached to girls who goto a school. Really though, its about a girl named Mai who transfers to Fuka Academy with her sickly brother on a scholarship and finds herself part of a select few girls at the school who are endowed with incredible power. She finds she is a HiME, a girl blessed by the red star only they can see with the power to defeat the Orphan, creatures from another world who have invaded the earth. Mai has to come to terms with her new power and how it affects her relationships with the people she cares about most.

From a plot perspective, Mai-HiME is kind of lacking. The premise certainly isn’t new and the elements of the show have been done before. It took me about 7 episodes to finally discern a plot beyond “you have powers, fight these creatures.” However, the character building that takes place in the first half comes to bear in the second plot arc: the carnival. While not spoiling anything for anyone, the carnival is pretty much where the plot actually starts to come out. Plot twists abound during this period and while I was able to spot most of them before they happened, there were several that caught me off guard. The love story aspect of the show did enhance the plot to some extent, especially for the carnival, but I did thing that there ended up being too much love drama and tension that kept the show from moving on beyond what it was giving us.

The comedy of the show is basically two things: eechi and tsundere. The first half of the show has a lot of the former. There are boob jokes everywhere and one episode is entirely devoted to the humor of underwear. The second element, tsundere, is exhibited mainly by Mai and another HiME, Natsuki. The latter is probably more tsundere and most certainly is more enjoyable to watch than Mai but both of them have their moments of being the funniest bit of the show.

Natsuki: The real reason to keep watchingThe characters were pretty good. While they were all girls and I couldnt really relate to them, as most had a girly attitude towards fighting, I was able to bond to some of them through empathy. Out of the bunch, I think Natsuki was the most likable despite her initial persona. Mai was too wishy-washy for my liking, but during the carnival I think her character development grew at a rapid pace and was much more believable than other’s reactions. Certainly all the characters had some form of development, but mostly it seemed like a stereotypical transformation: loner to friend, weak to strong, undecided to decided.

That all being said, the show had some big drawbacks. First, the show had a lot plot elements that were never explained fully. While the mystery of what an HiME is was good at first, even the explanation in the second arc of what they truly are didn’t satisfy all the questions raised during the first arc. Second, there was some pretty inexplicable Deus Ex Machina used at the end of both arcs. I don’t mind it so much except when there is absolutely no explanation for how or why someone died or didn’t die, but doing like they did left a sour taste. Finally, the plot, for me anyway, foreshadowed enough that I was able to tell a few episodes beforehand when things would happen. I guess thats to be expected, but for a show known for plot twists and on edge action, it wasn’t all that spectacular to be able to see the result before it occurred.

Regardless, Mai-HiME was fun to watch and raised some interesting questions in me such as “What do you truly want?” I was able to laugh quite a bit as well as have some action while I was at it. There were plenty of pretty women and a plot that gave just enough depth to keep me interested. Despite the qualms I had with the story and characters, the show was good enough to earn it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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