The excrement really hits the fan in the fifth volume of My-Zhime
- My-Otome. Things look pretty bad for the Otome as their school
is taken over by invaders and many of them are lured over to the dark side
with the promise of power and full Otome status. Arika and the Queen
are both missing, and even if they were around the populace is sick of
the Queen's incompetent rule and ready for revolt. It doesn't look
like things can get much worse.
The planet Earl has lost most of the technological knowledge that they
once had. One of the few pieces of advanced tech that they still
have access to are nanobots that can enhance a woman's strength and abilities,
but only virgin women. The women who are injected with these devices
are Otome, and act as both servants and bodyguards to the royalty of the
planet. If they ever have sex their bodies will reject the nano-machines
14-year-old Arika Yumemiya has traveled through vast deserts to the
capital city of the Windbloom Kingdom in search of her mother, who she
knew was an Otome. Arika has a mysterious past, she hardly knew her
mother and was raised by her grandmother, and there may be more to the
young girl than meets the eye. Arriving at the capital Arika
meets Nina, a top Otome candidate. Nina is aggravated by the rural
Arika but when the new girl spots someone running from guards they both
go to her rescue.
It turns out that the girl they saw was none other than Mashiro Blan
de Windbloom, the soon to be crowned heir to the throne. Mashiro
isn't grateful that Arika and Nina saved her life. After all, that's
their job. The princess is a spoiled brat of the first degree, partially
because she's been pampered all her life, but also because of the rumors
about her, rumors that she's not be the real princess. Nearly 14
years ago there was an invasion. The king and queen were killed,
and the infant princess was missing. As soon as the invasion was
repelled, a minister produced a baby girl that he said was the princess...but
was she really?
Based on her performance saving the queen, Arika is granted admission
to Garderobe Academy where Otome are trained, an honor that many aspire
to but few achieve. Getting special treatment doesn't endear her
to many of her new classmates however, and the fact that she doesn't have
the money to pay the exorbitant tuition sets her apart from the others
too. It seems that passing her classes won't be the only things that
Arika has to worry about.
The various secret pacts and nefarious schemes that have been hinted
on in the earlier episodes come to a head in this volume. At the
Graduation Day Ceremony the Schwarz launch an invasion plan that they've
been nurturing for a long time. Not only is Garderobe Academy invaded,
but all of Windbloom.
Of course invading a school of trained super-powered girls seems foolish
and suicidal, after all the Otome have seen to it that they are the ultimate
power on the planet. All of the students are given permission to
use their robes and power up, but then something happens; the central computer
that guards and controls the Otome's powers becomes corrupted and without
it the girls can't use the abilities that the nanobots grant them.
In other words they become powerless.
Some Otome can still fight; those that have been pledged to a master.
Arika is commanded to protect Garderobe by the queen, but she comes face
to face with another full-powered Otome, her best friend Nina. The
two clash in battle and a gigantic explosion results.
Three days later the invasion is complete. The Schwarz have both
Garderobe and the capital of Windbloom. The set about consolidating
their power by offering bribes to the student Otome: they'll grant
them full Otome ranks if they agree to work for the invaders. Their
ultimate goal wasn't just Garderobe however, the Schwarz' plan involves
something buried deep beneath the school that holds incredible power.
Meanwhile Queen Mashiro finds herself in the desert traveling with some
Windbloom refugees. She's astounded to hear that they all hate the
queen with a passion and would like to see her dead! In her castle
the Queen didn't realize how strong the feelings were against her in the
general populace and the events she witnesses make a deep impact on her.
Arika is also in the desert, she's been found by the Aswald people,
the same ones who attacked Windbloom 14 years earlier and killed the king
This series keeps going from strength to strength. While it started
out as a fun, if a bit typical, drama about a young underdog fulfilling
her destiny, the show takes a dramatic turn in this volume. People
are betrayed by friends, spies are uncovered and surprising secrets are
revealed. The show could have played it safe and unraveled as many
shows do, but this one takes some chances and really mixes things up in
these final volumes.
Another aspect of this show is that the invaders aren't painted as totally
evil. There are some very grey areas in this program that you don't
often find in anime. Though the Queen is on the side of the Otomes,
her citizens hate her and her country is not prosperous. The people
who invade do so for noble reasons too; to give access to the technology
that the Otomes have been hording to everyone. The people of Aswald,
who are painted as the villains in the beginning of the show, turn out
to have very good reasons for their actions too. This realistic portrayal
of people as neither totally good nor totally bad adds a lot of interest
to the show.
This series offers viewers the option of a listening to the show in
the original Japanese with optional subtitles or to an English dub, both
in stereo. I alternated audio tracks and the Japanese one is superior.
I'm not a person who thumbs their nose at all dubs, some recent English
dubs have been fantastic, but this one has some characters with phony accents
that sound really bad. They are minor characters, granted, but we
shouldn't have to put up with something like that at all. Aside from
that, both tracks sounded fine. There were no dropouts, distortion
or background noise that I could hear.
The full frame image looked very good. The colors were bright
and solid and the lines were tight. On the digital side things also
looked fine. There was just a touch of aliasing in the background,
but it was much less than your average anime disc. Cross colorization,
blocking, bleeding were all absent. Overall I was very happy with
this disc's visuals.
Bandai includes two short adventures with this disc: Graduation
Picture, and In the Aswald Village. These mini-episodes
last a few minutes each and expand on things that happened in the show.
The first one is a bitter-sweet short what Ers thought and did after she
and her friends all made a pact to become Miester Otomes. The second
one relates the unshown events that occurred when Arika was discovered
in the desert. These were both fun and enjoyable.
This series has been getting better as it goes along, and this volume
was the best yet. The unexpected plot twists and the way peoples
actions are painted in shades or grey make this an engrossing and entertaining
series. Well worth checking out. Highly Recommended.