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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » My-Zhime: My-Otome. Vol. 5
My-Zhime: My-Otome. Vol. 5
Bandai // Unrated // March 4, 2008
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 2, 2008 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Series:

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.

Series background:

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 however.

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.

This volume:

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 and queen.

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.

The DVD:


Audio:

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.

Video:

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.

Extras:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

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