February 2006


Haruka laghing

Today was a bad day for me – Finland lost the final of Olympic ice hockey tournament, Lazio lost the Roman derby against Roma and to top it all off I watched the subbed version of Mai Otome 20 in which my hopes, somewhat rekindled after the previous episode, quickly died. You are probably asking yourself why do I continue watching it. The answer is simple – I enjoy bashing it a bit too much. I know it’s a guilty pleasure and a rather silly one but I can’t help it. Plus, I still love a few of these characters, damn it, and I want to see how events will unfold for them.

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That's what I call great fanservice!
Don’t get me wrong, this episode was far from great. But compared to the previous episodes it stands out simply because it didn’t make me exclaim “That’s so stupid!”, “Yeah, right!” or “Die, bitch!” (except when seeing Arika but that’s totally natural, right?) every few minutes or so. I think the main reason for that is that finally we see more of the plans of Aswald, Nagi and John Smith. Things seemed to move in the right direction setting up a conflict that, *shocked gasps from the audience*, might actually be interesting for a change. Not that this would do more than just salvage a bit of Sunrise pride.

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One thing is certain – Mai Otome can be really, really annoying even without Arika on screen for almost an entire episode. In other words it was business as usual in episode 18 – a few plotholes, a bunch of characters who keep getting dumber and dumber and basically nothing impressive, not counting the music in the end.

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Masterpiece is a word that is used a bit too lightly these days it seems but I will be damned if it is not fitting for Monster. First of all, it’s so different than almost all anime that I have watched. Not that I have watched all that much but still that has to count for something. Secondly, its characters are so well crafted that even tertiary characters are better developed than a lot of the main characters in popular shows like Gundam Seed Destiny. In Monster a character can be developed over the course of a few episodes better than most series do it in 26 – for instance Martin. Doctor Tenma started as a rather annoying and naive youngster and developed into really impressive and confident man, without losing his ideals. And as most people would probably agree Johan is one of the most interesting villains ever, not to mention how frightening he can be, even when he is just talking calmly. Furthermore, I am impressed how the series never spares the viewers or the characters the bad sides of life. For instance, Tenma got severely beaten a few times, a lot of people died and generally life was not fair at all to the characters. Another aspect is the realism – here we have characters who before embarking on their quest to find the evil mastermind actually spent months preparing how to fight, instead of just going agaisnt him, sure that their righteousness will prevail anyway as a lot of anime characters do. The attention to detail in the animation really helps to create a unique atmosphere, everything that surrouns the characters looks so…real. Even without being told you can in a way feel that the action takes place in Prague or in a rural German town, it just felt right. If only the music was better the series would have been close to being perfect. Not that it didn’t have its fair share of good background music, it simply was not good enough compared to the other elements of the show. (more…)

OK, while I am a big fan of the Gundam SEED universe and I really enjoyed Mai-HiME, Sunrise obviously thought that those two deserved different feelings and went for second seasons of both series, successfully ruining my impressions. I’d admit however, that GSD didn’t manage to get me so pissed off as Otome does. For some reason I watched the series and continuously hoped that Shinn would get some character development, that Athrun would find his character while looking for his underwear in some closet (with so many women to handle, he was bound to spend a lot of time looking for clean underwear, with that much teasing and no action, it must have been hard on the poor boy) and that Cagalli will stop utilizing the tissue reserves of all people around her, and surprise, I got a little of all that.

Still, I thought of that as Sunrise’s great letdown and hoped they’ll learn their lesson and make Mai-Otome a decent if not good series. However, I’d say that Sunrise actually succeeded in making the impossible possible (Mwu, please forgive me for using that one :)) and went even deeper into ruining their creations. I’ll explain what I mean.

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Before starting I want to clarify a few things. I love Mai-HiME and the fact the Otome has all my favourite characters from HiME is pretty much the only reason I am still watching this wreck.
Secondly, Arika is the most annoying anime character that I have ever had the displeasure of watching.

I won’t bother with long descriptions of the events that took place in this episode, since whoever reads that is probably interested enough to have watched it already and if not should just do so rather than read spoilers. My goal is just to point out what I liked and what I didn’t like in this episode.

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