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.

I am starting to like Aswald more and more. At least they have something real to fight for, namely to get rid of the effects of the weapon of mass destruction that wiped out the Black Valley. I really liked the twist that the planet they are living on was apparently green and beautiful once but now is full of deserts due to the usage of some awful weapons. And only Garderobe technology can cure the disease caused by one of these weapons many years ago. Plus, whatever they do it’s difficult to be annoyed by an organization that features Midori (my favourite Mai-HiME character) and a cyborg voiced by Seki Toshihiko who seems to be the best seiyuu for evil or as in this case, not strictly evil, characters who are uber cool.

We have a Natsuki hitch-hiking scene. Does that ring a bell? Yes, exactly – episode nine of Mai-HiME. Sure, we have Nao’s personal touch, so to speak, which was hilarious but these endless HiME related hints and jokes are getting on my nerves. Can’t Sunrise come up with some new jokes? The good news is that Nao and Natsuki are now going to meet Yukino and Haruka in the next episode and maybe Natsuki and Haruka will actually, gasp, do something. I don’t know if I can handle the sudden excitement if that happens. :)I have to mention that Nao is pretty much the only character that is just as cool and interesting in Otome as in HiME (unless we count Sergei for a Tate’s reincarnation). Too bad that for some reason she is on friendly terms with morons like Arika and Nina, they don’t deserve a sempai like her.

Nagi is trying to create a new breed of Otomes which I would assume would obey only him. Too bad, someone is bound to stop his plans for conquering the world, sooner or later…I mean in episode 26. And Sergei volunteers to look for Mashiro. Can anyone tell me why exactly Nagi lets a traitor be in charge of that all-important search? He is practically begging for Sergei to just find Arika and Mashiro and stay with them. I hope that’s some cunnning plan, not a bout of the dangerous sickness known as plot induced stupidity. I know it’s hard not to get infected by it when so many character seem to suffer from its horrible consequences.

Tomoe is trying to rescue Shizuru, though, thankfully nothing actually happens. One would thing that an obsessed Shizuru fangirl like her would much rather try to rape her when she is hapless than help her escape. Sure, that would be a rather disgusting scene (not because I have anything against leasbian but we are talking about Shizuru here) but it would have the hidden benefit of a bunch ShizNat fanatics almost choking to death, due to the shock caused by it and as a result thinking a bit before spamming all the forums in the known universe with their fanboyish crap.

Arika learns that technology can be a very bad thing while listening about Aswald’s history and suddenly get into a denial phase which ends with her and Mashiro being eaten alive by some giant desert monster. Yes, I am not kidding about that last one but if I hadn’t been told in advance I would have been quite shocked that such a stupid twist can actually happen. A giant monster eating alive people who then escape (we all know Arika and Mashiro will not die, right?) isn’t exactly a original or interesting story ever since the days of the Old Testament and the story of Jona. So first we had Arika who was like Moses now another biblical story. I wonder if Aswald’s demise hinted to the Sodom and Gomorrah story from the bible. We need a godlike character – is that going to be Mai? And where the hell is Noah’s Ark? Maybe it sunk due to the weight of all the huge monsters it had to carry so God just used a reset ending to make things right.
All in all, this episode rekindled the ashes of my dashed hopes. It’s a small chance but maybe this series won’t be a complete failure.