The Magical Girl genre of anime has always been a genre that I tend to avoid for the majority of my life as an anime fan. I can understand the appeal of these shows, but I just couldn’t get into them. The primary reason for this that has the majority of these magical girl animes have high episode investment which doesn’t suit my fancy. I don’t want to watch a magical girl series that starts strong then gradually falls apart. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the genre. They are plenty of magical girl shows that I enjoyed such as Tokyo Mew Mew, Cardcaptor Sakura, Doremi (Season 1) Princess Tutu and Madoka Magica. Despite all that, there was one magical girl show that stood out from the rest and that show is My-Hime. A show that fascinating me from beginning to end that left a big impact on me.
Unlike the majority of its peers, My-Hime is a character and romance drama that focuses on the relationship, bonds, and issues of the cast. This is showcased in the first half where we see the cast live their daily lives at the Fuka Academy.
Sure this first can turn some people off of the show, and I have understood the criticism towards these episodes but I feel these episodes really brought the setting of My-Hime to life and it ultimately pays off in the second half. The first half highlights the wacky fun side of My-Hime perfectly.
Yes, am aware of its fault especially that weird panty thief episode, but without the first arc, the drama and tension between the cast wouldn’t have been strong.
Not only that but we also learn the HiME system, its origin, secrets as well other HiME users and their abilities that they process.
It’s nice to see the characters be themselves at the moment, the second half kicks in with its plot twist everything goes to hell. The plot becomes increasingly darker with various story elements testing our character’s mortality and bonds.
There are a lot of emotional moments in the show that make you want to tear up. I can’t spoil what happens in the second half because that would be boring and I believe that the second half of My-Hime for yourself, but just know that the story becomes dark.
That’s not all to My-Hime. It takes a different approach to what we have seen from the Magical Girl Genre. For one the characters don’t transform into flashy costumes to fight, but instead, their character’s weapon materialises whenever there’s a conflict.
Also, instead of the usually cute familiars, the familiars are these mecha-like sacred monsters that are mostly based on Japanese Gods and Goddess. Each familiar has its gimmick and niches that help them stand out.
The one thing that impressed me the most about My-Hime was how it did its world-building. Admittedly the world-building was never the core focus in the show, but I still felt the writers managed to make the setting of Fuka Academy feel immersive. There are a lot of things going on in the school as well beneath the shadows that make you curious.
This helped by the fact the show focus on 13 characters aka the chosen Himes all have different lives, interests, and motivations.
Cursed and love were the central themes of My-HIme. Most of not all animes I have seen like to assume that having powers is good, but My-Hime takes the opposite approach to that where having Hime powers can be detriment for an person personally life
There’s an episode in My-Hime which worsens the cursed factor as a certain character that comments that why people like that are even allowed to be part of normal society aka school in the case if the only going to just cause collateral damage for normal people.
I like when shows critiques stuff like this as most anime these days tend to play it safe where having power is good and nothing else. Having power is good, but you must consider the feelings of people around you before using the power, which leads to the theme of love.
Every character in My-Hime has different views on love. You have people that view think love as escapism for their issues, you have people that have no clue of what love is, you have people that view love as a tool of destruction, you have people that reject the concept of love, you have people that simply cannot control themselves when it comes to love and I could go.
This makes My-Hime a thematic study of love as we learn the strength and weakness of various viewpoints. Some people would not feel a thing if they lose something that they love while others would mentally break down if they lose something that they love.
The second half of My-Hime mainly the end of episode 16 highlights this as their viewpoints of love are put to the test as the respective characters’ viewpoints often clash with one another. Delivering some excellent character drama as a result that rarely feels over-dramatic
Here’s some fun trivia for the curious. Madoka Magica is a spiritual successor to My-Hime as they are both dark sub-versions of the magical girl genre.
Also, My-Hime was the first Yuri anime that popularised the Yuri genre as before My-Hime the Yuri genre was barely a thing. Dear Brother aka Oniisama e… may the first Yuri anime, but that show never got popular despite the show itself being fantastic.
Sure nowadays YuruYuri and Bloom Into You are more popular than My-Hime, but you got the thanks My-Hime for kicking off the Yuri genre in the west.
So expect a lot of Yuri elements in the show.
The only issue I have My-Hime was the ending as it ended in a cheesy and safe manner however I feel like writing, journey, and character development more than not makes up for it.
The characters are the centerpiece of My Hime. They are the reason why the show works. Granted some of the characters are stereotypes but at the same, they are filled with layers of complexity that make them endearing characters.
Due to the show focusing on the 13 characters, I’m only going to focus on the main trio, Mai, Natsuki and Mikokto.
Mai Tokiha is one of my favorite female leads in anime. She’s different from your generic action main character stereotype we all have seen.
Mai may come off as a heart of gold who would do the right thing by saving her friends but it’s her multi-layered personality and development which as caused by the various relationship with the cast (especially her brother and Mikoto) is what makes her such a compelling character. Not only that, but she has to cope that she has powers that she has to use to project the world.
This amount of responsibility can cause high levels of stress, and Mai is no different. She often tries to seal her stress by keeping a positive attitude in the majority of scenes in the first half. The sealing stress factor ends up being her biggest personality flaw as she refuses to talk about her struggles towards her friends.
When her stress seal eventually starts displaying cracks in the second half where she lets out in an emotional, angry, and tearful way. I’m usually against drawn-out character angst in anime, but Mai’s long angst is justified as all she wanted to do is go to school, look after her fragile brother, and make friends like Mikoto instead of doing heroic stuff that will potentially put her loved ones in danger.
Mai is a prime example of how to write a complex female lead that is relatable and fun.
Next, we have Natsuki. Natsuki is an excellent character. She may come off as the typical aloof tomboyish girl that you have seen before, but she’s become much more than that as the show progresses. You will understand why she became the person that she is throughout the show that caused her to detach herself from people through her dark backstory. She eventually opens up to people as she builds a strong friendship with Mai, Mikoto, and Shizuru that helped her realize that she cannot live in a void forever.
Lastly, we have the wild child Mikoto. I adore Mikoto with all my heart. She may not be as complex as the other two, but still an interesting and nicely written character. I like how her views of love end up being her fatal flaw later on in the series as she will do anything to project Mai even if it means shutting off her Mai friends. An overprotected lancer. I also found her childish personality to be endearing as despite doing silly wild-child things she still has a sense of innocence that makes it relatable especially when you learn about her backstory.
The rest of the characters are just as good as the main trio. Each of them does get their time to shine in the spotlight, they are all fun characters to watch in their own right, and they all have interesting character motivations that define them as people.
My personal favorites being Midori, Shizuru, Haruka, and Nao.
My-Hime visuals were done by Sunrise the same studio that gave us Gundam, Code Geass, and Tiger and Bunny. Needless to say, this is one of Sunrise’s impressive series in terms of visuals, despite it coming out in 2004.
The character designs were colorful unique and distinctive from each other. The background scenery is nicely detailed. The animation is crisp, smooth, and consistent.
Granted, it did show its age but I feel My-Hime visuals are leaps ahead that the majority of anime that came out in the early to mid-2000s.
My-Hime also has its fair of fan service which can be a hit or miss to some. I found the fan service to be serviceable as it didn’t bother me all that much.
Yuki Kajiura produces the music of My-Hime, and it is as beautifully composed as ever. Heck outside of the Fate franchise this is easily my favorite soundtrack that Yuki Kajiura has produced. It is filled with excellently composed orchestra, upbeat, electronic tracks that fit the tone of the show.
The opening and ending themes, on the other hand, are pretty forgetful.
They aren’t bad in an act they are catchy for what they were but they don’t particularly stand out.
The English dub was done by Ocean Group the studio that did the dubs for Crest of the Stars (I will get to that show another time.), Brain Powered, G Gundam, Gundam 00, Seed, Wing, Zeta, Cardfight Vanguard Future Card Buddyfight, Black Lagoon, and Death Note and It’s an excellent dub all around. The actors did an excellent job voicing their respective characters.
Best dub performances got to Carole Anne Day as Mai and Caitlynne Medrek as Mikoto.
I may not love the magical girl genre, but My-Hime remains an amazing standout from the genre for me. Despite the flawed cheesy ending My-Hime is a series that delivers in every field. Sunrise has made a lot of amazing shows, l feel like My-HIme joins the ranks of Code Geass, Planetes, U.C Gundam, Outlaw Star, and Cowboy Bebop as my favourite shows from the studio.