published in Empire No.81, Sydney
Highly Advance Materializing Equipment: that’s what HiME stands for. The aliens this time are called Orphans and Childs. And all the action takes place at the Fuka Academy – an expansive and well-funded campus nestled in an idyllic rural region. Yes, it’s time again for co-ed high school comedy-drama to be periodically ruptured by monstrous beings confronting innocent female students who wield secret powers lying dormant within. All familiar in the anime cosmos, but My-HiME is a stellar exemplar of the form.
A large team of characters populate the series (check out the opening theme end-frame for the numerous personalities), headed by new recruits Mai and the prickly urchin Mikoto. Mai has just arrived with her frail brother on scholarships, and Mikoto has, well, drifted in from the ocean. Then again, everyone has turned up through some fateful force to become snared in Fuka’s unending bouts of dragonian swordplay. Best of all, the series’ characterizations brim with nuance, multi-shading and all manner of side inflections. The fight sequences are as fiery as they come, but it is the juxtaposition of their exhausting pyrotechnics with the kids’ unstoppable youthful drive that roots My-Hime more in the teen comedy-drama than mere phantasmagorical spectacle.