Mai Otome 0~S.ifr~ — Final Thoughts

The Mai-HiME/Mai Otome franchise is Not amusedone that I’ve followed from the beginning. There are a lot of items of interest to keep me coming back, though the frustrating part has always been a lack of clear answers. However, when the prequel to Mai Otome came out featuring Arika’s mother Lena, I was excited to see this. So how did it fare? Pretty good, though with some of the same faults as its predecessors.

I have to say, the writers went all out with this prequel. Right from the start, there is no wasted time getting straight to the action with the kidnapping of Sifr. There is quite a bit of action in this title, especially in the final episode. Things aren’t all about the action though as we get some of the humor one might expect from a Mai Otome title. Further, the story is pretty good too as it is neat seeing Akira’s mother in action. However, the story begged the question of just how was she killed by the time of Mai Otome to be used as the mechanism for the Valkyries there. By episode three, Lena is so powerful, she can defeat four Column Otome in under a minute with simple illusions of herself.

This is the area where the whole franchise suffers IMO — there’s not enough explanation of things. I understand that Otome can never marry or engage in sex because that will cause them to lose their Otome abilities by their bodies building a resistance to the nanomachines within them. So Lena marrying Akira’s father would weaken her over time. However, with Lena also appearing to have a Child named Artemas, which allows her to activate her Robe without a contract from a master, she’s clearly not your normal Otome and so it seems strange to me that she would be killed like that after seeing her withstand a weapon of mass destruction without breaking a sweat.

Also, the writers don’t make clear links of Sifr to the Mai Otome series, so you have to be on your toes or do some research. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have realized that she’s the mother of Nina Wang. One almost needs to rewatch Mai Otome from scratch in order to gain some better insight on things (which I have not done, only having rewatched episodes regarding Lena). Since Sifr is a “Weaver,” she’s a danger though she eventually becomes queen, has Nina, somehow Nina is taken away, somehow Mashiro becomes the young illegitimate queen, etc. It really can be a tangled web, especially if you are not well versed in things, which I am not.

The Schwartz were strange here. Clearly, they have access to a lot of old technology and weapons of mass destruction. However, once they reach their space base with it’s pulverizing beam weapon, once the Otome working with Bruce arrive, Schwartz goes, “time to self-destruct the facility.” I didn’t understand that quick give-up because it comes off as such a huge waste. OK, maybe the Otome would gather and destroy the station anyway, but the way things play out, it just seems strange to abandon the station and lose all those android fighters (at least to me).

Still, despite the frustration of clearly linking the pieces, I have to say that I like Mai Otome 0~S.ifr~ the most of all the Mai Otome titles. I liked all the new characters and their Fightinteractions. I liked how Schwartz is the main villain here (again), but this time the Garderobe Academy is also a foe since they want Sifr dead to keep her away from Schwartz. I also like how this series more clearly sets out the notion of “fake” war (Otome from different countries forced to fight each other to determine the winner) vs. the pain and suffering that a real war could cause. I just wish that in addition to the better explanations for characters, a better explanation of Lena’s Child and the linkage to Mai-HiME would finally come about (oh, and an explanation of the Weaver as well).

Ultimately, I’d buy this title, were it licensed because I enjoyed it that much despite its flaws. If you’ve seen the other Mai Otome titles, you’ll certainly want to catch this one.

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