Mai-Otome – 25, 26 (END)
With the battle underway, Haruka launches out to fight the enemy Otome. She faces Laura Bianchi and then Chie. While the battle rages on, Nao, Natsuki, Sarah, and the stripes gang force their way into Fumi’s mausoleum. Shizuru joins them and gets reunited with Natsuki. Inside the Garderobe school, Miss Maria shows off some spry moves while breaking out with Yukariko and Irina. They also head for the mausoleum. In response, Nagi activates his Slaves and sends them out. This includes an entire army that fires against the Airies forces. Fortunately, giant rocks come out of the ground to block the shots; Arika, Mashiro, Mai, and Mikoto have arrived. They use their powers to wipe out a good number of the Slaves, and then Mai sends Arika ahead into the city. On the outskirts, Miyu dives into a pool of water and heads for a building that’s defended by Orphans. Nagi fires the cannon on top of his castle, but Natsuki is ready to counter it with a shot of her own because she is able to activate her Robe by being connected directly to Fumi’s chamber. The two beams hit each other and bounce off-target. However, the cable to Fumi has overloaded, meaning that Natsuki won’t get another chance.
The situation looks dire since Nagi is able to fire again, but Arika flies in and blocks it. She even reflects it back and damages Nagi’s cannon. Everyone’s happy to see her again, but Tomoe interrupts the reunion. Otome from both sides of the fight now gather in a face off in front of the Mausoleum. Mashiro tries to appeal to the enemy Otome to stop fighting, but to little avail. Nagi decides that it’s time for the final stage: he activates the power of Rena’s capsule that disrupts all of the Otome’s Robes. Because she loses her powers, Arika starts falling from the sky. Chie rushes over to catch her, but Tomoe then destroys Chie’s Valkyrie Robe for being a traitor. She finds it strange that Chie was able to disobey their Shinso’s orders. As it turns out, it’s actually Shiho’s maki-maki that allowed Chie to do so. In any case, Tomoe is ready to kill everyone in front of her, including her allies. Chie realizes that Nagi’s plan was to use the invasion of Windbloom as a pretext to annihilating all of the Meister Otome. Tomoe raises her weapon against Arika, but it’s the Aswad to the rescue this time. Midori, whose REM seems to be working fine now, activates her nano-machines and charges Gakutenou into Tomoe, sending the Valkyrie crashing into a nearby building.
Yohko has Arika and Mashiro link hands, which activates Arika’s Robe again. The two head for Nagi’s tower, but a damaged and furious Tomoe once again gets in their way. This time, Arika shatters the Valkyrie’s Robe and lets her fall into the city below. Mashiro and Arika then arrive in the room where Rena’s capsule is kept. Arika finally gets to meet her mother and starts to talk to her, showing off how she’s now become an Otome. In tears, Mashiro tells Arika that she has to destroy the capsule. Arika’s thanks Mashiro, however she’s already decided on her own that she needs to do it. Arika readies her signature “Bolt from the Blue,” mouths an apology, and charges. In doing so, Arika is embraced by Rena, and she emerges from Nagi’s tower with a new Robe – the same one her mother used to have. All of Nagi’s slaves have now been defeated and the Column’s Robes have been reactivated. Mai joins the Columns, and it seems that even the Valkyrie girls are alright, including Tomoe. But Nagi still has one last card up his sleeve – the Harmonium.
Nina is at the helm because apparently Sergay was too gentle of a person to take away her powers (in other words, he didn’t sleep with her). Arika and Mashiro fly up to the tornado, but the Columns activate their Robes and beat her getting there. Everyone is using their power to try to hold it back. To help the effort, Miyu goes through with Alyssa’s final request and activates the “Trans Global Materialise System” that turns the blue star into a red star. Miss Maria and Natsuki remember the legend that said when the guiding star shines red, all of the Otome restrictions will be lifted. Indeed, everyone gains their Robes.
The entire force combines their powers and is successful at keeping Nina’s tornado at bay, so Mashiro, Arika, Haruka, Mai, Mikoto, and the Pillars head for the Harmonium in Nagi’s castle. And when Cardair’s forces, with Kazuya in command, also attack, Nagi has no choice but to pull out all of the original Slaves. Shizuru and Haruka take care of the ones in the air outside of the castle while Nao, Sarah, and Shiho handle the ones on the ground outside. The latter three are joined by Maya and Akane, who launched from Kazuya’s ship. Akane is still an Otome because she never got to consummate her relationship with Kazuya before he was taken back to Cardair. Natsuki and the others break into the castle and are confronted with more Slaves. To their surprise, a very young Miss Maria appears and criticizes Natsuki for lack of elegance. She shows them how it’s done by easily destroying all of the Slaves. Arika and Mashiro go on ahead after Mikoto issues a warning about how dangerous the Harmonium can be if used for too long. In the Harmonium’s chamber, the two are met by Nina and Nagi. Nina refuses to stop the Harmonium because doing so would kill her father. Nina and Arika disappear and reemerge outside the castle. Arika says that she understands a little of how Nina feels because she also likes Sergay. But because Nina would do anything to have Sergay, Arika must stop her.
Their fight leads them to outer space, and Nina asks why Arika is fighting. Arika responds that she made a promise to make a country where everyone can smile. Nina thinks that’s a dream, but Arika says that her dream was what made her become an Otome. Nina becomes more desperate when her attacks on Arika fail and Arika still refuses to give up. Arika convinces Nina that they can starts over. Nina links hands with her, but then the Harmonium starts reacting because keeping Sergay alive has caused it to exceed its limits. Its memories and power flow into Nina. Nagi thinks that everyone will die now. Nina seems to know what’s coming and asks Arika to defeat her. However, it’s too late because her transformation is complete – she now has wings and wields a sword that resembles Miroku. Knowing that she can’t give up, Arika summons her Sword of Akatsuki and charges Nina. Nina directs an attack at her, but Arika breaks through it and pierces into Nina. Released from the Harmonium, Nina thanks Arika and then starts falling back to the planet. Arika dives after her and catches her, but their Robes burn up on re-entry. Back in the Harmonium Chamber, Nagi is arrested by Chie, and Natsuki destroys the Harmonium. Yohko directs some girls quickly to take Sergay’s body to Garderobe.
In the aftermath, the red star turns back to blue. The refugees of Windbloom are allowed to return to their country and the agreement with the Aswad is honored. Nagi and his goons are chained up and put to work under Mai and Mikoto. The city is rebuilt and Mashiro finally completes her castle, with the sunflower on top. After the ceremony, Mashiro comments that it’s still a shabby castle, but this is where it starts. Arika thinks to herself that her dream lies here. And finally, in a house in the woods, Sergay wakes up without his memory. Watching over him, Nina introduces herself and says that they’ll slowly start over, the two of them. She has replaced the picture in her watch with one of herself, Arika, and Eristin.
Overall, I loved this episode because it’s everything I had expected in terms of action and story. Yes, the story wasn’t perfect (I wanted more explanation on Yohko and the Aswad and Aoi), but the episodes kept me excited the entire way through. The cast is so large and as I had hoped, pretty much everyone played a part. And so, here’s the final analysis:
The old hag is spry! – Simply put, Miss Maria kicks ass. And it gets even better when she becomes young. The expressions on everyone’s faces when they saw her are priceless.
Just in the nick of time – There were a lot of times where someone came in to save the day at the just in the nick of time – it got a little old watching people swoop in like that.
ShizNat – Awww, I was hoping they’d kiss or something. At least they got reunited and neither of them died.
Spiderman – It’s a shame we didn’t get to see much of Nao in action. Natsuki and Shizuru have gotten plenty of screen time but showing the other Columns fighting in only the final episodes is a bit of a let-down.
All you people crying incest can stop now – So Sergay didn’t sleep with Nina after all, that’s how she was able to keep her powers. So much for all that discussion about a loophole.
Mai-HiME- As if we weren’t getting the clues already, there are some very blatant connections shown to Mai-HiME in these final two episodes including Fuuka Gakuen, Orphans, the red HiME star, and even the words “Highly Advanced Materialising Equipment”.
Robes, Robes, Robes – Gotta love all of the new Robes they show off. Shiho’s made me laugh the most (why is there a skull on her crotch?!) and the one Arika got from her mother looked the best (oh how I wish she got to keep that instead of the pink and blue thing she ended up with). And we can’t forget Akane’s neko-mimi either. Ganbatte Akane, you’ll get Kazuya yet…
Remember back… – So the dark figure from OP1 was actually Nina! I wonder if they had that planned out from the beginning or what. She even got to wield Miroku (another nod to HiME). Actually I felt that Nina in that form didn’t get enough screen-time and her defeat came fairly quickly. Granted, they were running out of time, but that part especially felt rushed (more so than anything else).
Like watching Gundam SEED all over again – Several people have pointed out that there are numerous parallels to Gundam SEED in the fight between Arika and Nina. See this blog (scroll down to near the end) and this blog for comparison screenshots.
My biggest complaint? – Everything else aside, the thing I wish they had done the most was give these final episodes a special ending song. I am so very tired of Otome wa DO MY BEST desho?
Taters! – Sorry, I couldn’t resist calling him that. Messy hair Sergay looks a lot like Tate. For whatever reason, I couldn’t stop thinking of Jeff Lawson’s RIP Taters video from Mai-HiME. Seriously though, I’m glad that Nina and Sergay got a happy ending.
Coming soon… – By now I’m sure you’ve heard that there will be four OAVs coming this fall. I personally think that this finale did well in concluding the series and that anything they do in the OAVs should be separate from the story here (the Megami magazine article seems to support that). Cameos by familiar characters would of course be welcome, but I pray that they don’t use them like they use Mai or Miyu in this series.
Final Thoughts: It was about when SHUFFLE! ended that Mai-Otome started to get really good. That’s not to say that the first half of the series was a waste because I think all of the episodes contributed to the story (yes, even the ecchi pool one). My favorites are without a doubt episodes 17 and 18, the ones that got the story really moving towards this final showdown. Granted, Mai-Otome is not without its problems, especially plot-wise, but I thought they did a wonderful job managing the humongous cast of characters and creating an exciting, funny, and entertaining series. For me, every week in recent memory was spent anticipating watching this on Thursdays. As for how Otome compares to HiME, both rank up there on my all-time favorite shows list, but I think Otome slightly edges out HiME. I’m sure plenty of people will disagree, but that’s how I feel. In any case, Mai-Otome a must-see show.