Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~ – 01
On a train headed through the night, a girl named Sifr Fran is tied up after having been kidnapped by a group of Schwarz men. She is saved when a man in a trench coat and a girl in a maid outfit suddenly show up, and the man carries her onto the roof of the train before throwing her at a Meister Otome flying alongside it. A different Otome picks up the girl in the maid outfit, and the entire group then makes their escape. While she’s unconscious, Sifr dreams of visiting her dead mother’s grave and how she had once asked her mother about being lonely without her father around. She had promised her mother that she’d become an Otome when she grew up so that she could help her mother. Sifr wakes up now in a hotel room and finds herself under the care of the same people who saved her. They were asked to come get Sifr by the relative that she was going to see, and they introduce themselves as Bruce Wallace and Rena Yumemiya. Helping them were Sister Shion and her Otome Raquel Mayor, and Sifr is excited to see a real Meister Otome. In any case, Bruce explains that they’ll be staying here for the night before setting out for Windbloom the next day.
A short while later, Elliot Chandler, one of the Five Columns, arrives at the hotel. Rena thanks Elliot for helping with Sifr’s rescue and promises her a reward, but when Elliot decides that she wants a kiss from Rena, Rena is forced to restrain her. Bruce and the others eventually give Sifr some time alone, and because they don’t want her leaving her room, Sifr spends her time on the balcony overlooking the pool area. When she hears the young girl staying in the room below start to cause a commotion over her cat Nina which has jumped onto a different room’s balcony, Sifr decides to help. However, as she attempts to balance herself between the two balconies, the cat climbs onto her and causes her to lose her balance. Fortunately, Rena comes running down the side of the building, grabs her, and jumps into the pool below, saving her. Rena is understandably angry with Sifr for what she did, but Sifr is just glad that the little girl was able to be reunited with her cat. During her bath afterwards, Sifr expresses her amazement at what Rena did and thinks that Rena is an Otome, but Rena claims that she didn’t become one because she got scared during graduation. Wanting to hear more, Sifr ends up pulling Rena into the bathtub with her.
After Sifr talks about her Otome aspirations, Rena reveals that her own mother was against the idea of her being one. She feels that Otome have a violent power and reveals that she didn’t have the courage to use that. Meanwhile, Elliot is on the phone with Garderobe headmistress Una Shamrock, and Una – citing their duty to maintain order as the Shinso Fumi’s Otome – instructs Elliot to kill Sifr if she falls into Schwarz hands. Later that night, Sifr puts on her new dress and meets Bruce at the hotel restaurant. Soon after the group gets there though, a huge monster appears outside the window, and as more monsters come in on the other side of the restaurant, Elliot realizes that these are Slaves. When the ground under Rena and Sifr suddenly collapses, Bruce jumps after them and lets Raquel and Elliot handle the Slaves in the restaurant. Another Slave is now chasing Rena and Sifr, so Rena leads Sifr to a safe hiding spot on one of the balconies and reassures her that the others can handle this. With the chance to talk again after their earlier chat, Sifr suggests that they go together to reconcile Rena with her mother. When Rena chides her for being a bit too at ease in their current situation, Sifr brings up how Rena is like Sifr’s mother.
A Slave attacks the two of them moments later, and Bruce arrives just in time to catch Sifr from falling. The three of them jump down onto the ground and try to escape, but they quickly get surrounded by more Slaves and Schwarz men. With no choice, Bruce tells Rena that her power is needed here, and Rena consents to having him activate her Otome GEM. This allows her to materialize her Lofty Crimson Jade Robe, and she easily breaks everyone’s weapons without seeming to lift a finger. She’s also able to handle all three Aswad who are working with the Schwarz men, and she even takes a direct hit from Gakutenou without flinching. After the three Aswads’ defeats, the other Slaves also disappear because they’re frightened, forcing the Schwarz forces to retreat. The threat isn’t quite over yet though because a tentacle suddenly appears and grabs Sifr from behind. It belongs to a large creature under the control of John Smith, and he identifies Bruce as the king of Windbloom. John Smith has also brought along a pod containing a female android named M-9 (short for M-IYU 9), and he orders her to eliminate Rena.
M-9 starts the fight with a volley of missiles and follows it up by taking Rena on directly in close-quarters combat. With the two fairly even in power, Rena decides to use a special ability that allows her to split into two images that M-9 has a hard time keeping up with. Rena appears to finish M-9 off with a powerful energy blast, however the consequence of her doing this is that her Robe starts to fall apart because her GEM is overloading. To make matters worse, M-9 appears to be relatively uninjured and starts hammering Rena with punches. Both Raquel and Elliot attempt to help, but M-9 easily takes care of both of them before reengaging Rena and attempting to strangle her to death. Remembering what Una had instructed her to do in this situation, Elliot tries to attack Sifr and John Smith, but Rena breaks free of M-9′s grasp and protects them before Elliot’s giant boomerang can hit. John Smith uses the opportunity to shoot Rena in the head, and though the bullet falls to the ground harmless, its impact leaves Rena open to being stabbed in the shoulder by M-9. Rena manages to throw M-9 off of her, and the two then launch final attacks against each other. As she gets swallowed up by the giant explosion, Rena’s GEM cracks.
Wow, that was a surprisingly good episode. I don’t know if Zwei made me dial down my expectations for these prequel OVAs, but I wasn’t expecting too much, and this turned out to be quite entertaining. It was a bit light on story, however there’s plenty of action, and the new characters give this series a fresh feel. Koshimizu Ami did a wonderful job voicing Sifr, and several of the characters (like Raquel and Shion) have a fun-to-watch playfulness to them. Bruce is also a cool guy, so I pretty much liked all the new characters.
The least interesting would be the new villains since it appears that the Schwarz organization is at it again. Rena is apparently god-like when it comes to fighting them (able to walk on water, defeat everyone without lifting a finger, and scare away Slaves), but she finally meets her match when going up against M-9 (who is like a mix of KOS-MOS and Miyu). I was actually a little confused by why Rena had a red colored Robe here, but since the Lofty Crimson Jade breaks at the end of this episode, it makes sense that she’ll get the Blue Sky Sapphire in the near future. On that note though, there’s no news on when the next DVD of S.ifr will come out, though supposedly there are three of them in total. I’ll be watching for that release date and am now looking forward to seeing the next episode.
Oh and one last thing: it bothers me a bit that Rena is only 16 years old here. She comes across as a lot older, especially when she’s talking with Sifr who acts like a little girl sometimes.