Reviewby Theron Martin, May 11th 2007
DVD 7 - Special Edition + Artbox
As the HiME star approaches, the last round of HiME battles begin. Each of the remaining HiME must confront their own emotions and each other, and woe to those caught in the middle! The Obsidian Prince uses his tools Nagi and Mikoto to manipulate the battles according to his game plan, and soon only Mai remains to descend to the Obsidian Palace and become his bride. But a wild card named Miyu has been introduced into the game, the Crystal HiME proves that she still has a few tricks left, and the Obsidian Prince soon discovers that not everything is predictable when girls' emotions are involved. Can a happy outcome be achieved when so many have been lost or devastated along the way?
My-HiME could not honestly be ranked among the truly great anime series, as it has oftentimes depended on questionable logic or distracting viewers from plot holes to keep things moving along; that does not change through the final three episodes. It has never failed to be entertaining, however, and that does not change, either. In every sense it stays true to itself in playing out the conclusion of its story: lots of flashy and exciting battles involving magic and mecha-like critters, distinctive characters throwing around heaps of emotional turmoil as they wrestle with issues of love and loyalty, and the occasional spot of goofiness. So much of what makes viewing the series an enjoyable experience depends on the details of how events are progressing that the actual climax is a bit of a let-down, and some may be put off by how certain aspects of the epilogue are handled, but neither should stop a fan from watching this one. You'll feel much more cheated if you don't.
Most of the outstanding issues concerning the stories of the other HiME are resolved. We finally find out what the nun's problem is, why Nao is such a bitch, who the “special person” is for Nao and Natsuki, and exactly how far Shizuru is willing to go to eliminate any possible threat to her beloved Natsuki. As it has been since the beginning, though, Mai is the true star, and she remains the one that carries the show. She deserves a long vacation for the emotional wringer the final volume puts her through, as the best drama in the final volume involves her coming to terms with what love means to her and who and what is truly precious to her.
Anyone who has paid careful attention to the character dynamics so far should have little trouble predicting who is going to face off against who and what the outcome will be in the various battles. Because of that, and because she is the main heroine of the series, revealing that Mai is the last one standing should not be any kind of spoiler. The only surprises are what the Crystal HiME can do and how she gets released to do it, but you had to figure that something like that was going to happen before the series ended. None of the battles lack for tension, visual appeal, or thrill factor, making them as much a strength of the final volume as the excellent musical score.
The highlight of the artistry continues to be the character and Child designs and the flashy use of magical effects. Basic quality control also continues to be a problem (especially Mai's varying bust size), as renderings look needlessly rough in more comical moments and sometimes stand out too much against the backgrounds. Fan service is limited to some significant shots of undefined nudity, a few hands placed where they shouldn't be, and the more racy and suggestive content in the Extras. Animation supports the battle scenes well and is especially effective in portraying tears and facial expressions in the most emotional scenes, but it, too, has its weak points. It's still a good-looking series, just not as sharp as it could be.
As noted above, the soundtrack does a wonderful job of using its recurring themes to support and set the tone for any given scene while retaining the distinctive Yuki Kujira sound. The opener, which is dispensed with for the final episode, remains the same as it has been since the beginning, while the closer remains constant until the final episode. As before, the original Japanese closers are retained, with a replay following with the English credits.
The English dub has often been a weak point for the series, but it stands up surprisingly well in this volume. This may partly be because some of the weakest voices (especially Takumi's) get little or no screen time, or just because the heavily emotional content finally brings out the best in the English performers. Carol-Anne Day still shines in the pivotal role of Mai, but this time around hers is not the only good performance. The English script remains quite close to the original subtitles throughout.
The final volume maintains the series' habit of attaching mildly to tremendously racy side bits onto the end of each episode which focus on a character featured in that episode, a habit which continues through to the end. The only other on-disc Extra, beyond company trailers, is a “Director's Cut” version of the final episode, which merely adds about a minute and a half of additional material near the very end. The Special Edition version includes the much-requested proper art box for the series, whose quality of production strongly suggests that it was the reason for the extra month of delay in the final volume coming out. The elegant maroon-colored lidded box, which is sized to horizontally store all seven individuals DVDs, is lined with snapshot-like character images on its interior and fronted with a cel featuring most of the HiME and key supporting girls set in front of a recessed backdrop of Fuka Academy, while a bonus image of Mai, Natsuki, and Midori graces the back. Made of heavy cardboard, the box is so solid that one could put substantial weight on it without fear of collapse. Any fan of the series will probably find it to be worth the additional price.
The final HiME battles rage and the Obsidian Prince brings his scheming to its climax as the series wraps up. Despite some niggling quality control issues in both writing and technical merits, it is nonetheless a fitting conclusion to one of the most entertaining of recent series.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : A-
+ Musical score, distinctive and emotive characters.
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