Reviewby Theron Martin, Nov 14th 2008
My Otome Zwei
A year after the events of My-Otome, some things have progressed rapidly while others remain unchanged. Arika and Mashiro still quarrel, and Arika still attends Garderobe Academy to pick up her last few credits, but many of the other former students and Aswald members have moved on to new careers and responsibilities. Technology has advanced dramatically enough to detect an approaching asteroid and coordinate a multinational force of Meister Otome to destroy it, but the effort also unleashes a dire new threat onto the world, a fearsome foe capable even of petrifying Otome who battle it. Crippled by limited access to their Robes, the Otome and world leaders must seek creative solutions as Childs menace numerous nations. With Mashiro missing (and in the middle of her latest spat with Arika), Arika must find her lost master and makes amends so she can resume the true and full power of the Blue Sky Sapphire, while Nina must also return to the stage once again – and as an Otome.
Looked at from a cynical viewpoint, this four episode OVA follow-up to My-Otome, which was released in Japan about eight months after the original TV series concluded, was just another way for Sunrise to milk their My-HiME franchise while it was still hot by providing an unneeded successor. As long as a company is producing entertaining content worthy of watching, though, what's wrong with them exploiting a solid concept? For the most part, Zwei delivers the kind of entertainment value fans have come to expect from the franchise: plenty of flashy action and cool power use juiced up by an enthusiastic soundtrack and sprinkled with about equal amounts of semi-serious drama and silly humor.
Zwei brings back nearly all of its prominent surviving characters from the TV series for at least bit appearances, including many of the minor Otome who appeared only in the series' last third. Getting to see what all of the Otome have been up to with a year now past is practically half the fun; Tomoe in particular has gotten herself into an interesting position, as can be seen in episode 2. Nina does return in a prominent way (though not until episode 3), but do not expect to see much of Sergey. The producers also tossed in several elements directly from My-HiME (some more obvious than others) in an exercise grounded much more in fan-pandering than logic; those who might have hoped to see Kagutsuchi again will get their wish, for instance, although the circumstances which lead him to being present are tenuous at best, and he is one of the more readily explainable elements borrowed directly from My-HiME.
The rudimentary plot involves manufacturing a new outside threat in order to provide excuses to bring all the Otome together and put them into action, since the end of the TV series largely put a stop to international conflicts. Its sub-themes about the Mashiro/Arika spat and Nina wanting to redeem herself amount to little in substance, but with a mere 100 minutes of actual animation to work with the story could only do so much to develop anything and still have the necessary action quotient; indeed, the time frame seems to rush the story a bit, and wasting a good piece of one episode with a ridiculous bus-jacking doesn't help. If you seek deeper insight into anything here, you will be disappointed.
For all the drama that got infused into the TV series, though, the action and fun components were always the biggest draws, and in those categories these OVAs do not disappoint. Action sequences are as lively and flashy as ever, most of the transformation sequences remain, and Nina gets a new battle costume, too. The series never forgets its sense of humor, either, as the producers love to insert comical bits in the backgrounds or brief foreground flashes (liberal use of the Pause button may be required to catch them all) and Brigadair Armitage – and how people react to her – is endlessly fun to watch. Episode three even contains a bath interlude to give the series an excuse for a heavy dose of fan service, and the transformation scenes are, if anything, racier than ever.
The technical merits improve a little bit from what is seen in the original, as these episodes lack the occasional lapses in quality that peppered the art and animation of the TV series. The artistic style remains the same, though the attempt to age characters' appearances appropriately meets with mixed results. The OVAs also retain the musical style of the original episodes, though the sad central melody sung by various characters in the TV series does not reappear. None of the episodes have anything that could be called a proper opener, and the closer, whose visuals are just credits rolling down a black screen for the first three episodes, changes every episode.
All of the performers for key characters in the TV series' English dub have returned, as have the performers for nearly all of the supporting characters. Now well-settled into their roles, they turn in performances that should be generally acceptable to dub-tolerant viewers. The English script rarely varies much from the subtitles.
Unlike the previous My-HiME and My-Otome releases from Bandai, this one contains no Extras beyond a clean closer. (Of course, the content typically found in omake segments in the TV series is mixed into the regular episodes here.)
Zwei may not be great anime, but anyone entertained by the TV series will almost certainly be entertained by these episodes, too. Those who have not previously seen the TV series will probably make little sense of it.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B+
+ Lots of fun and action, shows off most of what made the TV series entertaining.
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