Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Far East Alchemy
  by Jenny Rae Rappaport
October 2006

My-Hime: Part Two

This installment of the "My-Hime" columns picks up with the series starting to swing along at full blast. To briefly recap, at the end of the first eight episodes, which was what was covered in "My-Hime: Part One", we were left with a positive plethora of questions. We had just begun to learn what the HIME were and why they were beginning to gather at Fuka Academy. We discovered that there were more girls involved than just our main trio of Mai, Mikoto, and Natsuki. In addition to them, we now know that the following girls are also HIME: Midori Sugiura, a substitute teacher at Fuka Academy; Nao Yuuki, a teenager with a taste for preying on pedophilic men; and Akane Higurashi, a classmate and coworker of Mai's.

While each of the newly-discovered HIME are interesting in their own right, at the end of the eighth episode, poor Akane was unwittingly cast as a warning of deadly things to come. After finally deciding to tell her boyfriend, Kazu, about her HIME status, Akane was confronted in rapid succession by an Orphan and then by one of her classmates, Miyu Glear. Miyu, it turns out, is something of an android, or more specifically, a Multiple Intelligential Yggdrasil Unit made by the Searrs Foundation. During their confrontation, Miyu slaughtered Harry, Akane's Child, and then coldly watched as Akane had a nervous breakdown following Harry's death.

Not only did Harry's death deprive Akane of her HIME powers, as can be seen by the fact that her HIME birthmark faded away, but it caused Kazu's death as well. Implicit in the HIME contract, we learn, is the fact that when they fight they put what is most important to them on the line; not their own lives, but the life of what can be described as their "most precious person". Since Akane and Kazu were arguably very much in love, he was her "most precious person", and when Harry died, Kazu's fate was to ignominiously end life in a whoosh of green sparkles.

This has interesting implications because it is obvious from the tone of these current episodes, nine through sixteen, that "My-Hime" has shifted more in the direction of drama; sooner or later, there are going to be more deaths, and wouldn't it be so convenient if they happened to be linked to the demise of a HIME's Child? More green sparkles anyone? But let's backtrack a bit first, and deal with slightly more pleasant subject matter.

Episode nine, which is titled "The Sea, The Maidens, and Natsuki's Secret", is the obligatory beach episode. Have you ever seen an anime based around high-school life that doesn't include a cute episode featuring the main female characters cavorting around in attractive bathing suits? I don't think so. Rarely is this anime trend ever broken, but what "My-Hime" manages to do is to blend it in with some seriousness, so it's not just all the bathing suits, all the time. We discover a significant piece of Natsuki's backstory, as well as learn more about the mysterious District 1. Their motives remain unclear, but they definitely have something to do with the HIME, and Natsuki is intricately twisted up in their affairs. She remains one of the most enigmatic characters that the series has to offer, but at the same time, we see her starting to show revealing glimpses of her inner thoughts and feelings.

And then we have episode ten, which is titled "Cake Wars", and is one of my favorite episodes in the entire series. It is unashamedly a parody of "Iron Chef", and good lord, is it funny. Mix up three teams of teenage girls, all supervised by inexperienced adult cooks, add in one Chairman Kaga imitator, one cake-craving Orphan, plus four unwilling judges, and you get pure hilarity. The characters know that they're acting ridiculous, and yet they can't help it. I can imagine that the script writers had a blast creating this episode.

It's a welcome diversion, since from this point onwards, the series really does get more serious, courtesy of our dear android-friend, Miyu. Miyu is an interesting character because you could interpret her actions as purely evil, especially since she's essentially responsible for Kazu's murder. Yet, that doesn't take into account her extraordinary devotion to Alyssa Searrs, an elementary school student at Fuka Academy who has an exceptional voice. She's the star of the school's choir and is inseparable from Miyu. Miyu, for her part, appears to truly love Alyssa, and would do anything for her. She is her surrogate mother, her sister, and her defender, all wrapped up into one. If it is possible for a machine to feel love for a human, and Miyu obviously does in Alyssa's case, then is it also not possible that we must evaluate Miyu as a human being herself? Although she may be mechanically infallible in battle, she seems to be as emotionally complex as any of the other girls in the series, and is motivated by heart as well as mind.

From the purely logical point of view, Miyu's job for many years has been to protect Alyssa Searrs, who is the secret HIME created by the Searrs Foundation in their bid to control the mysterious red HIME star. Since Alyssa, as we learn in these episodes, is not a "real" HIME, but rather a "manufactured" one, she has no fighting element of her own (i.e., Natsuki's guns or Mai's fire rings), and thus Miyu serves that role for her. On the other hand, it seems that if Miyu had any choice in the matter, she would take Alyssa and run as far away from Fuka Academy as possible, in order to allow her charge a semblance of a normal childhood. Yet Miyu and Alyssa were both created to serve the Searrs Foundation, and it is their plot arc that ultimately dominates these episodes, as they try to carry out the instructions that they have been given.

At the same time that the Searrs Foundation provides the forward momentum of the plot, the relationships between characters that are so crucial to "My-Hime" continue to be expanded upon. Mai, always indecisive and unsure of how to express herself, finds herself caught in a semi-romantic triangle between the two main male characters, Reito Kanzaki and Yuuichi Tate . While she admires and likes Reito, it's quite clear that she really has a thing for Tate. Yet both she and Tate refuse to admit their feelings for each other, even to themselves, which causes many mishaps to occur. Can we talk about frustrating? Add in the fact that Tate's childhood friend, Shiho Munakata, is absolutely obsessed with Tate herself, and it's a recipe that's bound to head towards eventual disaster.

At the same time, we continue to see the deepening relationship between Mai, Natsuki, and Mikoto, as the three of them grow closer and closer through their shared battles. The secondary characters in the show also start to get more face-time, especially as even more of them are revealed to be HIMEs themselves. Who they are and how this happens, I'll leave for you to find out for yourself. There's also a particularly diabolical twist that happens at the very end of the sixteenth episode, which will change everything drastically in the series itself. So with that in mind, go forward, view the next eight episodes, and bear in mind that things could be much, much worse…

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