For my last few Otome articles, I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t have much more to say about the franchise. Now seems as good a time as any to admit that that never seems to be the case; until the day when I can play as Mikoto in my own isometric battle game, there will always be something more to say about Mai-Otome- and maybe one day I will even be clever enough to understand the complex plot that one troll commenter seems to believe it has.
Today’s topic is of course none other than the first instalment of the Zwei OVA, an episode so deep and exciting that I got far more out of watching it raw than I ever could have done in its subbed form. Our story begins with a select squad of Otome having been sent into space (presumably nanomachines are the answer to problems with breathing in space, heating caused by atmospheric friction and trifling scientific concerns) to save the world from a comet. Naturally, the more experienced and skilled Otome are no match for new meister Arika, who has no need of any power beyond that of being the main character. Thanks to the magical Zwei mode that supporting characters can only dream of, Arika is able to save the day and even make it into the local newspaper.
Unfortunately, Wind Bloom is not a happy place. Over the course of the TV series, Arika’s idealism was tempered whilst Mashiro learned to become a more compassionate ruler, but in the intervening year, they have lapsed back into their original personalities, ensuring that the only interesting thing about their lives is the presence of fat cat Mikoto (now drawn differently for some reason).
Still, fascinating as the day to day life of the leads must be, what is a series-based OVA without the resurgence of some previously unmentioned evil? This time around, the villain of the piece is a mysterious Shadow Otome, who conveniently petrifies Miyu, Shizuru and Maria to prevent any of them using God Mode abilities to easily end the threat. It wouldn’t be fair to expect the leads to fight the final boss straightaway, however, and so Arika and Mashiro are sent off to the Black Valley (now a merchandising haven beyond Sunrise’s most extravagant dreams), where they end up fighting a generic Slave-type monster with the help of Mai. Yes, the Mai-service is back in full force, with Mai finally getting more action than the mere cooking scene and repeated stock animation she was afforded in the series.
Naturally, with three episodes still to fill, things must get worse before they can eventually get better, and so it is that during the battle an argument between Arika and Mashiro causes the former to lose her Zwei mode and have to resort to that hideous puffy pink robe instead. No doubt we must have a couple of episodes of angst and persuading a reluctant Nina to step up to the fight before this power can return in time to defeat the final boss, leaving everyone to learn their lessons and live happily ever after until the Drei OVA.
What was the poll for?
As I mentioned in an earlier rant, the writers had such a clear and distinct vision of what they wanted to include in this OVA that they initially encouraged people to vote for which characters they wanted to see return. In the end, one must assume that all characters were voted for equally, for whilst not everyone appears in this episode, enough insignificant faces appear to persuade me that even the likes of “Coral Student A” will have at least a two second cameo by the time all four episodes have been shown. Then again, what would Otome be without a hopelessly overstaffed and underdeveloped cast?
Although I have all but accepted that the mystery of the fat grey cats will never be solved, a new complication has arisen…this OVA features regular Mikoto, moon-Mikoto and the previously unseen Z-Mikoto, but where is human Mikoto’s old companion lambda-Mikoto (aka Jubei)? When will Sunrise realise that these chubby felines are the best thing about Otome?
In place of Jubei, Mikoto now has some attendant hooded people who bear a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy black mages. Exactly who these people are and what their purpose is (if any) remains unknown.