This is not Mai-Otome as you saw it onscreen (and for that you must be thankful); this is Mai-Otome as it should have been, and hence much has been liberally changed whilst retaining the essence of the original.
An Otome is classified as any woman injected with self-replicating internal nanomachines that enable her to materialise a protective armoured robe and weapon. Otome are valued throughout the world for their superior education and fighting abilities, and although the cost of contracting them is very high, many leaders choose to do so anyway.
More on nanomachines
Only a small percentage of the female population are compatible with nanomachines; men and incompatible women injected with them will reject the invasion and die of internal bleeding and organ failure. According to the Great Convention signed at the end of the last world war, Garderobe is the only state allowed to develop nanomachine technology, and only for the purpose of creating Otome (see later for more specifics). Nonetheless, certain nations carry out prohibited research, and there is a growing world movement that believes that everyone should be allowed access to nanomachines.
Nanomachines are controlled by Gems whose crystalline arrangement depends on the data stored within them. Gems are keyed to a specific set of vocal commands issued by their user, at which point they transmit data to the nanomachines, telling them how to alter matter.
A side effect of having nanomachines in the body is that they are programmed to break down viruses and foreign bodies to prevent illness. This also means that they will act on any ‘male proteins’ in the body, preventing conception.
GARDEROBE AND OTOME RANKINGS
Garderobe Academy lies within the borders of Wind Bloom, but is considered as an independent and historically neutral state in its own right. Girls from all over the world study there to become Otome, but there is also a co-ed section in which children of noble bloodline can learn about statecraft and what it means to become an Otome Master.
Any girl between the ages of 15-18 can apply to study at Garderobe (other ages may be admitted at the discretion of the Headmistress). Successful admission depends on the results of a physical exam, written exam, interview and nano-machine compatibility test. The school year begins in spring (as in Japan), but transfers may be allowed in mid-term if places are available.
Entirely at discretion of Headmaster; the tendency is to accept as many applications as possible since it fosters good political relations and teaches children a less biased view of the world than they might otherwise learn at home. Most noble students are aged between 15 and 18, and will remain at Garderobe for 1-2 years.
Preliminary Class: Coral
Aspiring Otome spend 1-2 years in the Coral level. Students who have not had the equivalent of a high school education will attend classes in a variety of subjects; others can take advanced courses if they wish. Given the worldwide importance of Otome, emphasis is placed on history, politics, languages, and of course combat training. At Coral level, a robe can materialise any of a variety of weapons.
At the end of their first Coral year, all students are expected to take a series of written and practical exams, followed up by an inter-year tournament. Tournament performance is not only graded by whether the student wins or loses her battle- attitude, form and style are all taken into account.
Anyone who fails to graduate to Pearl at the end of their first year is allowed to repeat the year, but if they fail a second time, they are expelled. Rumours persist of a student group that ‘encourages’ students to drop out rather than repeating the year.
Finals Class: Pearl
Coral graduates spend a further 2 years in the Pearl level, during which time more advanced courses and combat training are pursued. Like the Coral robes, Pearl robes can materialise a variety of weapons.
Pearls can choose up to two underclassmen to serve as their soeurs; the Pearl mentors the Corals, who in return perform various duties for their underclassmen.
Graduate Class: Jade
All successful graduates earn the prestigious rank of Jade. At this point the graduate can choose whether to continue being an Otome, or have her nanomachines deactivated.
For a Jade still working as a Full Otome, there is no shortage of options- Jades are highly sought after for roles as teachers, bodyguards, military personnel or contracted Otome (see ‘Meisters’ section) for nobles or minor leaders unable to afford a meister. Jade Otome generally set their nanomachines to materialise only the weapons they are most proficient with.
Any Jade wishing to bear children or to simply lead a more normal life must first have her nanomachines deactivated at the Garderobe Medical Institute. Even without the ability to materialise, proof of qualification from Garderobe is sufficient to land high-ranking administrative jobs.
This is the highest rank an Otome can attain, and is only for the most dedicated and capable of women. Each meister has a unique gem that materialises a personally tailored robe and weapon. Although it is not compulsory, meisters will usually contract to a master to enhance their powers- the master’s life force is drained in exchange for enhanced fighting ability. Despite the obvious disadvantages of this system, many nobles and leaders still choose to accept contracts (or force relatives to accept them) since an Otome is an incredible advantage in battle, whilst being without one is an obvious vulnerability. At the current level of nanotechnology, it is only possible for an Otome to contract to one master, and vice versa.
Traditionally, Meisters are encouraged to remain celibate as relationships are seen as a distraction from the life of an Otome.
Arika: A country girl who is inspired to become an Otome after meeting Rena, Arika is an enthusiastic but none too bright student who manages to scrape through one way or another.
Nina: Having lived a harsh life in the slums of Artai, Nina is determined to gain enough power to protect her country. Her determination and rigid adherence to duty gradually lead her down an ever darker path.
Mashiro: Princess of Wind Bloom. Mashiro enters Garderobe at the beginning of the series to learn statecraft and meister duties. As per Wind Bloom tradition, she will take up the throne and choose a Meister on her eighteenth birthday.
Sergey: Regent of Wind Bloom, Sergey is more interested in consolidating his own power base than in serving either his queen or his people.
Aoi: Windbloom’s Jade level Otome until such time as Mashiro picks a meister. In previous years, Aoi was also Mashiro’s tutor.
Erstin: Classmate of Nina and Arika; she admires Nina so much that she forfeits the first year match to ensure that Nina can become a Pearl. Erstin later becomes a Jade, but is killed by Nina on the battlefield.
Natsuki: Headmistress of Garderobe Academy. Although it is commonly believed that she is an Otome, a handful of people in the know are aware that Natsuki is actually a failed Otome, and only has her position because of her administrative abilities and shrewd tactical thinking. She is also something of a firearms expert, her preferred weapon being a Duran-class firearm with custom-made chrome and silver cartridges, secretly imported from Aswald.
Shizuru: Meister Otome contracted to Natsuki. Shizuru has numerous duties, from teaching at Garderobe to arbitrating disputes. Shizuru also has an unofficial network of Jade agents keeping her apprised of the worldwide political situation.
Yukino: President of Ealis, Yukino maintains a firm but fair hand. She once attended Garderobe as a prospective Master, and met Haruka, Natsuki and their peers there.
Haruka: Yukino’s Meister Otome; hot-headed but generally good at getting the job done.
Yukariko, Maria: Jade level Otome and teachers at Garderobe.
Sarah, Maya: Meister Otome, advanced lecturers and also guardians of Garderobe. They have chosen not to contract with a Master.
Shiho: Pearl level Otome and head of the Disciplinary Committee, an unofficial student organisation that harasses second year Corals and encourages them to drop out. Shiho is later disgraced herself when she fails her final Pearl exams.
Chie: Deputy leader of the student council during her Pearl years; Chie becomes one of Shizuru’s Jade agents on graduation.
Akane: Leader of the student council during her Pearl years. Despite her feelings for Kazuya, she chooses to devote herself to her Otome studies and graduate as a Jade. During the war years, however, she ends up contracting with Kazuya as an Otome, and eventually draining his life force.
Kazuya: Young Carlteyan noble attending Garderobe. He initiates a relationship with Akane but eventually breaks up with her when she chooses to focus on her career. Later becomes an important force in the Carlteyan government.
Tomoe: Coral level Otome who is forced to repeat her first year due to an overall failing grade. Following an encounter with the Disciplinary Committee, Tomoe drops out during her second year and joins the Valkyrie unit.
Nagi: Duke of Artai; Nagi is an ambitious man who plans to marry Mashiro and thus take over Wind Bloom.
Midori: Head of research at the Aswald Technological Institute, Midori oversees the development of new technology such as Children, Slaves and cybernetic implants. A good person at heart, Midori hopes that her research will help protect the weak, but beneath her positive exterior she is forced to bear the knowledge that her work is being used to wage war against others.
Yohko: A former colleague of Midori, Yohko left Aswald to pursue nanomachine research at Garderobe in the hopes that she could improve on the Otome technology. She is also responsible for importing Natsuki’s firearms.
Takumi: Ruler of Zipang and younger brother of Mai. Due to his poor health he is more of a figurehead than an active ruler, with most of the real power lying in the hands of his ruthless and ambitious ministers. This is a situation that has only worsened since Mai’s disappearance, but nonetheless Akira and her underlings swear fealty only to Takumi himself.
Akira: Childhood friend and now bodyguard of Takumi. Akira was appointed by Mai and told to hide her gender so that she wouldn’t be forced into becoming an Otome.
Mai: As a teenager, Mai was sent to Garderobe with the express aim of becoming her brother’s Otome, but when she found out that a contract with him could further damage his already frail health, she refused to continue her training. Forced to go on the run when Zipang agents came after her, Mai was captured by Schwarz and turned into a test subject.
Mikoto: The last descendant of her family, Mikoto bears a terrible burden as “The Watcher”, a guardian tasked with keeping an eye on the wellbeing of the entire planet. Unfortunately, over the past few decades, Mikoto’s powers have been growing steadily weaker, and she is forced to act through her network of feline avatars.
Rena: Former Otome of Wind Bloom, contracted to the King.
Joseph Gleer: High Priest and ruler of Schwarz. Joseph has twisted the country’s worship of “The Great Artemis” into a tool which his government uses to control the populace.
Miyu: Gleer’s eldest daughter; she is in fact an advanced cyborg created through Schwarz research.
Alyssa: Gleer’s younger daughter and a cyborg like Miyu. Alyssa is known throughout the country as “The Voice of God”, and her apparent revelations from the divine Artemis are among Joseph’s most effective weapons in controlling his people.