When Mai Tokiha and her little brother Takumi take up residence at Fuuka Gakuen, their new boarding school, Mai discovers that the prestigious academy is the center of some very disturbing paranormal events. Mai also discovers that she is a HiME — supernaturally gifted with the ability to summon her "Element" (a set of strange artifacts that grant her great powers) and also bonded to a strange mecha-like creature called a CHILD. Mai realizes instinctively that the price of her new power is responsibility — but there's an additional, far more terrible price as well.At least she's not alone — a secret organization called the First District has been gathering HiMEs to Fuuka Gakuen, at least nine of them; it seems the HiMEs are part of an ancient myth with a special destiny the First District wants to make sure comes to pass. But a powerful conspiracy based in America thinks it deserves to control their powers, and takes steps to make the HiMEs its own. And just when the HiMEs seem poised to become a unified force for good, an even deeper, darker secret about their purpose is revealed, completely and irrevocably altering the burgeoning connections between the girls.One of the better anime to appear on Japanese television in the 2004-2005 season, Mai-HiME is well-written and is lushly and beautifully animated. Like Futari wa Pretty Cure, it seems intent on bringing a Post Modern sensibility to the aging Magical Girl trope. This it does with a sly misdirection, by first presenting what appears to be an "ordinary" magical girl show stripped of some of the trope's more "fairy tale" characteristics. (There are no fancy costumes or over-the-top speeches, no real transformation sequences, surprisingly few pieces of Stock Footage, and from the beginning, matters are significantly darker than the genre normally allows them to get.)But once you've settled in to what appears to be just an unusual Magical Girl show, the tables are abruptly turned and everything you expected is changed. The true purpose of the HiMEs, the role of the Orphans, the very reason for their powers and what they have to do with them — is nothing like what you expected. And unlike so many other Magical Girls, the HiME and what they do are not Invisible to Normals; some are in fact being influenced or manipulated by agents of the "mundane" organizations around them.As one by one the HiME fall, the monstrous orchestrators of the carnival finally appear on the stage, leading to an apocalyptic final confrontation.Mai-HiME was conceived as a multimedia project, spanning anime, manga and video game editions, all produced independently of each other with each one following a different continuity. The anime turned out to be by far the most popular imagining, but the manga has its followers. The video game, a Dating Sim created by the people behind Da Capo, was never released outside of Japan.Followed in the 2005-2006 season by Mai-Otome, a completely separate series which still contains connections back to Mai-HiME. Another disparate series is Mai-HiME Destiny light novel series, which not only shifts the action to Hokkaido, but replaces Mai with a shiny new protagonist named Mayo Kagura and the HiME with MiKOs — so, strictly speaking, it's neither "Mai" nor "HiME"...Originally available in the US via bittorrented fansubs, but in late spring 2005 it was licensed for release in North America. As of summer 2006, it can be found in retail outlets in the US under the title My-HiME.For more information on the characters within the series, check out the character sheet.
Alas, Poor Villain: Alyssa's death. She's too cute to die, and too covertly evil to let get away, but it's still so damn sad to watch her go.
All There in the Manual: A considerable amount of information about characters' backstories can be found in their specials, the audio dramas and "Natsuki no Prelude," a story that discusses Natsuki's past, including when she became a HiME.
Shizuru has one of these with Natsuki, after her secret desire is exposed by Haruka and Yukino. She informs Natsuki that she never wanted her to know about her "wicked love" that she felt could never be returned. Natsuki later tells Shizuru that she doesn't feel quite the same way that Shizuru wants her to, but she's happy Shizuru loves her and also loves her in her own way.
Badass Normal: Haruka. Oh, Haruka. Has no abilities, doesn't even know kung fu, but picks a fight with a battle tank. For a moment, appears to about to succeed in trash-talking a HiME into submission while held at swordpoint by said HiME. Finally literally bitch-slaps Fate itself when faced with death.
Natsuki kissing Shizuru immediately after she draws her into a hug during their last battle.
Comedic Sociopathy: Midori follows Mai to the temple (despite promising to work), leaving Akane to toil solo in the restaurant.
In the Blu-Ray special, Mai lies to Reito about having lost interest in Yuuichi and goes to the beach with him in order to bury him in the sand and force-feed him extremely spicy food along with the other HiMEs in revenge for what the Obsidian Lord did.
Conspicuous CG: The large bell that's pulverized by Shizuru to capture Natsuki who was trapped in it in one of the last episodes breaks into a few dozen particles, which are all perfectly triangular polygons.
Continuity Cameo: Nina Wang is a member of Mai's class but is named "Chun Mei" in this series. Arika Yumemiya's brief appearance in the last moments of the last episode.
Deconstruction: The series could be considered a deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre. However, a few of the common tropes (flashy transformations, powers that are Invisible to Normals) are left out, so it may be too far of a shift to count.
Reconstruction, then; showing that the genre works just as well without those tropes.
Easily Forgiven: Nobody holds anyone responsible for their actions during the Carnival, up to and including rape and murder.
Easter Egg: Two of them. In episode 2, Mai's classmate directly next to her and in front of Yuuichi is Chun Mei, who looks almost exactly like Nina Wang from Mai-Otome. At the very end of the last episode, an orange-haired girl runs across the screen and looks at the camera just as Mai, Mikoto and Natsuki leave — and she looks exactly like Arika Yumemiya, the central character of Mai-Otome. They're very brief, but you can see them.
Engrish: The supposedly American Alyssa singing "It's only a fairytale". While it sounds beautiful, it's pretty obvious that the lyrics were written in Japanese and blunt force trauma translated, assuming you realize it's supposed to be English at all.
Enjo Kosai: This is Nao's favored night activity, with a twist. She actually makes the guys think she's gonna service them, but then she uses her CHILD to rob them
Alyssa: Just because it's a satellite, that doesn't mean it travels at a constant speed.
Expy: From Neon Genesis Evangelion; one character is a very transparent Rei Ayanami clone (cute, but creepy). Another is a blatant Kaworu Nagisa. His name? Nagi. Last but not least: they have the same seiyuu.
Shiho forces Tate to give her one in epiosde 19. Unbeknownst to him, Mai was sitting on a swing in a playground below where they were at, and he does it right in full view of her. Unlike when Mai nearly kissed Reito, she doesn't stop him, but he hears her getting off the swing in time to realize the trap Shiho forced him in.
Let us not forget Miyu Greer: Multiple Intelligencial YggdrasilUnit.
Gainaxing: On Mai, though interestingly Haruka actually has the largest bust of any female character (88cm) and mostly avoids this treatment.
Maybe her bust is the biggest, but her cup size is obviously significantly smaller than Mai's. In fact, Yukariko the nun has the largest bust measurement (89 cm), but she's not as busty as Mai.
Gambit Pileup: There are two separate groups of Illuminati involved, just for starters. One such group is in the middle of a power struggle between two Eldritch Abominations, has one human Starscream with his own pet HiME, has one Defector from Decadence independently working with Natsuki to bring the whole thing down, and had another member who tried to defect to the other side. The other group is more or less taken off the board in the middle of the series, but still works with Natsuki to trade information, and the immortal cyborg superweapon they lost control of proves key to stopping the Big Bad.
Gilligan Cut: In episode 15, Midori attempts to form a Hime protection group. Both Nao and Natsuki both claim they're not interested. In the very next scene, Midori is giving her speech about it, and both girls are there, albeit against their will and tied up, with the implication that Midori knocked them out and brought them there.
The Glomp: Mikoto -> Mai, a lot; likewise Shiho -> Yuuichi.
Mai suffers a particularly brutal one in episode 19 after accidentally overhearing her brother mention that he didn't want to burden her anymore, and then seeing Shiho force Tate to kiss her shortly afterwards. She snaps out of it briefly when Nao gloats to tell her she's going to attack Takumi, then falls into it again when Takumi disappears in front of her.
Natsuki has one when she learns that her mother was going to sell her before she died. She loses the ability to use her Element or Child, and is thus no longer able or willing to fight back against Nao before Shizuru shows up. Shizuru's actions for the sake of "helping" Natsuki push her further into it, but she eventually recovers and regains her powers
Heroic Sacrifice: Done twice, and subverted both times: Mai shielding her friends from Artemis' laser beam with Kagutsuchi and then flying out to space to destroy it, and Yuuichi ordering Mai to take out Shiho's Yatagarasu, knowing that it will kill him. Mikoto jumps in and does it for Mai. They get better.
Hidden Eyes: Shizuru, right before she challenges Haruka and Yukino.
Hollywood Tone Deaf: Natsuki and Nao are terrible singers, although their seiyuus do much better jobs at their image songs.
Honor Before Reason: Subverted and reaffirmed: Shizuru and especially Shiho would gladly let the world burn for the people they love, and Mai heroically refuses the offer to become the goddess-wife of the Big Bad, remake a world where her brother is happy and healthy, and chose to fight his tyranny with almost no apparent hope of victory.
Incest Subtext: Mai and Takumi are quite a bit closer than you'd expect out of siblings, which gets furiously lampshaded at several points. Tate and Akira both accuse him of having a sister complex. Mai takes it quite hard when Takumi decides to go to America for surgery alone as a way of becoming independent from Mai, although it's a matter of interpretation whether this reduces the subtext on Takumi's, adds to the subtext on Mai's end, or both.
Kansai Regional Accent: Shizuru speaks Kyoto-ben. The dub has her speaking in a Southern accent, and viewers are divided over whether it's a close approximation to her clearly different way of speaking or completely ridiculous.
Karaoke Box: Appears in Episode 16 and the ending. Mai apparently enjoys this greatly, but has to go last the first time.
Laser Hallway: Subverted — Mikoto jumps into the laser grid at the abandoned First District Lab before Natsuki can formulate a plan to infiltrate it. The guards don't immediately come after them, anyway.
Last Kiss: Yukariko and Ishigami, then Mai and Yuuichi, in the same episode. The first one is played straight, but the second one is a near-miss, as Mai's lips just barely touch as Yuuichi is dissolving. The series ends without them having kissed at all.
Lethal Chef: It's not clear whether Mikoto, Nao, or Natsuki is responsible, but their cake not only sends the judges (almost every significant male character in the series!) to the hospital, it makes an Orphan sick to it's ... whatever it uses to digest food.
The team with Haruka, Yukino, Shizuru and Youko made the mistake of heating the chocolate directly, which causes it to explode outward and might have made the cake inedible even before Haruka dropped it on the floor.
Loads and Loads of Characters: The core cast consists of twelve Magical Girls, as well as a bunch of other named characters associated with the school, including staff members. About 25 cast members are introduced within the first four episodes... and there are still 22 more to go after that.
Lotus-Eater Machine: Mai gets one of these. We already know she's in one from the start, though.
Love Hurts: Several chracters go through this in the anime.
Tate can't stand watching Reito nearly give Mai a kiss in episode 13, and manages to stop it by screaming her name.
Shiho, who was with him during that incident, is not happy about this, and the next day she appears very upset as she walks to school with him. In an earlier episode Shiho asked Mai not to pursue Tate, and Mai assured her that she wasn't interested in him. Then things happened...
Shiho gets back at Mai later in episode 19 when she is being walked in her wheelchair by Tate and then notices Mai sitting on a swing in the playground below where they are. She guilt trips Tate to give her a kiss, in full view of Mai, and Tate was unaware that Mai was around until she gasped in horror at them kissing.
Shiho and Shizuru. The former targets her romantic rival Mai, and Shizuru attacks all of Natsuki's enemies.
In a non-romantic sense, Nao is motivated by a desire to avenge what happened to her parents..
Don't forget Sister Yukariko. Mai even calls her out on the fact that everything bad that happens in the last ten or so episodes is pretty much directly her fault, and she did it because her boyfriend told her to.
Mood Whiplash: Invoked deliberately in Episode 16, which was written so as to lull the audience into a sense of security before dropping a plot bombshell on them. Also arguably the big reason why a lot of people had issues with the ending.
In the last episode, the battle concludes with what appears to be a death scene for Mikoto, and when she seems to pass on, Mai looks, and sees that she's merely extremely hungry, with Wingding Eyes. The scene then transitions to the lighter-hearted ending.
Also invoked in Episode 8. After Akane watches Kazuya die and has a mental breakdown, the last shots of the episode are everyone else enjoying the festival as normal. The following episode makes it clear that no one knows what really happened, and most of the cast remains ignorant for some time.
My God, What Have I Done?: Mikoto breaks down when she realizes she struck down Akira's CHILD and killed off Mai's brother Takumi. She was aiming for Yatagarasu, Shiho's CHILD that had attacked Mai earlier, but her conditioning took over and caused her to attack the first thing she saw, which unfortunately happened to be Gennai. A flashback immediately following that event shows that she was also responsible for killing her grandfather.
Later somewhat subverted and then reinforced when it turns out it was in fact Yatagarasu that struck the fatal blow against Gennai. Before realizing this however, Mikoto defeats both Fumi and Midori and still invokes the trope.
Mikoto: It wasn't me? Then... (realizes what she had done)
No Body Left Behind: Anyone who dies as a result of a Hime's defeat disintegrates into green sparks and reappears in the Grand Finale, whether in the location they died or elsewhere (Kazuya dies in the forest and reappears in Akane's mental hospital room).
Non-Action Guy: Yuuichi, a former kendo expert who had to give up his sport due to an injury.
The Nosebleed: Natsuki gives Takeda these, to both their horrors.
Phenotype Stereotype: While Japanese characters have all kinds of unreal eye and hair colours (see the illustration above), the Tykebomb made by an American secret society has blond hair and green eyes, which are most likely intended to be her "real" appearance. Other characters aligned with the same organisation have similar appearances.
Poor Communication Kills: The Big Bad's primary plan is helped along at multiple instances by his Dragon's selective omission of information and other characters' outright deceptions, and one of the most bloody rampages of the show is caused by Shizuru not telling Haruka her reasons for leaving the school and the latter's suspicion-fueled digging up of all Shizuru's dirty secrets.
Natsuki cares for Shizuru significantly more than she lets on, and admitting the extent of her feelings might have averted some of the problems.
In a more conventional sense, Natsuki says in the 25th special, that Shizuru, Mai, and Mikoto helped her to open up, and that Shizuru's feelings for her and Mai and Yuuichi's feelings for each other helped her realize that people cannot live alone.
Power Trio: Mai, Natsuki, and Mikoto as Ego, Superego, and Id respectively.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mai really loses it when Mikoto inadvertently kills Takumi, by defeating Gennai, Akira's child. She's wrong about Mikoto being to blame, but doesn't realize this until later.
Schoolgirl Lesbians: Some fans argue that Shizuru represents a Deconstruction of this character type; others a simple Psycho Lesbian. Yukino might be a straight example; Haruka is her Key (in the manga) and Most Special Person, so she may be in love with her.
Second Year Protagonist: Averted. Several of the high schoolers are first years and several more are third years, but none of the characters are in the year in between.
Screw Destiny: Midori's goal in the second-half episodes and general life philosophy.
Sentai: Parodied, as Midori attempts to form such a team.
Stupid Evil: Alyssa and Searrs seem to prefer making a bunch of threats the other hime basically amounting to telling them to stay out of their way to bring about the "golden age" and never bother even explaining what the "golden age" even is, as opposed to trying to win any of them over.
Suddenly Sexuality: Some viewers see Natsuki's pursuit of Yuuichi in the manga despite having no interest in boys in the anime as an example of this.
Superpower Lottery: Mai's elements allow her to shield herself, fly, and hurl flame. Natsuki's are well, just pistols. Her Child is also one of the strongest of the lot, capable of sub-orbital flight, massive bombardment and is simply fricking huge compared to most of the other Childs.
This may be justified, however, since the Childs are powered by the love that the HiME feels for most important person. Natsuki, at least initally, denies that she even has someone she cares about that much. When she finally admits how she feels about Shizuru, Duran becomes enormous as any of the other Childs for their final confrontation.
Shizuru and her obsessive love for one of the main characters, Natsuki. Fandom has rewarded this with a series of doujinshi, the tamest of which explore Shizuru's more publishable fantasies. The more extreme, well... let's just say that Shizuru is a very imaginative individual. One of the artbooks states that they "find happiness" at Natsuki's graduation. Shizuru's popularity in this series likely led to her Mai-Otome incarnation actually hooking up with that universe's Natsuki.
Speaking of Mai-Otome, there appear to be quite a few of them there, too, since most of the story takes place in the all-girls' Garderobe Academy. Chie, in particular, appears to have out-Chizuru'd Bleach's Chizuru in the "openly flirty" department. Furthermore, the Schizo Tech that gives the girls their super powers is destroyed by sperm, and neither condoms nor vasectomies exist.
Too Dumb to Live: Father Joseph. He sneaks up on a now-powerless toddler and her incredibly powerful and loyal robotic bodyguard (that he built but knew he could no longer control). He kills the former first, and then starts bragging about it to the latter's face. That ends pretty much as you'd expect.
Arguably Haruka refusing to run away and continuing to taunt Shizuru despite Yukino's insisting while Shizuru points her Element at her.
Took a Level in Badass: Yuichi's sword-using in episode 26, although there were at least allusions to him having championship-level kendo talent beforehand.
Also note that it was still played believably: the immortal swordsman disarmed him pretty quick.
Transfer Student Uniforms: Reito's clothing is all-black, as opposed to the outfits of everyone else, which are most often brown vests or blazers and skirts or pants with white dress shirts.
We Can Rule Together: The last episode. In an inverted parallel of Star Wars, the Big Bad offers Mai the place of The Dragon, Mikoto, who undergoes a Heel Face Turn because Mai is her parent/big sister figure, instead of the other way around. Mai says "no", twice, and then destroys the HiME Star with a little help from her friends.
Weird Moon: Besides appearing enormous, notice that the moon is somehow always full throughout the series.
Although it is arguable whether Yukino qualifies for this trope, as her role is effectively to provide intelligence and communication for the other, combat-oriented HiMEs. A very valuable role in real life, but less so when the other Himes aren't on her side.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Most of the twelve HiMEs (and the foreign Alyssa) have plausible hair colors, but some of them are much lighter than what would be normally seen on an actual Japanese person - Mai has bright red hair, and Haruka is a blonde. The most realistic colors are Yukino's brown hair, Mikoto's black hair, and Shizuru's auburn hair. The three characters with crazy-colored hair are all supernatural - Nagi has white hair, Mashiro has lavender hair, and Miyu has light blue hair.
Natsuki's blue hair is never commented on, and in the "prototype" trailer, it's black.