"I finally found my dream. So call me reckless or whatever, but I'll do it."
— Arika Yumemiya
Mai-Otome is a 2005 anime series, from the creators of Mai-HiME.Sometime in the future, on a distant colony world that has almost forgotten about Earth, the rulers of the various nations are accompanied by super-powered female bodyguards called "Otome". These Otome are ordinary girls who have been transformed into fearsome weapons of war through training and nanotechnology, acting as protectors and military deterrents. The Otome are admired as the pinnacle of grace and beauty, to the point where every little girl wishes to be one when they grow up.Only one place in the world possesses the Lost Technology needed to create Otome: Garderobe Academy, an elite private school in the city-state of Windbloom. Arriving at this place is fourteen-year-old Arika Yumemiya, an energetic young girl determined to follow in the footsteps of the mother she never knew and become an Otome. Armed with a mysterious amulet and no shortage of bull-headed enthusiasm, Arika wins her way into Garderobe only to discover that the road to becoming an Otome is much harder than she ever dreamed.As Arika trains to become an Otome, a conspiracy to seize control of Garderobe's Lost Technology begins to emerge, linked to a cult known only as "Schwartz". The realities of Arika's idealist dream — and what it means to be an Otome — slowly come to light as the world ticks towards all-out war and the deadly powers of the Otome are called into service.The series is notable for recycling virtually the entire cast from Mai-HiME, with lots of in-jokes based on the differences a character might have between the two series: for example, a Yandere character in Mai-HiME is in a happy and content relationship with the girl she lusted after in the original series. The last few episodes imply that the series exists in the same universe as Mai-HiME.Mai-Otome is every bit as fun a ride as its predecessor, and in spots is strongly reminiscent of Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind. Highly recommended.Followed in 2006-2007 with Mai-Otome Zwei, a four-episode OVA. A three-episode prequel, named Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~, has also been released, featuring Arika's mother, a young Miss Maria, and two canon immigrants from the Alternate Universe novel series Mai-HiME Destiny.Has an attendant manga, which actually started first and was produced at the same time. Opinion over that one remains divided. Keep in mind that it was never meant to be a direct adaptation, and they were just given the same concept.Available in North America from Bandai Entertainment for English-speaking viewers, although it's inexplicably retitled My-HiME Z: My-Otome.For more information on the characters themselves, please direct your attention to the Mai-Otomecharacter sheet.
Mai-Otome provides examples of the following tropes:
Aristocrats Are Evil: Grand Duke Nagi and King Argos of Cardair certainly don't have the best interests of the world in mind.
Attempted Rape: Arika nearly succumbs to this, until Sergey and Nao show up.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Among the Otome, the Meisters get all of the most powerful weapons, GEMs, and spiffy-looking costumes. Holders of this position are usually of high status - heads of state or members of the royal family.
Beach Episode, lightly subverted: The beach turns out to be the starting point of a grueling survival test. Everyone besides the students (and Shiho, who loses a straw draw and has to hold down the fort), however, is enjoying themselves until the time comes to evaluate the students' meals.
Beam-O-War, subverted: The beams from Natsuki's BFG and Schwarz's Wave Motion Gun collide, but one of them is knocked off course and disables the Fumi system a second time.
Catch Phrase: Shiho's "Maki maki!", part of her Running Gag. Other characters (mostly Chie) conk her over the head later for doing it during "serious" events. During the great battle, she actually weaponizes this!!
Cool Ship: Ultimate Desert Dreadnaught Suzushiro. Essentially a submersible battleship that floats on/dives into sand. Haruka enjoys being The Captain a little too vocally. Unfortunately does not get to see much screen time...
Limited Wardrobe: Apparently, the Corals have to wear their school uniforms everywhere, even out in the woods.
Loads and Loads of Characters: The show reuses almost all characters from Mai-HiME as secondary characters (which are a lot), plus adds a whole bunch of new, original characters. Interestingly none of the characters feel as superficial as some in Hime because Otome has a plot complex enough to give every character a meaningful role in it.
Moment Killer: Kazu and Akane are interrupted in a motel about to commence an evening of love when Cardair/Chaldea's royal guards barge in to carry the former off to his new life as king. Mahya Blythe later appears to apprehend Akane for her "misdemeanour". Mai-Otome Zwei continues in a similar vein with Mahya making moment killing something of a speciality.
Mood Whiplash: To be fair it's foreshadowed, but when it happens it hits hard.
Mundane Utility: Mai Tokiha uses her ability to create flaming rings to... cook. Meanwhile, the robot warrior Miyu doubles as a spiffy stirrer.
My Master, Right or Wrong: Expected of Otome, who exist to be weapons used in the wars of the various nations. Arika, however, defies this and works to change the system, and her relationship with Mashiro is more one of friends and equals than slave and mistress.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The girls pour some salt in order to kill the monster in the pool in Episode 6... but it turns out that they used sugar instead, and it instead turns into a massive monster. Everyone assumes Arika got the wrong bag, but Tomoe had Miya had switched the labels.
Pay Evil unto Evil: Shizuru screwing with Tomoe's head, then tossing her the first chance she got, would have been a majorKick the Dog if Tomoe hadn't done literally everything in her power to make sure she had it coming.
Nao deals with the thugs who tried to rape Arika by tying them to the back of a boat and dragging them through Windbloom's canals.
Phlebotinum Overload: The Robes are susceptible to breaking down if they sustain too much damage during a battle.
Also possible if the Otome draws too much power for the Gem to handle, as shown in episode 4 and Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~.
Post Episode Trailer: And in them, all the characters are aware of their roles in Mai-HiME - to the point of jealousy of another character getting to use her CHILD. A lot of the Mythology Gags are in these, such as an almost word-for-word re-enactment of the Mai Hime trailer in which Yukariko takes Midori's claim to be 17 at face value.
Precocious Crush: Tomoe's desire for Shizuru begins when the former is a child, but it doesn't get squicky until Tomoe's about 15, when she starts doing actual harm to people she thinks are stealing attention from Shizuru. It culminates in her sexually manipulating Shizuru and forcing herself on her.
Super Soldier: Despite all pretenses, this is what Otome are if not government sponsored Persons of Mass Destruction. Leads to much angsting since many Otome are aware that they may have to one day fight and kill their fellow classmates. Or have already done so...
Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Shizuru is helping Arika study in episode 8, she casually asks Arika if she heard the loud noise throughout the city the other day. Arika claims she didn't, then also says she didn't hear an organ playing either.
Was It All a Lie?: Tomoe asks this after Shizuru refuses to join her. Shizuru admits to lying to her in order to teach her a lesson about toying with people's emotions. To say the least, the message didn't get through.