We go head-to-head with the man behind 'My-HiME'
By Bamboo Dong. Interview by Rob Bricken.
Posted January 11, 2007 4:00 PM
Cute schoolgirls. Super powers. An attack by a mysterious enemy. Anyone can mix together an anime from these, but it takes some serious skill to create a show that stands out from the pack. And stand out is what Sunrise and director Masakazu Ohara did when they crafted My-HiME, a 26-episode TV series that lampoons shonen-show clichés at its outset, only to plunge into deep, dark turns halfway through. Such a mix has drawn all sorts of fans to the show’s story of Mai Tokiha, a new student at Fuuka Academy, who learns that she’s a HiME, a girl capable of using special powers and summoning an ally called a CHILD, all to defeat deadly creatures called Orphans. It’s a show that, for all of its bikinis and bathhouse scenes, Ohara intended as empowering to its largely female cast.
“Men usually play the key roles in shows that revolve around fighting,” Ohara remarked, “but with My-HiME, I wanted to reverse the roles that men and women usually play.”
My-HiME was also Ohara’s directorial debut. After doing time as a unit director and storyboard specialist on shows like Outlaw Star, The Big O and Turn A Gundam, he ended up helming not only My-HiME, but also its yet-to-be-licensed pseudo-sequel, My-Otome. For those curious about what Ohara put into My-HiME, we’ve whipped up an episode guide for Mai’s odyssey, and just what Ohara thinks of it.
|1. A Girl’s Most Important Event |
Mai and her brother Takumi have just switched schools, but on the boat trip to their new school, things go awry when a sword-wielding girl named Mikoto is found face-down in the water. Mikoto ends up fighting a mysterious girl and her huge robotic dog, breaking the boat in half.
Ohara Says: In Japan, there’s a genre of anime called bishojo, which revolves around beautiful young girls, and there’s always a demand for new stories. Right from the first episode, I wanted to shock the audience with dramatic effects that usually aren’t seen in bishojo anime. I wanted viewers to see it start and think “I have no idea how this is going to turn out.”
2. After-School Secrets
The first day of school goes south when Takumi is attacked by a strange pink monster. He’s saved by Natsuki, a HiME with special firearm-based abilities. Later, they discover that Mai has the power to control fire.
Ohara Says: There are obviously a lot of characters in the show, and this is where we started introducing them all. At the same time, we see Mai coming to a new school, so it was important to bring about the feelings of uncertainty around her, which are pretty much universal.
3. Dance of Flames / Star’s Oath
To help fight the monster, Mai must summon Kagutsuchi, her guardian CHILD. She discovers later that the beast is an Orphan, a creature from another dimension that can only be slain by HiME.
Ohara Says: Here’s where Mai’s CHILD appears. It’s actually a fire god from Japanese mythology. When Kagutsuchi blew away half the mountain, Mai was granted this incredible power without her realizing what she was getting herself into. I also wanted to make sure that viewers would be asking themselves “What kind of school is this?” I wanted to stir their desire to see what’s happening beneath the surface.
|4. Mischief of the Wind|
A panty-raiding Orphan is on the loose! Natsuki does her best to trap the beast to punish it for stealing her undergarments—and to get revenge for all the other girls’ pilfered panties.
Ohara Says: Why do an episode about an Orphan that steals underwear? Basically, we were looking for an Orphan to show some habit or addiction that humans wouldn’t expect. We also made this episode very lighthearted to create contrast with the more shocking elements later on.
With her part-time job as a waitress and her duties as a HiME, Mai is upset she can’t find the time to hang out with her friends. The last thing she wants to deal with is another Orphan.
Ohara Says: Up until this point, Mai’s
true personality hasn’t been shown yet, and we timed its emergence in order for her to make a connection with her coworker Akane.