Rounding out the first half-dozen episodes, we’re treated to what may be the most absurd episode in this series, let alone Mai HiME. I won’t bore you with a scene-by-scene recitation of the show (man, what got into me last night?) but will try to cover the highlights… such as they are. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very funny episode, but it’s also quite over-the-top and more than a bit naughty.
We start with Arika agonizing over how to go about the business of writing her weekly letter to the mysterious benefactor; this correspondence is apparently one of the conditions of her support. Erstin tries to help, while Nina makes a typically cutting remark. It’s when Arika pokes Nina in the ribs in mild retaliation that she makes quite the discovery: Nina’s ticklish! And hilarity ensues. Interesting bit for this scene: Arika may be taking it as a challenge that Nina doesn’t smile very often.
Nina takes her revenge on the practice field, which merely sets the two of them into direct combat. Sister, er, Yukariko puts a halt to it, with style (and no small collateral damage). She then comes up with the bright idea of assigning Nao to deal with these two fractious girls by making them both her “helper underclassmen.” This assignment leads to speculation among the girls in the class as they try to explain this concept to poor, unknowing Arika. Arika, for her part, spills the beans to her closest compadres about Nina’s weakness… which Irina, of course, simply must put to the test. The method and the results are interesting, to say the least. Bad form, Arika! And once again Nina’s motivated to give Arika a proper thrashing.
Meanwhile, spiral-coiffed Shiho is collecting dirt on our two favorite Otome-in-training. Apparently she’s decided that they’re a significant threat and is taking steps. Underhanded steps, in this case involving her “makimaki” voodoo device (complete with a very disturbing attachment!), a body of water, and… creatures of some sort?
Cut to poolside the next day, and Mashiro’s putting in an appearance because she’s heard that Arika can’t swim. She just can’t pass up a chance to needle Arika, can she? Mikoto’s along as well, though she’s sporting the weirdest outfit ever to lower a poor kitty’s dignity. Anyway, Arika’s assignment is to put her head into a pot of water and open her eyes, as a sort of preliminary to learning to swim. She can’t seem to manage it, especially with an evilly-grinning audience of queen and cat, and eventually breaks the pot trying.
Meanwhile, the rest of the girls are in the pool and something is in there with them. That something at first causes a bit of misunderstanding on Erstin’s part, albeit an understanding that Erstin is quite okay with on some level. Nina doesn’t see it quite the same way, mind you. Hmm, shades of Shizuru and Natsuki here, though one can’t directly compare Shizuru and Erstin. A few other girls (including green-haired Tomoe, another troublemaker) also come in contact with whatever’s swimming around, though nobody makes too big a deal of it. (They’re a blasé bunch, ain’t they?)
A bit later, Nina’s first up for timed laps. She doesn’t get very far before she’s accosted by a number of semi-invisible swimming things that are being spurred on by Shiho, who’s hidden in the bushes with her ever-so-disturbing “makimaki” device. Nina squirms and splashes around in what we can only take to be a combination of fear and sensory overload, then begins to sink under the water. Who will save her? Arika will! Arika leaps into the pool, makes a big splash, and… sinks under the water. She still can’t swim, after all. Interesting bit for this scene: Nina has a vision of a face before she blacks out; this face is briefly superimposed over Arika’s less-appealing visage before Nina blacks out.
She awakens in the nurse’s office, surrounded by concerned classmates, Sergei Wong, and eventually Nao puts in an appearance. Nina is profoundly upset by what’s happened, even going so far as to rudely rebuff Erstin, who saved both girls. Maybe it was the news that Erstin performed mouth-to-mouth, eh? Interesting bit for this scene: Nao doesn’t like Sergei. Is this because Nao’s a man-hater in general or does she know something we don’t? She’s certainly not a simple character so it’s hard to discern her true motivations. This is a plot thread to keep an eye on since it bears directly on one of the most important people in the story so far, if not the most important male character.
We get a brief interlude during which Arika pumps Nao for information about Sergei. “Do you know him?” “You could say that.” Which isn’t much of an answer, even when Nao goes on to say that both she and Nina used the Kingdom of Artai’s backing to get into the school. Nao then says a number of snarky things about Nina, then Arika as well. Interesting bit: Hell, the entire scene is kind of interesting as a source of character background for Nao. She’s certainly not getting the short end of the stick like she did in Mai HiME, at least. This scene alone makes up for the absurdity inherent in the rest of the episode, plot-wise.
At this point the episode devolves into even more extreme silliness and perversion. A plan to discover what’s in the pool backfires on account of someone among the Coral students switching the labels on shelves of salt and sugar. (How none of the girls noticed the switch until it came time for Irina and Erstin both to lick Arika’s finger during cleanup is anyone’s guess. Oh well.) The damage is done, however, and the small invisible creatures merge to create a gigantic tentacle demon straight out of, oh, any hentai you can name that features tentacle creatures. I kid you not. We’re treated to shots of Erstin and Nina doing the “oh, no, the tentacle creature has me in its clutches” pose and everything. Well, everything but actual tentacle rape, that is. Interesting bit in this scene (and even at its most absurd, Mai Otome can still throw in these bits!): Arika and Nina cooperate in the fight against the monster without the slightest friction or hesitation. Nina gives an order, Arika obeys unquestioningly. Telling, isn’t it?
Of course it takes a true Otome to settle this mess, and we get just that in the form of Nao, who blasts giant holes in the giant. She then pauses to extract a polite request from Shiho, who also ended up in the monster’s clutches, before bringing out the Nao Ginsu-beam Device of Kickass Badness to string up and fillet the creature. The tentacle creature, that is, not Shiho. Darn it. Interesting bit in this scene: Nao berates her kohai for getting into this mess just to save someone worthless like Erstin. Boo, Nao! Bad form.
The show ends much like it began, in the dorm room with Arika at the desk. Now she’s passed out asleep, however, and Nina (because she’s not being watched, presumably) makes the effort to cover Arika with a blanket… of course, she then turns around and says something disparaging about Arika’s handwriting. Of two minds, this one is.
Okay, I was wrong. I did end up writing a great deal about this episode. What can I say? I’m totally enjoying this show, and I can’t help sharing. Is that such a bad thing?