Assessing Mai-HiME’s Notorious Ending

mai-hime-kimonos

Or, I defend Mai-HiME’s controversial ending.

Fair warning: I got interrupted several times while writing this, so it’ll probably read a bit unevenly.

I recently did a post on bad anime endings, and in the comments quite a few people pointed out that it was their belief that Mai-HiME had a really crappy ending. This isn’t exactly a shocking sentiment, as you’ll notice that many episodic blogs which followed it essentially had a giant “WTF?!?!?!” as their reaction on the final episode, and whenever the show does get mentioned in fan company, people complain about how the entire thing wrapped up. It also is frequently cited as the opposite of how to do an ending. Basically, you can think of of it as the conclusion that launched a thousand rage ships.

I, however, didn’t think it was the most horrible thing ever.

Now, I would like to point out that I didn’t think it was a good ending, per se; instead, I’d argue it falls in that vast mid-section known as ‘mediocre’. There was some crap, there was some decent stuff, but it was overwhelmingly a cold morning breakfast of oatmeal – bland. And kind of gloopy.

The chief complaint leveled against Mai-HiME’s ending is that it hit the reset button, and, yes, it did… sort of. For it to have completely reset, after all, there couldn’t’ve been anything that was different than the start of the show, and this isn’t true. The bulk of the cast matures, for one thing, most notably in the cases of Mai and Takumi. The HiME festival is ended forever. Mai and Tate get together. So, really, there isn’t as much staticity to be had – this isn’t Inu-Yasha, thank goodness.

On the other hand, there is some stuff that does get altered to a previous state – namely, all the dead people come back to life.

But wait! Actually, most of these people weren’t really dead – they disappeared, and a mysterious pillar rose out of the ground after their sparkles fully evaporated. Which seems to suggest more that the vanished people are actually sealed in the pillars in a sort of suspended animation, and thus, their re-appearances aren’t completely absurd – or, at the very least, not as absurd as they would’ve been had they just completely died. So I can stomach the fact that our wayward cast has come back.

Yet this doesn’t extend to the entire set of the cast which was taken out of the equation during earlier episodes. I take issue with the fact that Sister Yukarika, her boyfriend-thing, and Alyssa re-appear, since in the cases of these three, they are actually dead. Sister Yukarika and her  boyfriend-thing get crushed by her Child; THEY ARE DEAD, NOT SEALED. Alyssa gets shot; SHE IS DEAD, NOT SEALED. Given such, I find their resurrections irritating because it is asking for too much of a suspension of disbelief. I can the HiME’s important people coming back, but this is too much.

To regress somewhat, that HiME’s get their Child back when their loved one’s get revived could also be seen as simply a matter of them re-materializing from a state of suspended animation, sealed off somewhere. I suppose I would liken it to Zatch Bell, where the fighting creature-things don’t die if they get beaten in battle; they just get sent back to their own realm and are denied the chance to come out on top. I will confess, though, that this part is less easily justified than the revival of the loved ones, though.

Of course, one could claim that the fact that people get resurrected invalidates all the suffering everyone went through. This isn’t true, though; the fact that the characters have matured, for the most part, by the end of the series is proof that their suffering was not pointless. In this way, we could view the entire process as having been symbolic of growing up in general – events in the characters’ lives forced them to alter their way of reacting to the world and made them re-assess their attitudes. Do all of them actually mature as a result? Well, no, but do all people actually mature after going through real-life adolescence? I’m sure you can think of some folks you went to high school with who definitely did not. Essentially, I would make the argument here that Mai-HiME is ultimately just another coming-of-age story dressed up shounen action show clothes.

Anyway, the other point viewed as a serious flub on the part of the writers has absolutely nothing defensible about it: when it comes to Shizuru’s lack of contrition and apology for her behavior after everyone has revived; she just kind of tee-hee’s it all away, which is neither in keeping with her character nor convincing. I think this could easily be chalked up to bad pacing for the final episode in general, as this  episode itself is a bit rushed overall, and Shizuru’s part in it is part and parcel of that. It’s lame. It’s annoying. I hated it as much as you did.

So what do we have? On balance, a fairly meh ending to a decent show. Nothing to rage about, nothing to rave about. We can just drive off into the sunset and comfort ourselves with the fact that Shizuru and Natsuki are cooler and gayer (and a couple) in Mai-Otome.

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22 Responses to Assessing Mai-HiME’s Notorious Ending

  1. Baka-Raptor says:

    I shall now link you to a screenshot from a totally legal copy of the last episode:

    Not one moment of ShizNat gets past my eyes.

  2. I thought the ending was justified, because it is actually foreshadowed in episode 13 by someone who tells a legend pretty much saying ‘they all die, then they all come back.’ I guess everyone missed that. Also, I really like deus ex machina :p

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Its been about a year since I watched it, so I must admit that I don’t recall the foreshadowing, although it does ring a vague bell.

      As for deus ex machina’s in general, I vary on them – I was happy that Clannad~After Story~ got one, but would be mega-pissed if Planetarian had one.

  3. thekungfukid says:

    I was kinda ok with the fact that everyone came back to life. What really got to me was the fact that they we’re all buddy-buddy afterwards… like they forgot that were fighting to the death in the last episode. Especially Shizuru. How many people did she kill again? And nobody acted like they held even the slightest bit of hatred for her.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Shizuru’s part was probably the lowest point of the entire last episode.

  4. 2DT says:

    I agree with thekungfukid. The scene with Shizuru going “gomen ne~” was emblematic of what made the whole ending disagreeable: the total 180 in mood.

  5. Charred Knight says:

    I agree with the last two. Basically that line is basically why that ending sucked

    “Who cares what happened in the last half of the series, as long as everyone get’s a happy ending.”

    The series was so caught up in getting everyone their happy ending they ignored the fact that a happy ending stopped making any sense 10 episodes before that.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I can’t agree with you on the happy ending making no sense bit, since the second half was basically one big, fat teen melodrama trip, and so it was a bit hard to take seriously for the most part. And if we go with the idea that the whole HiME festival was symbolic of adolescence in general, a happy ending makes even more sense, since in most places where adolescence does happen (because the notion of adolescence is a very Western concept to begin with and doesn’t occur everywhere), it ends happily even if it was ridiculously angst-ridden while it happened.

  6. jpmeyer says:

    Or you can just flame people. LOL you got butthurt because you thought it would be GRIMDARK because you forgot that the first 13 episodes of this show existed LOL.

  7. glothelegend says:

    I liked Mai HiME a lot, even though the ending was kind of corny, and mentioned the word “love” way to many times. That being said, the manga was almost completely different from the anime, and was just as good if not better than the anime.

  8. hayase says:

    I liked Mai-Hime. Frankly I don’t understand why some people don’t like the ending. I, on the other hand, like happy endings. Maybe that’s why. 🙂

  9. Crazy Dave says:

    The Mai-Hime Manga was the first manga I ever completed ever. That being said I read it after I had seen the anime. Due to the nature of them being completly differnt in plot from what I remember I didn’t like the manga as much as the anime. Ah episode 4. That had to be one of the most memorable episodes next to the ep where Mai defeats Alyssa(i think it was) in space.

  10. ycaruz says:

    well mai hime is such a wonder ful anime i like the fhiting scence with girl 2girl love it

  11. LARIKA says:

    ITS SUCH A WONDERFUL ANIME FOR ME YOUR THE BEST MAI.

  12. Terentatek says:

    Shizuru, in addition to the “please forgive me” moment listed above also looks somewhat uncomfortable before she allegedly “tee-hees” it all awaty. It’s also indicated that both Hime and Otome Shizurus don’t necessarily show their true feelings all the time, and so perhaps the first expression after seeing Yukino and Nao again is more indicative of how she feels.

    I agree about how strange it is that Yukariko, Ishigami and Alyssa came back, or how Nao’s eye was restored.

    In general, though, the final battle was somewhat anticlimactic, but the ending wasn’t too out of touch with the tone of the series as a whole. The story indicates that love can make people do terrible things, but it’s also necessary for life and can change people for the better, so an ending in which the Himes are free to live with their most important people fits with that.

  13. Silent says:

    I’m sorry, but this ending was crap. None of the Romance was actually resolved, and the concept of breaking something that was clearly per-determined is bullshit. I’m on a giant mother fucking rage boat right now. I loved the emotions that this anime made me feel, and the last episode made me feel absolutely nothing. I’m mad.

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