Scrapped Princess

Finally got to finish this one, and it was worth the wait. Scrapped Princess is based on a light novel series by Ichiro Sakaki (published in America by Tokyopop, along with a short manga interpretation). It was made into an anime by Studio Bones (Cowboy Bebop, Full Metal Alchemist), and is licensed in America by Bandai Entertainment. It's available in an Anime Legends complete collection, individual limited edition boxes (with figures), and as individual discs.

The series has some great English voice talent, including Kari Wahlgren as the title character (FLCL, Samurai Champloo, Witch Hunter Robin), the lovely Crispin Freeman as her brother Shannon (Witch Hunter Robin, Last Exile, Hellsing), Bridget Hoffman as her magical sister Raquel (Serial Experiments Lain); and a host of others including Michelle Ruff, Liam O'Brien, Wendee Lee, and Steve Blum.

At first glance, Scrapped Princess appears to be a fantasy show set in the Middle Ages, like Lodoss War. For the first disc, the story maintains this setting. It becomes clear fairly quickly however that things are not what they seem in this world.

The same goes for the Scrapped Princess herself. A prophecy of Grendel, read before the princess was born, predicts that a child will be born that will become the "poison that will destroy the world" by her 16th birthday. As a result her father, the King, ordered her killed shortly after she (and a twin brother) was born. But Pacifica survives, and is adopted by the Casull family. After the death of their parents, Pacifica and her adopted brother and sister, Shannon (a stellar swordsman) and Raquel (a powerful wizard), embark on a journey to escape those who wish to kill the Scrapped Princess, and find somewhere safe to live.

Looking at Pacifica, and given her friendly personality, you wouldn't think that this was the person who is meant to destroy the world. You may have, as I did immediately, reservations about just what exactly she is meant to destroy. The Church of Mauser maintains that the Scrapped Princess must be killed for the preservation of the world, but frankly the Church of Mauser is a little suspect. The way they basically rule everything, force their faith on people, and treat those who think differently doesn't exactly present them as saintly people. It's clear very early on that something about this whole mess is off somehow, but it's going to take a good portion of the 24 episodes to find out just what exactly is going on behind the scenes.

If that all sounds rather serious and depressing, well...it is. Fortunately comic relief is frequently provided (not only by Pacifica) by a wandering apprentice knight named Leopold. Earnest but rather clumsy, Leopold falls in love with Pacifica at first sight, and joins them on much of their journey to help protect her. The show can be very light and goofy, but there's always a lingering shadow over everything.

The cast is full of interesting, complicated characters. Shannon and Raquel aren't just side kicks, along for the ride - they're fully fleshed out and have their own problems, particularly Shannon. Pacifica is a strong heroine for the most part. She is a little whiny, but most of it is just "Wouldn't everyone be happier if I were dead?" or "I don't want people to die because of me." It's good that she recognizes this, but she does say it a bit too often (though in her defense, the whole world hates her and is out to kill her because they think she's going to destroy them). The upside is her strong desire to live despite her depressing thoughts. Otherwise she's very cheerful and just wants to be friends with everyone they meet. Even their enemies, the god-like Peacemakers and the elite army unit Obstinate Arrow, are more than simple antagonists.

The show is very well made, with good animation, an excellent opening and closing, good music, good story, and good voice acting. DVD extras include...not much. Clean credits, and nothing else that I can recall. But the figures that come with the limited edition boxes (I personally own two of them, a large Pacifica and a smaller Shannon) are pretty nice.

Image (left to right, top to bottom): Leopold and Winia, Zephiris and Christopher, Shannon and Raquel, and Pacifica.

Oh! By the way, I'm working for a website called ComicAttack.net now! The majority is American comic books, if that interests you. If not, as well as co-editing the site, I'm also writing a weekly column called Bento Bako Weekly about all things anime and manga. I plan to make it a bit different from what I do here, which is just straight, individual reviews; and instead explore things from a wider angle. It starts this Monday (which, er, is today)!