Princess Resurrection Complete Series Collection (Cert 15)
4 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 633 minutes approx.
Hiro Hiyorimi is an ordinary schoolboy, recently moved to Sasanaki City where his elder sister Sawawa has taken a job as a live in maid to a soon-to-be arriving lady of nobility. En route to meeting his sister, Hiro spots a blonde gothic clad beauty standing directly under a falling steel girder. Living up to his name, Hiro pushes the girl to safety but is not so lucky himself and goes to meet his maker as a result. Somewhat charmed by Hiro’s good deed the gothic blonde reveals herself to be Hime, Princess of the Royal Family of the Monster Realm, and rewards the deceased by bringing Hiro back to life, making him semi-immortal, then putting him to work as her personal bodyguard to protect Hime from the various monstrous assassins sent to kill her by Hime’s two jealous brothers intent on ending Hime’s ascension to the throne.
The supernatural manga from Yasunori Mitsunaga gets the inevitable anime makeover albeit in a toned down version which reins in the violence and gore while accentuating the humour, though it retains a suitably creepy and gothic horror veneer. And like many titles where the manga is still ongoing, this series take many liberties of its own with the story and characters. For instance, in the manga it is Hime’s life blood which revives Hiro and from which he must sup to remain “alive” while in this version it is the PG friendly Flame of Life which keeps Hiro ticking.
The series kicks off with the tease of being a harem show as Hiro is outnumbered by Hime, Sawawa and Hime’s android servant Flandre but with Hime as the true central character that idea is quickly dispelled. Over the next few episodes Hime comes under attack from Liza Wildman, a half breed werewolf looking for vengeance after Hime killed her brother, vampire Reiri Kamura, Hiro’s classmate and high school hottie and even Hime’s younger sister Sherwood, her android maid Francesca and their giant panda(!). However having each been defeated, the girls reluctantly agree to side with Hime, appearing from time to time when the situation requires some extra bespoke muscle.
Hime’s opponents run the gamut of fictional and folklore monsters including vampires, mummies, invisible men, androids, arachnids, werewolves, weresharks(!), headless knights, Witches, ninjas frogs and cat girls, paying tribute to some of the classic movie monsters from the bygone era of horror cinema. This forces the show to run with the “monster of the week” format which may seem apropos within the remit of Hime’s brothers sending different assassins to kill their sister, but if there was ever a show screaming out for an overarching story line to take the characters on a journey of emotions then this is it. With twenty six episodes (twenty five plus a DVD extra) this becomes quite a drag so dipping in and out of this four disc set is recommended over watching this in a marathon session. Only in episodes twenty three and twenty four do we get a double shot story in which the ultimate antagonist is revealed only for the next episode to be a one shot comedy outing providing what must have been a very confusing end to the series for the original TV audience.
With no real arc to play out, the characters aren’t subject to much in the way of development outside of the obligatory growing fondness and begrudging respect born out of close knit associations. Hiro is a truly ineffective male lead with only his semi-immortality – for which he needs a daily dose of Hime’s Flame of life to maintain – going for him in conflict, otherwise as a royal soldier he is as much use as a lead lifebelt. As a result Hiro is quickly relegated to throwing himself in front of Hime to absorb some impact which she then deals with herself. As the titular heroine, Hime is stoic, unsmiling, cold, blunt, self absorbed and quite stand offish; underneath that aloof exterior however is a woman who cares more than she lets on, renouncing her royal lineage due to the horrific actions and reputations both her family and the kingdom of monsters have. To that extent Hime is not exactly a tsundere since there is no real 180 degree turn in her attitude – if there is it certainly isn’t explicitly acknowledged. As werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies, Liza and Reiri constantly bicker for comedic effect while Sherwood vies for Hiro’s affections, failing miserably. Aside from her chibi form and superhuman strength, android Flandre’s main contribution to these events is the word “huga”.
Studio MADHOUSE have been responsible for some of the most impressive looking anime series over the past forty years – this show sadly isn’t one of them. The backgrounds often look hurried and lacking in depth, relying on prime colours only while the reliance on freeze frames during action scenes is shameful. Character designs are fairly simplistic often feeling too one dimensional. The monsters are often too comedic in appearance recalling the simpler days of the crudely realised creatures from the original Scooby-Doo cartoons of the late sixties, trying to hard to be frightful and end up more risible than anything. Then again, since this adaptation was made with humour in mind his may have been a planned strategy.
If you are looking for a show which allows you to take your time watching without the worry of forgetting the story, Princess Resurrection is designed for you. It’s an undemanding show which also infuriates as the promise of the main plotline isn’t given sufficient exploration, especially given the show’s lengthy episode count. But it does offer some laughs, hard hitting supernatural action and the central cast are a unique enough bunch to keep the viewer entertained. It has its flaws but ultimately this set delivers perfectly acceptable tongue in cheek thrills and spills – but sadly not many chills.
Japanese Language w/ English Subtitles
Disc 4 only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Ratings – ***
Man In Black