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Scrapped Princess
Reviewer: Tong T. 01/30/2008

Synopsis:
Pacifica Casull seems to be your typical carefree and somewhat bratty fifteen-year old girl. However, in reality she is in fact known throughout the lands as the "scrapped princess" who is prophesized to become the "great poison that will destroy the world" when she turns sixteen. Believed to have been killed shortly after her birth, Pacifica's continued existence remains a secret to the rest of world until her sixteenth birthday draws near. Her secret revealed, she and her foster brother and sister, Shannon and Raquel Casull, must fight soldiers and assassins from the Kingdom of Leinwan and the Church of Mauser. As she meets new friends and makes new allies on her journey, she also learns the dark secrets of a time long past, and discovers her true purpose in the fate of the world.
 
Review:
The term "epic" is defined by the Webster's dictionary as "extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope" and indeed no other word is more appropriate to describe Scrapped Princess, an anime series based upon the light novel series by Ichiro Sakai. A creative mix of high fantasy and science fiction, Scrapped Princess is not only broad in scope, but superbly entertaining, marvelously executed, and beautifully animated. A shining gem amongst a sea of mediocrity, Scrapped Princess is truly a "diamond in the rough" and a definite candidate for the best anime of all time.
 
The story is mostly told in a straightforward manner, with a narrative that is mainly focused on the adventures of Pacifica Casull as she nears her sixteenth birthday. The main plot is also augmented with many engaging side stories involving a rich cast of interesting characters from chivalrous knights to cunning wizards, noble assassins, corrupt leaders, and powerful mythical weapons known as dragoons and peacemakers. As the story progresses it becomes greater and greater in scope, with genuinely surprising twists and turns along the way, building up to an exciting and riveting climax. And while the general plot seems simplistic, subtle complexities are seamlessly woven in, including numerous flashbacks which play an important role in the story's development. What at first seemed to be a story about knights, princesses, and wizards soon turns into a sci-fi battle of grand proportions. Sort of like King Arthur meets Evangelion. Yet, strangely enough, it's also a simple story about a girl's relationship with her brother and sister.
 
Moreover, the tone of the series is also well executed, with a carefully balanced mixture of both light hearted or humorous scenes, and more serious and dramatic scenes. Much of what makes the show so remarkable is how the comedy and drama both seem to occur at just the right moments, and never feels contrived or out of place. This is an impressive feat, especially considering just how easy it is for series of its kind to feel messy or uneven in tone. Perhaps this could be attributed to the fact that Scrapped Princess doesn't try to be overly ambitious in nature. The focus is more on developing the plot and characters rather than trying to "be something." This leads the series to feel more like a piece of honest storytelling rather than a show that is merely pandering to the masses. Ultimately, this type of earnest storytelling proves to be far more satisfying with an emotional resonance that is far more genuine.
 
The themes of Scrapped Princess very much reflect ethical dilemmas often debated and discussed in society today. While the importance of virtue, love and friendship are key themes, the show raises a few interesting moral questions. Is it ethical to sacrifice one individual for the sake of the majority? Is the value of society at large worth more than the life of a single person? Shannon and Raquel don't hesitate to protect Pacifica with their lives, even knowing that she may be a harbinger of the apocalypse. In addition, the show explores the power of fear and how it can shape and corrupt the lives of even the most powerful individuals. The King of Leinwan is so fearful of a foreboding prophecy that he is willing to sacrifice his own daughter without a second thought. The eternal conflict between destiny vs. free will and order vs. freedom also play a significant role in the show's thematic progression.
 
The visual splendor of Scrapped Princess is a wonder to behold. Produced by BONES, Scrapped Princess is filled with consistently high-quality animation that remains impressive even by today's standards. Every scene is crammed with fluid animation, rich detail, and brilliant colors. The animation also has an organic quality to it that makes the action, characters, and settings come alive. Equally as impressive is the excellent soundtrack composed by Masumi Itou, which is instrumental in helping to set the tone and atmosphere in countless scenes. The action sequences in particular are greatly enhanced by the superb and timely background music. Scrapped Princess also boasts one of the best English language tracks I've heard with convincing performances from the likes of Crispin Freeman, Wendee Lee and David Wittenberg. Bandai has once again delivered an English dub that is every bit as good as the original Japanese language track.
 
As flawless as it may seem, Scrapped Princess is alas, not perfect. A few rough edges can be found, though none of them ultimately compromise the enjoyment or value of the show. Some of the plot developments, for instance, can seem at times just a little too complicated. While the writers do a good job of explaining these increasingly complex plot threads and the overarching story concepts, at times it can become a little overwhelming for less judicious viewers. The complicated back-story in particular may give viewers significant trouble. And while the pacing is executed almost perfect, a few of the earlier scenes do drag on a little longer than they should. The fact that some of the minor characters and their relationships are not as well developed or resolved is also a little disappointing; albeit understandable considering the large cast. Finally, the ending does feel somewhat anticlimactic considering the buildup that occurs during the climax, with an uninspiring final battle that doesn't feel quite as epic as it seemed it should.
 
However, recommending Scrapped Princess is essentially a no brainer. The high production value alone is probably enough for most anime fans to give this series a try. But combine that with the intriguing and well developed story, a large cast of likeable characters, and plenty of exciting fantasy and sci-fi action, it becomes a definitive must-see. Sure, if you dig deep, you'll probably find plenty of minor issues, but there are always plenty of reasons not to give a series five stars. Yet as I was watching Scrapped Princess, all I could think about was the many reasons why it does deserve five stars.
 
Miscellanies:
The North American DVD release of Scrapped Princess was produced and distributed by Bandai Entertainment and contains six volumes, each with four episodes. An Anime Legends Complete Collection set was also released later on.
 
A three volume manga series written by Yabuki Go is also available from Tokyopop, though the actual story of the manga has little to do with the anime series.

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Scrapped Princess
Scrapped Princess
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Review Title:
Scrapped Princess
Alternative Titles:
Haiki Oujo
Type:
TV
Episodes:
24
Duration:
600 Minutes
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Aired:
2003
Suitable For:
Teens
Genres:
Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy,
Mecha, Sci-Fi, Shounen
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