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Scrapped Princess #1: Family Ties PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 16:00
Scrapped PrincessThe first of a few dips into the backlog, Scrapped Princess at first appears to be a fantasy hack'n'slash story about protecting a girl on the run. That's only part right, though, as there's a lot more going on than there first appears to be. Intrigued yet? You should be...

1 - Overture of the Abandoned-Cat Princess
Pacifica Casull's facing a difficult future - she's the 'Scrapped Princes', who prophecy says will destroy the world on her sixteenth birthday. That's not far away now, and the closer the date comes, the more people are lining up to try and kill her, under orders of the church of Mauser. Fortunately, she has her protectors - her adoptive brother and sister, high-level magic user Raquel and skilled swordsman Shannon, have done a pretty good job so far of keping her alive. But the church is nothing if not devious, and has laid a trap for Pacifica...

PacificaMisguided Priest of Mauser

2 - March of the Half-Baked Knight
Another day, another problem - although not assassins this time, but bandits who really don't seem to realise who they're messing with. While Shannon and Raquel are quite capable of dealing with the situation themselves, though, a young would-be knight quickly arrives on the scene and tries to deal with the bandits himself, with comical results. He's Leopold Skorpus (Leo for short), and once he sees Pacifica, it's a classic case of love at first sight. From that point on, getting rid of Leo never really seems like an option. Later, a swim in a lake turns sour when a giant frog, the guardian spirit of the lake, appears - but the giant amphibian is more than it appears to be...

LeoZephiris

3 - Fanfare for the Unforgiven Man
With Leo getting more than a little bit saddle-sore, the gang decide to take a break from the road, and head for the city of Taurus - Leo even proves his worth by helping to get them through an army checkpoint on the way that's been set up to look for Pacifica. There's no rest, though - lack of cash means that part-time jobs are the order of the day, while another group of would-be killers are on their trail. And yet, Pacifica still finds time to make friends...

ChristopherShannon & Pacifica

4 - Concerto of Meetings and Partings
Shannon heads out to deal with Christopher and free Winia, and to say that Chris seems to have strong feelings about the Scrapped Princess would be an understatement - although more in the way of being jealous that she has people in Shannon and Raquel that care for her, when he feels that no-one cares for him. His fight with Shannon is predictably short, and Winia is soon released - but Pacifica's dream of finding a friend in Winia seem to have ben dashed by her experience. Meanwhile, the Purgers of the church of Mauser plan their own move against Pacifica - and their orders aren't just to kill her, but to destroy the whole city...

Locked in battleLost friend?

A part of me grew thoroughly tired of fantasy settings many years ago, after one too many late-night Dungeons & Dragons sessions. The DM of the Rings changed that, more through accident and design, and so Scrapped Princess came down from the shelf where it's been sitting for quite a while now. Without wanting to spoil too much, there are aspects of SutePri (as it's officially abbreviated by the creators) that decidedly aren't fantasy, but you have to wade through a lot that is before you get there. Like this volume.

You'll initially think you've seen it all before, too - fugitive girl, highly-skilled protectors, challengers trying to kill her each episode - some on-off baddies who are embarrasingly easy to kill, some who are more of challenge and will clearly be long-running adversaries, and a little bit of comedy along the way. So far, so generic. Characterisations aren't anything particularly special, either - Pacifica's likeable enough, Shannon's almost mono-syllabic, Leo's a typical comic-relief-in-love character... You get the picture.

From that, you'd think I was wasting my time. But there are only so many stories in anime - at the end of the day it's execution that makes one show's take on an idea stand out against another, and there's just something about the way that SutePri all hangs together that makes it very enjoyable to watch. The way Raquel can incant a spell so quickly that you barely get time to blink (and does it in such a polite way); the little pointers here and there that the world the show's set in isn't all it appears to be (and the characters are as blind to this as the viewer, at the start); and the feeling that there genuinely is something about Pacifica that's going to kick in on her sixteenth birthday - the question is just whether it's going to be as devastating as rumour would have you believe, or just devastating for those in power. The final episode gives you a taste of the lengths that the church of Mauser will go to to get her out of the picture, and we're not talking the actions of a caring church here...

I have the advantage this time around of having seen the full series before - first time around, I wasn't at all convinced at this stage, and it was only the good fortune of curiosity or boredom having made me watch a few episodes more that got me hooked. It's not the greatest of starts, true, but this volume does have its moments, with the promise that it gets much better further down the line. Give it a go - you may just surprise youself.

Rating - ***

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