Shamanic Princess (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2001
What They Say
To retrieve the talisman stolen by her beloved, Tiara hunts the night, battling monsters with her awesome shamanic powers. Disguised as an ordinary schoolgirl by day, she arrives at his lair only to find her archrival one the scene, protecting the thief. Dark secrets unravel as Tiara faces these powerful opponents, and her one hope for survival may be to betray her mission. Contains all 6 episodes!
A complete OVA series on one disc and for such a low price. It's an easy purchase, but it's not quite as easy to love the show within...
For our primary review session, we listened to this in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the OVA's we had no issue at all with the audio track, which is a typical two channel mix. Dialogue is clean and clear, with the majority of dialogue through the center channel and the left/right channels making good use of the haunting music and the ambient effects.
There's two blemishes to the transfer here, one was a fairly strong spot of artifacting during one of the dark night blue sky sequences early on and the other is the near constant edge rainbows. The rainbows aren't as bad as some other discs we've seen recently though, so that was a definite plus. The shows high quality animation and slightly divergent style works well in its favor for producing a good looking transfer with no other issues beyond those two. Colors look very earthy as desired and with a few moments of vibrant colors here and there when required.
The cover, though quite good looking, is almost a bit too busy for my tastes. The center of the cover has the lovely Tiara prepping a spell with other characters throughout the background. Things just feel crowded though. The back cover has some more artwork as well as a few animation shots and the story summary. Amusingly, CPM is still listing (at least as of this release) chapter stops and motion menus as features. The reverse side of the cover has some more nice black and white artwork as well as chapter listings and cast listings for both languages.
The menu system is fairly typical CPM with some static shots and some animation playing in the background with music/vocals and the list of selections to the left. Submenu access times are pretty fast and things move around without issue. While not the top menu systems out there, CPM's menus continue to be the easiest and fastest to use.
There's a few nice extras here (aside from chapter stops). he first is a brief bit about the artist and how regard Atsuko Ishida is and the next one is the trailers for episodes 5 and 6 of this series. Watching those you realize that each of these OVA's was sold separately in Japan for about 60 bucks a pop. And we got it all for 30$. It's those moments that remind me that I'm quite happy with a lot of my region 1 purchases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In general, OVA's tend to not tell a really linear story or something that takes time to tell. They generally leap right into the action and keep things moving with a few minutes of explanations scattered about here and there. Often OVA's are made from manga that may not be marketable enough for an entire TV series run but can do well in this direct to video format.
Having watched all six episodes for Shamanic Princess, I'm somewhat at a loss as to how I feel about it. The show begins things quickly, with young Tiara arriving from the Guardian World with her new partner Japolo. Her mission is to retrieve the Throne of Yord from Kagetsu, a renegade negator from the Guardian World who has stolen it for some unknown reason. Tiara's first encounter is with her childhood friend Lena, a generally quiet girl. A bit of verbal sparring goes on, with Tiara figuring out that Lena and her partner Leon are protecting Kagetsu.
The setting for all of this is a European style village from some time in the past, though it looks as if it could be the present at times as well. The setting tends to be just that, as we don't encounter people from this world, just those visiting from the Guardian World. Most encounters on Earth tend to take place at night as well, adding to the mystery of it all.
As things progress from battle to contemplation, we learn that Kagetsu has stolen the Throne of Yord because it has absorbed his sister, Sarah, into itself. Kagetsu's purpose is noble in trying to rescue her, but he lacks the ability to do so due to the powers he was born with, generally only able to neutralize others powers. Lena's had no luck in getting through herself with Leon. But with the arrival of Tiara, there's a hint that they may try to bring her in to make an opening into it.
In one sense, it's very hard to talk about this show without giving away a lot. While there are six episodes of the show, the creators have done something not seen too often. The first four episodes deal with the actual adventure and ending itself while the final two episodes deal with the time before it all happened, focusing on the lives of the characters when they were friends and growing up in the Guardian World, where their cliques formed and where they learned to use their magic, as well as to gain their partners.
There is a lot to like about this show:
Opening/ending sequences: The opening contains a number of nice camera and cg animation tricks to bring about something unique looking and stylish. Add in the absolutely great music and it's a winning combination. The feel and mood of the show is really set by these two bookends.
Animation style: The character animation, being an OVA from the mid-late 90's, is quite gorgeous. The characters are very lushly drawn with vibrant colors and detailed looks. The eyes of the characters are also quite lush looking, adding more depth to them than usual. To contrast with this beautiful animation, the backgrounds used are of a pastel variety in a lot of scenes, many looking simply stunning here. A few of the scenes are done without any character animation at all, letting the view simply take in the setting. The backgrounds here are very much a character themselves.
The feel: The show has a definite earthy feel to it, a very naturalistic style. The magics aren't the typical anime brand, focusing more on detailed motions and intricate designs for summonings. The magic isn't the centerpiece to things, but does an excellent job of adding to the vibe of the show and giving it the, well, shamanistic feel that they're striving for.
Japolo: I gotta admit it, this partner of Tiara's is just great. While he does fall into the cute sidekick character, he's got more spunk than most and has a great attitude throughout it all. He's not the blindly following sidekick either, but rather someone with a purpose to follow through on. When we learn the origin of Tiara's previous partner later on, it only brings Japolo's contributions and what he has had to deal with into more perspective.
Shamanic Princess is a very engaging show on a lot of levels. It's a show that really merits a number of repeat viewings fairly close together, requiring the small details to be looked at and to look beyond the normal storytelling style to see what the creators are trying to see.
Shamanic Princess continues to grow on me the more I think of it, and is one of the very few shows that I'll be making time to rewatch in the near future.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Meet the Characters,About the Artist,Japanese Trailers (2)
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 180
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Shamanic Princess