Scrapped Princess Vol. #3 (also w/Limited Edition Figure) (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, September 12, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2005
What They Say
Pacifica and her siblings are captured by Senes, the Beast Princess! As Senes and her troops explain the true history of humanity, the Peacemakers attack! It’s now up to Pacifica to give them the power to fight back!
It took half the series almost but the hook is in and the fascination level with Scrapped Princess just went up by a huge order.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. While a lot of the show is fairly quiet and dialogue driven as it keeps to the small cast as they travel and interact with locals, there are some really good action sequences that utilize the forward soundstage well and move across it. The opening volume has some fun scenes, such as when Leo first arrives and rolls across the screen or during the glass valley fight where the crinkling sounds come from all over. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials here for the most part are pretty good but the series does suffer in a few areas, some quite noticeable. One of the most blatant areas and one that made me leery of the release in general was the opening shot when the Japanese logo comes up with all of the dot crawl all around it. There actually seems to be a method to this madness however. It looks to be hitting the same set of episodes as the Japanese release that was on separate discs. In other words, the second set of episodes on this release were on their own disc in Japan and the first two on their own. Only the second set here has the dot crawl issue. So it looks to be much more master related than actual authoring issues. The shows colors in general look really good with the backgrounds and they mostly maintain a solid feel though there are some occasions where the gradient becomes more pronounced than it should.
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a slightly different border surrounding it, the Cassul family in the form of Shannon, Raquel and Pacifica look out into the distance while having a really beautifully blue shaded sky behind them. The logo is kept relatively the same kind of style by translated for the main part while the subtitle is left in Japanese and the only other addition to the front is the basic logos and volume numbering. The back cover has a fairly standard fantasy style layout with scrolls and line work with a very descriptive summary of the premise. A few shots from the series are attached to the episode listings and the discs features are pretty clear and easy to find. Though not a full technical grid, something resembling the start of one is there along the bottom. No insert was included with this release.
The menu layout for the series is similar to the front cover a bit in that it has an elaborate frame around it while a bit of animation plays through the main window with clips of the scenery fading in and out. It initially starts with a shot of the carriage with the trio riding in the front but that clipped animation shifts down to the lower right and was probably a poor choice for inclusion since it features a fair bit of cross coloration and aliasing in it, which is not the kind of image you want to produce on the first actual bit of the show you see. The layout of the selections is pretty standard with instant episode access and navigation is easy. The disc makes out good in another area by properly reading our players' language presets and playing accordingly.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first two volumes of Scrapped Princess, we've been tantalized with a larger storyline about Pacifica being the one to break the world and destroy it. As such, she's been on the run with her adopted brother and sister who serve as her Guardians as they travel towards the Giatt Empire for safety from those pursuing from the Church of Mauser. During that time we've been treated to some interesting magic but also hints and more of something much larger from the times past that give idea of this world being the fallout from a much more technologically oriented society that collapsed.
Getting closer to the Giatt Empire, the trio have arrived in the northern mountains which is a monstrous range that obscures all else in their field of vision. Taking a break in one of the mountain inns along the way, they find themselves getting stuck at the same table as an Inquisitor of the Church of Mauser. They keep things light and simple and hope to just be able to leave after the meal but the Inquisitor ends up walking with them along the path through the mountains since the more company the better. All of them are surprised though when they come across a little girl out there and she runs off only to disappear off a cliff. It's not really a cliff though but an elaborate illusion that's hiding an entire village of believes of Browning that the Inquisitors of Mauser must destroy and convert. The Inquisitor is taken out before he can do anything though and the Cassul's are let go as they can prove they're not part of the Church.
This episode is actually fairly interesting on its though it is something we've seen covered numerous times in more feudal oriented series with regards to hidden Christian sects, but what this episode does is open up a new way to get to the Giatt Empire for the trio as a massive long tunnel system from the ancient days is located here and takes them deep into the mountains and out to the other side, a side where the snowy mountaintops are no more and they've arrived just by the ocean. This is the first time any of them have seen this and their awe is a bit understated but they realize how big it really is and just take it all in. Which is why they're easily caught off guard by the arrival of Senes, the "Beast Princess" of Giatt.
Senes has known of the trios coming and has planned for it as she needs not only the Scrapped Princess herself but also Shannon as his role of Guardian and something more due to his relationship with Zefiris. When we last saw Zefiris and Shannon combine it was in that ancient complex that was filled with the plant substance, but what Senes has is a fully working one and it turns out to be a massive ship. It managed to survive the chaos of the centuries due to Natalie, a being like Zefiris, merging itself into it and accepting the losses along the way in order to have a larger system to stay functional with. She's kept it working and slowly upgrading over the years and has worked with Senes to show them that the world is not what it seems and that the Scrapped Princess is the key.
Scrapped Princess makes the full change here from being an interesting fantasy series with some elements of science fiction carefully woven into the background into a show that's completely fascinated me as the science fiction elements come forward. While not a direct comparison, I'm instantly reminded of the Darksword Trilogy of novels from many years ago as what we learn here indicates that a long and far reaching plan has been in the works in order to free the people of all of the countries. We see that Pacifica is something special in that she cannot be compelled or ordered to do things by the beings that control this world and that when she fully awakens her powers, she's able to pass on that feeling to those under and around her so that they can resist as well.
Pacifica has been born to destroy the world but in so doing so will free it from what binds it now.
What the show has slowly moved into now that the first half is completed is something where instead of being on the run from things, Pacifica and her Guardians and others that will now rally behind her must face the challenges head on. She's still not quite understanding things which I think hurts the series a bit since it would to me be more interesting to have it all click for her as she realizes that her purpose isn't truly destruction but she has plenty of time to change once it sinks in. The need to change from being on the run though is nicely done and we're given so many little nuggets of info mixed into a great battle sequence between Shannon and Zefiris against one of the Peacemakers that it's not that huge of an issue.
I've certainly enjoyed Scrapped Princess up until this point but just about every episode on this volume was exciting to watch and added a lot to the overall mythology of the series. A lot of what we get here would normally be reserved for closer to the end of the series so I'm really interested to see how it progresses from here. The characters are all coping with the changes to their beliefs and what they thought the world was like and taking the fight to where it should be, even if they're forced to. Between the great looking animation and the beautifully evolving plotline, this is a real contender for my attentions when it comes in and only gets better with each volume.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Scrapped Princess