Corpse Princess Complete Collection Part 1 -

DVD Review

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 59.98
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Corpse Princess (Shikabane Hime)

Corpse Princess Complete Collection Part 1

Corpse Princess Complete Collection Part 1 DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     September 22, 2010
Release Date: September 14, 2010

Corpse Princess Complete Collection Part 1
© FUNimation

Sometimes the dead come back. And when these women come back, they come to hunt the them.

What They Say
Makina Hoshino is already dead, but she can't let go of this twisted world. She burned to death along with her entire family in a fire started by freaks that wouldn't stay buried. Makina knows she doesn't belong among the living, but that won't stop her from unleashing the full fury of her twin MAC-11 machine guns on the rotting remains of those who refuse to die.

She's hell-bent on filling every empty grave she can find with the monsters that should be six feet under. Makina is a Shikabane Hime - a Corpse Princess - and it's her job to finish off the undead leftovers haunting the dark corners of a city that used to be safe.

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review!

This release has a pretty standard audio presentation from FUNimation with the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 192kbps and an English 5.1 mix encoded at 448kbps. The Japanese mix is pretty solid across the board with a fairly dynamic mix at times when it comes to the action. There's a fair amount of that throughout the show and it has some good depth and directionality to it, with a lot of it having a bit of impact as well. The English 51 mix takes it up a few notches, in volume particularly, but adds a bit more bass to it as well which lets the blows feel a bit more powerful. Dialogue for both tracks are good with no real issues, but there's not all that much going to the rear speakers in the English mix.
Originally airing in late 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The first half of the series runs thirteen episodes and is spread across two discs in a standard seven/six format. The show spends a lot of time with dark colors as it's a very dreary palette, much of it either taking place at night or dusk. There are some daytime scenes to be had, but overall they're few and far between. The dark colors generally hold up pretty well with only an expected level of noise with some of the darker scenes and night skies. The brighter colors, while not vibrant, have a really good look to them. The show has a very strong real world palette and the character animation meshes with the backgrounds well, giving it a dark feeling overall but one that works well.
Shikabane Hime has a standard packaging design to it with two clear thinpak cases inside the thin cardboard slipcover. The slipcover is pretty good looking as it has a dark feeling without going overboard as it uses a lot of deep reds to it, including as a filter over the top level character artwork. There's a strip through the middle that has a bit more color as it brings in the men of the series which balances things nicely underneath the straight pure white logo. The back cover uses the same layout but has the strip done in black with an appropriate tagline through it. The character artwork is good here and there's a decent couple of shots from the show as well. The summary is a touch hard to read with small print that's white on top of the red, though it's more because it's so thin.
Inside the slipcover the two thinpak cases are really nicely done. Both of them are framed with an off-white border with the artwork inside ragged around the edges. It utilizes the same kind of reds as the front cover while the actual character artwork, filled with roses throughout it, goes either with a single frame of Makina or a group shot of several of the leading women. The artwork here is highly appealing with the character designs and the roses, giving it a beautiful yet dangerous tone. The back of the covers are pretty basic with large print showing off the episode numbers and titles for what's on that volume. The reverse sides have two pieces of separate artwork on each which allows for what appears to be four covers from the original Japanese releases that look pretty striking, though I like the main front covers more for their simple beauty and design.
The menu designs for the series are rather simple as they use the same overall design as the slipcover with the reds and character artwork as the primary focal point. The menus are fairly straightforward and they set the mood well enough, though there isn't anything terribly striking about it. The navigation strip uses a fairly large font with it since there's little on the discs outside the three menu selection tabs, with the second disc getting an additional one for the extras. Submenus load quickly and without a problem though the discs continue to follow the practice of not reading our players' language presets.
The extras for this release are pretty basic with a nice little addition for dub fans. The expected extras are here in the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences while the added bonus is getting a dub commentary track with the twelfth episode of the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Yoshiichi Akahito, Corpse Princess (or Shikabane Hime as it's originally known) is a twenty-five episode series with two distinctive halves to it. The first half, made up of thirteen episodes in this set, is known as the Aka phase of the show. This portion of the series does a surprisingly good job of not only introducing us to the basic setting of the world and what little curiosities it has, but it tells a fairly complete first chapter story with some important changes made at the end, causing the second season to be a more clearly defined successor to it. While the season ends strong, it starts off a bit weak as it has a bit of a monster of the week feeling to it.
Corpse Princess takes place in the modern world of today, but things are a bit askew. For various reasons, some people's corpses come back alive after they die and they invariably cause trouble of some sort, often through their lingering issues with life. Their bodies take on unusual and distorted forms and they have a lust for killing. It's rather straightforward in its own way, but there are some nicely creative elements to it, such as one corpse that's brought back with the spiritual side is split among the bodies of three young children. Some of them do try to blend into the world as a normal person, though their lingering issues force how they interact, such as one man that ends up front a religion of sorts where he uses his abilities to transform things to make it look like he's the next best thing.
Naturally, such things can't be left to roam the world and that brings in the Shikabane Hime, young women who come back from the dead and take up the role of hunting down these creatures. Through work with the Kougan Sect of monks, these Shikabane bond with a particular monk who becomes their Contract Monk through which they draw additional life energy which helps them to heal after a battle and increase their overall abilities. Their contract is designed so that if they can eliminate 108 Shikabane they'll gain entry to Heaven. There's a fairly complicated structure to the Kougan Sect, a little too complicated at times as we go up and down the hierarchy, but it gives it a fascinating element to watch how they work with the Shikabane Hime, not necessarily as tools, but as key things to both the monk and their battle overall.
The central focus of the series is on a teenage girl who is a Shikabane Hime named Makina Hoshimura. She's contracted with a monk named Keisei who doesn't quite fit in with the other monks of the sect, but has a strong bond with her as they knew each other during life at one stage. The two are a really strong pair, though they take their bruisings along the way as well which has put both of them in a tough spot at times. One of those times several years earlier was witnessed by a young boy named Ouri who Keisei had taken in when he was young. Ouri's been kept out of all things related to the Kougan Sect, but he's slowly learned about it and seems to have an affinity for certain supernatural things, such as a cat that only he can see which claims that he is him.
This triumvirate of characters works around each other as Ouri is concerned about the things his elder brother Keisei is dealing in since he comes back wounded so often. And as he eventually meets Makina, he finds himself drawn to her and starts asking the right questions at the wrong time, as Keisei doesn't him to get involved in all of it. Over most of the set, we see the show dealing with Ouri's slow realization of what's going on as he gets closer to Makina and grasps her true nature. The individual stories are decent, and having it play out over time helps it to not feel like a rushed discovery. It does slowly add a bit of tension to things as you wonder when they'll finally bring it all out into the open.
These thirteen episodes do work towards telling a rather complete story. There's a lot of ground covered in introducing the characters, but they also bring in a group called the Seven Stars, whose leader is a young looking character named Hokuto. She has a connection with Makina that slowly comes to light, which in the end is connected with everything else that's going on. With the group that she has, they're doing their own hunt and the past comes back to the present. The connections that these characters all share are a bit forced in some ways, but in the end it all comes together beautifully to present a really strong finish to this particular half of the overall series. And it does so with some changes that definitely work in its favor, changes that often come earlier and having that delay makes it all the more interesting.
In Summary:
Corpse Princess is a series that took some time to really work for me, but when it did, it became rather intriguing. The final few episodes of this set really gives it a chance to stand out well and change things up. While it has a feel of a monster of the week kind of show with a lot of subplots mixed through it, it comes together in a way that gives it a lot of strength and opens up the second half to being even more because of it. The characters have a fairly rich history and there's an extensive supporting cast with a lot of structure to it when it comes to the Kougan Sect, but if you focus on the core it's where it works the best. There's a lot to like here, from the production design to the character histories and the emotion that comes out, but it takes some time to get there and a bit of work. But it's ultimately worthwhile I think with the potential for the second half to take it up another notch.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 12 Dub Commentary, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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