When secrets are revealed, the nature of things changes drastically when it comes to who people really are.
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 14-26.
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 early 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The second 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 black for the background while the actual character artwork, filled with glowing 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 twenty-fourth episode of the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Corpse Princess brought in a familiar but decently done premise about young women who come back from the dead that are special, ones that will hunt down the other undead called Shikabane who have regrets that they can't let go over and go on a rampage about. Giving us these women known as Shikabane Hime and tying them to monks of the Kougan Sect that they would create a contract with that would give them additional healing powers and strength is routine, and there is a certain predictability there, but the execution of it all was competent and there were some interesting changes made at the end of the first season with regards to Keisei, the elder “brother” of Ouri, the ostensible male lead of the series.
The second season brings us to the interesting place several months after the end of the first. Ouri has decided to become a monk himself so he can fulfill the contract with Makina that Keisei asked him to handle. Ouri has been working hard at catching up on things but he can go only so far so fast, considering that many monks spend the majority of their lives and only reach so far. While the bond was established between the two, taking it fully to the next level is not something that can happen all that easily sometimes. The process of bringing them together fully is something that does occur, but it never feels like it fully gels together in a way that feels fully convincing. Individually, each of them works well but as a pair their connection is truly tenuous at best.
Corpse Princess does bring in a few standalone stories, including a final episode OVA that deals with one of the other Shikabane Hime, but at its core it deals with Ouri himself and the Seven Stars. The Seven Stars are the main focus as their plans are actually pretty well thought out as they intend to get revenge for past crimes committed against them. Since their whole idea is alla bout causing chaos and essentially shoving the Kougan Sect into the ground through it, they've decided to play the odds by creating hundreds of Shikabane by killing tens of thousands of people. It's actually one of the few master plots in a series that I've seen that seems to work really well in its setup and execution. If you want to destroy your enemy, push them to their limits and the Seven Stars do just that.
As interesting as their plot is, I found the episodes delving into Ouri's past, and his connection to the Seven Stars, to be far more fascinating. Ouri's origins, the deal that Keisei made to take him in and the way he's been able to cope with all he's seen is gone into with a lot of detail. His mother and the details of his birth really give the whole thing a new twist, one that I didn't see coming. Corpse Princess has had a good sense of darkness to it from the start, but his past adds a whole new dimension to it which does tie strongly into the Seven Stars as well. It's all pretty incestuous as it progresses and it left me really enjoying the levels that they went to setup how intense his past is.
Corpse Princess is a series that plays in very familiar territory that's fairly dark while having a few light moments here and there. It's intent on telling a serious story with very dark overtones and setting with a heavy atmosphere. The various parts of the series really come across well but as a whole it feels like it makes too many leaps to different places. The second season in particular really suffers from this with the way it has Ouri growing so fast with his skills in being a monk and the six months or so break between the seasons in-show. This season does have some really strong high points to it with the Seven Stars and Ouri's back story and those strengths are what will carry it, but it doesn't make it to the next level to be truly memorable.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Track, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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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