Puppet Princess - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 45
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Puppet Princess

Puppet Princess

By Chris Beveridge     September 25, 2001
Release Date: September 25, 2001

Puppet Princess
© Media Blasters

What They Say
A ninja with a bloody past. A princess with a bloody future.
It is the age of Civil War, a time of warlords and violence. Yasaburo is a ninja without a purpose, and the only survivor from his clan. Then he meets Rangiku, whose family was brutally murdered by the henchmen of General Karimata.

Now she fights using her father’s strange puppets, the very creations Karimata was out to capture. Together with Yasaburo, she fights through 16th Century Japan, and soaks the dusty streets in blood. When the Puppet Princes makes her puppets dance, they fight until only the bitter taste of vengeance remains.

The Review!
With the first couple of minutes of this show, I started to groan. Yet another ninja anime. At least this one has some sense of style to the designs and animation. And then the princess was introduced. Say hello to a different story than I thought I was getting...

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being a fairly recent production, the stereo mix is pretty good with some decent minor directionality during some of the fight sequences. Dialogue is still primarily through the center channel and the couple bits of music make most use of the left/right channels. There's nothing problematic here.

Though only the license year of 2001 is listed, and we can't tell when this was originally released, it definite looks like a very recent show. The quality of the source material looks to be quite high as this looks fantastic on our HDTV setup with the Skyworth. We didn't notice any macroblocking and only maybe three or four instances of cross coloration during some tightly animated sequences. Colors look vibrant, the darks are solid and the only bit of shimmering is during some of the camera panning sequences. This just one great looking disc.

The cover art is quite nice, with lots of darks and the very evil-ness that surrounds the characters. It's spooky to be sure. Course, I don't think there were many dark scenes at all within the show, since most combat took place outdoors during the day. But we'll let that slide so we have a good looking cover. The back cover provides a number of animation shots that look quite good as well as a good summary of the show. Technical information and features are plainly and clearly listed while the insert lists all the chapter stops.

Since there's little on the disc besides the feature, the main menu is where most of the action is. Inside of a static piece of animation plays out part of the show. Selections are along the left, including the one for the outtakes. The menu selections are accessed quickly and things are laid out in a pretty straightforward manner.

The only included extra is the dub outtakes, which elicits a few chuckles from us here and there.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Puppet Princess is a short focused show.

While the show opens with a group of ninja's on the run from a castle, evading some exceptionally limber and deadly pursuers, our real focus is given to the Princess Rangiku. The Princess is traveling to the home of a powerful and highly skilled ninja whose skills she needs so that she may exact revenge on the castle of the lord who has killed her family and ruined her lands.

Upon arriving at the ramshackle home of the fabled ninja, she finds out that he's not there, but there's another scruffy looking ninja hanging nearby who ends up helping her a bit, to the point where he will listen to her story. When she offers him all of her jewels and gold, he can't help but to join up. During the night, when the dinner is over, Rangiku heads down to the waterfall to purify herself before the acts of the next day. Yasaburo decides that he'll cut and run when things go wrong tomorrow, and decides to try and have some fun with this cute looking girl. To his surprise, when he starts to grope and fondle her, she willingly offers herself.

It's at this point that it's revealed just how sick things are here. An entire strip of flesh is removed from her back. Apparently her father had done this years ago, and used the skin to create the strings for the massive puppets he was building. Puppets that can take on the role of master swordsmen and ninja when properly used, such as Rangiku can do with them. The only downside to using these puppets is that the master is undefended, which is why she wants Yasaburo to guard her.

With this revelation, Yasaburo turns from trying to have his way with her to taking the job seriously. The show then moves forward on the assault on the castle and those who inhabit it. The style of the animation is somewhat exaggerated, but it's done with a great sense of style to it that works well. The look of the puppet ninjas just sort of twirling in midair works well and adds something unique to the look. Yasaburo himself is an interesting character, with plenty of wisecracking about things and general silliness at times, but then reverts to the cold killer he can be.

Even at the lower price point, this is something of a hard sell due to its low running time. It's not an all-appeal show, but it's an entertaining 40 minutes that gave me a show I certainly wasn't expecting. The mixing in of humor and wild body motions works well in its exaggerated style, and in the end I enjoyed the show a fair bit. It's worth at least a rental.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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