Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 180
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Shamanic Princess
By Matthew McGinn
February 18, 2002
Release Date: February 13, 2001
Central Park Media and OAVs are like... um, Michelin and tires. They don't produce much else. Fortunately, the quality of the anime that CPM has chosen to localize has improved considerably since the early 90s, and Shamanic Princess is a good example of this.
Although it is - like many OAVs - a bit lacking in the story department, the overall quality of animation, original concepts, and plain value make it an excellent purchase.
My TV speakers aren't good enough for me to adequately review the sound in this disc, but I experienced no obvious problems while viewing the Japanese track. I declined to listen to the English track. I also noticed that Kouichi Yamadera (Kagetsu) seems to have a role in every anime I watch these days.
The video quality is way above average for a CPM release, although other recent releases like Photon and Geobreeders have also been good in this respect. Shamanic Princess is an especially good way to showcase video quality because the animation is way above average in this feature; it is full of vibrant colors, excellent cel-shading, and detailed character designs (by Atsuko Ishida, probably the best member of CLAMP -- the disc mentions her by name on the back cover).
The art on both front and back of the keepcase is much better than that of the average CPM release. The logo and fonts are very appropriate to the subject matter, and the scenes depicted on both sides are great-looking and gives the buyer a great idea of what to expect. In addition to Atsuko Ishida, Mitsuru Hongo is mentioned both on the front and back (well, listed on the front as 'the director of Outlaw Star'). Hey, where's the clear plastic keepcase? CPM had done itself a favor by releasing its products in clear cases - it gave CPM a distinction that they badly need, but this disc came in a black one. This prevents the packaging from getting an A, unfortunately. I should have known I was being spoiled by being able to read the liner notes without having to remove the liner....
The menus are standard CPM fare. I could do without the "Meet the Cast" feature, and for that matter I don't like seeing animation on the menu screen. I abhor spoilers so much that I guess I can't stand even seeing ten seconds of animation on a menu screen, although I suppose I'm in the minority on this. Oh, and the previews are nice (especially the one for Slayers Try), but two things need to go: the excessively long U.S. Manga Corps logo, and that circa-1997 "Also Available on DVD" cloud-filled screen. At least give us the chance to bypass them. I can already MD Geist on the box, I don't need to see him again! Actually selecting the beginning of an individual episode in the chapter stop menu takes way too much figuring. The addition of info about Ms. Ashida is a nice touch, though, as are the Japanese trailers.
This is an OAV, so I didn't expect much of a straightforward story, and I wasn't disappointed. The first episode (of six) begins in what appears to be a European village set in an indeterminable time period. Tiara (Sayuri), the heroine, appears on a mission to recover the 'Throne of Yord,' an artifact which remains mysterious for the first couple of episodes. She soon comes into conflict with the thief: Kagetsu (her former lover), and her rival Lena (Mitsuki Yayoi). The series progresses from here over a four episode arc that involves numerous conflicts between Tiara and Lena that lead into an eventual alliance against a common enemy. The second two episodes are actually prequels to the first four.
I can't really describe the story very well, but Tiara, Lena, and Kagetsu are residents of a parallel dimension in which they are favored magic-users that seem to specialize in summoning; Kagetsu is a particular type called a Neutralizer - he uses opponents' spells against them. Tiara and Lena appear to summon transparent creatures to duel with each other, but are also capable of summoning more powerful entities to bond with them in a transformation into a more powerful being - Tiara does this several times, and it's one of the cooler things in the anime!
The theme, story, and environments in Shamanic Princess are obviously well thought out and quite complicated. They involve all sorts of weird rituals, magics, and fantastic environments, and these make this OAV worth having! The environments sometimes rapidly change from dark and ominous to bright and vibrant, and the character design and animation enhance all of these elements. Although it has little to do with the plot, there is a "Festival of Wind" dance sequence by Tiara near the end of the disc that captures very well the artistry evident throughout Shamanic Princess.
I really can't describe this disc much further, save that it is one of the best in CPM's catalog. Great for fans of hard-edged fantasy, and for anyone who likes eye candy. In some ways, it actually reminds me of a darker and more twisted Sailor Moon! Besides, at 180 minutes for a $29.99 SRP, you really can't go wrong with Shamanic Princess.
Philips Magnavox TP2784C 27" TV, Pioneer DV-414, Monster S-Video cable