Case Number 06588: Small Claims Court

SCRAPPED PRINCESS: FAMILY TREE (VOLUME 1)

Bandai // 2003 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // April 14th, 2005

The Charge

A girl with a destiny...

The Case

Even though there is a relative shortage of anime set in fantasy worlds, Scrapped Princess will have to work a lot harder to prove that its the series we've all been waiting for. Still, if taken in the right direction, it just might be.

The story is standard fare. A princess named Pacifica was born under a curse: That she would become the poison that would destroy the world. Rather than murder her as a child, they hid her away and she grew up with a common family. Pacifica is now fifteen, and finds herself running for her life with her older foster brother Shannon and sister Raquel. Shannon is a skilled warrior and Raquel is good with magic, so Pacifica has a small chance at survival as long as they keep moving. They are pursued by masked priests of the realm and shady assassins.

One of the secrets to securing an audience's allegiance is to create an immediately likable hero we want to root for. Scrapped Princess has failed to do that. Pacifica enters as one of the whiniest, most useless heroines in fantasy history, more helpless and whiny than all of Disney's princesses combined. It seemed reasonable for people to hunt her down, baffling that her siblings would care enough about her to risk their lives. Fortunately, this problem gradually gets resolved in this disc. A hint of her hidden powers emerges, which shows some potential for the future. She begins to realize that she is relying completely on others, and wants to be able to defend herself. Pacifica even starts to question whether the prophecy is true. After all, who wouldn't feel guilty upon discovering they were about to destroy the entire world? The relationships between Pacifica and her siblings entertain us though lighthearted, amusing banter.

The supporting cast is not as reliable. Leopold, an incompetent would-be knight that immediately pledges his love for Pacifica, would have been better in a serious series -- but since there was already humor before he arrived, his antics seem forced and redundant. The shy, attractive Winia, also an orphan, creates a slightly better balance in the cast. Pacifica understands her, and their connection is touching.

The real failing of Scrapped Princess is its inconsistent tone. The storyline is dark; the possibility that Pacifica could destroy the world is grim. However, most of the series is light. Scrapped Princess opens with an exciting battle that highlights the skills of the major characters. This excitement disappears for most of the remaining episodes, going for humor rather than excitement. A battle with a great lake spirit could be thrilling, but not when it looks like a giant frog and glides around like a sea-doo. The music is far too light as well; chipper accordion music just doesn't set the mood for fierce sword battles. Though it has enough intensity and fan service to distinguish it from a children's show, Scrapped Princess seems unwilling to commit and become what it promises.

There is promise here. If Scrapped Princess finds a rhythm, it could easily grow into an entertaining and diverting fantasy romp. The lead characters will need to make more logical decisions, the battles will have to be darker, and the comic relief will have to smarten up first, though.

The disc is not up to Bandai's high standards. The video quality is spotty, with jagged lines and minor compression issues. The reds are especially rough, with as much bleeding as I have seen in the past few years of DVD releases. The digital animation techniques show in the gradients and character movements. That said, most of the animation is attractive, with detailed, colorful characters. Some of the objects and backgrounds betray the show's low budget, but Scrapped Princess is mostly pleasant to look at. Some of the flaws disappear as the episodes continue; the disc is significantly cleaner by the fourth episode.

The disc has two stereo tracks. Some of the English voice work is extremely shrill and obnoxious, so Japanese is definitely the preferred track. The dialogue on both tracks is clear, and the music is well-mixed. I am still looking forward to the day that 5.1 tracks become standard in anime releases, but stereo tracks like this are certainly acceptable until then. There aren't any extras.

Scrapped Princess shows promise. The quality of this disc isn't high enough for me to recommend purchase, but those searching for a good fantasy series should keep an eye on this show's development. If things go well, it could nicely fill a much needed gap. Because of that potential, I am going to let the first volume of Scrapped Princess off with a warning: Smarten up and take things a little more seriously in the future.

Review content copyright © 2005 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 77

Perp Profile
Studio: Bandai
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0409612/combined