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Majestic Prince Collection 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

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Majestic Prince Collection 2 Anime Blu-ray Review
Majestic Prince Collection 2 Anime Blu-ray Review

We continue with the second half of the show involving Team Rabbits trying to save the world from alien invaders.

What They Say:
For the members of Team Rabbits and Team Doberman, each new sortie becomes increasingly dangerous. As the fight against the Wulgaru continues, it’s harder to determine what the real objectives of Team Rabbits are, and the arrival of a new addition to team’s lineup only further confuses things. The unwritten rules of mecha combat teams seem to require that there’s always at least one mysterious loner in the group, but the enigmas and conundrums surrounding Ange Kuroki are so extreme that even the new pilot’s gender is a riddle!

As the pieces of the puzzle come together and the layers of the riddle slowly peel back, it becomes apparent that everything Izuru, Asagi, Kei, Tamaki and Suruga have encountered are interconnected to a greater extent than they ever imagined. Deadly reversals and shocking revelations await in the second stunning collection of Majestic Prince!

Contains episodes 13-24 on 2 discs.

The Review:
[Please note: for the technical portion of this review, all comments are based upon a viewing of the second disc only in the set. The first disc in my review copy was damaged to the point of being unreadable by the player. Those episodes were watched streamed online for content only]

Audio:
For this viewing, I listened to the 48 kHz 2.1-2.4 Mbps (the rate varied during playback) 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio English track. The sound is clear without any notable dropouts or distortions. There were some better signs of directionality in the sound during playback, with the stereo being decoded properly to shift some battle sounds into the rear speakers. All sound levels were well balanced so that dialogue could be heard clearly even with explosions and other special effects coming fast and furiously out of the speakers at times.

Video:
Originally airing in spring and summer 2013, the show is presented in its original aspect ration of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The video is crisp and clean without any noticeable signs of distortion or compression artifacts. The second contains the final three episodes of the series.

Packaging:
Standard bluray keepcase. The cover features a picture of the five core members of Team Rabbits, with Izuru Hitachi’s mecha, Red 5, positioned above them. The series logo is below the characters. The back of the case has the normal mixture of catalog copy, a group of screen captures arrayed to the right of the text description and an image of the new AHSMB unit that joins Team Rabbits, Black 6. The regular info grid appears below.

The disc art uses images of Suruga and his mech and Kei and her mech.

Menu:
The menu on Disc 2 features a static image of Teoria to the right, with the episodes listed along the left, directly accessible from the main menu. There is no music in the background. Load times are quick and the menu serves its purpose well enough.

Extras:
Only a set of Sentai trailers and the disc credits.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For the first half of the series, please see my earlier review here.

The second half of Majestic Prince fully embraces its serious plot without entirely giving up on comedy, though the balance is more heavily weighted on the serious side. This is a good thing since this part of the story gets stronger over time while the comedy does not improve much.

As we left things, we’ve learned that the Wulgaru, the alien race attacking the Earth’s forces in the Solar System, see all other races in the universe as inferior and so they hunt them to extinction. However, since even inferior beings sometimes have useful genes, the Wulgaru have seen it as their evolutionary destiny (backed by some sort of religious justification tying back to an ancient oracle) to harvest the best genes in the universe while annihilating those genes’ former owners. The only thing that stopped the Wulgaru from overrunning and destroying the Earth already was the defection of a royal princess, Teoria, from the Wulgaru, who came to Earth and gave the humans advanced weaponry and even a bit more (we’ll get to the bit more in a moment).

The scene being set, we have lots of common plot elements to get through before the final confrontation that ends this series (not a complete end to the story, which is based upon an ongoing manga). Among other things, we have the introduction of a new member of Team Rabbits, a younger student from the Academy they all went through: Ange. Ange is both a boost to their offensive capabilities (being a very capable fighter and pilot) as well as a liability at times on the battlefield since Ange is a hotshot loner who refuses orders and fails utterly at teamwork. Ange also features something of a split personality: a quiet, shy, retiring wallflower, polite to a fault when outside of the cockpit; a foul-mouthed warrior with an attitude problem when inside the new AHSMB unit, Black 6.

Now, you may be noticing that I’m trying my best to avoid using a gendered personal pronoun here with Ange and that is deliberate, since part of the new comedy injection this new character gives to the show is the ongoing debate (not resolved in the anime even by the end) about which gender Ange is. In terms of physical appearance, the other members of Team Rabbits make a guess based more according to their interests than in what can be deduced from looking at Ange (it could really go either way). The voice used in both the Japanese and English dubs is not a great help, since it could be either a girl or a young boy (Ange is 15 and one would expect a voice to break by then, but keep in mind these are genetically engineered children, so there could well be wriggle room to suggest that their development is not 100% normal. Further, some Japanese male voices that we find in anime are slightly on the higher side compared to English-hearing expectations).

The only problem is that the joke gets rather stale quickly and it’s not really all that funny. Otherwise, they largely carry on with the same repeated jokes about Kei’s over-sweet desserts, Asagi’s stomach problems, and Izuru’s poorly written manga (though we get less of Tamaki’s boy-crazed outbursts. Perhaps Giuliano’s calling her “kitty” all the time has soothed her hormones a touch). About the only new gag that works is when Izuru under goes a temporary personality change after merging with his unit a touch too much, turning him into a Cool Hero type (his smile literally sparkles) and a competent manga author.

As the show gives itself more and more to the fights (which are fairly well designed and animated), it builds up a solid, if predictable, narrative flow including tragedies (the friendly rivals Team Doberman almost all die during a secret mission that makes it possible for the Earth to score a major victory later) and triumphs (as Izuru finally learns how to tap into the full potential of his AHSMB unit). There are also the usual revelations, which do not come as great surprises: the truth of Izuru’s and Asagi’s parentage (which ties them to the prime movers behind the scenes), the true nature of the AHSMB units and their connections to their pilots, and the rest of Earth outside of the MJP group learning of Teoria’s existence and her help to the human race.

All of this, of course, builds up to a major climax at the end, as the entire planet, somewhat as one (this is not a utopian “united Earth” future; the world is divided into a number of largely continental economic blocs who compete fiercely with each other and only agree to work together largely because the Wulgaru threat means the end of them all if they don’t try to cooperate) gathers the remains of their battered forces (the Wulgaru have been winning the war all along) for one last major counter-offensive: to destroy an inter-stellar gate at the edge of the Solar System which the Wulgaru have been using to invade humanity’s home base. The attack unfortunately coincides with the Wulgaru themselves launching a final “hunt” of the human race, determined to wipe it out while harvesting its genes. I won’t get into details, but will mention that on a general level, the final confrontation plays out in predictable fashion. Perhaps a little too predictable.

When it comes down to it, this second half is a somewhat stronger work, from the story perspective, than the first part. Having managed the somewhat risky transformation of the “Fail 5” from laughable losers into the fairly capable Team Rabbits who can take on the advanced alien invaders, the story gives us a logical forward progression to the climax. It rarely challenges expectations, but it does have relatively competent execution. This is not a show that will rise to greatness, but if you are looking for a fairly well done mecha battles in space against alien invaders show, you could do worse than Majestic Prince.

The second half does make some serious changes to the theme music. The new OP theme for the second half, “PROMPT” by Natsumi Kon, is a more pop-oriented, techno-influenced affair than the more rock-styled OP for the first half. The ED theme and animation uses “special” endings fairly often. The main new ED theme of the second half is sung by the lead female seiyuu (Youko Hikasa (Kei) and Yuka Iguchi (Tamaki)). On three occasions, with some reason, an alternate song and different animation featuring the three lead male seiyuu (Hiroki Aiba (Izuru), Shintarou Asanuma (Asagi) and Junya Ikeda (Suruga)) is used. Both have the feel of many seiyuu songs, which often don’t seem as musically sure or vocally challenging as those sung by dedicated singers (though in their defense, they are having to sing “in character,” which without doubt must create some challenges for the actors). The background music is unchanged from the first half.

As for the English dub, again I will repeat what I said about the first half: under Kyle Jones’ direction, it is competent and fitting for the show. Having listened to a large chunk of the show in Japanese for those episode I had to stream online, I can say that they are both fairly even in terms of matching what most listeners will expect from an action-oriented show that also features comic moments.

In Summary:
Majestic Prince is not a show that will push the envelope or challenge the audience’s expectations in any meaningful way. It is a competent and fairly well executed “aliens invade the world and teenaged mecha pilots are the only ones who can save us from them” show. Cliches abound and expectations are largely met without much surprise. But for all that, the fights are fairly well choreographed and animated, the plot does not contain any annoying or outlandish twists, and overall it’s mildly entertaining. This might be a good introductory show for someone just getting into anime who has not seen any show with this type of plot before.

Features:
English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Subtitles, trailers.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: D

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL-32S5100 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Sony Bravia DAV-HDX589W 5.1-Channel Theater System connected via digital optical cable.

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