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!
The collection features two audio tracks: English and Japanese in Dolby Digital 2.0. The sound quality was fine with no discernable issues. English subtitles are also provided.
Majestic Prince was presented in 16:9 anamorphic aspect ratio. The video quality was quite good with no discernable issues. In fact, just like last time, I was surprised at how well I could follow the high-velocity space battles. Often I get lost when the scenes move too quickly, but that wasn’t the case this time.
The collection comes in a standard DVD case. The twelve episodes are spread out over three discs—two of which reside in a center inset, and the third rests in the inside of the back cover.
The front cover features the main five members of Team Rabbits in the foreground. In the background we see Izuru’s mech standing in a heroic pose against the backdrop of space. The spine also shows Izuru’s mecha, and the back follows the standard format with the story synopsis taking up the majority of real estate. It’s flanked by various characters from the show and screenshots. Beneath it lies the cast and crew credits and DVD specifications.
The menu follows the same basic design for 99% of anime on the shelf right now. A picture featuring the lead characters takes up the majority of screen real estate while an episode list pokes in from one of the sides. The menu for each disc features the same art stamped on the disc, so there’s some consistency there, but it’s also kind of boring. The series’ main title plays in full once and then the menu goes silent. As far as menus go, it’s perfectly serviceable, if uninspired.
Nothing really to write about here, just a few trailers for other Sentai titles.
Dearly beloved, I come before you today to lay to rest a man. No, not a man—a hero. A hero who took the lumps life offered and turned them into lumpinade, and he did it with more élan, more verve, more go-to-hell attitude than we could ever hope to achieve. I speak, of course, of Randy Maxwell, the leader of Team Doberman, taken before his time by the horrible Wulgaru.
Forgive me. I need just a moment…
…okay, I’m fine. Now where was I? Oh yes, Randy. I didn’t talk about Randy in my previous review because I just couldn’t find a good place for it. He’s not one of the main characters, and he doesn’t have as much screen time as the rest, but man, when he came on the screen, the show just lit up. While he projected a cocky, smartass attitude, he was an ace pilot who cared about the people under his charge. In a way, he was the ultimate big brother to Team Doberman and Team Rabbits. Quite frankly, I would have loved it if the show were about him, but because it wasn’t, he was expendable, hence my beginning this with a eulogy.
To backtrack just a bit, Majestic Prince Collection 2 continues the story begun in Collection 1. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the basic premise is that in the near future Earth is warned of an imminent alien invasion by the powerful Wulgaru. Forewarned helped them to be forarmed and new ships based on Wulgaru technology were created, as were new pilots to fly them. Enter the MJP Project. Originally designed to create humans who could better withstand the rigors of space, the project shifted to genetically engineering child soldiers. The children have their memories wiped of their first ten years when they enter the Academy, and the only life they have known was a military one. Their genetic material was also used to create their mechs, the AHSMB (pronounced “Aweshome-Bee”). The AHSMB possess a powerful program called the JULIA system which mimics the flight-or-fight reflex in humans. When the children connect with their AHSMB units, their nervous systems are hardwired into the suit, and this often has a magnifying effect on the JULIA system. If they can overcome their own natural fear of dying and fighting and fully harmonize with their units, then the children can be unstoppable. Of course, that’s quite a few “ifs” and as the series progresses, it becomes clear that there were serious side effects with the genetic tampering. This would be a bigger deal if it actually played out in the series, but I’ll go into that later.
The show centers on one particular group of MJP pilots. Each cohort in the Academy is assigned an animal name. Randy and his copilots were Team Doberman, and Izuru Hitachi, Toshikazu Asagi, Kei Kugimiya, Tamaki Irie, Ataru Suruga, and Ange Kuroki are Team Rabbits. While the potential for Team Rabbits to perform is high, they often get in their own way and end up doubting themselves. Moreover, prolonged piloting of the AHSMB units appears to affect Izuru and Ange, changing their very personalities and shortening their lives.
Although Team Rabbits won some decisive victories, the Wulgaru still make their patient march towards Earth. They don’t come for minerals, water, heavy metals, or the other standard reasons for invasion. Instead, they come for humanity itself. The Wulgaru are ancient and powerful, but at the end of their existence as a species. They’re breaking down on a genetic level and the only way to cure themselves is by taking in suitable genetic material from other compatible species. With this in mind, they seeded countless planets with Wulgaru DNA and then let them develop on their own, kind of like throwing a bunch of ingredients into a crock pot and coming back several hours later to eat. Only in this case, the hours are millennia, and we’re what’s on the menu.
The Wulgaru view their actions not as an invasion, but as a hunt. They look for exceptional pilots and target them for harvesting. Prince Jiart has targeted Izuru, and while their intense battles only serve to make Izuru stronger, it never seems to be enough. Like the bored bourgeois he is, Jiart tries to prolong the battles as long as possible, not wanting the entertainment to evaporate too quickly.
As if that wasn’t enough, Team Rabbits also must deal with the newest member of their squad, Ange Kuroki. Ange is so mysterious that no one knows their gender (which is why I will refer to them using the non-gendered plural). Outside of the cockpit, Ange is quiet, almost timid, but when plugged into their ASHMB, they become a foul-mouthed typhoon of destruction. Ange comes from a much more elite academy than the rest of Team Rabbits, and his superior education shows in his superior fighting skills. Unfortunately, when in the cockpit, it also shows up as arrogance, making Ange an unreliable soldier on the battlefield, prone to ignoring orders and generally doing whatever the hell they want.
Ange’s arrival foreshadows the change in Izuru. In terms of piloting talent, Izuru and Ange stand head and shoulders above the others in Team Rabbits. But with greater skill comes greater price. After one particularly difficult battle, Izuru is injured and taken to the infirmary. When the rest of the team visits him, they notice immediately a change in his personality. While Ange became a foul-mouthed death-dealer, Izuru became, well, cool. He exudes charm and confidence and the manga he creates is actually good! Naturally, his friends are worried sick over him, but I liked this new Izuru and was sad when the dominant personality re-emerge.
It turns out harmonizing at that level with an AHSMB damages a person, and Izuru begins displaying symptoms of Progeria. According to his doctor, if he pilots his unit again, he will die. This news comes at the worst possible time as an all-out assault is about to be staged against the Wulgaru’s space gate. If humanity can destroy the gate, then the Wulgaru can’t attack them anymore and the ones left behind will die without proper treatment for their genetic maladies. Asagi and the rest try to take up the slack, and Izuru is literally put on a leash and made to serve tea on the command vessel during the big operation. Of course, if you’ve read any story ever, you know that Izuru won’t stay leashed for long.
The final battle is quite exciting, but it’s also where Majestic Prince falls apart a bit for me. For one, the gate seems rather convenient. Maybe if we had been told of its existence earlier, I might not feel that way, but it plays pretty much like a big red button (“Push here to end war”). That’s not a huge deal, but it’s problematic when compounded with the fact that there is no sense of cost. The show plays at sacrificing characters, only to save them at the end (except for Randy, damn it). For all the fighting and fretting, the victory feels very bloodless. It’s like the Super Happy Ending from Wayne’s World, only that was a comedy, and this is not.
If Izuru (and maybe Gato) had died, then I’d be just as pumped for this collection as I was the previous one. The story clearly built up to it. It laid out a very obvious bread crumb trail, but then it veers off into the Super Happy Ending. It’s not even explained (or if it was, it was so muddled and confusing that I missed it), and it really feels like the writers just forgot it in the same way they forgot about Izuru’s cool new personality. That plays out for one episode and then disappears.
The show ends with the destruction of the gate. Everyone gets magically saved and they all fly back home to their command ship, and that’s it. The ending is all climax and no resolution and that bothered me more than I expected it would.
I knew going in that Majestic Prince wasn’t going to set my world on fire or upturn my preconceived notions of anime. That’s not what it set out to do, and that’s fine. However, a great deal of the fun I experienced watching the first collection was largely absent in the second. The introduction of Ange does nothing for the story, and slows down the momentum established in the first twelve episodes, but the main issue lies with the show’s lack of follow-through. It’s like a bait-and-switch. It sets up an expectation, but does something else. Now sometimes that can lead to something better, but in this case, it leads to something worse.
Majestic Prince Collection 2 is a weak follow-up to the fun first collection. The new character bogs down the narrative and the show doesn’t follow through on what it establishes. Chekhov’s gun remains unfired on the mantelpiece, and the show is weaker for it. Plus, the show killed Randy, and I can’t forgive it for that. If I ever decide to watch this show again, I think I’ll just watch the first twelve episodes and stop there. Dr. Josh gives this a…
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Running Time: 300
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection