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Scrapped Princess Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

20 min read

scrapped-princess-coverTossed aside with a destiny to fulfil.

What They Say:
Pacifica Cassul is a kindhearted girl living on the run, for prophecy has named her the poison that would destroy the world. Known as the Scrapped Princess, she’s the target of countless followers of a powerful religion. But even when it seems like the whole world is out to get her, she always has her two adoptive siblings-Shannon and Raquel.

Together they travel the countryside, making new friends and battling countless foes. Bit by bit, they uncover the incredible truth behind the prophecy and its ties to mysterious events from 5,000 years ago. With the fate of the world in her naive hands, Pacifica and her siblings must learn who to trust and take on enemies of godly power. But for all their struggle, should such a poison be allowed to live?

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the previously created English language dub, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that works a good balance of action and dialogue, though a lot of the action could be considered a bit tame in some ways. The swordplay has some good directionality at times and the clarity of the clanging metal works well. It’s not one that goes for an overly splashy presentation but instead goes for a largely grounded one that’s authentic and appropriate for the show. The dialogue side is a bit more standard with a generally center channel approach to it but there are some fun areas of directionality here and there and a good sound design overall. Dialogue is well placed as needed and everything comes across cleanly and clearly throughout.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this twenty-four episode TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080p using the AVC codec. Spread across three discs in a nine/nine/six format, the show has plenty of space to work with. Animated by Bones, the big thing for me was the huge flashback I had right from the start with the opening logo. Remembering the original DVD releases and the huge amount of cross coloration and dot crawl because of the nature of the masters at the time is still jarring and vivid. Here? The show looks practically pristine, like it’s right off the animator’s desk. Colors are bright and strong throughout without being overly vivid for the most part and the end result is a really great looking show. The use of the blue in the sky continues to catch my attention but I also love the earth tones throughout it and how solid and blended they come across as. The animation itself has a good look with smooth scenes throughout and some high fluidity in the key sequences, all of which the encoding brings to life without any notable issues with. Definitely a strong upgrade overall from what was available before and at a fraction of the original cost.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in an oversized Blu-ray case that holds all the DVDs and Blu-ray discs on hinges. The o-card for it replicates the case artwork and that works well as there’s just a bit more pop to the o-card color. That artwork is a solid key visual piece of the main cast of characters in traditional form stacked behind each other and it has a certain lightness that definitely allows it to stand out. It also lets our heroine take the center even though she’s along the bottom and just her upper body. It’s the charm of the smiles that draws you in. The back cover keeps to the nice watercolor background to give it a different feeling from other releases and we get a good summary of the premise and a clear listing of the discs extras. The shots from the show are small but provide some good color to it and focus on the characters right. And the bottom has the standard production and technical information for both formats in a clean and clear way. While there are no show related inserts, we do get a really good piece of artwork on the reverse side that showcases the cast in full with a really great spread.

Menu:
The menu design for this release works off of the packaging in a very good way as we get the main key visual along the left with the watercolor style background that really balances out the color choices. Combine that with the partial pink navigation strip along the lower right and it’s bright and engaging while avoiding being garish even with all the different colors that do exist here. THe logo is kept to the upper right with a decent sized piece, not that it’s a great looking logo in general, which the navigation is small and simple with black and white text navigation. It works well enough for both the main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback and the functionality is problem free, which is what counts in the end.

Extras:
The extras for this release brings us some fun material as we get the piracy warnings from the original releases, which are cute little bits, as well as the various promos for the show. Add in the clean opening and closing, which means a great looking opening compared to past versions of it, and it’s simple but good stuff to have.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Ichiro Sakaki and Yukinobu Azumi that began in 1999 and finished in 2005 with thirteen volumes, Scrapped Princess is a twenty-four episode series that aired in the spring and summer of 20013. The show was one that got a lot of attention at the time and when Bandai Entertainment first licensed it they went all out with figures and statues as limited edition releases. Done as a more straightforward fantasy show with a twist to it later in the season, the series featured some great animation design work from Bones that made it feel distinctive and very colorful at a time when a lot of the digital productions were still going for a too-slick and glossy approach. With a little more earthiness in it, the series got me hooked early on with its slower approach to the story, being from a novel series and all, as well as just the overall design of it.

The show kicks off with things already in the road trip mode and we’re introduced to a trio of travelers riding a very well packed carriage. Wearing a seemingly soldiers style uniform with a cloak, the group is lead by Shannon, the elder brother of the trio. He’s ably assisted by his sister Raquel who also wears a similar style outfit. Both of them are set to protect their younger sister Pacifica, a girl who apparently only showed up somewhat recently in their lives but has changed everything. As we learn along the way, Pacifica was born under a cursed sign fifteen years prior and her birth signaled that on her sixteenth birthday, she would become the poison that would destroy the world. Events led to her seeming destruction at the hands of the soldiers at that time, but she had miraculously survived that fate only to turn up some time later and to meet her brother and sister. That tale has gone unexplained so far, but the result of it is that it appears their parents are dead and the three siblings are now on the run with Shannon ensuring that he’ll lay down his life to protect his sister until he knows for certain what the fates have in store for her.

Their journeying from town to town, trying to keep ahead of a few different forces that may be coming after them, ends up usually causing more trouble than they expect. With Pacifica’s return to the continent, the rumors of her and her role in the world as told by one of the visions of Grendel has spread and people are fearful of her. Some of them take arms against her when they find her, generally it seems those who are very much in the thrall of their god Mauser and the religious officials who promote it. The trio have a mixture of success in avoiding or dealing with these threats as they move on, but each encounter only raises the stakes and inevitably causes more trouble in the town they’re in than they want. At the same time, with Shannon being the main warrior of the group, his attempts to not cause bloodshed only makes it more difficult. Raquel attempts this as well with her incredible magic powers though she is a bit more playful with her skills.

Pacifica herself has seemingly accepted much of what is going on and has resigned herself to at least parts of it, but she’s undergoing a very strong internal emotional debate about everything when left to herself. Her quiet nature and the way she expresses herself is revealed in a few of her spoken thoughts on the subject as she questions those close to her whether she should really be alive and if they’d all be better off if she was simply dead. At times she seems willing to be slain at any moment to bring an end to things but then she just as quickly finds something new that sparks her interest in whatever location they’re in and her eyes sparkle with unbound energy and life. Pacifica isn’t a deep or complex character at this point, but right from the start she’s already someone who avoids a lot of the traps of a teenage fantasy heroine, meek or strong.

While the focus is on the main trio, it does get rounded out in an interesting way. Along their journey they encounter a group of bandits. While Shannon is simply weary dealing with the lesser villains like this, the encounter goes awry when a “valiant knight”-like young man arrives named Leo, who is light comic relief in that his first attempts to save the day lead him on a wild chase. He ends up in more of the awkward situations and just tries too hard but is a generally nice guy. He also instantly falls in love with Pacifica and pronounces his engagement to her, though this kind of goes over her head, but he’s soon to be following along and a help to the others. His addition to the group isn’t forced, but rather well blended since his own journey matches theirs at the right time.

The most intriguing additions to the show come in the form of those who are chasing them though. Initially, we see only a young boy named Chris who is wearing a very clear soldiers uniform and cloak who has some very well trained skills with weapons who intends to either capture or eliminate Pacifica. My initial reaction to him wasn’t good, as I hate hearing characters with my own name plus he has the look of a typical first year high school student character but just in a fantasy setting. I dislike this particular cliché but I will say that as he made his encounters with the group, he bothered me less and even his fairly standard background story fit in well enough that it wasn’t so bad, but it was really in how people like Shannon reacted to him that made me like him more. The truly strange ones though that are added are those from the Church side of the storyline who have a vested interest in eliminating Pacifica, as their attempts are not the same as the government/kingdom’s attempts since they go far further in what they’ll do to eliminate her, which apparently will almost set the two sides against each other.

As it progresses, we get some fairly standard world and character building material along the way that serves things well – though I think more so when it was originally viewed weekly rather than in marathon form. One familiar trope early on is that we end up in a couple of situations where Pacifica is near death’s door and that means she gets to go on her shtick about people being better off if she’s dead so she may as well die. It’s not an unusual feeling to have in her position and it’s something that teenagers can identify with very easily which I’m sure is part of the point, but it’s also something that just gets old rather quickly from a storytelling perspective because it doesn’t offer anything new and just puts her in a defeatist mode. On the other hand, when Pacifica really is resolute about something such as she is later on when trying to find out where her brother and sister are and she offers up a part of herself in payment, she comes across with the strength that we haven’t seen much yet and really offers a good glimpse of what I suspect is to come for her.

The beginning of the next small arc early on focuses on when the group settles down into a small town to ride out a storm and do repairs on their wagon, Shannon ends up bringing back a little girl who was standing outside and she sort of becomes an adopted member for a few days. Pacifica is against her from the start and just feels unease with her presence and especially at the way that Shannon is fawning over her. Raquel slowly seems to succumb to the same thing and the girl is slowly drawn out of her shell and at the same time seems to win them over more and more. Pacifica finds herself being cast as the villain in this new little family dynamic which starts showing some much darker angles to it as we see more of what’s really going on.

It’s an interesting enough arc, albeit just as slow as much of the series has been recently, but where the show really fascinated across these episodes and just before is where we see things happening in the places of power. The young man Christopher from the previous set of episodes shows up again and finds himself being used in an interesting manner as he’s now been adopted by the Baroness and given her family name so that he can start doing an investigation at Grendel into what’s going on there as things are seeming to get out of control with whose being sent out after the Scrapped Princess and who all is getting killed in the process. It’s all political power plays, but it reveals a lot about the upper structure of how this place works and it’s just plain interesting.

When the show shifts gears about halfway through as the group is getting closer to the Giatt Empire, the trio have arrived in the northern mountains which is a monstrous range that obscures all else in their field of vision. Taking a break in one of the mountain inns along the way, they find themselves getting stuck at the same table as an Inquisitor of the Church of Mauser. They keep things light and simple and hope to just be able to leave after the meal but the Inquisitor ends up walking with them along the path through the mountains since the more company the better. All of them are surprised though when they come across a little girl out there and she runs off only to disappear off a cliff. It’s not really a cliff though but an elaborate illusion that’s hiding an entire village of believes of Browning that the Inquisitors of Mauser must destroy and convert. The Inquisitor is taken out before he can do anything though and the Cassul’s are let go as they can prove they’re not part of the Church.

This episode is actually fairly interesting on its though it is something we’ve seen covered numerous times in more feudal oriented series with regards to hidden Christian sects, but what this episode does is open up a new way to get to the Giatt Empire for the trio as a massive long tunnel system from the ancient days is located here and takes them deep into the mountains and out to the other side, a side where the snowy mountaintops are no more and they’ve arrived just by the ocean. This is the first time any of them have seen this and their awe is a bit understated but they realize how big it really is and just take it all in. Which is why they’re easily caught off guard by the arrival of Senes, the “Beast Princess” of Giatt.

Senes has known of the trios coming and has planned for it as she needs not only the Scrapped Princess herself but also Shannon as his role of Guardian and something more due to his relationship with Zefiris. When we last saw Zefiris and Shannon combine it was in that ancient complex that was filled with the plant substance, but what Senes has is a fully working one and it turns out to be a massive ship. It managed to survive the chaos of the centuries due to Natalie, a being like Zefiris, merging itself into it and accepting the losses along the way in order to have a larger system to stay functional with. She’s kept it working and slowly upgrading over the years and has worked with Senes to show them that the world is not what it seems and that the Scrapped Princess is the key.

Scrapped Princess makes the full change here from being an interesting fantasy series with some elements of science fiction carefully woven into the background into a show that’s completely fascinated me as the science fiction elements come forward. While not a direct comparison, I’m instantly reminded of the Darksword Trilogy of novels from many years ago as what we learn here indicates that a long and far reaching plan has been in the works in order to free the people of all of the countries. We see that Pacifica is something special in that she cannot be compelled or ordered to do things by the beings that control this world and that when she fully awakens her powers, she’s able to pass on that feeling to those under and around her so that they can resist as well.

Pacifica has been born to destroy the world but in so doing so will free it from what binds it now.

What the show has slowly moved into now that the first half is completed is something where instead of being on the run from things, Pacifica and her Guardians and others that will now rally behind her must face the challenges head on. She’s still not quite understanding things which I think hurts the series a bit since it would to me be more interesting to have it all click for her as she realizes that her purpose isn’t truly destruction but she has plenty of time to change once it sinks in. The need to change from being on the run though is nicely done and we’re given so many little nuggets of info mixed into a great battle sequence between Shannon and Zefiris against one of the Peacemakers that it’s not that huge of an issue.

So much is revealed during here as we see the journey that humanity has taken as its been shifted into this contained form and the journey from the former region of Korea to Japan now takes on new significance. The reasoning isn’t strongly given for reducing humanity back to a medieval state but there are plenty of obvious reasons for doing so. Such tales have been told many times in the past though rarely in anime form so it’s interesting to see the differences as they come across here, such as how the similarities between magic and science are displayed. We also start to see more of the time from when Pacifica was born and given to the Cassul family though the reasoning for this isn’t the best for the cast.

Natalie and Zefiris, not in complete agreement over this, have taken the tact of basically brainwashing Shannon so that they can control him properly and use him as needed due to his genes so he as a Guardian can do the job that he needs to do. This naturally infuriates Pacifica when she finds out but not as much as what she finds out soon afterwards as she’s given the chance to see into his mind to stop him from being brainwashed and to try and reverse it. Seeing how Shannon perceives her in the past and in the present isn’t really all that surprising but it’s something that Pacifica needed to see and it helps to finally really clarify why he does what he does. The bonds of this family are truly strong and it’s great to see such strength working for them in a positive way.

The eventual arrival in the capital city begins a very interesting new part of the story as the three Peacemakers that are there have been using their influence during the two weeks time to cause the King to be even more agitated and others to push forward the idea of war. Though the general idea is that the fortress that’s coming isn’t part of an armed attack by Giat, a contingent of the court is pushing for them to destroy it and then attack Giat in response, using the fortress as a declaration of war on their part. The Peacemakers don’t care what happens in this regard as long as the Scrapped Princess is killed and the King is practically of the same mind. The split in the make-up of the court quickly becomes an issue but everything is set to change as the battle actually begins and Shannon and Zeifiris combine in order to fight them off.

The final arc of the series is certainly fun as it brings everything together. The fight over the capital is played out with much destruction on the ground while Pacifica is stuck in the castle and the generals all dicker until they receive the orders to execute her/ Shannon along with Senes and her companions fight a pitched battle against the Peacemakers over the city. This plays out in a beautiful way visually while it creates horrors on the ground as the damage grows, but it keeps to the saying that to any society, something so far advanced in science will look like magic. The mixture of the fantasy elements, such as how Zefiris and Shannon have the dragon look when combined, as well as the very science fiction oriented Peacemakers, the show manages to not only walk the line of the two genres but to hold them together better than a lot of others have done in the past.

There is a good deal of movement on the ground as various allegiances start to become more apparent and the characters have to make some hard choices about who they want to support and what they believe. The slow but interesting arc of Chris for example comes about in a good way here as he finally decides that he’s got more than enough information about what’s going on and he has a belief about what needs to be done that he finally takes action. I would have written the character off easily from his early appearances but they’ve nurtured him well along the way. There’s also some very interesting movement among the lesser characters in control of the country as they try to find ways to appease the Peacemakers. The drawing in of the prince in a more capable manner brings the show to an interesting point as it progresses, giving him a chance to be a bit more than the simpleton he’s come across as so far.

There’s a good deal of down time on this volume that is actually rather welcome. Instead of a continually pitched battle between each side and lots of daring escapades in order to save the world, when both sides retreat to regroup and figure out what to do next, it settles into a routine where everyone has to figure out exactly how things should be done. While there is some fascinating albeit brief material on the Peacemakers side, the bulk of it is focused on the return of Pacifica to her friends and family as well as those who are now working to support her. It’s very laid back and there are some minor revelations along the way as people get caught up on what’s really going on. This isn’t anywhere near as annoying as the subplot of Pacifica’s amnesia which I thought threw a wrench into the overall progress of the show. Having everyone get back together helps to reaffirm the ties and emotions they all share which is critical as the final couple of episodes brings everything to a strong conclusion.

Looking at the series overall, it’s definitely one that has a good deal of replay value if you want to spend the time looking for all the hints and nods along the way at the larger picture or to revisit the growth of the various characters whose allegiances have shifted during it. As a fantasy show it had some ideas that were interesting and would have been fascinating to follow up on its own just due to the religious material that it was promoting but as we learned more of what it really was and what was going on, as well as all the revelations about what humanity has gone through in this volume, Scrapped Princess managed to handle the shift into a science fiction show very well. It didn’t eject all of the fantasy material but kept it close and explained some of it away by science but it kept most of the characters firmly rooted in the reality that they exist in. They were able to bring a bit more fun into it by the introduction of Senes and all the technology she was able to revive and that helped to solidify the bonds instead of actually stretching them further apart.

In Summary:
Scrapped Princess is one of those shows that in a lot of ways simply felt lost for a while after Bandai Entertainment shuttered. The series is a solid one throughout that doesn’t rush but doesn’t linger too much either. Perhaps it could have been tighter in half the episodes, or even a third less, but what it does here is adapt the source material well and builds a world for the cast to inhabit that changes in big ways along the way. It’s a series where it takes a lot of time to reveal itself so those without patience would easily give up on it. Scrapped Princess is a title that definitely deserves more recognition and talk about the show itself as it’s a solid and engaging journey done in some of the best traditions of classic science fiction/fantasy writing. And Funimation did a solid job here in giving it a nice new life in an affordable manner with a great look to it. Just the clarity in the opening sequences alone shows you what kind of a great looking show you’re in store for with it. Definitely recommended.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Piracy Warnings, Promos

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 28th, 2017
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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