Whether you’re a fan of supernatural fiction or not, its popularity and sudden rise in the public eye has made everyone aware of the basics; vampires drink blood, werewolves come out at full moon, etc. As a result it’s hard to find something unique in the genre, especially in this day and age where people are afraid to try something new in fear of not making money. That’s why the likes of Black Butler, with its highly attractive and exciting demonic butler, and True Blood, with its distinctive take of vampires living among humans, are often raved about within the fans of the genre. Princess Resurrection, however, is not like any of these, in fact it doesn’t try to push any boundaries and in the end it comes across as boring.
Let’s start from the beginning; Hiro has moved into town at the request of his sister, who’s taken a job as a maid of a Princess living in a mysterious mansion. On the way to his new home, Hiro spots a blonde girl about to be crushed by falling metal bars. In saving her life he relinquishes his, but the girl he saved is none other than the Princess his sister is a maid for, and the Princess is no ordinary girl. She’s a member of the monster realm’s Royal Family with the power to bestow half-immortality; the ability to live forever but only if she continues to provide the flame of life. The gift doesn’t come without a price though; the Princess is in the middle of a war for the throne. She and her siblings must battle until only one remains and they’re using their soldiers to survive. Hiro has become one of those soldiers: is he up to the challenge?
Admittedly the series sets up an interesting premise; although the idea of a nobody dragged into the world of monsters isn’t new, the concept of a whole world of demons fighting for the right to the throne does strike an image of action, suspense, betrayal and grand battles. Plus the flame of life does have a dark allure surrounding it; everyone craves the power of immortality but the price of giving up your life to forever serve a member of the Royal Family, constantly thrown into battle and dying only to be revived for the same purpose can be seen as quite disturbing. Sadly the whole ‘war’ and royal family background is mostly paid lip service. They talk about it, they like to repeat themselves on many occasions, but nothing is ever shown. None of the war is revealed in great detail outside of the basics, nor are we even given an inkling of what growing up as a member of the royal family is like to build some sort of emotional connection to what the princess is going through, just that they have to kill each other, boo hoo. Also, we barely learn anything about the characters themselves; who exactly is Hime? What are her hobbies? Does she like long walks on the beach? What about Hiro, any favourite classes at school? Why does every member of the royal family have a cyborg? Why do they say ‘Fuga’ repeatedly? Are they secretly Pokemon? None of that is elaborated on, not even a standard flashback episode is provided. What we do see is the boring ‘monster of the week’ routine; supposedly a family member sends a random assassin (often a different mythical creature), Hime and her guards barely fight them off, everyone goes back to drinking tea in the mansion. Hime says she has no interest in taking the throne hence the lack of urgency to fight back, but the situation she’s in should be quite tense, even sad, having to fight her own family. But it’s played bland and Hime just comes across as bored of it all, making it impossible to feel sympathy for the characters or the situation they’re in. If they don’t care for the bigger picture then why should I? Although it’s nice to see vampires flying around and the more unusual supernatural beings (headless horsemen and mummies for example) come out to play, it becomes old very quickly. Nothing new is done with these mythical creatures; they’re normally one note wonders who get thrown out of the ring just in time to forget them just as quickly.
Even the plot progression of the series is all over the place; its 26 episodes are almost completely filler before we get a climatic battle of sorts in episode 24, then 2 random filler episodes right afterwards to end the series even though they don’t provide a conclusive ending. In its entire run nothing is fully explained, we don’t learn anything about the characters and nothing is accomplished. Is it the fault of the lacklustre production team or is it because it’s based upon an unfinished manga? Either way I’ve watched shorter series achieve so much more.
Maybe this would be forgivable if the series was trying to be a comedy, a light hearted ride to distract from the plot, but it falls on its face from the pilot episode. We’ve seen the large bosom ditzy girl before, and Sawawa’s love for parfaits isn’t even a joke – it’s just a one-liner out staying its welcome. Flandre’s small-but-powerful routine is sort of cute but not new in any way. Riza is the typical tough girl that shouts a lot, all of her lines are taken out of the anime stereotype handbook. There’s nothing memorable or funny here, they’re bland copy and paste jobs from other much better anime.
And then there’s the protagonist, Hiro; the worst kind of protagonist, an inactive one. Similar to the likes of Ouri in Corpse Princess he’s thrown into an impossible situation but does nothing to participate in it or advance the plot apart from being the bait and/or damsel in distress. He moans, groans, dies in every other episode, the butt of everyone’s jokes, and for what? To be someone for the audience to project onto? He doesn’t even work as that; I can’t imagine there being anyone given the gift of immortality and yet choosing to be oblivious to it as Hiro is. He still goes to school, acting like nothings happen, not taking any precautions or protecting himself despite getting kidnapped or dying at every turn. If the writers wanted to write a normal teenage boy in a strange world they could’ve written the immortally thing out, or they should’ve taken the plunge in letting Hiro actually doing something besides die all the time.
Another fault with the characters is that they don’t really connect as a group. For example Hime makes it clear from the very start that she can handle herself with skills in sword and chainsaw wielding, she even has a super powerful cyborg at her beck and call, and yet she chooses to recruit a weakling like Hiro as a bodyguard? She’s clearly not stupid, nor does she show affection for young boys like some of the characters in the show, so her personality doesn’t match with the scenario she chooses to be in. Another example is Hiro and his sister Sawawa; they’re barely seen together on screen, he was brought to the mansion because of her and as a result gets thrown into deadly danger in every episode. But all she does is remain completely oblivious to the whole thing showing no concern for her brother’s welfare. You could’ve easily written out their family connection and nothing would have to change.
The presentation side of the series does little to argue its case; the animation is just as lifeless as the story. There are unoriginal character designs with many shortcuts taken such as repetitive movements and showing the impact of the attack rather than the move itself. Music is ok; the organ and string sounds add to the gothic horror tones that the series is trying to weave, and there’s several beats that sound like they’re ripped from a video game that work nicely in the fight scenes. Several songs are recycled a fair amount but it’s ok overall.
Princess Resurrection is 26 episodes of wasted potential, time and money. Despite the Princess giving out the flame of life to her servants there’s no life in this series at all; the story doesn’t advance or even attempt to be interesting, the characters are cardboard cut outs, the animation is poor and the only DVD extras are the clean opening and closing. Everything about this series feels half-hearted and has been done before in much better ways. I wish to could say something positive as there could have been something good here, but there isn’t and I can’t recommend a series this long and this uneventful.