Cheering for Majestic Prince

I have already thanked the two bloggers who brought Majestic Prince to my attention; but I would like to reiterate my thanks to them, because I would have avoided this series for two reasons: 1) sci-fi is hardly my favorite genre, and 2) the character animation is especially poor.  Even compared to the usual fare of televised American cartoon, it tends toward mediocrity in this department.  Fortunately, the mecha designs and backgrounds tend to offer more variety and pleasure for the eye.  The mechs receive particular attention to detail from the animators and stand out among other mechs of the genre.

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In any event, I should like to add my own cheer to the growing number of fans.  The show’s strong point, despite the blandness of their designs, is the uniqueness of our heroes.  I am convinced that some of the minor characters must be stock; but, the writer does his best to hide that fact, and the heroes are particularly quirky.  Kei is quiet, reserved but capable of sudden exuberance, and has an unrivaled sweet tooth.   Izuru, their flight leader, openly proclaims his desire to be a hero, like those characters of his favorite manga, which he is quite adept at drawing.  Asagi appears tough, but get stomach aches at critical moments.  Tamaki ardently burns for romance and squid guts, but finds the former desire often frustrated.  Suruga happens to be a thorough gun nut and compares attractive women to his favorite firearms.

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Added to this, there is a great sense of family in the show.  The main characters all had their memories wiped out before entering the training program, so they particularly cling to their squadron members, collectively called Team Rabbits by the instructors and, literally, “the Regretful Five,” which is translated as “the Failure Five,” by their classmates due to their inability to cooperate during missions.  Asagi seems to take the place of the grandfather, Izuru as the father, Kei as the mother, Sugura as one of the children, and Tamaki as the baby of the family.  This is further stressed by how closely knit their teams of mechanics are.

The best team of mechanics.  Yes, this series has fanservice.

The best team of mechanics. Yes, this series has fanservice.

This series also happens to be brilliantly unpredictable in terms of how the battles will end.  So far, the audience has been treated to everything from a rousing victory to a Pyrrhic victory to utter defeat.  It keeps the audience routing for the protagonists since the outcome of each battle remains uncertain till the fat lady sings.  The mechs’ maneuvers fall everywhere from carving great swathes of destruction to hard hitting close combat.  Also interesting concerning the mechs is that the pilots’ DNA has been infused into the mechs and that the pilots’ survival instinct determines how well they fight.  If they can see survival in fighting, their mechs perform beautifully; otherwise, they might stand petrified or actually flee!  This kind of variety keeps the series refreshing.

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So, I encourage otaku everywhere to look past the simplistic character designs and give Majestic Prince a try!  And here’s a wonderful rant by Kei on the immodesty of the swimsuits which a certain company asked them to wear for publicity (the military often displays the pilots for publicity):

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Fantasy, Vikings, and Gunslinging: Manga Reviews!

Here’s some reviews of the manga I’ve been reading recently.  The first part will contain three manga and the second part, which will be written this weekend, three more.  All of them may be recommended without exception–unless you can’t endure fanservice.  Then, I won’t recommend Zero-In to you.

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The manga Superior and its second part Superior Cross were delightful to read.  This series had great fights and the plot some nice twists.  Yet, the most appealing things about this fantasy are how the mangaka, Ichtys, works in a Christian worldview, how likable and dynamic the characters are, and the often gut-wrenching situations in which the characters find themselves.

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Of particular interest is the Demon Queen, Sheila.  She starts off as a rather bloodthirsty, callous, ruthless character with a sense of humor.  After running into Hero, who has a strong sense of justice and made a vow not to kill anyone with the sole exception of the Demon Queen (He’s like Kenshin Himura, but less cool), Sheila falls in love with him, managing to keep her identity in the dark.  This allows her to tag along with Hero and his company.

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This series is rife with Christian symbolism and theology.  They quote Scripture on a few occasions.  That neither humans nor monsters are ontologically good or evil indicates that all rational creatures possess free will.  At the same time, several characters confess to having a wounded nature (very Catholic there)–particularly Sheila in the very powerful ending to this series.  One scene basically shouts the concept of doffing the old man and putting on the new.  If Christian manga are of interest to you, you can’t let this one go without reading it.

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Vinland Saga is a favorite of mine.  (The image in the header gives that away.)  Unfortunately, they release chapters at a snail’s pace.  The drawing style feels more like Prince Valiant than manga, even though there are certain characters who definitely have a manga-ish appearance.  All the weapons, armor, and backgrounds are beautifully done.  (Maybe that’s why it takes so long for the mangaka to write chapters.)  The characters range from being lovable to despicable.  Overall, the story is quite compelling, even though certain parts can be too drawn out, especially around chapter 80.  Until around chapter 54, the manga is a true page turner, and the pace slows down a bit afterward.

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The first section of the comic deals with the antagonism between Askeladd and our hero, Thorfinn.  Askeladd leads a company of Vikings on raids, Thorfinn included, and is the one responsible for the death of Thorfinn’s father.  In exchange for good conduct on the battlefield, Thorfinn is allowed to duel Askeladd and try to avenge his father.  The comics take a very interesting plunge into history when this company is assigned to guard Prince Canute, the man who would become king of Denmark and Britain, during a war with Britain.  Askeladd and Thorfinn must protect their charge against all enemies, hostes et inimici.  (Forgive my indulgence in Latin.  Hostes = enemy of one’s country.  Inimici = personal enemies.)

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This series stands out among manga for a variety of reasons.  It shows a very interesting conflict between Christians and Pagans–reminiscent of Tokugawa period Japan.  Some of its views of Christianity are inaccurate (a corpse is not the highest symbol of Christian charity!), but it shows this religion in a favorable light, especially when compared to Viking paganism.  I also enjoy how historically accurate and unusual the characters all are for manga–as a matter of fact, some characters relate much more to figures found in sagas than those in Japanese manga.  Though, I am disappointed with what the mangaka did to King Canute’s character–even though it makes the story more compelling.  (Canute was a good guy from everything I’ve read.)

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You have no idea how hard it is to find decent pictures of this manga–and by decent, I don’t mean well done!

Here’s a fanservicey, action-packed shounen for you: Zero-In.  Again, we have a series with very likable characters and the cool and absorbing action draws in the reader.  It feels a little like Gunsmith Cats: an almost perfectly entertaining series if you can ignore the scenes of nudity, especially a few which go further than that.  Zero-In concerns a privately owned Japanese police company called Minkei.  Our two main characters are the experienced and powerful Mikuru and her love interest, Kou.  (I cannot see Kou as much of a lead, but this series falls in the harem genre.)  The plots tend to be episodic, and many interesting characters are met along the way.  Overall, this manga excels in providing the reader with great fun–if only they would translate the chapters faster!  (I’m very close to reading it raw, which I find a bit time consuming these days.)

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General Endorsement of Humanity has Declined

I did promise a review of this show, didn’t I?  The only problem is that I feel quite unable to do justice to this rather amusing show which covers a diverse grouping of topics.  You see, my viewing of this show was rather sporadic with weeks passing in between certain episodes.  Then, the episodic nature of the show prevents me from latching on to a thread which I might delineate in the show.  As a matter of fact, the only two reasons to continue reading what I’m about to write are that 1) it’s short and 2) you will be directed to proper reviews of this show.

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The most omnipresent theme running through the show appears to be Watashi’s (watashi is the polite form for “I” in Japanese) cynicism, skepticism, and perfect contempt for any projects or ideas which moderns themselves devise or draw from the past.  This makes her a very droll character, whom bloggers across cyberspace have extolled.  She even takes on the topic of yaoi and manga in general through commenting on Y’s (a former school friend) efforts to spread the genre’s influence in the modern era.

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I thought that Marlin-sama had an article on the episode which commented on this show’s portrayal of religion, but I can’t find it.  Another great article on this show was Avvesione’s discussion of the effect of light on the animation.  Then, there were a couple on Beneath the Tangles which were also quite enjoyable: Lessons from the Decline of Humans and Possibility of a New Race.

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In the end, all I can say that this show was a lot of fun; although, GoodbyeNavi has a profoundly different opinion.  The strongest points for this show are the main character, her cynical commentary on just about everything, references to outside works like Gulliver’s Travels, and the humor and zaniness of certain scenes.  If you want more than that, you might be disappointed.  Though, I wouldn’t mind watching this fun little show again.

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