Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Anime Review - Kaibutsu Oujo (Princess Resurrection)

Initially intrigued by the promotional material containing a gorgeous, nobly dressed female brandishing a chainsaw, Kaibutsu Oujo (Princess Resurrection) soon found its way onto my hard drive. A couple of episodes in and I can’t say I was immediately enamoured. Initially sporting the same fantasy tone found in shows such as Shakugan no Shana or To Aru Majutsu no Index, it wasn’t until the dark humour found in Nougami Neuro (another Madhouse production) found its way into the series that Kaibutsu Oujo actually found its footing.

Once a month....

Opening with the tale of Hiro, a young boy who sacrifices himself to save the aloof Hime, the narrative takes its time setting the scene and building atmosphere before immersing the viewer straight into the somewhat confusing action. In just the first episode, the befuddled boy is brought back to life by this strange woman only to find himself forced to work as one of her loyal servants. Throw a super-strong robotic loli into the mix during an all-out battle with a pack of werewolves who work to an ultimate agenda, there is perhaps a little too much to take in during just twenty-minutes of screen time. However, experience has taught that the amount of confusion presented in the premier is usually directly proportional to my overall enjoyment in anime.

...females are not to be crossed.
Although the amount of ecchi in Kaibutsu Oujo is minimal, there remains an element of a harem formation as new personalities join the supernatural brigade. After the introduction of the semi-werewolf Riza and vampire Reiri, the group dynamic feels complete and the story flows easily around these intriguing characters. However, the motivations behind many of the mistress’s actions remain a surprise; slowly drip feeding information throughout the 26 episodes Hime is kept surrounded by a veil of mystery, giving a reason to keep tuning in.

The wolfy is actually pretty foxy
Primarily episodic, there is a fascinating underlying story to Kaibutsu Oujo that is occasionally broken by comical interludes, usually involving Sawawa and her impressive rack. Easy to pick up and watch a couple of episodes at a time, the plot may not be the best out there, but it remains fun through to the end because of the addictive humour. The final episode is definitely worth a look, taking advantage of the straight-edged Flandre and turning the once loyal android into a hilarious wrecking machine. It is moments like these that keep the show from fading into mediocrity.

Certainly nothing special, the bold colours used throughout accentuate the interesting looking characters. Sadly as is seen in so many longer series, the animation begins to slip during the centre portion of the show; facial features simply aren’t as well drawn and proportions look somewhat off compared to that of the opening episodes. 
Some girls have all the luck - Sawawa's weight from all those
delicious sweet treats goes straight to her DD's
That said, the lovingly drawn curves of Sawawa and the wide variety of female supernatural creatures is a little more exciting than some of the usual wide-eyed feckless wonders found in romance anime. Another plus point is the fluidity during action scenes; using CG seamlessly and flawlessly, Flandre’s “Terminator vision” is suitably techie and Hime’s spellbinding magic appropriately bewitching.

Kicking off with upbeat rock, the haunting vocals of Aki Misato suit the blood red and black silhouettes dancing across the screen. The rapid tempo continues throughout the series’ background music until it hits the deliciously creepy ending track performed by Ali Project (also famous for Code Geass’ closing and Rozen Maiden’s opening audio). The rapidly ascending and descending pitch is somewhat disorientating, and yet utterly captivating, suiting the unearthly genre of the show.
"Huga huga" - that's what she said. No, really.

The seductive and commanding vocal talents originally afforded to the stoic Saber of Fate/Stay Night are also shared with the somewhat emotionless Hime. Also featuring the dignified tones of Mamiko Noto as the vampiric Reiri, the list of seiyuu is solid and perfectly chosen for each of their characters. However, for me at least, the character with the fewest lines made the biggest impact; Flandre’s repetitive use of “Huga” must have been a challenge, but somehow Shiho Kawaragi manages to display a range of emotions in just two syllables.
Hime, despite lacking personable skills and not being the most original of characters, is instantly likeable. Gradually opening up emotionally as the show progresses, her reactions remain surprising just as you think you’re getting to grips with the feisty blonde! Hiro on the other hand is an extremely unlikely hero. Clumsy, not the brightest bulb in the box and far too sweet to be considered a warrior, I’m still unsure as to why Hime brought him onboard as a protector. That said, he displays an aura of “nice guy” that means you can’t help but sympathise with his unfortunate situation.
Reiri suffered from a terrible overbite
Riza and Reiri make for entertaining viewing, fighting like cat and were-dog despite their reluctantly made truce. Each girl always trying to one-up the other, they have a habit of flirting with poor Hiro with the hope of angering their rival. Adding to this love pentagon, Hime’s younger sister Sherwood offers a delightful underage stalker element. Adding positively to the group dynamic, she is sadly featured infrequently and her story feels somewhat lacking compared to the rest of team supernatural.
Although not the best, Kaibutsu Oujo is certainly not in the bottom half of shows I have seen recently. Going into the show with zero preconceptions, the fantasy/adventure was fun to pick up for a couple of episodes each time. Enough battles to keep the action fans happy and tongue-in-cheek humour for everyone else, the series may appeal to a wide range of viewers but is probably not special enough to make any top 10 lists...

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