In a nutshell, Scrapped Princess is the one that was more easygoing than Mai Hime but never quite reached the effortless brilliance of Fullmetal Alchemist. The animation style, vibrant colour tones, level of fantasy elements and so on are roughly the same as the other two, and just like them, it tries to combine an inventive concept of magic with a tragic political plot that's got the whole world at stake. However, it lacks the intense emotional pull of the other two firstly because its protagonists have so little clout, and secondly because it is not the cleverest show on offer. I got the feeling the creators tossed in the first few ideas they could think of, and to their own surprise strung together something quite decent.
Still, the fact is the story does get really exciting once the main magical and political battles kick in. For example, the show introduces one element a third of the way through that is pure ‘cool' - the Dragoons. Although not strictly new, the unique fantasy twist on the old mecha theme rescued the series from its initial threat of blandness. I did not care much for the naff mini side-plots and comedy episodes they sprinkled into the mix but the central plot turned out to be worth every penny because it twisted in pleasantly surprising directions.
Some of the best ideas, namely the fact that Pacifica Casull's main adversary is a religious institution rather than an individual person, that she supposedly is the antagonist of the conflict, and that fate actively conspires against her, also eliminated any ‘fluffiness' and helped maintain a sad undertone. That isn't to say these ideas haven't been treated with better skill and ingenuity elsewhere, but at least they were used well enough here to inject a sense of maturity.
With colourful environments, simplistic but pretty character designs, a distinct absence of blood, and cute costumes for much of the cast, the series remains shoujo to the core. It would have all been innocent girlie fun were it not for the taint of oversized breasts on most of the women. Action sequences involving the Dragoons and Peacemakers were epic enough but everyday movements were clumsy on too many occasions. Simply put, Scrapped Princess is easy on the eye, providing occasional solid highlights to keep us interested but often being of the usual high fantasy fare.
The opening and ending themes have a very medieval feel to them, with bagpipes providing the instrumental canvas for the OP in a manner quite reminiscent of Ah My Goddess Season 2. The OP was one of those songs I knew I wouldn't like but then grew on me so quickly that I found myself unconsciously humming it in the shower. It's the kind of tune that makes me wish I made more of an effort to learn the lyrics. Generally, though, the stuff during the scenes is best understood as good mood-setter. Voice acting was suitable and convincing although not remarkably dynamic most of the time. Some of the best moments include the intimate exchanges between Shannon and Pacifica, when his stoic tone and her vulnerable girlishness provide for some touching dialogue.
Characterisation is sufficient but far from impressive, which I blame on the unwarranted size of the cast. Characters like wannabe knight Leopold Scorpse, Kidaf Gylot the minstrel, and most of Christopher Bylaha's team were easily superfluous and became distractions rather than complements. I'm also unconvinced that Pacifica's sister, Raquel, a central character with no subplot of her own and only the single purpose of casting spells, was actually needed.
Out of everyone, though, I found the least interesting person to be Pacifica herself; cute, clueless, and passive in the extreme, the only reason I cared was because the story cared. Shannon, on the other hand, is a traditional fantasy hero type who tackles his troubles predominantly with the edge of his sword and, when necessary, with the occasional words of wisdom. He is in fact the juxtaposed personality to Pacifica, and thus engaging in every way that she is not. I suppose it helps that he is also linked to the coolest part of the entire series. As for antagonists, Christopher is a complex addition, and the Peacemakers are also worth mentioning since their cold view of humanity gives them such interesting motivations.
This anime is good entertainment for the days when you want something not too cerebrally challenging but that doesn't patronise you either. Sure, it doesn't sweep you breathlessly away like other magical shows and it could do with a bit of pruning cast-wise, but with a worthwhile message to tell about prejudice, religious dogmatism, and courage in the face of inevitable doom, Scrapped Princess is a solid upbeat story with a sad heart.
The god Mauser delivered unto a world of magic a prophecy: if the Scrapped Princess is allowed to live, she will destroy the entire world. But the knight who was to kill her could not end the life of a newborn child, and so she lived. Fifteen years later, her adopted brother and sister have sworn to protect her, and together they travel from town to town, searching for a life she can't have.
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