Scrapped Princess is an interesting take on a rather tired formula, performing a major genre twist midway, colorizing story and characters in ways that are making them more than they appear to be at first. The end result is quite original as far as anime go, but still loses a lot because of its erratic pacing. Which is expected when you realize it is animated by studio Bones, which automatically means very good production values, a complicating intriguing story, and a script written on the run without the slightest attempt to make sense or have consistency. Furthermore, director and scriptwriter are people who never produced anything above average.
So this is an anime about a teen princess who has been prophesized to destroy the Medieval world of the series as soon as she becomes an adult and is on the run while protected by two siblings bodyguards. The initial episodes are very good at portraying the drama of being accused of doing things that are beyond your scope and even have a “fight your fate” feeling to this. If it remained at this, it would be average at best, as fatalism doesn’t leave much room for variety beyond “fulfilling the prophesy” or … “not”.
Yet as soon as the story hits its limit at what the premise can offer, it then does a major genre twist. That made the story far more original and fascinating than it appeared to be at first.
Still, even the greatest idea can fail out of bad planning, and the series suffers a lot from lots of erratic pacing. That is, some episodes are far less interesting and slow than others, while the transition from one major event to another usually happens in a crude way. Sloppy, sudden and sometimes dried is what you get in peaking moments where you should be eating your nails. And then it’s ending of the series itself which is one of those rare occasions where although solid, complete and strong, it is far from satisfactory. Everything simply happens too fast to let you really enjoy its otherwise very interesting take on fate and conspiracy around lasting peace, the origin of the caretakers and stuff that go way beyond what the anime bothers to show you.
The problems are not present only in the story but they are there in the characters as well. Pacifica, the lead girl, is given a great amount of depth, character coloring and development, easily becoming a lovable and sympathetic character trying to save her life and fight fate and the status quo of the world. Unfortunately, she is the only one that has all this charm.
All other characters are hardly original or memorable in any way because this is a story about a prophesy that does not allow anyone else to take part in it. In the usual fatalistic deadlock that a trope like “fate” offers, none can actually do anything without giving the feeling they are doing it for the center of the universe that is Pacifica. So even taking initiative ends up looking as “fate told you to do it” and practically kills all sort of individuality. Yes, fate in storytelling has this shit and no sane scriptwriter would ever use it.
… And most do by the way, proving they are far from great.
Anyways, even without this problem the character still fail to impress with their personalities alone, as none is given the focus Pacifica gets. The two sibling bodyguards are rather likable for being next to her from the very start, unlike most others who are lost in the crowd of seemingly unimportant characters. So are the enemy sub-leaders, the four Dragoons, for being more than heartless assassins. And… that is pretty much it. Likable guys but hardly special and almost invisible next to the spotlight of the lead.
The animation is of a very high level in terms of colors and details, plus it has a great variety of settings, weapons and action scenes. Having a blob that eats people and keeps growing or a robot with spinning laser attacks was really awesome. Chanting of spells and controlling assassin disks through music was great too. Voice acting and songs … hm, I hardly remember them, meaning they are average but not annoying or memorable for any given reason.
Down to it, Scrapped Princess is more interesting as an idea than an actual anime, as the story ends up being more interesting than the actual plot or cast and that ruins it in the long run.
Tengen Toppa Gurenn Lagan
Vision of Escaflowne
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (good looking)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (solid but rushed)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (the protagonist is great, the rest are mediocre)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of the bad pacing)
Memorability 2/4 (it has some good ideas but overall it’s not doing a very good job)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 1/3 (good ideas, bad handling)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok but nothing great)