Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 28th 2005
DVD 3: Traveling Trouble
Pacifica, Raquel, and Shannon head off into the mountains, where they encounter Berkens, an amiable and surprisingly easygoing Church Inquisitor. In his company they come upon a hidden village which hides not only a heretical cult, but a young woman named Elfitine who also claims to be the Scrapped Princess! Later the Cassuls travel to the Empire of Giat, where they encounter and become the “guests” of Senes Lur Giat, the empire's storied Beast Princess, who seems to know an awful lot more about the nature of the Scrapped Princess than the Cassuls have discovered themselves. What plans does she have for the Scrapped Princess? And it would seem the Peacemakers have hardly forgotten about her. . .
Meanwhile Chris's continuing investigation into the Scrapped Princess matter leads him to Pacifica's mother, the imprisoned queen.
Although the two-part story about the Cassuls' encounter with the fake Scrapped Princess offers a solid story with good additional chances for character development and a few hints dropped about the nature of the world, the real meat of this volume comes in the revelations of episodes 11 and 12. The purpose of the Scrapped Princess and the nature of her power are revealed, as is the reason why she is considered “the poison that will destroy the world” and what roles Shannon and Raquel – and many others the siblings have met so far – are supposed to play. The reason why sixteen is the magical age for Pacifica is hinted at, while we are outright told why Pacifica has been referred to as the Providence Breaker. (Yes, they use that term consistently in the dub in this volume, despite the inconsistencies over its use in the previous volume.) Also made clear is the true nature of this series. The presence of sci-fi elements has been implied almost since the beginning, but now it becomes obvious that this is truly more of a sci-fi/fantasy series than pure fantasy, one which uses the classic “fantasy world develops in the aftermath of an apocalyptic modern war” mold. Although there is still more of the full truth yet to be revealed, a viewer learns enough from this volume to understand why the Peacemakers are so intent on seeing Pacifica dead, even if Pacifica doesn't quite understand it herself.
Because of all the plot development and information provided in this volume, the character development isn't as rich as it has been in previous volumes. Interesting and important new recurring characters are introduced, however, most notably the hard-nosed, tomboyish Beast Princess, who was briefly mentioned in the previous volume. Other major new characters include Eirote, Senes's more practical-minded right-hand woman, and Natalie, a second Dragoon who doesn't seem to be completely sane. This volume also offers up brief reappearances by prominent characters from the earlier two volumes and provides the first look at Pacifica's mother, in addition to some interesting new guest appearances in the form of Berkens, the masked Lord Reynard, and Lady Elfitine, the false Scrapped Princess. While these may not be the most original characters you'll run across in an anime series, they are definitely not dull.
Newly-introduced characters maintain both the visual appeal and odd quirks of character design (such as the unrealistic way the outline of women's breasts show through their clothing) which are seen in characters introduced in previous volumes. The most distinctive-looking new character is Senes, whose tomboyish, unglamorous look perfectly suits her personality, although the appearance of the queen explains a couple of things about why Pacifica looks the way she does. Background art and animation are still respectable and pack a fair amount of flashy non-CG effects, though the visual highlights are the expressive faces of the characters. Pacifica's dumbfounded expression in one scene early in episode 11 is a classic, though both she and Shannon have other good moments, too, and Natalie's smile is just. . . well, you can't look at a smile like that and not think that something is off kilter with that character.
The musical scoring here gets a little too heavy in some of the dramatic scenes but in general supports the storytelling adequately. The English dub is on the mark most of the time, with Bridget Hoffman's performance as Raquel continuing to be dead-on and other performances for recurring characters remaining at least adequate. Of new roles, Bob Papenbrook makes Berkens sound like a “good ol' boy,” an interpretation which is of a distinctly different style than the original performance but fits well with the character and dialogue he speaks. Less successful is Wendee Lee's turn as Senes, which isn't bad but does lack some of the blustery flair which made the original performance so distinctive. The reasonably tight English script has eliminated most of the inconsistencies which plagued the previous problem, and this time around the subtitles aren't sprinkled with spelling errors. Still remaining is the variability in the name of the child version of Cz, which was spelled “Cin” in the last volume but is now being spelled “Cyn.” While a nit-picking point, it shows that Bandai doesn't quite have all the bugs worked out yet.
“Traveling Troubles” brings Scrapped Princess to its midpoint by maintaining the solid balance of action and drama which has made it such a winner so far. Its excellent pacing and colorful (but not outlandish) character portrayals assure that the series never gets dull, while revelations and plot developments in the second half of this volume open up intriguing possibilities about what's yet to come in the second half of the series. It is another strong entry in one of the best recent fantasy series, one marred only by the complete lack of extras beyond company trailers.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ many important revelations, solid writing and characterizations
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