Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
1 - 6 Streaming
In the twenty-second century, humans are not only capable of space travel, they are also threatened by a group of humanoid aliens known as the Wulgaru. Since galactic warfare is now performed in large robots, naturally groups of children are being trained as pilots. In this case those children are teenagers who have not only been genetically enhanced, but have also had their memories wiped before entering the training academy. Majestic Prince follows a group of five teens officially called Team Rabbits but better known as Fail Five. These five have been genetically linked to their mechs, which ostensibly should give them an advantage, despite their limited teamwork abilities. As they are pulled from school and thrust into battles, however, we start to wonder – is it really just their use of the JURIA System that makes them so enticing to the top brass? Or are they just convenient and photogenic cannon fodder?
By this point in anime history, we are all familiar with the basic premise of Majestic Prince. It is the future. There is space travel, which naturally means that there are aliens. As may be expected, not all of the aliens are friendly, so Earth masses a global defensive front and promptly decides that child safety laws do not apply to mecha pilots. Thus are immature, underage teens plopped into giant spacefaring robots and expected to do battle in a war the scale of which we viewers have never known. In this case the aliens are the Wulgaru, and after six episodes we don't know much about them or why they are attacking Earth. Like in its spiritual predecessor Fafner: Dead Aggressor, the pilots of Majestic Prince have been genetically altered in order to better serve their planet. In this case our group of five have been synced to a special OS known as the JURIA System, which utilizes their survival instincts. On the surface, this doesn't sound too bad, or too far off the beaten path, for that matter. That's when the metaphorical bomb is dropped – previous to all of this, the kids of Team Rabbits had their memories wiped.
Why should this matter? Because it creates even more doubt in the minds of the viewers. Why destroy the accumulated memories of fifteen years? Who were these children beforehand? Is anything left? This particular group of heroes already has some unusual characters as part of its make-up. Yes, team leader Izuru has an obsession with heroes, but he also likes to spend his time drawing and is rarely shown without his sketchbook. Stoic Toshikazu has an anxiety problem that causes ulcers and is frequently shown in pain or taking medication. Neither of these traits are common to the genre's heroes, so it is interesting to see them now. It also adds a touch of realism to the proceedings, making at least Izuru and Toshikazu seem more like the kids they are and, in the case of Toshikazu, driving home the fact that this is not a game. On that front, viewers may find themselves frustrated by the apparently inept commanding officers who send the team out on missions. More than once they get their pilots into trouble and seem more concerned with saving face than anything else. The military is also not above using the surprise victories of Team Rabbits for propaganda purposes, selling advertising space on the mechs and instructing the pilots to wave for the camera. This gives us further reason to doubt those in charge, especially when there is a social media backlash and little is done to protect the group. The events of episode six also help to cement the idea that there is really something rotten going on here and that Team Rabbits is being manipulated for some secret purpose, all of which helps to pad out an otherwise fairly unremarkable basic plot.
The animation in Majestic Prince is fairly hit or miss. Space battles are gorgeous, with balletic moves performed by the mecha, dazzling effects, and a fluidity that is lacking in other, more mundane settings. Much of the down time is static, with characters standing or sitting and talking to each other and faces only shown from the eyes up to avoid mouth animation. The character designs will probably be one of the more polarizing aspects of the show, as Hisashi Hirai's style takes a bit of getting used to. While faces are far from beautiful, everyone is distinctly different from each other. Unfortunately two characters suffer from the recent phenomenon of making hair look like animal ears (we get both cat and dog on Team Rabbits) and Tamaki's oversized breasts are so out of line with her frame and inexpertly drawn as to make her look like she suffers from a grotesque swelling of the chest. Her mecha, on the other hand, is unusual and quite attractive.
As of now the series is moving at a decent pace, with even the inevitable bathing suit episode functioning to give us background on the characters and to move the plot forward somewhat. There is not much fanservice to speak of unless you count Tamaki's large breasts or Suzukaze's lollypop obsession, but the voices work well and clear plot progression. Moments of emotion and humor are scattered throughout, with episode six being a particularly strong one in terms of the former and episode five for the latter. (The porn scene is pretty priceless.) Overall it is easy to see that Majestic Prince is trying. At this point whether or not it succeeds is up to the tastes of the individual viewer, but with its moments of real emotion, some intriguing and unsettling background details, and the vague but troubling sensation that things could go wrong at any moment, there is enough to keep us watching. It may not be the best show out in the spring of 2013, but there is definitely something about it that holds your attention.
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : B-
Animation : C
Art : C-
Music : B
+ All protagonists have distinct personalities and a couple have very unusual traits. Quiet sense of menace and the mystery of the kids' past keeps things interesting, mecha battles look great.
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