by Carl Kimlinger,

Princess Resurrection

GN 1

Princess Resurrection GN 1
Hiro moves to a new town, following his older sister who recently found a job there as a live-in housekeeper. And is promptly killed in a traffic accident. Luckily (or not) his soon-to-be corpse catches the eye of a passing beauty in gothic attire. Her name is Hime and she is the daughter of the king of all monsters. On a whim she resurrects poor Hiro, who soon discovers that not only will he be living with her (guess who hired his sister?), but that he is now a half-immortal guardian who will rejoin the ranks of the corpses unless he gets regular infusions of her blood. Even with the help of a cute and monstrously strong little girl android, being a hapless loser he makes a rather poor undead soldier, and the princess has a host of enemies, caught as she is in a vicious supernatural struggle for succession. The procession of werewolves, crazed scientists, invisible men, and creatures from black lagoons soon proves more than an immortal zombie loser can handle. Luckily he isn't alone; not as long as the princess has a battle axe or chainsaw handy.

An addition to the horror-comedy niche, Princess Resurrection suffers from a surplus of ineffective horror and a general listlessness and lack of direction. It is periodically quite funny though, and anything with a chainsaw-wielding woman in it can't be all bad.

Only one chapter—a creepy stay in a vampire-infested hospital—succeeds as horror. The rest, for all of their battling monsters, are all but entirely devoid of terror, dread, creeps, chills and willies, and haven't even the sheer gore factor to qualify them. There is plenty of (curiously rendered) blood, and the artwork lends itself fairly well to classical Hollywood horror atmospherics, but the passages given over to suspense are generally wasted. Humor isn't enough of a focus for this to be a laugh-riot, but there are amusing little jokes throughout, nearly all of them dealing with the endless abuse heaped on Hiro. He's run over, stabbed, garroted, chain-sawed, thrown through windows, impaled, dismembered, and left at the bottom of a lake for an entire chapter. It's rather refreshing to see an ostensible male lead placed in a position as protector and yet remain as thoroughly incompetent as Hiro is.

The heart of the series is obviously meant to be the difficult position Hime is in, fighting for her life against her own siblings. And yet we're never allowed inside her head, making the emotional subtext slight at best. On the other hand, we spend plenty of time in Hiro's head, but he's better as a running joke than a character. Probably the most sympathetic character is Riza, a werewolf half-breed whose brother was killed by Hime, and at least half of her appeal is her abs (the other half being the overlay of anger and angst over her basically fun-loving core). This is all entirely beside the point of course; no one reads something like this for existential human drama or delicate emotions. But were they present, it would help to distract from the series' marked lack of purpose. Supernatural assassins aside, the world of monsters is ignored outright, and the political struggles and social institutions behind Hime's current station and exile have yet to receive any elaboration. This is an introductory volume, so naturally one can expect more in the way of explanation on these points later, but that doesn't change the fact that there is no indication here of where, if anywhere, this series is headed. It's just a lot of Hime getting the better of monster nasties by hook or crook. As cool as she is (did I mention she uses a chainsaw?) she has trouble carrying even this one volume on her merits alone.

Yasunori Mitsunaga's artwork is heavy on detail, contrasts, and dark shadows and excels at moldy mansion, hollow hospital, dark woods kinds of atmosphere. Backgrounds are illustrated with meticulous care, as are vehicles, weapons, and tools. Hime and Riza are the center of the series' visual appeal, and Hime is a visual force all her own; a tea-sipping, cat-eyed hellion with a perpetual smirk, lithe physique, haughty royal bearing and a gothic dress that simply has to be hell to draw. And yet, for all its detail, fan-service and geometric precision, there's something strangely amateurish about it. Something in how characters' proportions get awkwardly off-model, in the vaguely unconvincing way that people move, in the over-reliance on speedlines, in the occasional ineffective transition.

This is another Del Rey manga that feels—in art reproduction, paper quality and presentation—like it's worth the eleven bucks it costs. Extras include a short humorous Princess Resurrection spin-off, (very) brief translation notes, and the usual next-volume preview.

Given a little more narrative momentum, and fewer failed attempts at horror, this series has the potential to be good light fun with a mean little macabre bite. But for now, it has all the direction and appeal of a headless chicken: it runs in circles squirting blood, and is good for a laugh or two, provided you're in the right frame of mind.

Overall : C+
Story : C
Art : B-

+ Occasionally funny; visually appealing female lead; chainsaw violence.
Attempts at horror generally fail; isn't really going anywhere right now.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Yasunori Mitsunaga

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