Reviewby Theron Martin, Mar 27th 2009
Sub.DVD - Collection 1
While traveling to join his maid older sister at her new job, 8th grader Hiro Hyorimi valiantly tries to save a Hime, a young blond woman dressed like a Goth princess, from falling steel beams but gets killed in the process. Hime, as it happens, is an actual princess of the Monster Realm, so she brings Hiro back to life as her “half-immortal” servant; although he can't be killed by other means, he needs regular spiritual maintenance from Hime, so he can't stray too far from her. He soon finds himself working for, and living with, Hime, along with his parfait-obsessed sister, Hime's kid-sized android maid Flandre, and later on the half-werewolf warrior Liza Wildman, too. Though quite capable in a fight, Hime can use all of the help she can get since her siblings are out to kill her and various other monsters seek the blood of a Royal Family member for the power it carries. Hiro, to his chagrin, must help fight off monsters ranging from mummies to spider-bats to werewolves while contending with the playfully seductive vampire Reiri and Hime's younger sister Sherwood, who quickly takes a liking to Hiro and seeks to claim him for one of her own servants (to go with the panda bears and her own android maid).
Princess Resurrection is not a particularly good series. It is, however, a fun series, and in this case, that's (just) enough.
The first half of this 26-episode adaptation of Yasunori Mitsunaga's shonen manga captures some of the spirit of the earlier seasons of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show: a campy blend of absurdity, silliness, monster-bashing, and drama which allows the series to be serious without ever getting too serious. These thirteen episodes deliver a laundry list of classic movie monsters, including werewolves, vampires, mummies, spider/bat hybrids, androids, monstrous amphibians, an invisible man, and an unnamed creature that can inhabit and seize control of a victim's body. They also feature panda bears, a cat girl, a plethora of maid costumes, and a vaguely haremesque arrangement for Hiro, who is every bit the typical pathetic harem lead. Oh, and let's not forget the Goth princess with the long blond hair and monstrous red eyes who, in one episode, slices up her mansion with a chain saw and in another goes into dual chain saw-wielding mode.
It is that same title character who makes the series watchable, however. Smug, haughty and proper, the aptly-named Hime maintains her elegance even when tearing her enemies apart with chain saws (which she only actually uses in two episodes despite the prominent motif in the opener and closer) or melee weapons and never loses her composure even in dire circumstances. She never gets exaggeratedly angry or even raises her voice, instead regarding everything with bemusement and/or disdain. She is the epitome of a true Goth princess.
Unfortunately she gets little help from her supporting cast. Hiro is eye-rollingly bland in his mostly incompetent goodness, Liza is just another slight variation on the standard tough-girl fighter-type, the oddly-named Sherwood is a typical uppity younger sister, and Hiro's older sister has nothing going for her beyond her oblivious niceness and obsession with parfaits. Reiri is mildly more interesting as the playful vampire seductress, though she gets too locked into the “information-delivering device” role and her combative relationship with Liza gets old fast. Sherwood's maid Francesca fails to make much of an impression beyond her lethal bead-flicking technique, but Flandre, as the nearly indomitable pint-size android maid, amuses much more with the dichotomy between her size and what she is actually physically capable of doing. The running joke where she and Francesca only ever say “huga” and yet Hime and Sherwood always understand exactly what they mean never entirely gets old.
The cheaply-staged fight scenes do quickly get old, however. The animation so heavily uses common shortcuts in the fights that only a few such scenes have much real sense of motion; the rest are just series of stills of various characters whacking monsters with great flair. The animation actually looks better outside of the fight scenes, though it is never good. The artistry looks cheap enough, especially in the monster designs, Liza's never-looks-right werewolf forearms, and occasional odd body proportioning, that discovering that a studio with as high a reputation as Madhouse was responsible for it is shocking. All of the names associated with this endeavor on the artistic front have done much better work elsewhere. Oh, it is hardly a visual disaster, and some might claim that Madhouse is just playing to the style of the original manga's artwork, but beyond Hime's design and the opener and closer animation this is not a title that can sell itself on its visuals. Don't expect much of anything for graphic content or more than a tiny bit of fan service, either, as the TV-PG rating is only a little on the light side. Certainly the first half of the series is nowhere near as graphic as the DVD case cover art suggests.
The mediocre artistry does not hinder the soundtrack or Japanese voice acting at all. The actors mostly have fun with their roles, with the key performance being Ayako Kawasumi's nicely reserved interpretation of Hime. Mikiya Katakura, the composer of the Ali Project duo, fashions a musical score which finds a pleasing balance between creepiness, intensity, and playfulness. Aki Misato performs the appropriately-titled “Blood Queen” for the up-tempo opener, while Ali Project's “Hizamazuite Ashi o Oname” pairs with arguably the series' best visuals in a catchy and stylish closer.
Though ADV is distributing this title, and its personnel did the subtitling and production work, the series was actually licensed by Sentai Filmworks, whose name exclusively appears on the case, in the credits, and in the North American copyright notices; in fact, a viewer not familiar with the names of key ADV personnel might not even be aware that ADV was involved with this project. That may partly explain why this is a subbed-only release, something ADV itself does not normally do. (Given the number of typos that pop up in the subtitles, though, ADV might not have wanted its name associated with this one.) All thirteen episodes come on a pair of disks in a normal-thickness case, with the only actual Extras being a clean opener and closer. In another departure for ADV, the original Japanese credits are retained, with the English credits following after.
Although some episodes do pretend like they strive for depth, a series like this does not really need a plot to be entertaining – which is good, because beyond Hime and Sherwood making an alliance against the older siblings trying to kill them and some shenanigans involving a second vampire of uncertain motives, not much actually happens in the underlying plot. All the series really needs is Hime being Hime, monsters to fight, a few laughs sprinkled throughout, Hiro valiantly dying on a regular basis, and the occasional interesting setting or situation. For the most part, the writing does that, except in the tediously-overblown hospital episode. (Raise your hand if you screamed at the doctor to just SHUT UP AND GET ON WITH BUSINESS!!!) If you want a far darker, more involved, and more serious series based on a similar premise, check out 3x3 Eyes instead. For lighter fare, this one will do.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : B+
+ Cool female lead, strong musical score.
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