Title: Scrapped Princess
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 8 Apr 2003 – 7 Oct 2003
Synopsis: The great prophecy states that the one known as the Scrapped Princess will bring about the destruction of the world on her sixteenth birthday. She must be killed to secure the future of humanity. Despite a murder attempt when she was just a baby, Pacifica Casull has managed to grow up, hidden by a foster family and protected by her older siblings, Shannon and Raquel. As the fated birthday draws nearer, the siblings begin to learn the truth behind the prophecy, and that Pacifica’s role is not quite what they had imagined.
Brother/sister relationship: Abusive yet sweet.
Plot devices: Too many.
Intelligence required to save the world: Apparently very little.
Shoulder pads: A must have fashion accessory.
I will give this series credit for going big. What seemed at the beginning to be a fairly simple premise in the end turned out to be a very complex tale. For the first third of the series, the Casull siblings’ biggest worry is imperial assassins on the hunt for Pacifica. Shannon’s sword, Raquel’s magic and a bit of quick thinking seems enough to see the trio through. Then new elements emerge and suddenly the ball game becomes much bigger. As the series develops, religion, politics, history and science all come into play, along with beings called Dragons and Peacemakers. Big questions are brought up about humanity’s ability to endure and whether free will is a blessing or a curse. There are a lot of interesting twists and the concept of the series is intriguing, but where the series falters is in it’s execution.
The story is simply not as sophisticated as it wants to be. It relies repeatedly on plot devices to create tension and conflict. It seems logical that if the Peacemakers are such powerful beings and they want Pacifica dead, they would simply kill her. It is the plot that allows her to live by preventing the Peacemakers from such an act and forcing them to use indirect methods. At one point Pacifica conveniently loses her memory, completely forgetting that she is the Scrapped Princess and forcing the story to detour for a number of episodes. Raquel’s magic also proved frustrating, since she could use a spell when it was needed once, and have it be mysteriously blocked the next time it could be useful. Even the abilities of the Dragons seem to fit the needs of the story.
Extending from this is the annoying fact that the characters never figured anything out for themselves. As they made their way, key characters would run into people who knew everything they needed to know. The history of the world, the creation of the Dragons and Peacemakers and the political unrest between the neighbouring countries are all explained in detail to the main cast in long scenes of exposition. It means that the Casulls didn’t earn their way into such significant roles, but were simply granted them. Compare this to a series like Seirei no Moribito, where the characters had to solve the mystery of the sacred spirit on their own, putting the pieces together bit by bit.
Beyond this, Scrapped Princess is a fairly interesting and engaging fantasy tale. I quite enjoyed the interplay between Pacifica and her brother Shannon, which is one of the more memorable elements of the show. Shannon’s levelheadedness is a necessary balance to Pacifica who is annoying and childish. She is painfully dense and never fully comprehends what’s happening despite it being explained to her in detail. She is all heart and no head, that much is clear, but this naivete is essential to her role in the story. The other characters are, thankfully, not so airheaded (save one). They are generally likeable and interesting, if not terribly unique, and most are allowed their own, sometimes very personal, tales. As the scope of the story kept growing, so did its cast, to the point where it was difficult to keep track of everyone beyond a general alignment of “kill Pacifica” or “save Pacifica”. Despite this clear alignment, it becomes obvious that no group is completely in the right or wrong. Each side has its reasons and nobody knows exactly what will happen when the fateful birthday arrives.
The series is supported by nice, brightly coloured animation and a decent enough soundtrack. The CG used for the Dragons and Peacemakers is well integrated and occasional CG is well utilized in some other sequences. The varied character designs helped greatly in keeping track of different people throughout the story, though I can’t say I was a big fan of their fashion choices.
For all that this series does well, it was disappointing that it didn’t reach its full potential. Such an interesting premise could have been explored much better. Given the history of the world told here, I would have liked to have seen a more in depth study of the culture produced by such events, rather than a culture that suited the plot. Scrapped Princess still dishes up some intriguing ideas, pleasant visuals, likeable characters and one princess who, not matter what, just wants to live.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Kaikyaku