After watching Wolf’s Rain, Scrapped Princess was next on my docket to watch. I bought the Blu-ray of it and Wolf’s Rain because they were on sale and it was my Birthday week. I waited a week between the watching Wolf’s Rain to dive into this one to vent all my feelings about it. After loving that show, I thought watching another Studio Bones show from that era, the early 2000’s, would do. Scrapped Princess aired in 2003, right before the original Fullmeatal Alchemist aired. Infact, according to Arkada, the final episode of Scrapped Princess aired four days before FMA’s first episode. As I was watched it, it didn’t click for me. At first, I thought it just wasn’t up to the quality of Wolf’s Rain because I loved it so much. While that is still partially true, there was another aspect to me not feeling for the show as wellthat as well. This is a fantasy light novel adaption and we have seen a lot of those lately, right? In its own right, scrapped Princess is a more than decent show, but there are way too many hang ups to making it have a strong impact on me.
Before I dive into the my hang ups of this series, maybe you would want to know something about it. The easiest way to describe the show is what if the matrix took place in medieval times instead of the late 90’s or whatever time period those movies took place. Also, what if those agents were revered as gods because of a popular church and for some reason they had the power to turn into mech-things and destroy entire cities whenever they wanted? What if the chosen one was a mere princess that has nothing special except one latent special ability that will appear on her sixteenth birthday. Those gods are afraid of her and thus leaned humanity toward hating this one girl. So it’s like the Matrix, but even more anime. I may have thrown in some spoilers in there, but that’s Scrapped Princess to a t.
Scrapped Princess is a light novel adaption and has a lot of tropes in that are popular in this era of anime. That’s not a fault in the show in itself. There is no way to predict what is going to be popular when. The fault is that years and years of similar media have weighed down on this show and made it less memorable. For example, you know how the invincible black-haired swordsman is popular these days? Scrapped Princess has one of those too. His name in Shannon, the Scrapped Princess’ adopted older brother. He is the only one capable of fighting the false gods because he was the only one granted power to do it. He’s not invincible because he struggles when fighting the gods, but he hasn’t met his match in normal sword play yet. You could also call this a pseudo video game locked in a video game fantasy anime. It’s a little more complicated than that, but the characters are locked up in a matrix like sitting which is incredibly comparable to a video game setting. It’s still a fantasy anime with some other elements thrown in, but it definitely laid down the seeds for what comes next.
The next part that makes Scrapped Princess a little weak when it comes to characters. They are incredibly thin There are a lot of plot and fantasy elements that make it interesting, but everyone from the main characters to the various side characters have the same amount of layers to them. For starters, the main character is the scrapped princess herself, Pacifica. While she never grew up in royalty, she acts like a princess/spoiled brat all the time. She isn’t good at any form of manual labor or combat for at all and loves taking baths. That fact that she is perceived as the poison of the world and her existence threatens lives around is commented on, but doesn’t affect her until the end of the series. A lot of other character’s arcs are fulfilled in the same way. For example, there is the Beast Princess who wasn’t wanted from her nation either. She is incredibly macho and is very good at sword play and magic. She has a conflict with Pacifica ever since they meet, because they are complete opposites, but she finally realizes Pacifica’s worth at the end of the series. There is also a couple that forms at the end of the series at well. It’s crazy how that works. Everybody stays the same, despite what may or may happen to these characters until the end they have to go somewhere.
I already mentioned Pacifica’s older brother, so let’s mention her sister. The show leaves her out sometimes because Scrapped Princess focuses more on Pacific and her brother Shannon, so sometimes she if left in the dust. Still, she is worth talking about because she is a fun character. She is an incredibly powerful mage that can cast spells faster than anyone. She provides magic support and explanation of a lot of various elements that needed to be provided, but she lets go she is incredibly scary. She is also kind hearted and is a major force of positivity in the group. Since both Shannon and Pacifica are incredibly hot headed at can be at each other’s throats, it’s nice to have a cool head around to keep everyone grounded somewhere.
Scrapped Princess doesn’t explain a lot of the themes and story elements that the story provides very well, but there are two elements that are explored very well are the power of perception and family. Pacifica needs to be constantly watched over, because she is the Scrapped Princess. Supposedly, she is the poison that will end the world. She never acts threatening in anyway, but because people believe it, the military makes some horrible decisions that cause a lot of deaths around her. All because Paciica has the title of Scrapped Princess. On the family side, Scrapped Princess explores what it means to be family (I wish I could have used this show for my OWL post, but I didn’t completely watch it by that time period). Pacifica has never known her actual blood family because they wanted to kill her due to a prophecy. Her adopted siblings are her true family, because they stick with her through thick and thin. Giving each other hard times is part of what makes a family a family, and these three know each other well enough to do that without serious incidents occuring.
From a graphics perspective, Scrapped Princess could have been made today easily. I’m not saying this because I don’t think that animation has changed since then, I’m saying this because I think that Studio Bones was at it’s prime in the early 2000’s when the studio was still young. (Though it has had a major resurgence in recent years, which I am incredibly happy about). They have always had solid animation with things flying in the air mech attacks and giant and there is no big change for that here. The art work and different variety of settings is great as well. The only difference I can say is that this show is in 4:3 format instead of 16:9. I should also mention that all the battles that are mech like feel like something from RahXephon to me. The enemy mechs, if you can call them that, move like them and have that ancient Egyptian kind of feel that RahXephon has. That made me love the physical aspect of this show even more.
The last negative yet positive thing I can say about Scrapped Princess is how it’s structured. On paper or on screen, it is listed as 24 episodes. To me, that’s not true. The series is full of two episode arcs or twelve hour long episodes. In some ways that is good, because this is a traveling adventure anime and you can get to know the people and the settings somewhat more than usual. It makes the setting feel real and something that you can breathe in it. The negative thing is that since the show is actual twelve episodes, it feels like everything happens incredibly quickly. The plot builds up incredibly quickly and almost feels out of nowhere. This damages so many story-telling aspects of Scrapped Princess. It also hurts the watching experience too. You have to watch this show in even numbers at a time. If you watched one episode or three or….you get the point, then you damaged yourself because you stopped half way through an arc and you don’t know what is going on.
As a final verdict of this series, I say definitely watch it if you are into fantasy anime with fun twists to it. It’s nothing exceptional and I don’t feel like I under covered a hidden gem, but the show has enough good points to make it worthwhile. Despite how flat these characters might be, you will learn to feel emotional because you are spending time with them. If you want to get a little taste of where modern light novel fantasy anime may have started from, give this a watch as well. It definitely has some aspects of the early 2000’s with it like characters wearing clothes with larger shoulder pads and matrix elements. Even if it’s lacking, I had a lot of fun with this show and might look into their other work that aired a lot more recently, Coffin Princess.