In the latter half of 21st century, humans leave the Earth and begin to live in space. In order to adapt to the environment in space and deal with the hostile aliens in Jupiter, genetically engineered children called "Princes" are artificially raised and trained to be pilots of armed robots "AHSMB (Advanced High Standard Multipurpose Battle Device). This is a story about one of the teenage "Princes," Hitachi O Izuru, who studies in an academic city Grandzehle.
Majestic Prince is an incredibly tough sell, on the surface it's nothing more than your generic mecha series. At the start it's a dull, generic, predictable, incredibly by the numbers show with literally nothing new to put on the table. It's riddled with clichès, one look at the synopsis will tell you right away that this series has been done lots of times before, the plot twists used throughout have nearly all been done to death, and you will see them coming from miles away.
All of the above are reasons that, understandably, would likely put many people off the show
- frankly, the only reason I gave this series a chance was because I, unlike so many, actually like Hisashi Hirai's art and was interested in seeing a series which involved his trademark character designs until Fafner Exodus came out (which sadly, didn't happen). Indeed, it's safe to say that, back in the Spring 2013 season, Majestic Prince was one of the worst shows airing at the time, as well as one of my lowest priorities.
The funny thing is, by the time the show had finished, it had become one of the best shows of the year.
That statement might sound unbelievable to you, but through a mixture of what becomes an excellent, well rounded, likeable cast of characters, stunning combat sequences and its usage of typical mecha tropes, Majestic Prince has ended up becoming what is probably the sleeper hit of the year. Despite its severe underdog status, one of the largest ironies with Majestic Prince is that, its heavy reliance on incredibly overused mecha clichés - its one huge weakness - is also its greatest strength.
I'll cover that more later on, but first, let me start off by pointing out that (if you haven't guessed already), Majestic Prince is full of well known, overdone, predictable tropes that, at the start anyway, do nothing to help it. I was often left wondering at times how the writers could possibly expect a series that was so predictable to actually do well - it's clear that the series was trying, it definitely wanted to do something different, but it was going about it in such a mechanical way that any attempts at plot revelations had me saying to myself "Yep, saw that coming" and "Well that was obvious". You could literally lose count of the amount of overdone clichés that are so present in Majestic Prince.
Story execution too, is lacking. The major issue with being able to actually predict the plot twists before they happen is that, by the time they do, you've probably pieced together most of the information yourself - or at least gathered enough information to be able to form your own theory on it, which you're probably right about on most accounts. The mechanical approach to the way these twists are implemented doesn't help, it makes them slow and boring, as well as very yawn-worthy and often, the question isn't "What's going to happen next?" but "I wonder if they're going to include this trope?".
Majestic Prince isn't helped by its cast either, like the story, they are dull and predictable - one look at them is all it takes to figure out their character archeype; naivé idealist, weapon freak, ditzy girl, level-headed responsible girl with possible interest in main character, arrogant pilot who isn't really used to working together with his team, they're all present and accounted for. And every single one of them acts as you'd expect them to act. There's nothing new about these characters, they've been done a thousand times before and better too, they're all somewhat one-dimensional - they certainly could have more personality to them than meets the eye, but it's not showing. I wasn't surprised by anything that these characters had to offer, and I could see elements of their character coming into play later on in the series - again, before it happened and again, I was right.
But that's only the first half, once the second half begins, something...changes.
At around the halfway point, Majestic Prince suddenly jams the brakes on its story for about four episodes, it stops and decides to take a breather, the story doesn't matter right now - it's got a direction that you know it's heading in, but what matters during these four episodes is the characters and their lives.
Suddenly, all that reliance on overused tropes makes sense, it wasn't to surprise the viewer with unexpected plot twists or interesting variations on already known ones with its story, it was so that, when it actually developed its characters their development would be the most surprising thing.
It pays off excellently, over the course of these episodes, the cast of Majestic Prince goes from being the most predictable group of mecha anime characters you could probably ever think of, to being three dimensional, realistic characters whose lives actually matter.
One thing the show doesn't do is just develop these characters for plot convenience, any time these characters go through something it's not just a character developing a new resolve to fight or a character having an ideal they held dear to them shattered and being forced to re-evaluate it. Majestic Prince isn't interested in that; superficial developments such as those aren't even remotely touched upon in the series, instead, what we see is the daily lives of the characters, what they do when they aren't out on missions - their cool-off time. One of the standout moments of the series is an episode in which one of the main characters, Asagi, ends up spending his day shopping with one of the members of his mechanic crew, at first glance, you'd think this is filler when in fact it's quite the opposite, it shows another side to his character - one that you definitely wouldn't see if the show spent all of its time fighting, a side that humanises him and shows that he has a life outside of fighting, interests and things to do that make him a normal person - a real person.
Coupled with this is the fact that, rather intriguingly, the characters aren't really sure what to do with their free time - as tropes dictate, they're all genetically engineered so that they can fight, so they haven't had a chance to actually act like a normal person before. It's interesting watching moments such as when Izuru ponders what his life is for, his whole life has revolved around two things: being trained to fight the Wulgaru and trying to become a hero, it's somewhat poignant hearing him wonder about what will happen to him after the war is over, and if he'll ever be allowed to meet the parents who contributed their genes to create him - and if he'll ever be able to write a manga good enough to get published. It's not forced development, which is the important thing, it all feels natural - even the romantic sub-plot feels natural, and that is, in part, due to the fact that you could see it happening before it did, but when it actually does start to kick in, thanks to well placed foreshadowing and your own personal knowledge, it hasn't come out of nowhere - it was there the whole time, it was just waiting to emerge naturally.
When the story does actually get going again, things have changed again, suddenly the stakes are raised - you actually care about these characters and what they experience, they're definitely not the cast of one-dimensional archetypes that they were right at the start of the series. Their lives matter, both during combat and outside of combat, it's at this point that Majestic Prince really does come into its own, suddenly, the clichéd story doesn't matter at all, in fact, what were once just overused tropes suddenly carry new meaning - they have an effect on the characters that they didn't do before, they suddenly get to them in different ways than what would be expected. There's one twist in particular towards the end of the series, that is actually unexpected, humourous and rather poignant that has an effect on the characters involved in it in two very different, rather realistic ways. That's the beauty of watching the final third of Majestic Prince, the characters have developed to a point that you can no longer predict what they'll say or do, how they'll think or feel and suddenly, the question changes once more from "I wonder if they're going to include this trope?" to "I wonder how this will affect the characters?".
Animation wise, Majestic Prince is a true site to behold - when it comes to the battle scenes anyway, which I will cover in a bit. When the series isn't showing action scenes it looks - for the first half anyway - rather weird, and not really in a good way, I mean, I'm a fan of Hisashi Hirai's art and even I didn't find the art all that great, there was something about the character designs that just didn't sit right with me - perhaps it's due to me not seeing his designs in HD, I'm not sure. Over time though, that problem definitely went away and the characters look a lot nicer than they did at the start of the series.
It's clear though that the majority of the budget was saved for the battles - and my lord, what a site to see. Up until the halfway point, the main reason why I stuck with Majestic Prince was to actually see the battle scenes; fantastically animated, stunningly choreographed, the battle scenes in Majestic Prince have an incredibly fast paced, visceral nature to them which is sometimes hard to keep up with - although it's hard to pay attention to anything else when two characters are going at it one-on-one. The fight scenes between Izuru and Jiart in particular, have to be seen to be believed and are the true highlight of the series various combat sequences. If the mech battles had been handled by anything other than CGI, I doubt I would have stuck with the series as long as I did. Next to the characters, the animation is by far the best thing about Majestic Prince.
The soundtrack in Majestic Prince is rather good, both opening themes sang by Chiaki Ishikawa sound fantastic and really help to set the mood for the series, and the multiple ending themes are all varied and are each appropriate for different points in the series, with my favourite one being "Arigatou. Tadaima." sang by Yuka Iguchi (who, for all the flak I give her for playing Index, has a fantastic singing voice) and Yoko Hikasa - it's a very nice, moving piece for the show.
The rest of the soundtrack consists mostly of orchestral tracks, with one track in particular standing out due to being played a lot during most of the intense moments of the battle scenes, so that would probably be my favourite track.
Voice acting is rather solid, with the standout performance going to Live action Prince of Tennis Musical star and relatively new voice actor Hiroki Aiba being my favourite in the show, although it's hard to decide who really is the best voice actor in the show, Akeno Watanabe for instance, is fantastic as Ange, being able to switch between psychopathic and incredibly timid at the drop of a hat. Miyuki Sawashiro plays a role much different to characters I'm used to hearing her as, showing she's got very good range. Yoko Hikasa is also very good as Kei, Yuka Iguchi, for all the criticism I give her, shows that she's actually able to do more than just play annoying characters and is actually rather funny. Shintaro Asanuma and Junya Ikeda both do very well as Asagi and Suruga respectively...it's difficult to say which voice actor does better than the other in this case.
By this point in the review, I've talked about the characters so much that there's really not much left for me to cover, although I will say that, even though it has a fantastic cast, apart from Jiart and Rumes, none of the villains end up being anything more than rather clichéd, almost pantomime villains who you know are bad - you're never really given a chance to root for them or understand them. Don't get me wrong, the Wulgaru are clearly the villains and there is no doubt that, even if you were to go into more detail about them, they would still definitely be the clear villains with absolutely no chance of them ever showing signs of being good, but it would have been nice to understand them a bit more than the few scenes we're privy to - even Jiart, the most well developed of the villains, is really nothing more than just a Char Aznable clone, although a far more dastardly one at that.
Although, with that being said the fact that the main cast are so well developed definitely does redeem this problem somewhat.
So that's Majestic Prince. I certainly had an interesting ride with it, watching this show evolve from being one of the worst to one of the best - it definitely became something far more than what it originally started off as, one of the shows I was looking forward to every week, up there with To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S and Uchouten Kazoku. It's a mixture of stunning mech battles, fantastic character development and a usage of clichés that, by the end, have turned the series into, yet another irony, a unique experience that is far better than what it originally started off as. To those of you who were deterred from watching this by the first few episodes, I'm not sure if the rest of the series will change your mind but it definitely changed my mind about it, and even if Fafner Exodus doesn't end up coming out this year, I won't mind (alright I will seeing as I was promised Fall 2013, but still) seeing as I got to see what is definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year and what is probably one of the best mech shows in recent memory.
Well, pretty much every anime season, there's a show about space and aliens. In fact, it's not just about that but the fact that it becomes a major theme for that show. Then, there's Majestic Prince, a science fiction anime that takes place in the latter half of 21st century. The problem here is though the 21st century isn't exactly the most peaceful place in the future. In fact, humanity seems to be put into jeopardy by unknown alien forces from space. Then, the government decided to train a group of young people to take on these alien forces. Dubbing themselves as 'Team Rabbits', we
have some real some heroes in the making....or do we?
[The future is not so bright]
This show is of the mecha genre so expect some giant robots/mecha fighting in space. More than that though, the series has a group of young kids trying to defend humanity. They are 'Team Rabbits'. Unfortunately, the future doesn't seem so bright. For whatever reasons, the aliens are threatening humanity. From an subjective point, Majestic Prince takes this idea and makes good usage of it from the beginning. In fact, we can see that humanity itself is in danger. It keeps that tone in check mostly throughout the story as humanity seems to be on the verge of being wiped out. The future is definitely not so bright.
The main casts of the series is made of this group of kids known as 'Team Rabbits'. No, they don't have long ears or furry fur. Rather, they have the ambition to wipe out the aliens that threatens their future from the rest of face of the universe. The team is composed of five members – 3 guys and 2 girls. Among them is Izuru Hitachi, who declares himself as a hero or rather a wannabee superman in charge of his own mecha suit, the AHSMB" (Advanced High Standard Multipurpose Battle Device). Most of the time, he seems to be doing on things on his own and tries his best to help out others. Other times, the kid is stubborn and even puts the team at danger of their lives.
The other casts consists of Toshikazu Asagi (the tough guy), Ataru Suruga (the brains), Kei Kugimiya (the badass chick), and Tamaki Irie (the girl who falls for just about any guy with a pretty face). It's hard to take the cast seriously at some occasions with their conflicting personalities. While the team often succeeds in missions, they fail in terms of real life sense. Tamaki has never gotten a guy to fall in love with him while Izuru is too naïve to be a real hero. Then, there's a lack of confidence from our brains of the team. It's almost hard to believe that they are able to succeed in some of their missions or even picked by the world to pilot those badass mechs in the first place. This is especially true in the beginning where their skills are so fawned upon that they were not worth the time to kill by enemy forces. Is it because the enemies too strong or are is Team Rabbits just too pathetic? I think the latter. Oh and let's not forget the men of the team are often considered perverts while the ladies' love lives are empty as tea cup. The love (tea) for them is missing there. However, their characters progress dramatically as the series accelerates forward. It is the experience that builds up from their various encounters with the enemy, learning from their past mistakes, and shooting for greater heights. I am quite grateful at their progressing elements as they seemingly grow up both mentally and professionally.
With three airing mecha theme shows all at once from the Spring 2013 season, Majestic Prince sure had to set the bar high in order to shine by itself. Perhaps the mechs are part of that solution. In essence, the technology used by Team Rabbits is obviously more advanced than our modern world. Because of that, there's comes the existence of AHSMB that stands for “Advanced High Standard Multipurpose Battle Device”. True to its name, these machines serves the purpose of combat against those nasty alien invaders. Their instinctive designs of these machines does pack serious firepower and has the potential to wipe out enemies. However, they require skilled pilots. The key word here is 'skilled' but like mentioned previously before, Team Rabbits isn't exactly big guns that can take on the aliens like a rabbit hunting game. However, the mecha designs does fits within the futuristic themes of the show and gives off a majestic look. Their unique fighting style and teamwork pulls together in various battles to protect the humanity's future.
[Challenges and Direction]:
Well, the series challenges itself many times in order to prove to itself that the majestic princes are what the humanity needs. (or rather maybe the government and humanity) However, the team themselves seems to not be getting what they really want at various occasions. Well, if publicity is one factor, then that counts. But for political purposes, the military and government seems to “sell off” Team Rabbits as a product to the media. The group itself is often put under stress from the social media with challenges posed to them as high expectations from what they are to present to humanity.
On a more technical side, the series sometimes shifts from its main plot to nonsense with its fan service and slice of lifish episodes. In fact, there are several episodes throughout the series that depicts Team Rabbits' daily lives. Rather than exploring their histories that viewers may be keen to know, the series wastes time of showing what they do in their every day lives. And speaking of that, there's not much unique about it. The girls tries to pick up dates with fail and the guys doesn't fare any better. It's a direction the show follows and doesn't work out right to be honest. There's some character development though later on but falls under the too slow of a pacing zone.
However, that's mostly in the first half as the second half of the series gives a much stronger appeal. In fact, the plot itself of Majestic Prince wasn't something I considered a masterpiece in the beginning. On the other hand, its progress later on made it all worthwhile as we see our protagonists demonstrate what they've learned while making surprises on the screen. Oh and if that wasn't enough, there are even new characters that joins the fun that brings out the best of surprising gifts, talents, and surprises.
If I'm counting pure action alone, Majestic Prince wouldn't have a problem scoring above a 7 or 8. But then, the visuals department for whatever reason makes their characters' designs look flat. The way the characters look does not give off a serious outlook of the team. Tamaki has enormous breasts for the role of Ms. Fan service while Izuru looks far from a real hero of justice. However, the mecha designs looks decent and strongly presented. Why can't the characters be the same? It took me quite awhile to get used to the characters' designs (even more so with a trap being introduced). As a fan of some of the other gundam franchaise such as Gundam 00 and SEED, this show lacks a bit of appeal in terms of maturity. On the other hand, the enemies of humanity stays true to their visage as being a prominent threat. Their artwork design gives off both a dangerous outlook as well as being contrasting to what humanity are forced to deal with.
[Sounds of the Universe]
For music, the series nailed it right on the mark with its first opening song, “Watashi wa Souzousuru" by Natsumi Kon. As a talented singer, she brings a serious tone to the series with her thrilling voice. There's also that sense of echoing attractiveness that brings out the series' outlook from the surface. The OST is strong too especially during action scenes when the needs calls for it. Unfortuntately, the series can't put seriousness of the soundtrack into its characters most of the time. This counts for the voices of a few characters such as Tamaki and her childish tone. Then, there's also Surugaya with his voice that seemingly lacks confidence. However, Izuru (voiced by Aiba Hiroki) gives off an impressive tone. Although not well known in the VA industry, Izuru portrays a more mature side of the crew and his voice demonstrates both a sense of confidence and power especially later on. His confidence creates that power of motivation that seemingly even influence his teammates. Kei Kurugaya and Toshikazu Asagi too takes that sense of maturity in their voices and brings them life with responsibility.
If you're a mecha fan, this series might be a hit or miss. If you're looking forward for pure action, then this show might not be for you. However, if you take some time of patience and wait for the story to develop, then Majestic Prince might surprise you. In fact, stories about alien invasions with a kids trying to save the world from obliteration isn't exactly a new idea nowadays. What Majestic Prince brings though is an evolution for its themes and ideas. The combination of its serious mood balanced with comedy makes it worthwhile to invest time into especially for those who wants a change of tone in the typical mecha/space invasion trope. I do have to say that the animation of series might not be suitable for everyone. For me, it seemed a bit childish and took me awhile to get used to. However, my patience ultimately paid off as revelations are unrivaled, characters shined bright with brilliance, and battles takes revolution into the universe. Majestic Prince isn't what exactly I call a majestic masterpiece of the decade but definitely has its own style that is entrancing in that majestic way.
It is very challenging to impress the viewers when it comes to ‘mecha’, and not to mention, it is even more difficult to compete when ventures like Gundam, Gurren Lagann or Macross have already made their mark in the market. Moreover we have seen so many different types of anime revolving around ‘mecha’ with different elements like music, romance etc, that there is hardly any room for a particular anime to stand out of the norm.
Aired in spring 2013, Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince is one such anime that certainly did not appeal to many viewers. One of the reasons might be because of its stereotypical
plot and characters. However, Majestic Prince does offer a decent story progression and also manages to cover some of its plot holes. Now then, extenuating with lame excuses such as “decent story progression” will not make some fastidious viewers to overlook the obviously predictable and insipid premise.
The story is pretty simple; mankind is on war and is fighting for its very existence with aliens christened ‘Wulgaru’. From the very first episode it is pretty apparent that the highlight of the show is on the protagonist and his fellow teammates, collectively known as ‘Team Rabbits’ or ‘Fail Five’. Out of nowhere they are selected due to some unexplainable reasons for piloting the latest model armed robots ‘AHSMB’, despite them being the least performing team in the whole school. Hence, we embark on a journey with the five leads and come across on how they affect the war.
Now this is what you can refer to as ‘from zeroes to heroes’ situation or rather in more presentable terms as a stereotype that follows a conventional and monotonous format to portray an anime. The first few episodes are fast paced following Team Rabbits from one mission to another, which make it seems like the plot is progressing blindly, without any real motives. But this is just a preamble to a more entertaining time in the second half of the series.
There are many anime that start slow and are boring, but after some progression they turn out to be more promising. Majestic Prince is one such series, wherein the second half saves it from chastising. Right around 10th episode the series takes a slow turn and progresses into a show with proper explanations to current circumstances and somewhat little character development.
Majestic Prince is definitely a story driven plot and offers very little room for character interactions and them to develop. After the miraculous 10th episode, the production house finally decided to show some character interactions which regretfully was still next to nothing. But nevertheless, there is development to its frivolous characters.
The protagonist, Izuru Hitachi is honest with his feelings and because of his obsession with manga he aspires to become a real life hero. He is the leader of Team Rabbits and surprisingly does a good job in directing them during battles. Next to Izuru is Toshikazu Asagi, who is not as honest as Izuru, on the other hand is feisty and sometimes rational. As the show’s affable character, Tamaki Irie is present to lighten up the ambience in the show and oftentimes tried to represent her endearing nature to the viewers, which might not be as satisfying as it should be. Kei Kugimiya is a transparent and under-developed character and albeit her shown as an introvert, she holds a vital position during the battles and as well in the team. Lastly, there is ‘the geek’ Ataru Suruga and a weapons enthusiast who despite being a geek actually shows interest in women.
This is the first impressions’ on main characters and they are all stereotypes and dull, but as I have mentioned earlier there is development. How these characters spend their time when they are away from the battlefront is where most of the development lies. That being said, you don’t have to actually compare them to Youko Nakajima from Juuni Kokuki or Erin from Kemono no Souja Erin, considering them as epitomes of character development. Now, continuing with characters, all the side characters are inevitably present for the plot advancement. The antagonists, Wulgaru, are there to repetitively assault the Earth’s forces and for the MC to become stronger. As much as it lacks in its characters, the same doesn’t applies for the art.
There are always high expectations for art department, especially if it is in a ‘mecha’ anime. But can the same be said in Majestic Prince’s case?
Ingenious designs for AHSMB robots and fluid action sequels are the strongest element in this show. Anime is one field where the author can run his/her imagination as wild as possible and turn it into a captivating experience. Not only the ASHMB units are product of those wild imaginations, but the alien unit designs are bizarre and they do give feeling of “Extra-terrestrial”. The action scenes are worth a watch and you’ll crave for more sequels every time one is concluded.
A single orchestral track is played in the background during action scenes, which if you’ll notice really affects the scene by intensifying the tension created. To accentuate the tension created to next level the production house made befitting use of several sound effects like explosions, fire shots from laser guns, respective sounds from AHSMB units and Wulgaru units as well.
The production house put in a lot of time and effort in robot designs and action sequences, but on the other hand the character designs lacked subtlety. We often come across the phrase “Simple is elegant”, however, here the simple and lackluster character design drag down the overall quality of animation.
The only act of justification done to the characters is in sound department. The seiyuu did adapt to their roles and expressed the character feelings with ease. Among the seiyuu, notable were Hiroki Aiba for Izuru, Yuka Iguchi for Tamaki, Akeno Watanabe for Ange and lastly my favorite Miyuki Sawashiro for Rin Suzukaze. The OP and ED are good, but the ending themes are better and are worth listening to till the end.
If watched with scrutiny and analyzing every section then this show does not offer anything new. Though being weak in characters and having a rather predictable premise, Majestic Prince offers a creditable story execution, wonderful robot designs along with gripping action scenes. Hardcore mecha fans might not appreciate this anime, but if you are looking for a good mecha-action anime, Majestic Prince is recommendable. If you decide to watch this show, make sure to watch all 24 episodes.
The story sucks, there is some interesting bits later on when the enemies come in and you find out their background but it's generally dismissed because of Mr. "I want to be a Hero." It moreoless sticks to the stereotypical, happy go lucky MC with dreams of becoming a hero; very little development is shown for any character- for the most part it's a one person show.
Art; generally it's decent to good. Except for when the mecha fights begin- then its excellent and you can see that's where the budget is all in.
Sound/music: It's passable, again most of the
good tracks are reserved for the intense mecha fights.
Characters: The main cast is boring, like paint drying boring. Some of the villians are pretty interesting but little development.
Enjoyment: I enjoyed it for what it clearly was, a fighting mecha; it does the one thing it sets out to do and that's set up a scenerio where you can have cool mecha fights in space.