If there's two things Japan is known for these days in the minds of geeks everywhere, not just otaku, it's for creating an entire genre of video games know as JRPGs and for animated pornography. Of course, not all of their animation is pornography some just teeters on the edge always showing a bit too much female (or in exceptional cases male) skin, but never biting the bullet and going all the way. And who says JRPGs can't be almost pornographic too?
Princess Minerva is an anime based on, but is a prequel to, a video game about a group of extremely scantily clad women trying to defeat yet another scantily clad woman. With such a premise I see no way that this could turn out as anything but a masterpiece... of schlock.
The anime begins by introducing you to the Kingdom of Whistler, ruled by King Whistler XII. Aside from basically every resident of the kingdom having an unfortunate name there also seems to be a rule that women can at most only barely cover themselves just enough so that this won't be classified as outright porn. This is one of *those* fantasy settings, the ones where the women get to wear bikinis into battle while touting them as the most powerful armour in existence. I'd personally prefer it if they wore cats.
Anyway, soon you also get to meet the lovely Princess Minerva herself voiced, in the ADV dub, by Jessica Calvello whose ear-splitting shrieks and window-shattering laugh will destroy your sense of hearing before the anime even hits the five minute mark.
The entire dub is absolutely horrendous and I have no idea how anyone thought that these performances were anywhere near good. From the outright annoying as in Minerva's case to the outright hilarious like Tiffany Grant's rendition of the holy cleric Orlin or the main antagonist Dynastar voiced by one Pam Rosenberger who I'm not exactly convinced wasn't just someone whom ADV just found on the street and gave a role to, Princess Minerva's dub cast is sure to never let your ears rest.
Oh and don't worry, the characters themselves are about as laughable as the dub's voice acting, which I'm sure in some twisted way means that the actors did a good job. None of the characters really get any development besides “this is a cleric” or “this is a warrior”, and sure you could attribute that to the very short time the anime has to work with, what with it only being around forty minutes in length, but then I'd at least expect the main characters to be somewhat well defined, which doesn't happen.
They try to give Minerva a coming-of-age arc where she goes from being a spoiled child that does whatever she wants while ignoring her best friend and bodyguard Blue Morris (remember what I said about unfortunate names?) to actually being a decent human being. The arc falls flat on it's face though, and it falls about as hard and fast as a broken elevator from the last floor of the Burj Khalifa. The problem is that the show never really spends any time on the development instead opting to have Minerva have an instantaneous change of heart within the last five minutes of the show, after which she just goes back to being a brat anyway and then the story ends.
Basically, after spending around forty minutes watching Minerva prance and “coming of age” the story ends up exactly where it began. And that's not the only thing that stays the same. The villain gets defeated, but since this is a prequel to the game she can't really be defeated so she is shown to be just fine mere seconds after seemingly getting blown away by a massive explosion.
You could argue that the show is more about getting together the cast of women warriors that you play as during the game, and you would be right. Except that getting the cast together is as simple as organising a tournament and having them all meet beforehand by coincidence and make friends. I hope you didn't get excited at me mentioning a tournament because if you want some kick-ass fights and nail-biting suspense you're going to have a bad time. Not only is the tournament cut short, but the fights that are shown are also nothing more than some laser blasts and maybe a few waves of a sword.
You'd think the show would take a bit of a chance to flex its muscles especially since it does take the time to show some fights, but what you get instead is extremely stiff animation and action scenes that are nothing more than some flashy effects to cover up the lack of any actual movement or choreography. I suppose that's the way it is in the games, they are JRPGs after all, but does it really have to be this way in the anime as well?
There isn't really any effort put into the character animation and design either. You'd think that having extremely intrusive and ridiculously skimpy armour that they try to put front and centre in every scene would at least make them try and make the designs look good, right? To their credit, they don't look as bad as they could look, but that's hardly a compliment.
In the end Princess Minerva is one of those titles that everyone with even the slightest bit of sense should stay away from. I'd be lying if I said that some of its gags didn't get a giggle out of me, but some few second long giggles aren't worth sitting through forty minutes of a mindless and, frankly, soulless anime. Unless your masochistic desires have surfaced or you just have a desire to watch something that's harmlessly bad, stay away from Princess Minerva.