Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98 US
Running Time: 150 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
This is one princess that won’t wait to be saved.
As a hardcore gamer, I’m use to seeing a princess kidnapped and in need of rescue by a strapping young male hero or the occasional plump Italian plumber. So when Princess Alita is seen jumping straight into the fray with a sharp sword and hacking away at a monster that’s the size of a clock tower I wasn’t able to contain my glee as I watched Murder Princess. As great as it was watching a princess doing the rescuing, I was also greatly disappointed with this six-episode series that needed more than just a pretty, tail-kicking princess to save it.
Murder Princess tells the tale of young Princess Alita who, when we first see her, is being whisked away to safety by members of her royal court who decided to stay with their dying King during a violent coup. The instigator is none other than a man of science named Doctor Akamashi and his pair of super cute doll-like robots named Yuna and Ana. During her escape into the wilderness, the Princess is attacked by a forest beast and as she runs she finds herself staring down the blade of an attractive female bounty hunter named Falis. When the monster shows its ugly face, the startled Princess accidentally pushes the bounty hunter (and herself) off the cliff when magic intervenes and changes these two women’s fate.
You see, when they wake up, the skillful swordswoman Falis finds herself stuck in the body of the dainty princess while Alita wakes up in the body of Falis. Just what caused this magical transference of bodies and souls isn’t full explained … not even in the end. Whatever the reason, though, Alita begs Falis for help her reclaim the palace after the royal watches the bounty hunter (in her own body) slaughtering the monster that attacked them. With the promise of a hefty reward and a royal princess’ word that she could have anything, Falis – aided with her two cyborg sidekicks Dominikov and Pete – sets off to defeat Doctor Akamashi and his robots. Surprising everyone around her, Falis becomes Princess Alita who is dubbed the “Murder Princess” because of how she slaughters her opponents.
So begins the bounty hunter’s new role as a royal as the real princess takes the role of a handmaiden named Milano. Falis hadn’t planned on staying but there’s something about the real princess that makes her want to stay until they find a way to reverse the magic that switched their bodies or until Prince Forland reappears. Of course, Doctor Akamashi isn’t going to make things easy as he sends his created creatures after the newly crowned Queen who just isn’t used to the privileged life of a royal. Just about the only one that knows their secret is the wise dwarf-like Judo who thinks Falis is a good substitute.
While most of the series has the Murder Princess taking on the Doctor as well as saving Milano from the clutches of his two dangerous robots with their interchangeable arms, the real threat comes in the form of a mysterious dark knight and a beautiful witch that waits in the shadows for their time to strike. They don’t have to wait long seeing as the Doctor might have staged a successful coup in the beginning but the guy is an inept villain that can’t even handle a single swordswoman. If it wasn’t for the bloody slaughter in the beginning, Doctor Akamashi and his robots would feel right at home with as the comical villains of a Cartoon Network cartoon. Even Falis’ sidekicks (and their Ghost Rider-like motorcycle) just don’t feel like they belong.
The series does become more interesting when Princess Alita’s brother makes a return after helping rescue his sister trapped in another woman’s body. Personally, I think the series missed some really good opportunities when Prince Kaito shows up … although, there’s a reason his interaction with the Murder Princess is downplayed. Then there’s the witch who finally reveals herself as well as the identity of the mysterious knight. Their intrusion leads to Princess Alita to be dethroned and sent into exile.
In the end, Falis, Milano and the others decide to face their enemies one last time in the palace. The fight leads to an ancient secret that connects the royal bloodline with the same technology Doctor Akamashi introduced. It’s the ending that left questions unanswered and a bad taste in my mouth seeing as the ancient secret only complicates the story rather than make it a fascinating plot twist.
As I mentioned earlier, I was left disappointed by Murder Princess. It’s not a bad series at all but it begins to cram in story elements that have been done before in better ways than what is featured in these six episodes. I did love Falis who is more than just a tough chick with a sword but actually a deeply centered character whose flaws make her all the more charismatic and believable. In the end, though, the story is what really matters and this princess deserves better.
As fate would have it, a lovely princess of a kingdom overthrown in a coup exchanges bodies with a skillful female bounty hunter named Falis. With Falis now assuming the role of Princess Alita and the real royal taking the role of handmaiden, the two battle to save the kingdom of Forland from its enemies and an ancient mystery.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
There’s plenty of blood here for those that like their sword fighting action with blood flying everywhere and the animation isn’t at all that bad seeing as the action sequences are decent.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
Monica Rial and Colleen Clinkenbeard are fantastic as usual and make the English dub all the more enticing. It’s not that the Japanese dub doesn’t do it for me but at least they do the body switch right.
There aren’t many extras to speak of but the best one happens to be the audio commentary track for the final episode featuring Caitlin Glass, Monica Rial and Colleen Clinkenbeard. The rest of the extras are made up of trailers and the usual clean opening and closing songs.
Murder Princess is one of those anime series that could have been a lot better if it followed its own path and brought its own style to the table. It’s not a horrible series seeing as the characters are genuinely likeable but the story feels like we’ve seen all of this before … and a lot more creatively I might add. Still, this one is worth a view.