Corpse Princess, Part One – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now

They might be cute these living dead girls are deadly.

Corpse Princess: Shikabane Hime has been one of the series that everyone in the office has been waiting to see since we first caught a peek at the trailer during this year’s AX 2010 in Los Angeles. Sure, we’ve seen our share of anime series featuring living dead girls but this one just seemed to be not only interesting but fun to watch. As it turns out, Part One of Corpse Princess is just that and you won’t help to get caught up in its creepy and action-packed spell.

We are quickly introduced to Kagami Ouri, a High school student who just so happens to be an orphan raised in a Child Welfare orphanage. He has finally reached the age where adoption is no longer an option so he has decided to get an apartment for himself when – one night – he is drawn to the temple on the premises by a black cat. It is inside the temple that Kagami sees the cold corpse of a beautiful girl in a nearly tattered school uniform. Just then, a group of monks enter the temple, one of which Kagami recognizes as his sort of adopted “brother” who embraces the dead girl and brings her back to life.

So begins Kagami’s interest in the girl he knew was dead and the fact that the only father-figure in his life comes home with scratches and bruises. Thanks to the black cat (who talks to him), Kagami finds himself involved in supernatural cases such as that of a serial killer who jumped off the balcony of a high-rise building and live to strike again. What he discovers is the secret world of the Shikabane, those who have died with an obsession or regret but become dangerous living dead beings. Then, he witnesses the girl he watched come back to life attack the Shikabane with twin submachine guns. His brother, Keisei is there too and finally the truth is revealed to him.

She is Makina, a Shikabane Hime, who has made a contract with a monk to fight the Shikabane. A hard and driven girl who thinks only of slaying Shikabane. Makina finds Kagami’s intrusion in her work of tracking Shikabane something of an annoyance while Keisei will do anything to protect the young man and steer him away from Shikabane Himes and their Contractor monks. Still, the young man is drawn to their world, showing up in other cases such as the little girl that comes back to life after having died in a freeway pileup or the mystery behind a crying infant connected to a medical clinic.

Despite doing his best of keeping Kagami away from Makina’s mission, Kagami lends his support to Makina. In one episode, when he looks into a local pop star’s sudden reappearance after rumors of her death, he helps her. His insistence in helping makes Kagami realize that there are more girls like Makina out there and a group of monks connected to them. He discovers what happens when a monk’s link to a Shikabane Hime is severed as well as the rumor that dispatching 108 Shikabane is the only way a Shikabane Hime can earn their ticket to Heaven.

While we follow Kagami and Makina through different cases, the real interesting parts come later when a traitorous monk named Akasha Shishidou is introduced and faces off against his former friend, Keisei. Akasha is truly a hateful villain and his quest to destroy the order that Keisei follows as well as murder every Shikabane Hime leads the monk to hire the Seven Stars, a group of Shikabane who have been killing for years and are now too powerful to stop.

We are also introduced to other Shikabane Hime like the cute girl Itsuki Yamagami and her contracted archer monk named Sougi as well as a duo that includes a powerful sniper Shikabane Hime. In a riveting final few episodes, Akasha and the Seven Stars launch their attack on the clan of monks and Shikabane Hime, one of which targets Keisei and his friends in a shocking and heartbreaking battle that will change everything.

Filled with plenty of action and creepy supernatural elements, the series starts off slowly with a Shikabane-of-the-Week episodes that simply has Makina going up against various interesting cases of people who turned into a Shikabane. As I said, though, things get a lot more interesting later in this first part of the series and the final twist in the end will definitely make you look forward to Part Two of this series.

Without a doubt a good start to a most absorbing action anime series, Part One of Corpse Princess takes its time setting up the story but still manages to be a compelling viewing experience. The final episodes just turn the series in another direction that is sure to make Part Two something to really look forward to and thanks to its simultaneous release with Part One. Corpse Princess is ultra cool so do not miss this series.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
A young orphan named Kagami not only starts his new life outside the orphanage but becomes involved in the life of a living dead girl known as a Shikabane Hime who fights other living dead beings alongside a monk who Kagami knows well. As he becomes wrapped up in their lives, Kagami and the girl known as Makina discover a new threat in the form of a traitorous monk and a deadly group of Shikabane.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is quite stunning at times with the Shikabane stealing the show with the unusual form they take. Expect plenty of blood and plenty of fan service in this series but, more importantly, enough visually impressive battles.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting is handled really well on the English dub end thanks to the talents of Luci Christian, J. Michael Tatum and Aaron Dismuke but the original Japanese voices are really something else so either way you’re in for a treat. Besides that, the original score is amazing and the opening and closing theme songs by Angela work beautifully for this series.

EXTRAS: C+
There are a few trailers as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing theme songs included but the real extra comes in the form of an audio commentary track for Episode 12 featuring ADR Director Terri Doty and voice actors Luci Christian (Makina) and Aaron Dismuke (Kagami).

OVERALL: B+
Part One of Corpse Princess is a creepy, bullet-slinging joyride that will not fail to creep you out but also entertain the hell out of you. While it starts of decently enough, the final episodes will grab you by the throat and won’t let go and you will enjoy every second of it. Part Two will definitely be the one to watch.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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