The new anime season is here, and with this particular season comes a trio of new mecha shows! Now, if you’re a mecha fan, you know how lucky it is to even get one mecha show a season, but to get three is mystifying. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be covering these three shows. First up is Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince, which I didn’t have much in the way of expectations for, then comes Suisei no Gargantia, which is written by Urobuchi and has a rather interesting setting for a mecha, and finally comes Kakumeiki Valvrave, which has Code Geass’ writer on board and should be pretty fun, as a result.
I mentioned that, going in, I didn’t expect much from the show. I really should commend Majestic Prince though, because I came out of the first episode feeling very disappointed. It’s not often that a show gives me a terrible impression when I wasn’t expecting to have one. The core problem I see plaguing the show is a lack of identity. Does it want to be a serious show about humanity’s fight for survival against what seems like a legion of aliens? No, not exactly. Does it want to be a parody of all sorts of mecha shows, poking fun at all the “serious” elements in the genre we take for granted? No, that’s not it either.
So what does Majestic Prince wind up doing? Both at once, I suppose. This may make it sound a little like Full Metal Panic, but at least Full Metal Panic was smart enough to separate the two tones so they don’t wind up conflicting with each other too much (as you might imagine, I preferred Full Metal Panic when it stuck to consistent tones). However, Majestic Prince instead smashes the serious and silly elements together, and what we have is some weird amalgamation of two widely conflicting tones. The result is a tonal mess.
At the center of the show’s critical failing is its core five characters. Due to the lack of any interesting characterization, I will list them all in one go: we have the main character (who fashions himself a hero), the arrogant “ace” pilot, the “serious and mature” female pilot, the flirty female pilot, and the nerd. These characters also can’t cooperate with each other at all, and usually wind up screwing things up. I should also mention that all of the characters mentioned above (besides the hero) also try to be very sarcastic with each other, but aren’t actually humorous or amusing (though the show itself pretends otherwise).
For a fight for survival against a seemingly unstoppable alien enemy, these characters don’t act nearly serious enough. I remember seeing the show calling them only twice, but these moments were only incidental. I also remember seeing this team receiving experimental mechs, and told they had an important mission. A team that constantly failed all of their training sessions, I might add. I think at this point I’d enjoy seeing the aliens wiping humanity out, as they’re probably all too stupid to live in this universe.
If there’s one thing I can stand less than this mess of plot and characters, it’s the character designs. Hisashi Hirai once again returns to reintroduce his unique brand of sameface to the mecha genre. I’m not going to complain too much about this, because I’ve already been forced to accept that Japan loves Gundam Seed and everything related to it (including the Hirai sameface that rears its ugly head once more), but the character designs do nothing to help me like this show. In fact, they probably make me hate it more than I would normally.
The mecha designs, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as bad, but some of the later designs I’ve noticed look overly flamboyant and over-the-top (I guess you could even say majestic), which doesn’t help me take this show seriously. Still, the designs so far are actually decently realistic, so maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see them stay that way for a while. The animation uses a horrendous amount of CG, and isn’t terribly exciting either, sadly.
Meanwhile, the music is pretty so-so. It’s not all that great, but it’s not bad, either. Majestic Prince uses the music pretty horribly, which tends to create a lot of dissonance in scenes that are otherwise (uncharacteristically for this show) consistent. The ending theme is extremely forgettable, and the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. I feel the voice acting, of all things, has the potential to grow and shine later.
As it stands, I still seriously cannot tell if it’s trying to be serious or a parody. It falls very flat as a serious show, and may perhaps be utterly irredeemable. If it were a parody, I’d be far more willing to forgive Majestic Prince. Even as a parody though, it comes up short compared to something like Nadesico. Majestic Prince is probably only mediocre, at best. I would ultimately drop this show, but as it’s 2 cour-long, I’m still willing to stick around a little to see if it even redeems itself a little, at the very least.
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