Copyright © 1996 - 1997 PRINCESS PROJECT / Bandai Visual * MOVIC
by Michael Poirier
With lavish animation, a unique take on magic and an above-average dub, this first English
volume of SHAMANIC PRINCESS promises to be an intriguing anime. While
not a paradigm-shattering show, nor an especially action-packed one, SHAMANIC
PRINCESS nonetheless exhibits high quality and real entertainment value.
released in Japan as an OVA
series in 1996, SHAMANIC PRINCESS follows a
comely young woman named Tiari who, dispatched by the magical Guardian World and disguised as
a school girl, must regain a talisman called the Throne of Yord. Assisted only by a wisecracking
ferret-like creature named Japoro, Tiari learns that the Throne was stolen by her own
ex-boyfriend, Kagetsu, and another Princess of the Guardian World named Lena is now protecting
confronts both her rival and her ex, with spectacular clashes of magic and tensely emotional
moments. It is with these scenes of magical combat that SHAMANIC PRINCESS
truly excels, as the depictions of magic are awesome and breathtaking. Presenting visually
fascinating uses of runes and tattoos, a panoply of shifting shadows and terrifying summoned
beasts, magic in SHAMANIC PRINCESS is much more complex and refined than
the "magical" changing costumes or bright lights that waste screen time in other fantasy anime.
My only complaint: I just wish that even more wizardry is shown.
This is not to say
that the non-combat animation of SHAMANIC PRINCESS fails to be lush and vivid
in its own right. The character designs are wide-eyed and visually compelling, presented in front
of intricately painted backgrounds. Of course, the shapely (and occasionally shape-shifting)
heroines are the focus of the camera, but the supporting characters are depicted in great detail
as well, particularly the lively Japoro.
I find the English
dub to be an asset, rather than a hindrance to this production. The female voices are for the most
part mature and breathy, avoiding the whiny little girl screeches found in so many other dubs.
At times, especially in the case of Lena and Kagetsu's sister Sara, the women's voices are almost
too subdued, making them difficult to hear without adjusting the volume. (But I for one would rather
turn the sound up to catch a whisper than crank it down to avoid a shriek). Japoro is especially
well voiced with an entertaining eastern European accent that evokes a wise and sly gypsy, rather
than a pompous Transylvanian.
All in all, this show
made me think of SORCERER
HUNTERS with higher production values yet without the sappy happy endings
HUNTERS had at the end of its early episodes. SHAMANIC
PRINCESS is a darker series from the start, with occasional moments of humor and poignant
emotions nestled between truly spectacular depictions of wizardry. I look forward to seeing where
this elegant and bewitching series will take us next.
Released in North America by U.S. Manga Corps
VHS, 60 minutes
Dubbed: USM_1852, $19.99
Subbed: USM_1853, $19.99
Available now in the U.S.
Where to buy