Mecha anime is one of the biggest and most popular genre in the animated medium. The themes are generally pretty formulaic in nature and you can almost always get an idea of what a mecha series is going to be about just by looking at the design of the robots. At a glance, Majestic Prince seems like it will be your typical mecha anime, considering it has all the hallmarks, but really, this is a series that about turns the genre on its head. Majestic Prince, or MJP, is one of our most favourite mecha anime series’ of all time. Hopefully you will think so too. The anime series is an adaptation of the manga by Rando Ayamine and Illustrated by Kikaru Nijima, the series is animated by Dogakobo and features both 2D animation and CGI mecha animation.
The story of this season follows a squadron of teenaged mecha pilots straight out of the academy called Team Rabbits. This team is selected for the mysterious and new MJP program, which gives them the most sophisticated and strongest new mecha in the entire fleet. However, Team Rabbits is shown to be pretty useless in team sorties and must learn to work together in order to prevail. Now this sounds like a cliche mecha anime trope already, and it is, but what the story does with this trope is what makes it unique. It’s almost as though the writers are parodying the trope, but they’re really not. They’re using it to its strength by utilising it in a goofy way that shows that this team can work together, only their own egos and preferences get in the way. However, soon after a big and epic first battle, against the series’ main enemies, the Walgaru, the team begin to work together and win the respect of the Earth, becoming celebrities in the process.
What’s interesting about MJP is the characters of the show. Each character feels almost fully realised to a fault. Each character on Team Rabbits reaches a point where they’re almost a parody of themselves, but never actually quite reach that level. So, while you’re watching them, you get this cast of goofy characters that seem almost too pigeon-holed to be real, but still realised enough to become believable. This creates a genuine sense of comedy in the characters, a comedy that is hard to find in other series’ and mediums.
What makes the characters interesting in ways other than their believability is the way they’re organised in the show as well. All of the characters are obsessed with something other than themselves, but it’s this obsession that pushes them forward. Each character strives to be something that is related to their interests, and their abilities on the battlefield reflect this. For example, Izuru is obsessed by heroes and is working on his own manga, and on the battlefield, he tries to be the leadership model for the rest of the team. This theme carries on for the rest of the team, like how Ataru is obsessed with military hardware and also uses the most loaded out mecha of the team.
The first season of Majestic Prince runs at 12 episodes in length and ends on one of the most different episodes of an anime series that we’ve ever seen. There is this sudden switch is intensity, an intensity that has been generated across the series, into this hilarious episode that plays on Team Rabbits new-found fame that will either entertain you to tears, or leave you thinking ‘what the heck’. For us it was both of these reactions. This final episode of this season really exemplifies the Majestic Prince feeling, by what it shows, and what it leaves out.
One of our biggest gripes with the anime industry these days is the overuse of CGI to animate battles, and in particular, mechatronics. What’s interesting about Majestic Prince is that it relies on CGI to deliver battles that probably would have sent them over-budget. Because drawing mecha is pretty time-consuming, and time is money. Unlike most anime series, however, Majestic Princes CGI is fluid, dynamic and detailed. Oddly, the CGI battles and mecha are probably the series’ strongest point, and that’s a good thing. The rest of the anime industry should be trying to learn from MJP on how to make impressive CGI, instead of the eyesores that it usually comes up with.
The thing that separates Majestic Princes CGI battle from its competition is the fluidity and direction of its battles. Too ften in anime, you’ll see a CGI series, and the frame-rate is so low that it looks like the characters, mecha, or other animated piece, has been made in mind as a stand-in to be fixed later (only it never usually is). In MJP, it feels like the CGI is part of the design, and as such, it has the respect of the producers behind it. This comes across in the beautiful battles, that are fast, fluid and incredibly well directed. This is evident from the first episode, but as the quality refuses to wane as the series progresses, it’s not just a case of an early solid impression.
Oddly enough, Majestic Prince has a pretty well done English dub. After being a huge fan of the Japanese dub, we figured that there’d be no way that the English dub would even register as a thing on our radar. This was not the case at all, the English dub, while missing the mark in some places, felt very reliable and fit the show quite well. This is evident from the first episode, right until the last. Impressed, slightly, but it’s still not as good as the Japanese dub.
Overall, we were very impressed by Hanabee’s release of Majestic Prince. It’s a unique story that plays on mecha tropes while combining humour, great characters and an odd, but cool storyline. Stay on the lookout for the second part, which will shake-it up just a bit. To re-state, MJP is CGI done right.
Majestic Prince is released by Hanabee here in Australia and is based on the Sentai Filmworks English translation. It retails for ~$55 on DVD and ~$65 on BD. It can be bought from the Hanabee Online store. This review is based on the DVD release.