The past is prologue, the future is the past, whoever controls the present controls the past yadda yadda yadda. The point is that time isn’t always what we think it is. What would happen if someone messed around with the perception of time? Why would they? Would anyone try and stop them? Would anyone even know what was happening or how to stop it? What does any of this have to do with Scrapped Princess? Why I am asking so many questions? Some explanations may be forthcoming.
The scrapped princess of the title is Pacifica Casull, the daughter of the king of Leiwand who was abandoned after a prophecy from the Church of Mauser said that if she lived to be 16, she would destroy the world. No further explanation was given, but apparently the king wasn’t the suspicious sort, just paranoid, and ordered her killed by throwing her off a cliff (with the usual James Bond villain plot gremlins requiring a convoluted plan to solve a problem instead of a more direct approach). Obviously, she survived and now spends her days wandering the country side with her adopted siblings, uber-swordsman Shannon Casull and magician above all magicians Raquel Casull, trying to survive to her 16th birthday so they can all see what happens then.
The show spends the first few episodes introducing the main characters. Pacifica is bratty, Shannon is taciturn and a little sullen, and Raquel is inordinately cheery. Mixed in are a few other characters who float in and out of the narrative as needed, mainly Leo the itinerant knight, who is a bit too infatuated with Pacifica for his own good right after meeting her; and Winia, a servant girl who alternates between being Leo’s travel partner and Pacifica’s handmaiden, depending on where she is. Together they all wander the countryside embarrassing various factions of the Church of Mauser, the power behind the power who want Pacifica dead to prevent the prophecy from occurring. Naturally, Mauser is yet another front. For who? The real power brokers, the Peacemakers, who kick the show into a higher gear when they decide to get off their duffs and check in on Pacifica. Exactly what the Peacemakers and their related forces are will be left as a mystery here, but it probably isn’t too hard to figure out.
The Peacemakers also have an opposing force called Dragoons that end up allying with our travel party. By “ally” I mean one of them, Zefiris, hijacks Shannon’s mind and turns him into a semi-willing host/living weapon to help protect Pacifica. Somewhat surprisingly, Shannon and Zeferis is the best plot line in the show. Also surprisingly, for all of her abilities Raquel doesn’t really get a lot to do beyond being an occasional weapon of mass destruction and then play backup. It’s a bit of a odd choice considering it feels like she should be a main character, so she’s definitely something of a missed opportunity. Zeferis actually gets more interesting things to do overall than poor Raquel.
Overall the show is fairly concise in plotting and pacing. There isn’t a ton of wasted time, but there is at least one character added to the narrative just over the halfway point who really didn’t need much screen time. While somewhat interesting as a character, the plot line they end up a part of is a slight distraction at times, though it’s not too bad. The ostensible actual main character, Pacifica, tends to be a bit of a moving plot point rather than an active participant in the show. Thankfully she does at least mostly rise above the basic “brat” characterization to someone that might be worth all of the trouble everyone goes through to protect her. There’s definitely bit of a dichotomy between the big moments action and the smaller character bits in that most of the small ones feel rooted in the characters themselves and the big beats tend to come off more as plot points to be reached than anything that drives the characters themselves. It doesn’t help that several major developments end up with less impact than they should when they happen and get buzzed through pretty quickly. There’s on super-major plot twist somewhat early on that you would think would send most of the characters off the deep end, but after about 5 minutes of angst they seem to get over it pretty quickly. It really seems way more likely that they would have had a total mind break. I realize that seems like I’m dumping on the show, but I was really hoping the plot would have been a bit stronger. It’s good, but not quite great.
Visually, the show looks decent. Animation quality is generally pretty good and anything involving human on human violence tends to come out well. There are a number of sequences later in the show where the violence goes to a bigger scale and it doesn’t always fully work out. It’s not bad and is mostly effective, but it’s not quite great either and it feels like it could have been great with a little more work. It gets the job done and nothing sticks out too badly. Thankfully, no one talks directly to the camera and it never feels like you’re watching someone play a game. Seriously, can the “make shows look like dating sims” trend be killed? It’s awful. The characters mostly looked like they wandered in from a “Tales of…” game, but it fits the general pseudo-medieval motif.
One thing that is definitely NOT sub-par is the music. Most of the major tracks come from JAM Project and it’s all very strong work. I kinda wish the disc set had included a copy of the music as well as the DVD/Blu-ray discs. As is, there are no extras save for some cute intro pieces featuring the Japanese voice cast which opened each disc in the original Japanese DVD release. Overall Scrapped Princess is a fun, reasonably light-hearted fantasy-ish romp. Definitely recommended, especially since the set is a pretty good price now, ya spoiled brats.