“You can’t become a hero if you don’t believe in the impossible.” As clichéd and juvenile as that sounds, Hitachi Izuru summed up why I love the show in perhaps the most memorable line from the episode. There has been a real renaissance for mecha science fiction in the anime universe as of late and Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince unquestionably stands out with its quirky sense of humor that seems somewhat old fashioned yet refreshing at the same time. You know the show doesn’t take itself too seriously when the main character continuously spews out cheesy lines like the one that I quoted above and to that extent, Majestic Prince has done a splendid job in incorporating comedic directions with semi-serious character development. Make no mistake about it though, like many of its great sci-fi predecessors, the beautifully designed mecha and our heroes’ fearless quest to save the day are at the heart of Majestic Prince. In fact, large scale space combat consumed the better half of the episode and there was certainly no lack of visual panache for a mecha buff like me.
The mood of ecstasy was raised right off the bat as the Earth’s Undina Base came under attack from the all too typical green alien race known as the Wulgaru. The invaders seemed to be gaining the upper hand until Commander Gatou Simon (Touchi Hiroki) of the MJP Secret Service was brought into the picture. His mission is to assemble a team of mecha pilots who will serve as a distraction for the enemies and enable the Undina Base to evacuate. It’s hard to put a finger on just why Team Rabbits, the ones who has the worst performance in the pilot academy was selected for this critical task. The composition of Team Rabbits or widely referred to as Zannen 5 (Fail 5) – Hitachi Izuru (Aiba Hiroki), Asagi Toshikazu (Asanuma Shintaro), Irie Tamaki (Iguchi Yuka), Kugimiya Kei (Hikasa Yoko) and Suruga Ataru (Ikeda Junya) – is a seeming mismatch of personalities on paper and their lack of teamwork has been so conspicuously pointed out by Instructor Rin Suzukaze (Sawashiro Miyuki). Whether there’s a plausible reason behind Simon’s strange decision is probably irrelevant for now. The Zannen 5 has not only succeeded at their mission, they’ve managed to do the unexpected by forcing the Walguru to retreat as well, thereby reclaiming the frontline base for the humans.
Premise-wise, there’s nothing especially groundbreaking from its myriad of predecessors, but Majestic Prince manages to be compelling, mostly because of the excellent character dynamics (the super-deformed facial expressions are a plus!) and the great space battle that was featured so prevalently in the episode. There is definitely more than a whiff in the air of your old-school shounen mecha anime, but that doesn’t mean Majestic Prince can’t work both as a lighter fare that features frivolous comedies (and fanservice), as well as a heavier drama that takes a more sentimental look at the effect of war on adolescence. Indeed, the track records of both director Motonaga Keitarou (Jormungand, Katanagatari) and screenwriter Yoshida Reiko (Girls und Panzer, School Rumble) are pretty good, and my money says they’ll be more than capable to create a compelling premise and execute it well.
Sci-fi and mecha may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if it is, I have no doubt you’ll be in a state of a severe sugar rush after witnessing not just one, but multiple fast-paced action scenes that are uniformly superb in just the first episode. Say what you will about CGI animation, but Dogakobo x Orange’s prowess in animating action sequences is truly formidable. The stellar production value of Majestic Prince is a shining example of how amazing state-of-the-art CGI can look and it certainly serves the material well in its many choreographed battles. Visually, the designs of the AHSMB units – Forward Unit/Blue 1, Control Unit/Purple 2, Booster Unit/Rose 3, Gunner Unit/Gold 4, Leader Unit/Red 5 – are equally impressive and in more than one way, they reminded me of the great mecha selection that was featured in Xenosaga. While I wasn’t too impressed with the Gunner Unit that uses its detachable head to lock down the barrel of its sniper rifle (too tacky!), the sight of the Leader Unit flying in high speed and shooting down the Walguru with pinpoint accuracy is truly an immensely gratifying spectacle to behold.
I’ll be the first to admit I was downright mesmerized by the premiere of Majestic Prince. That said, it’s far too early to come to any conclusions after just one episode – is the series going to rely solely on humor to drive the show, or is drama surrounding the fate of humanity going to be a major part of the equation? I certainly have no idea but that doesn’t matter to me all that much. What I would say is that the first episode is a real treat if you set your expectations accordingly and Majestic Prince will be enjoyable to those who appreciate lighthearted storytelling, aesthetically-pleasing mecha and of course, fast-moving action sequences.
ED: 「私は想像する」 (Watashi wa Souzousuru) by Kon Natsumi