Scrapped Princess

scrapped princess


Watched via DVD



PLOT: Part of what I find amusing and entertaining about Japanese fantasy is it always seems to diverge quite readily from typical western ideologies of what the genre should be. Scrapped Princess starts off as a typical western medieval fantasy. There is a higher ruling power that hears of a child that will be the ruin of them, they try to kill the child (or scrap her), only for her to be saved with the intent of fulfilling the prophecy. It isn’t as well thought out as Oedipus Rex or anything, but the story still plays with the idea of destiny a bit.

Pacifica Casull is the Scrapped Princess, who is destined to destroy the world when she turns 16. Rumor has it that she is still alive, and so the citizens of the country are encouraged to take heed and report any sightings of her. As a child Pacifica was adopted into a family and now travels with two companions, twin siblings Shannon (a swordsman) and Raquel (a wizard).

The storyline begins with episodic travels of the trio coming to a new place, getting ratted out, then having to battle their way out and move onto the next location. Typically this sort of thing annoys me to watch play out, but I thought it really demonstrated character development and helped me to understand better the personalities of the three protagonists. Once we get closer to the end of the series, we begin to realize more about the destiny behind Pacifica’s existence. I’d say this is where the plot takes on more of a Japanese spin, which creates a nice story twist that is unexpected for western audiences. It would be interesting to know how shocking this may have seemed to eastern fans.

I hadn’t thought of it as a particularly Japanese twist at the end, more the kind of twist on fantasy that comes from knowing more about the theory behind the genre. I guess Japan does a bit more mixing of fantasy and other genres than we do, though.

PLOT: Scrapped Princess seems like a pretty straightforward high fantasy series at first glance. There’s a prophecy that a specific girl will destroy the world when she turns sixteen. When this girl, a princess, was born and the prophecy made, it was decided that she should be killed in order to prevent the world from ending. This girl, the Scrapped Princess, was supposedly dropped over a cliff by the royal wizards, though there is the rumor that she’s still alive.

Cut to fifteen years later, and the Scrapped Princess, Pacifica Casull, is traveling the countryside with her adopted siblings, Shannon and Raquel. Pacifica was saved by one of the royal wizards, who entrusted her to his two children. Together, the three of them travel around and avoid attempts on Pacifica’s life. Shannon’s a strong swordsman, and Raquel’s very fast with magic, meaning they can protect Pacifica, who’s largely defenseless, from most attacks.

At the beginning, Scrapped Princess follows a predictable formula of the trio traveling somewhere, encountering rumors of the Scrapped Princess, and avoiding attempts on Pacifica’s life. They meet people everywhere, as Pacifica’s a very outgoing person, and some of these people travel with them. Eventually the group comes to learn more about the prophecy and how Pacifica’s supposed to ruin the world, which is where the real meat of this story is. It takes a while to get there, but I think it’s all worth it, because the narrative goes in a much more interesting direction than I’d been expecting. I could see the plot twist being considered a little cliché by now, but I was strongly impacted by it when I first watched this show.

I think a large part of why it seems cliched now is that we have become used to how Japanese fantasy works, and have seen more examples of it by now. Think Escaflowne, Japanese storytellers seem to emphasize more space elements than what we would ever use in fantasy.

SETTING: In this future fantasy realm, there is only one remaining continent with human life, Dustvin. This is where our band of heroes travels from town to town to flee those who would murder Pacifica. What I liked about this world was that it had pretty typical technology for the represented development of the country, aka, there wasn’t any of that steam punk stuff. As Crystal mentions, the only real addition to the setting is the use of magic, after all, this is a fantasy right?

I’m going to have to take this opportunity to disagree with Crystal on the later half of the setting. I won’t go into details since it would be a spoiler, but I think she is wrong is saying that the altered reality is not a trope. I think the ending environment and how it is used ends up being quite typical. Maybe this was one of the first places where the trope was used and established, but I’ve seen a lot of recent fantasies that rely on this same set up.

I still think the setting’s not as much of a trope as the good old anime standard “contemporary girl gets sent back to a magical medieval setting” or the new trope of gamers getting stuck in RPGs. It’s a different level of being cliché, which helps it feel fresh to me.

SETTING: Scrapped Princess takes place on Dustvin, the only continent in the known world with human life. The world, as in many fantasy series, is set in a period analogous to our Middle Ages, though of course there’s magic to go along with the medieval technology. Unlike other fantasy shows, though, Scrapped Princess has a great reason for its medieval setting that I can’t go into here because of spoilers. Suffice to say, though, that it came up with an excellent reason for its setting, providing a reason for it beyond the fact that it’s a common fantasy trope. I really appreciate the show going that route, since so many series use medieval settings as a kind of fetish or trope.

Beyond its basic medieval trappings, Dustvin is well developed, with an intriguing religion that involves superhuman creatures like Peacemakers (who defend the world as it is) and Dragoons (who protect Pacifica). I find the lore of this world very interesting, and the creators seem to have thought of most everything to make for a solid fantasy series that has some fun twists on the basic tropes.

CHARACTERS: I’m rather glad that the main characters of Scrapped Princess mainly consist of the three siblings. We get introduced to new characters through mini arcs, but for the most part we get to see the development and family interactions between the three of these characters.

As Crystal mentions, Pacifica is definitely a Mary Sue. She is bad at everything, obnoxiously happy and friendly, and constantly getting into trouble. She also has a prophecy that hints at her having some deep hidden inner power that will destroy the world. Luckily Scrapped Princess does a good job of trying to develop the personality beneath all of her defense mechanisms. From time to time we see her mask of cheer fall and see the real turmoil and self doubt that constantly bombards Pacifica while she wonders if she’s even worth saving.

Shannon is almost like a foil to Pacifica. He’s calm and reserved and good at many things, including fighting and cooking. Shannon fits the older brother type and a couple other male tropes along the way. His design is definitely aimed at making him a main love interest.

Raquel is Shannon’s twin, and is the most removed character. At times she questions her involvement, but deep down she loves her family and will do anything to protect her two siblings. Out of the three I’d say her character got the least development, but what was shown was done in a very thought provoking manner.

The rest of the cast is very hit or miss. I think Scrapped Princess could have just been shortened down to 13 episodes to cut out a lot of the traveling characters who were harder to relate with. Of course this could never have been done, since the story is based off of a novel and manga series.

Gotta have your stereotypical secondary and tertiary characters to stretch out any light novel series. You can definitely tell where the series just has too much padding in the middle.

CHARACTERS: The characters of Scrapped Princess can be uneven at times, but by and large I find them likable. Pacifica’s a little difficult to handle at first, considering her combination of being outgoing but also defenseless and feeling intense guilt about being alive. She can be a little too bright and cheerful at times, but I think it’s meant to be a mask for her constant deeper thoughts about her role in the world. Overall, she’s definitely likable, if a bit too much of a chipper Everygirl at times.

Shannon and Raquel are an interesting pair of adopted siblings to Pacifica. Shannon’s the tough, protective older brother, though he’s also very close to Pacifica, being the person who she talks to when she’s upset. He definitely fits within a certain base character type, but I think he’s well-enough developed to grow beyond that character type and be a realistic person. Similarly, Raquel at first seems to be perfectly calm and collected, but slowly her doubts come to the surface and build her as a human character who’s mostly worried about her sister. I love how Shannon and Raquel always have Pacifica’s back, and they are a large part of why this show’s so successful.

Secondary characters cover a range, including characters who are pretty annoying, like Winia and Leopold, both of whom seem to superficially like Pacifica and take a while to come around to supporting her after learning the truth about her identity. However, Scrapped Princess is careful to balance out the annoying characters with more likable ones, including Fulle, who shows up briefly but makes a lasting connection with Pacifica. The fact that not all of the characters are likable does harm this show a little, but not so much so that I didn’t have a blast watching it. I just grumbled about some of them every now and then.

Yeah, there were a couple characters who I was quite pleased to be rid of. The slow pacing of the series at times made it painful to sit through those character arcs that weren’t as engaging.

ART STYLE/ANIMATION: Looking back on Scrapped Princess, it’s pretty easy to see that the character designs were a product of the times. The novel, manga, and anime were all created in the early 2000s. Shannon, Raquel, and Pacifica all have medieval-inspired clothing that is modernized to appear catchy to fans, but is also designed for ease of repeated drawings. In fact, I would have to venture a guess and say that a lot of the style choices have to do with the manga, and creating time savers. The most distinguishing aspect of the characters is their bangs, which I’m certain was to help readers tell characters apart in the original manga. The clothes are all about the same, or if they are different at all, are extremely basic. Not only that, but I feel they are rather evocative of other fantasy series of the time. Well that, and they’re just SOOO early ‘00s in design. Looking back, it’s rather nostalgic to see a show with this style of animation.

The animation was rather good for the time that it was made, but nothing too special, which was another cause for this series feeling slow paced. Actions got simplified down to save on budget, so the series seems more slice-of-life than your typical fantasy genre. For the most part, it’s all at least done quite consistently.

ART STYLE/ANIMATION: Even though this show is by Bones, it’s old enough that it clearly looks dated and doesn’t visually stand out as well as their other series. The animation is generally top notch, though sometimes it’s used to a silly effect, like the dynamic shot of the wagon used in the show’s opening. There isn’t as much flair in the animation and artwork as in other Bones shows from the same period, which makes the animation a little less exciting, even though it’s still great. Basically, Scrapped Princess is well animated for the time it was made, but if you’re comparing it to other Bones shows, it’ll come up a little short next to Wolf’s Rain or Fullmetal Alchemist. I think it’s because there aren’t as many super-flashy colors.

The character designs fit squarely within the standard fantasy style, with everyone wearing twists on armor and peasant clothing with varying levels of actual probability. The clothing gave me the most pause, especially with characters like Winia, whose shirt has somehow been perfectly molded to her breasts, despite its baggy nature. The character designs also resort to some of the common anime problems, with characters having ridiculous hair in order to look different. It could be argued that it fits into the fantasy setting, but it’s more than a little distracting. I like the designs for the main characters, but I think more historical accuracy and realistic inventiveness could’ve helped the show gain a wider audience.

:’D I’m so glad you mentioned the wagon shot, that’s literally the first image that comes to my mind when I think of the animation for this series.

OVERALL: I’m going to have to disagree with Crystal again, I feel that Scrapped Princess is exactly what it looks like, a typical Japanese fantasy series. The characters and story all follow a basic story line, then there is a twist at the end, which also follows the same basic story twists of the genre. It may have been one of the firsts, but I feel by now I’ve seen this so many times, that the only real draw of Scrapped Princess is the characters, which are pleasant, but not quite the draw to get me to finish watching the series again.

I’d recommend trying out an episode or two, and if that doesn’t impress you, move onto a better fantasy series. Scrapped Princess is your typical good average series that does just about everything averagely.

OVERALL: I feel like Scrapped Princess has a hard time getting fans because it looks a little too much like a generic fantasy anime. The characters tend to have that look of trying too hard, and the setting’s such a standard medieval English fantasy world that I could see people passing over it because Pacifica’s curse isn’t interesting enough. However, once you get into it, this show has a really interesting take on a fantasy world, and it made me really excited while watching it. This isn’t as strong a fantasy series as, say, Moribito, but it’s definitely worth recommending if you’re into fantasy and are tired of the many, many shows that are based on games and follow the standard RPG formula. Don’t let the cheesy opening and standard setup turn you off—Scrapped Princess takes a while to get warmed up, but if you’re willing to stick with it until the second half, it’s definitely worth it for the creative worldbuilding.


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