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DVD Review

DVD cover

Princess Resurrection
The Complete Series Collection


Starring (voice): Ayako Kawasumi, Fuyuka Oura and Yuko Kaida
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £49.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 September 2012

Since Hiro Hiyorimi's parents died he and his sister Sawawa have lived apart. Now, Sawawa has a new job as the caretaker of a creepy old mansion, and has sent Hiro a letter asking him to come and stay there with her. Finding the mansion boarded up and apparently empty, Hiro wanders around town looking for Sawawa. Instead, he runs into the new resident of the mansion, and ends up pushing her out of the way of some steel beams. Unfortunately, he loses his own life in the process. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, the person he thought he saved turns out to be a princess of the monster kingdom and she grants him a second life... but only for as long as he will be her servant...

A 24-episode series from 2007 based on the manga by Yasunori Mitsunaga, Princess Resurrection is an odd blend of classical supernatural tropes - drawn for the most part from the Western monster movie tradition rather than Japanese lore - with typically quirky anime comedy, flavoured with a distinct tang of sublimated masochistic sexuality.

While the series quickly establishes its place in the pantheon of harem-like series centring on a hapless male protagonist surrounded by a bevy of attractive girls with eccentric personalities and problems, it doesn't bother to check many of the boxes associated with the genre. Fan-service of the traditional peekaboo voyeuristic kind is at a minimum, and while protagonist Hiro's stoical attentiveness is seen to make most of the girls' hearts flutter at one point or another, as a cast they're far less subservient to him than most female anime characters tend to be - quite the reverse, in fact. With Hiro often reduced dramatically to a punching bag for the monster of the week, the series' drama and comedy are provided by the mostly-female cast, and while there are various walk-ons throughout it remains small and well-defined, a refreshing thing in these days of sprawling casts filled with shallow characters. Feisty half-werewolf Liza and elegant vampire Reiri stand out in particular, with their odd-couple interplay providing much of the fun throughout.

At the same time the series has problems, particularly with pacing; with the situation of Hiro's pseudo-immortal servitude and his mistress Hime's conflicts with her royal brethren established, the show wanders off into stand-alone episodes for most of its length, taking the term 'monster of the week' to its logical conclusion. While some of the guest characters do have a larger bearing on the plot or reappear to comic effect, the series could have benefitted from a shorter running length and tighter focus on the plot - as it is, the threat to Hime, together with much of the show's lore, is all but built up and resolved in the final episode, to paltry effect. The provocative and - for a series of its kind - distinctive implication that Hime cares little for Hiro and that he is merely the latest in a line of disposable servants is also insufficiently explored, wasting the chance for a dramatically interesting plot.

For all that, the show is enjoyable and while the animation by Madhouse isn't up to the standard of their best efforts, the production is overall decent. Given that the full series - 24 episodes plus two video-only releases - is presented here, it's a great purchase if you have any attachment to the series from its first airing on Japanese TV, and certainly worth a look if you're a fan of supernatural comedy. Only the air of inconsequentiality the series can't escape stops it from getting a higher rating.


Richard Hunt

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