There are certainly strong hints that something weird is going on with Team Rabbits. Every time they’ve gone on a mission, pretty much, they’ve found something totally different from what they were promised. Generally this has meant something like what we saw this week – a supposedly “lightly defended” base teeming with defenses. The twist was that this one was on a remote asteroid, out of range of contact with HQ – forcing the team, actually the leader of Team Doberman Randy Maxwell (Katsu Anri) to make the call on whether to go ahead and attack the base.
The question, of course, is what the reasoning behind such a conspiracy might be. There’s a growing sense in GKMP – which is generally proving a little deeper and more complicated than it looked like it would be – that things are not what they appear to be. The Wulguru at the base didn’t exactly behave in a logical manner either, it seems to me – it was way too easy to infiltrate the base and way too easy to find the way to destroy it, and many of them seem to have happily escaped in the end. And then we have the fact that Suzukaze may in fact have once been a porn star. Seriously?
That porn bit highlighted a return to the comedy we saw so much of in the first two episodes, much of it courtesy Randy. Along with his teammates Patrick Hoyle (Murase Ayumu) and Chandrasekhara Rakesh (Fujiwara Yuuki) they’ve stepped into the mentor role for Team Rabbits – especially Randy, who sent up more death flags than I could count but managed to survive at least one week longer. He takes Izuru – desperate for advice on how to be a leader – under his wing, offering him wisdom both about heroism and hedomism. He offers the most memorable line of the ep – telling Izuru that because pilots might die at any time it’s crucial to interact with as many people as possible in order to be remembered, and to remember everyone they interact with in case they need to return the favor (seriously – just sign the death certificate now, Suzukaze). Then in the very next moment he offers Izuru a disk, urging him to watch it only with Toshikazu and Ataru, which turns out to be the aforementioned porn.
The scenes of the hapless Rabbits watching the porn – the clueless Izuru having invited all of his teammates to do so – are pretty funny stuff. Ataru is clearly in over his head and practically flees the room, Tamaki is so innocent she mistakes it for wrestling, Kei slaps Izuru and storms out, and Izuru and Toshikazu end up watching all night. But they’re also quite effective at gently reminding the audience of just how innocent and socially unaware Team Rabbits are. It’s interesting to speculate on just why the “Bummer Three” Team Doberman seem so much more “normal” than Rabbits – perhaps they’re simply not the product of the assembly-line system that churns out elite pilots like Rabbits – but they make a strong impression. They’re a likeable group (though Rakesh doesn’t get much chance to show his personality) and I hope it’s at least a couple more episodes before they get blown up.
As with Suisei no Gargantia, Majestic Prince is exploring very well-worn themes here, and nowhere near as subtly at that. But what it lacks in originality (it also doesn’t have a twist on the premise, like the culture clash of Gargantia) it partially makes up for in sincerity. This show has done a good job of making us feel for the leads, making their dilemma feel very human, with a combination of humor and pathos. And it continues to offer a bit more edge than I thought it might, both in terms of emotional tug and a potentially sinister plot running underneath the obvious one. I’m still not quite 100% sold yet – my instincts are that this might have been better as a one-cour show and there may be trouble sustaining the plot for two – but this looks like a keeper.