I’ve compared this show to the Tortoise (the one who raced the Hare) on more than one occasion, and it’s definitely meant as a compliment. While those other mecha series from Spring have disappeared (OK, one of them ended and the other is a split cour, but I liked the sound of it) GKMP chugs along barely noticed – but perhaps not so barely as before. Almost imperceptibly this series seems to be picking up a decent-sized audience – many of them won over, no doubt, by the quite astonishingly good combat sequences. But as good as those are, the charms of Majestic Prince go deeper than that.
I confess I’m as guilty of taking this series for granted as most. It’s never on top of my most-anticipated list in any given week, but I always seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Every season seems to have one or two of those series, and thank goodness for that. The element of the show that initially drew me in was the comic aspect of it – to the point where I was half-convinced GKMP was going to be an abject satire of mecha anime. While many other elements have been layered in the humor still remains, and much of it is of the satirical variety – my favorite example this week being Patrick openly poking fun at the truly staggering United Nations of death flags that have been hoisted for Team Dobermans.
What really makes this show work is that it manages to balance all the elements we’ve come to enjoy from it – all of which are squarely in the tradition of classic mecha anime – almost perfectly. Majestic Prince doesn’t discard one of its themes when it’s finished with it and move on – it grows increasingly complex as humor, action, pathos, hard sci-fi and politics get stirred into the soup. In any given week one element might be dominant but they’re all present and accounted for. That’s probably the reason it can serve up an episode as jam-packed with content as this one was without it seeming too rushed.
Exposition-wise, we got plenty – starting with Simon’s revelation that the AHSMB units are made up of the same DNA as their pilots. Well, you could hardly have a more classic mecha plot twist than that, but GKMP isn’t about re-inventing or rejecting the tropes. It explains plenty, starting with the mysterious split personality of Ange (if not his gender). In a worst-case scenario the AHSMB could “wipe out the personality of the pilot”. That doesn’t seem to have happened with Ange – she has two distinct personalities, but which is her? This effect seems to be a function of the synch rate between pilot and machine going off the charts, as we’ve seen Ange do, and sure enough after Izuru’s display last week his personality is altered too (with hilarious results). He’s not the arrogant prick that Ange is, but this Izuru is confident and so charming that his dazzling smile sweeps even Suruga and Asagi off their feet. Strangest of all, he’s suddenly gifted at drawing good manga. Thankfully a jolt of Kei’s sickly-sweet death pastry jolts him back to normal – with a brief stopover in cardiac arrest.
It’s not as though things are slow elsewhere. Amane has been promoted not once, but twice in one day – all the way to Commander, which proves the G.A. is so desperately undermanned that they’ve resorted to promoting the competent. We get our second anime reference to the obscure “Suspension Bridge Effect” in the last few weeks – and Tamaki proves she’s surprisingly knowledgeable as long as the subject is romance. And this being GKMP we get another extended action sequence as Dobermans – now under Amane’s command – go to check out a base that’s been wiped out by the Wulgaru apparently with no warning whatsoever. Turns out that the Wulgaru have a stealth mode, and it falls on Team Rabbits to come to the rescue (minus Izuru, fresh from the hospital with his AHSMB still in dry dock). Once again the bigwigs talk about what a loose cannon Ange is, and once again they send him into battle anywhere, where her erratic behavior almost causes yet another disaster. It’s only when Izuru enters the fray – in just the core of Red-5 – that the tide turns and Dobermans buys another week without cashing in their chips.
The upshot of all this may be that the Wulgaru had an ulterior motive, and that was hacking into the G.A. computer systems via the base – successfully at that. They seem more than interested in the scoop on Izuru and Theoria, unsurprisingly – but ultimately their aim seems to be to attack G.A. headquarters directly (fortunately Simon seems to have discovered the security breach). The most interesting thing for me, though, is that little snippet of the Wulgaru high command there at the end. Dorgana expresses surprise that “He willingly flew into the Hunting Grounds” and wonders if “The Earthlings act on a different set of priorities”. All the Wulgaru look quite worried here, including the usually brash Jiart – and it seems most likely that the “he” in question would be Izuru. As usual, Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince does a nice job of teasing out information and keeping me hungry for more.