Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 15

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Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince just keep rolling along, stealthily under the radar.  But maybe that’s changing.

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.

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  1. i

    GE would you compare this Ginga to the football Ginga, a sort of loveable through back to when anime wasn't biased and could be enjoyed by anyone. No moe, no ridiculousness, just good old fashion entertainment?

    I feel pretty bored recently and wouldn't mind picking up another couple of series that I initially discarded.

  2. This is not as good, relative to its genre or generally, as Ginga e Kickoff. But it is good. There's a little moe, and some ridiculousness – in a good way. It's a very balanced and faithful rendition of the mecha genre, with good humor, a classic plot, and above-average characters.

  3. H

    i'm pondering about whether ange 'only' has a split personality or if it's because of the ASHMB's mind, since in izuru's case, his personality was different while his harmonic levels were still over the top.
    in contrast, ange was in rage mode even after the mock battle, and although this is just an assumption, i don't think his/her harmonic levels were that high during the battle. after all, whenever they mentioned that they rose, ange completely snapped with his/her verbal onslaughts etc…
    it might also be that it becomes normal after some time…
    i can't wait for the next few episodes~

  4. R

    aside from the mecha battles, this is another thing that i love about GKMP. while the humor is genuinely funny, there is always that certain sadness underneath it that makes the scene all the more poignant.

    so izuru's momentarily change in personality is in fact a bad sign that his mind is slowly being eroded by the juria system. oh god, now i am scared to think what prolonged exposure will do to the guy. and now i am even more scared what will happen to tamaki if she does indeed get her own berserker mode.

    and i can't help but laugh out loud when patrick pointed out the death flags. looks like the writers are quite aware of the fans' reactions.

  5. Yes, that's the pathos I was referring to. It's nothing new – the tragedy of the child soldier is the very essence of the mecha genre – but GKMP is about effectively presenting those classic genre tropes.

    At this point I think Dobermans has to survive. Now that the elephant in the room has been acknowledged they can't kill them without ruining the joke. I predict a troll tragic death, where they surprisingly turn up alive after all.

  6. H

    "Good" doesn't really cut it anymore. This show has gone from strength to strength in how it nails even the most basic requirements as shining example of all-too-rare genre specific anime. While not as ambitious as its mecha/sci-fi contemporaries, it offers better characterization than that in Gargantia and superior mecha battles and mech designs than Valvrave. It also knocks the ball out of the park in regards to the integration CG. Some of the best in anime history.

    Anime fans in general have trouble evaluating the worth of something when there's no HYPE to sell it.

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