Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince is a tough show to summarize in one word, because there’s no one element that stands out. So perhaps that word would be “balanced” because this show always manages to end up with a satisfying mix of somber and whimsical, and between action and personal stories. It’s certainly a sign of a strong writing and direction when a series can do the epics and the interior episodes equally well, and I think GKMP comes pretty close to doing that. It seems as if this show was crafted with a very specific notion of where it planned to take the story, and very little improvizing has been done along the way.
We’re at the stage of the story now where more than introducing new themes and plot elements, the focus is on seeing the ones (and there are many) already in the mix developed, and debts start to come due in full. On the personal side, our quadrangle is no closer to resolution – Akagi still loves Kei, who loves Izuru, who loves Theoria – but events are forcing the participants to confront their feelings. And on the global scale, the elephant in the room has always been that ultimate chestnut of mecha anime, the exploitation of child pilots for the supposed larger good – and the realities and consequences of that are finally starting to be acknowledged.
The justification for what’s been done to Team Rabbits – and an unknown number of others – was always that it was a regrettable but necessary measure to save humanity. That, of course, is the same justification we see for the same broadly defined crimes in most classically-minded mecha series. But that begins to break down a little when it’s looked at as a measure aimed at keeping “Asia” (we all know the euphemis here) dominant in the space race once the war with the Wulgaru is over. “I feel horrible for these kids. We’re using them as chips in a political game so we can stay in control.”Amane laments. It’s not new information for the most part, but this is really the first time the series has whacked us over the head with it so literally. Amane is facing the reality many principled people see as they rise in an organization – sometimes it’s better not to have to know how the sausage is made. She’s always been repulsed at the way the Rabbits were being exploited, but what will she do to reconcile the shame and anger she feels with the duties of her new position?
The truth of the situation isn’t a pretty one. Even as the Wulgaru threaten humanity’s very existence the various factions continue to bicker and try to position themselves for the aftermath of a very uncertain victory (much akin to what happened among the Allies in World War II). Not only has the Asia faction been hoarding the AHSMB technology – the other factions have increasingly demanded this change, and the Belo-Russian group has illicitly discovered the truth of how the technology was obtained – but they’ve also committed atrocities by using genetically modified children effectively as weapons (Simon mysteriously offering Izuru and Asagi the chance to quit had an air of plausible deniability to it, especially given the timing). This means big trouble after the Wulgaru war if the rest of the truth ever gets out, which it inevitability will when the other factions see the truth of how the technology works. As the Wulgaru launch their planned attack on Earth itself, all this seems very much like the shot-sighted petty squabbling it is.
Meanwhile on the teen drama front, Theoria has asked Izuru out to dinner. This of course is to tell him what she started to tell him at the fountain, and she’s destined to be frustratingly cut off again when the Rabbits have to sortie for the Wulgaru attack – but to Rabbits it’s presumed to be a date. Obviously this puts Kei in an awkward position, especially when Suruga gathers she, Tamaki and Izuru together to offer him advice (badly) on how to proceed. Asagi is not present because he’s bolted, frustrated at all the praise Izuru and Ange are receiving for their skills at the latter’s long-delayed welcome party. Still no reveal on Ange’s gender (the joke is pretty played out at this point) by he does reveal that she has no idea that his personality changes when she pilots her AHSMB.
Of all the Rabbits, Asagi’s problem seems the most straightforward – he thinks too much, and spends too much time doubting his own self-worth. Tamaki remains largely focused on crushing on older men, which causes her to whiff on the fact that Patrick is crushing on her (older but apparently too shota-like to show on her radar), instead assuming he’s into the hunky Ops officers. Suruga shows signs of introspection at times but he’s largely denied a meaningful character arc. The big questions surround Kei and especially Izuru, whose connections to Theoria and whose origins remain the biggest open questions on the Rabbits front. If Majestic Prince has a flaw, I think it’s a tendency to tease and draw out things for a bit too long – they’ve done it with Ange’s gender, and they’re doing it with the riddle of Izuru and with what it is that Theoria keeps trying to tell him. Apart from that though it remains a very involving story both on the character and plot level, and yet another excellent series passing largely under the radar.
In other news: the boys get their very own ED this week. Does that foretell a death in the near future?
ED3: 僕たちは生きている (We Are Alive) by Asanuma Shintarou, Aiba Hiroki and Ikeda Junya