As GKMP closes its run (for now) it’s worth pointing out that this has turned out to be a very different series than the one I expected after watching the premiere almost six months ago. What seemed like a small-scale and lightweight series that bordered on being a satire ended up being practically a blockbuster, with some serious battle sequences and a large story that even now feels unfinished. It also left most of its comedic side in the rear-view mirror, finishing as a rather somber and serious show that was much more a part of classic mecha canon than a commentary on it. And in most respects, it actually managed to pull it off.
When GKMP started I was worried that the premise wouldn’t have enough gas to get a two-cour series to the finish line, but as it turned out that wasn’t an issue. There’s been talk of a second season and the finale certainly leaves open that possibility. More than that, it feels rather unfulfilling in the way all big-scale series that finish with the climactic battle and leave no time for the aftermath do. The battle itself was pretty great – loud and dramatic and beautifully filmed, full of the classic mecha cliché that this show can pull off because of its sincerity. But it doesn’t feel much like an ending without a chance to reconnect with the characters in a quieter moment after the din of battle has died away. If there isn’t a second season that will be a real shame, though perhaps we might get an OVA to at least give the show a sense of closure.
What this finale didn’t offer was something I was fooled into expecting. Contrary to be expectations no one of any real consequence died – not Izuru, not any of the Fail Five, not Theoria, not even Simon who practically begged to sacrifice himself. Heck, even Dolgana seemingly escaped back through the wormhole before the gate imploded (in a magnificent bit of animation, by-the-way). The one wild-card in this is Jiart, but the old rule applies – we didn’t see the body and we didn’t see him vaporized, so assume he’s back if the show itself is too. With the increasingly somber tone of the series over the last several episodes, I was expecting a much more grim ending than the one we received.
As to where that ending leaves things, it’s certainly clear that the Wulgaru still represent a major threat. Galkie didn’t seem devastated or even especially put-out that the gate was destroyed – rather he seemed almost pleased. I would guess that’s because he’s found a species whose genes have evolved to the point where they’ll really hit the spot when consumed (kind of like a “special human” to a Chimera Ant). The Star Rose is gone, but Theoria managed to convince Simon to abandon ship before the explosion that destroyed it. His words were the most interesting line of dialogue in the episode: “I’ve failed to die again, Juria.” Who is Juria, one may ask? The first name that popped into my head was Ikari Yui, though that’s a bit of a leap – it makes sense though, at least to me. Whoever Juria was and where she fits in the Simon/Theoria/Izuru family tangle I don’t know, but that’s yet another question that could be addressed in season two.
On the personal side, there isn’t a whole lot to say because it was a very small part of the episode. I certainly didn’t expect and movement on the romance front and we certainly didn’t get it. Izuru’s battle with Uncle Jiart was pretty spectacular (any doubt about his Wulgaru genes can now be safely dismissed), especially after both their AHSMBs evolved, but it ended with a pretty routine display of half-comedic entreaties from the other Rabbits for him to disengage with Jiart before the big bang. What of Izuru’s physical condition? Well, he’s beat to hell from the battle and explosion but the real question is, what of the concern that further piloting might kill him? This isn’t answered definitively but it seems as if when he gained “complete control” of Red-5 he protected himself from whatever the synching process was doing to his body.
Unsatisfying as the ending was on the character side, it was just as spectacular on the action side. And on the whole, I’m pretty satisfied with Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince as a series. This was a mecha anime for fans of the genre – old school, self-aware and a bit meta but not so much as to cross over into parody. It wound up being one of the most visually impressive mecha series in years – discreet CGI that was well-integrated, fabulous color shading and choreography, and heaps of beautiful drawn animation in the battle sequences. I’m disappointed that some of Team Rabbits – namely Kei and especially Suruga – never got any real development, but on balance the cast was quite likeable and their stories engaging. I wish there’d been more focus down the stretch on the moral issue of the exploitation of Rabbits and other child soldiers like them, because it was when this was in the crosshairs that I felt Majestic Prince was at its most powerful. But if you’re going to finish with a conventional battle arc you may as well deliver a good one, and GKMP certainly did that. It’s not a classic, but this is the sort of series that once formed the backbone of many anime seasons, but isn’t seen so often anymore. It exceeded my expectations and delivered a thoroughly entertaining ride, and I’d be happy to see more of it next year.