Murder Princess Manga and Anime

May 7th, 2007

After the end of a long day trekking around Tokyo, and a visit to the Meiji shrine on what was perhaps the busiest day of the year, I, my wife and our intrepid friend Bruce decided to brave the crowds in Harajuku, for a spot of used manga shopping at Book-Off. It nearly killed us, but the wife did manage to snag me a copy of the Murder Princess manga. It’s the story of a bounty hunter that switches bodies with a Princess, and takes over the role. Very fun, very me.

Now it’s out as a monthly anime OVA release and there’s an English edition of the manga. (Many thanks to Ted for a copy of the translated version!) Although it really isn’t in any way Yuri, fandumb has already begun the contortions needed to justify the “relationship” they see between the two female leads. And since I have a rant that will fit nicely into that space, I thought I’d take a moment to review the series. ^_^

Okay, so to start, bounty hunter Farith is an “outside dog” as we call them around my house. She lives on her own terms, accompanied by Shinigami Dominikov and Troll Pete as her teammates. It’s instantly apparent that she’s got the chops to live this life successfully – she’s a strong, competent woman.

Princess Alita Forland is escaping a coup d’etat when she quite literally runs headlong into Farith. They plummet over a cliff only to wake to find that they have switched bodies. Luckily for everyone, mad sword skillz transfer with your personality. Alita, now in Faris’ body asks Faris to return to her kingdom to save it. Manga and anime differ slightly on how this is accomplished, but in both cases Farith, now in Alita’s body, defeats the usurper and restores peace to the kingdom with points for style and extra credit for enjoying the killing part a lot. (Something I also liked about Xena. I enjoy watching a woman who enjoys her work. ^_^) Princess Alita takes on the name and role of her deceased lady-in-waiting, Milano, to allow Farith to rule in her place. Thus the “Murder Princess’ is born.

Anime and manga differ strongly in the followup, as Alita is crowned and a festival parade is held. I was marginally irritated by the anime’s take on it, wherein the newly crowned Queen goes beserker and almost kills a little girl. I far preferred the manga version, where Alita Mark 2 is cool and competent from beginning to end. Nevertheless, in both versions Alita 2.0 is a force to be reckoned with.

The story itself is constructed with a very old-school feeling, which is oddly refreshing. It has many Slayers-esque elements, although it is not primarily a comedy. Murder Princess is an action series with comedy elements. I liked it immediately upon reading the first volume, and I like the anime even more with the addition of Paku Romi as Alita 2.0’s voice. Perfect fit in every way. And not just ’cause she makes me swoon. (Although, the wife comments, that *does* help.)

The translation of the manga is fine. It’s not stunning, it’s not terrible. There’s a tendency to be hip and timely which I think is a *bad* choice, because is a few months or years those “jokes” will only seem dorky and painful. But nothing that makes me see red or anything. Reproduction-wise, the manga is also okay. The paper is oddly heavy…and sharp, which means that as well as being a fun manga, there’s several ways you can use it as a weapon. An added bonus for this series, I think. ^_^

And now we reach the crux of the matter – the Yuri. In the anime, particularly, screencaps are floating around showing a picture from the end credits of “Milano” (Alita 1.0) and “Princess Alita” (formerly Faris) smiling, embracing and looking like they were caught in a moment of sharing a joke; screencaps of Milano weeping as she embraces the dress of her deceased lady in waiting whose name and identity she has now taken, and; a screencap of Milano embracing the Princess to stop her from beserking. These and some other moments, such as Milano admiring her own body being wielded so skillfully against her enemies, are used as “proof” of the Yuri.

Here’s my objection 1: Milano is admiring the way her body moves. Not admiring it for its sexiness, but for the way it now can function. She tells us all of this, I’m not making it up.

Objection 2: It’s their own bodies. Speaking for myself, if the wife and I switched bodies, it would take some massive time for me to start to find my own body attractive. It would flip me out the door, frankly. Now, hell, maybe Farith and/or Alita thought they were the sexiest things on the planet and sure, they’d love to sleep with themselves I’m sure there’s plenty of narcissists out there who think that. I don’t see it. Not in these two…certainly not yet.

Objection 3, plus bonus rant: What, I ask you, is wrong with you people who see two women embracing and think “Yuri!” Have you people never heard of friendship, caring, sisterly and motherly affection???? Women hug all the time without it meaning they are in love. You know – friends, family, etc. I have no qualms at all about saying that Alita, now Milano, loved the original Milano. That’s absolutely apparent. In love with her? No. She loved Milano as she would a sister, a dear friend, a boon companion. Surely that should be sufficient a depth of feeling. How sad that that isn’t enough for some people. Milano embracing Alita? Not a sign of Yuri. It is a sign of a woman who is in love – with her people and her country. That was the whole point of the episode, folks. That Milano loves her country so much, she would do *anything* for it – even give up the throne to a bounty hunter, because she could keep her country safe.

In conclusion – Milano x Alita – fandumb might see it. I don’t. I *would* like to see the two of them be really good friends and come to care about each other…you know, like people do.

Ratings:

Art: Anime/Manga – 7
Story: Manga – 8 Anime – 7
Characters: Anime/Manga – 8 (I particularly like Dominikov)
Yuri: Anime/Manga – 1
Service: Anime/Manga – 4 (some nudity, crotch shots)

Overall – 8

Action, adventure, comedy, nice old-school feel. I think my biggest complaint is going to be that the series will end too soon.

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12 Responses

  1. Emma says:

    I agree with you on this; quite apart from the squick factor of finding yourself attractive, there really isn’t much more than forming mutual respect between them. (Not that I’d be sad if there was, but as is, I just don’t see it.) But you can’t hold it against fandumb; if we waited around on canon . . . well, we’d still be waiting. But it’s a fun anime anyway, and Faris is awesome.

    Oh, btw, have you ever read
    http://www.girlamatic.com/comics/brww.php ? Really pretty art, canon kickass lesbians with skillets on quests . . . It’s like, all the good bits of Murder Princess with some other, new good bits thrown in and added canonical lesbianism! No need for fandumb, lol.

  2. scareknee says:

    Hi! I really enjoy your blog! I always find it difficult to read/see anything Yuri that isn’t hentai, and you basically have laid out a “Yuri menu” of sorts! Many thanks!

    As for the review: I first heard about this series from the author’s notes in Comic Party Vol. 4, but that was two years ago! I’m glad to see that the author is still kickin’ out good stuff! If only it was longer.

  3. KT says:

    >But you can’t hold it against >fandumb; if we waited around on >canon . . . well, we’d still be >waiting.

    Though you mighn’t have meant it that way, it is a nice defence for once!
    Take it as fandumb exercising our imagination outside the realm of fanfiction. ^^

    To be fair, no two stangers will realisticly become a couple on sight, there has got to be some development leading up to it and these are good groundwork leading up to coupledom, comsidering there are only six eps in this ova.

    One also can’t deny the moment in the bathtub. If I didn’t know it better, I’d say Alita was flirting with faris nearly eliciting a blush from her too. Also, the cute moment when Alita was blushing at Faris’s nakedness. ^_^

    So, yeah, no complains on Faris getting her girl and an entire kingdom. :)

    Overall, it’s an interesting anime, a refreshing change from the norm.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You know, it’s kinda funny. Those who read the manga first never claimed there was any Yuri in it, only subtext. It was only after the anime aired, that many of them said there was now actual and/or a dramtic increase in the Yuri than compared to the manga which attracted people, like myself, who never heard of it in the first place.

    Well, I can hope, can’t I? Since Yuri is so rare, you take what you can get plus there is that delicious cover of the third episode..

  5. Chu says:

    I think it’s one thing to say “There’s no Yuri in this show,” and another to start condemning people for making up their own minds as to what kind of relationship they see between the two. I don’t necessarily like to be called the “fandumb” just because I happen to like thinking of the two romantically despite the series not being shoujo-ai.

    If we all went by those rules there’d be no Yuri fanfiction.

  6. Tim says:

    This review happened before release of the third OVA. I’d highly suggest you watch it (and episodes 4-6 as well) before you think there’s no Yuri-ness in this series. Alita (as Milano) possesses, at absolute minimum, very strong feelings towards Faris (as Alita), and, in return, Faris has, at minimum, an exceedingly strong attachment to Milano. No Yuri-goggles required, folks.

  7. I have now seen up to OAV 5 and have read both volumes of manga (in Japanese and English.)

    I absolutely can see that the writers included many things that imply a love relationship between Alita and Milano. I was never questioning that.

    I still maintain that it would take more time for two women who had just switched bodies to find each other *physically* attractive.

    Not that any of you who populates the Lowest Common Denominator cares about that. zOMG they touched and spoke!!!!1111 It must be Yuri.

  8. Tim says:

    >I absolutely can see that the writers included many things that imply a love relationship between Alita and Milano. I was never questioning that.

    Then where does the “1” Yuri rating come from? The mind boggles. Your reviewing is certainly subjective to both mood and currently held degree of loathing for your community and your literary genre, to say the least.

    >Not that any of you who populates the Lowest Common Denominator cares about that. zOMG they touched and spoke!!!!1111 It must be Yuri.

    Wow. At the drop of a hat, you insult the intelligence of anyone who dares to hold a different viewpoint other than your own. I would imagine you are simply a *delight* to be around in person.

    And no, I obviously don’t expect you to post this comment to your blog. Just wanted to put it out there FYI.

  9. Because *I* (you know, the person writing these reviews) do not see them as a couple. I see that the animators put in lots of stuff for people who need not much more than women getting within three feet of one another to be named “couple”.

    And based on your 1)inability to comprehend my point and 2) your obsession with being pissed off that I don’t see them as a couple when it’s just a bloody cartoon, I think the LCD shoe fits you pretty well, personally.

  10. Duos says:

    I found all ur 3 objections quite funny and totally pin pointed out facts.

    I mean, i argue that its not Yuri even though they have intimate scenes or whatever but that whole fact about “themselves” just made me laugh…

    nevertheless, this anime OVA is really good and worth it

  11. Alake says:

    No Yuri? Ejem… Well, first of all, sorry about my english. I’m from Spain and it’s what I learnt at school…
    I’m sorry, but I disagree with you. I know, it’s not Straeberry Panic, with violins and piano in soundtrack or sakura petals floating between them, but… It isn’t Noir, for example. Noir has a very good base for a Yuri relationship but it isn’t there, or it’s what I think. I don´t consider Yuri an anime if it has not a kiss, or a love confesion.
    I think this two girls look each other a little more than necesary for friendship. Admiration? Maybe baby, but I think there are some clues that told us more. Like for example the fact thet in two times in middle of her bloodlust the slayer wasn’t able to kill the princess. The change of bodies? I see that like the only thing that stop them from the (uff, inevitable?) what they could’t avoid (for example, jeje). I believe they are confused by the fact. That is way the slayer ask the princess why is she watching her own face sleeping. It’s no narcisim. When you are atractted by a personality it doesn’t matter. Their expresions and faces change a lot from the first episode. I think they see each other like sister of themselves there are resemblances in phisical but they are not themselves.
    Ok, the moment of bath? Ahg!! Sorry, but for my everything is too evident.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow…I never thought Mrs. Friedman would be so rude and callous.

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