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.
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.