Which is more valuable, one person or the entire world? It all depends on how you value a single human life. If you’re like me, it’s not an easy question to answer. Nevertheless, this is the central question that the 2003 anime Scrapped Princess, from the studio BONES (they really do make great stuff), tackles as it chronicles the journey of a girl cursed from birth and her struggle to choose her destiny for herself.
Scrapped Princess is the oldest anime series I’ve ever watched, and the charm of the presentation (not to mention the polished story) won me over from the initial episode. As the show continued on, I was continually impressed by both its treatment of the characters and the important thematic questions it engages. Scrapped Princess is proof that there’s no substitute for good characters, good themes and a good story. I’m giving it a high 7/10, and its ranking can be found on the Ongoing Rankings Page.
Wikipedia tells me that Scrapped Princess was notable at the time for its animation quality, and while it’s clearly not an anime from 2014, the character designs are good (although why Raquel, one of the three main characters, got such a generic design I’ll never understand) and the visuals are solid, occasionally spectacular. I daresay that if I had been watching the series in higher than 480p, it would have stood up quite well against shows of a similar caliber from today.
It’s not just the presentation of the show that hails from an earlier era of anime; the story, too, feels classic and was a refreshing change of pace for me from all the current simulcasts I’m watching. Centering around Pacifica Cassual, the titular Scrapped Princess destined to destroy the world on her 16th birthday, and her two sibling-protectors, Shannon and Raquel, Scrapped Princess is an old-school high fantasy set in a world 5000 years removed from a huge war that sent humanity back to the Middle Ages. However, there are still remnants of the ancient civilization lingering, including magic, that serve to make the world of Dustvin (yes, they even touch on this in the show, a sign that someone is actually paying attention to what’s going on) feel a little different than your standard fantasy anime.
While the story of a princess on the run from those who want to kill her isn’t brilliantly original, Scrapped Princess is nonetheless a polished narrative that leaves very few ends, thematic or plot-wise, untied. There is an attention to detail in plotting, world-building and (gasp!) character that grounds the audience in the world and brings the characters to life. It’s details like how Pacifica always makes her brother do her chores for her, or characters who are mysteriously nice to her being given an explanation for their behavior later on that helps the story feel more cohesive.
The characters, likewise, are brought to life with a style that feels detached from the modern standard of a single dominant character trait. The characters in Scrapped Princess have dominant personalities, with other sides that come out in different situations. They have their moments of passion, of humor, of happiness and doubt. I don’t want to harp too much on the differences between this show and those that are coming out in 2014, but Scrapped Princess really does feel like it’s come out of another time in anime history.
Thematically, Scrapped Princess focuses mainly on the topic of free will. Pacifica, as the damned Scrapped Princess, has been prophesied to be the poison that will destroy the entire world and her very existence is in defiance to the commands of fate. Likewise, her journey itself is a choice to test destiny. Pacifica doesn’t want to destroy the world, but it seems that it’s not her choice to bring the apocalypse or not. Thus, the longer she lives, the more she chooses herself over the entire world and the more those who protect her risk the world to continue to help her survive. The conclusion the show arrives at, as might be expected, is that free will is to be preserved at all costs, even if those who possess it fail to use it for the best.
Scrapped Princess is a very good fantasy anime, complete with characters that generally act like people and a polished story. While it’s not a stunningly beautiful or impressively noteworthy series, it breaks from convention in a number of ways, making it worth a watch for those who enjoy the fantasy genre or just a well-spun yarn.
Reasons to Watch:
- Multi-faceted characters in reasonably compelling relationships.
- An old-school vibe that gives the show a certain charm.
- A ringing endorsement of free will and an interesting debate on the nature of evil.
- A depiction of family that holds together even in the hardest of times.