Shikabane-Hime: Aka Series Review

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Shikabane-Hime: Aka or (Corpse Princess: Red) is the latest series from the venerable animation studio Gainax. That fact alone guaranteed big exposure but doomed it in the eyes of many anime fans because is wasn’t the second coming of Gurren Lagann. As much as I love Gurren Lagann and hope Gainax revisits the universe, I didn’t want them to rehash over and over the same type of show – I wanted something different and this was different.

Final Series Score: 10.5/12 Strong A
Rewatchablity: med
Pros: above average animation was used to create a creepy atmosphere around the show, takes the time to show how a normal high school student becomes the hero of the series, monsters where diverse with very different back stories and powers, main characters are likable and given sufficient depth to feel realistic in their roles
Cons: story lacked focus at the beginning, fight scenes were underwhelming for a Gainax show

Awards given to this show by this blog

  • #4 in Top 5 Anime of Fall Season 2008

Story

Oori is a fairly typical high school student. He was orphaned at a very young age and was raised by a young monk, Keisei, who Oori thinks of as an older brother. One night, Oori is awakened by a ghostly cat and told to visit the temple. He goes and by doing so, Oori’s life will be forever changed. He’ll discover the existence of evil creatures known as Corpses and about the people that fight them, monks like Keisei and undead helpers known as Corpse Princesses. From this night on, his life slowly becomes more entwined in this shadowy world till living a normal life will become impossible.

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Thoughts and impressions

Watching Shikabane Hime, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Ga:Rei – Zero. Both deal with the events that cause the main character to become the hero of the show. Where they differ is Ga:Rei tells us at the very beginning of it’s intentions; whereas, Shikabane Hime doesn’t make this apparent till much later in the show. It was a big gamble by the animators of Ga:Rei to start the series like they did but it was very successful and it allowed the viewers to focus on the characters and events at a much greater level then the viewers ofShikabane Hime. As a result, the plot felt of Shikabane Hime was very muddled at the beginning with no clear direction. The viewers, including myself, wanted to know why so much time was being spent on Oori when the fights that Keisei and his Corpse Princess, Makina, got into was much more interesting.

It eventually became clear what they were working towards and from that point, it was possible to fully enjoy the show and in hindsight, the way in which the story unfolded was one of this show’s praiseworthy attributes. One of the problems I have with how some shounen type shows are structured is the normal character asked to save the world is often anything but normal. In this show, we watch how the hero is slowly (and always logically) pulled to the position where he will have to step in and become the hero.

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I tried to temper my expectations of this show, telling myself that this was not the same type of show as Gurren Lagann, and I was largely successful except for one area. I was still somewhat disappointed that the action scenes did not excite like Gainax action scenes normally do. There was nothing really wrong with them, as far as I could tell, and the fights where satisfying but somehow they just didn’t quite feel the same. Certainly an area for improvement but something that this show did that I don’t remember Gainax really ever doing was how the animation created a creepy atmosphere around itself. Very helpful to a show like this.

Overall, I think this is a very solid show with much to offer the viewer and one I would recommend to people looking for more of a plot and character driven action show. The second season is currently airing and while it started off weak with a strong dose of stupid fan service, it’s starting to get interesting again. And I almost forgot to mention that the voice actors for both Oori and Makina were first timers and sounded a little off at the beginning but improved greatly over the course of the show.

Essential Information

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