25 CommentsAnime Analysis, No Anime is Dropped Forever / By Scamp /

No anime is dropped forever: Seirei no Moribito and Scrapped Princess

There’s no point in running these ‘no anime is dropped forever’ posts if I don’t actually watch the anime in question. Up this time is a duo of fantasy epics, Scrapped Princess and Moribito. Asides from the fantasy similarities and the fact these featured in the same post, the reason I featured these together will come apparent towards the end.

Why I picked these up again: For Moribito, it was because I loved Kenji Kamiyama’s work on both Eden of the East and Ghost in the Shell so it seemed stupid not to go back to Moribito and see if I liked it this time around. For Scrapped Princess, a combination of enthusiastic commenters and a confusion as to why I dropped it in the first place helped that decision, despite coming second by quite a large margin to Moribito in the poll.

Reviews: Let’s start with Moribito.

Moribito is not a bad show. The animation is beyond glorious, the characters are rational and well-defined, the pacing is generally steady and it takes time building its world without ever going down the painful route fantasy series can often head down of bombarding us with too many names. My critic side of my brain looks at this and is impressed. In fact, the only thing my critic side of my brain is complaining about is why is the rest of my brain getting bored and wandering off.

I just can’t bring myself to care. I just don’t care about whether Prince Chagum gets captured or what happened to Balsa in her past. Watching the episodes themselves isn’t half bad, albeit in a detached sort of way, but the real struggle is working up the enthusiasm to fire up another episode. Now if something fails to entertain or engage the viewer, then I deem it to have failed at something. So what is it exactly? The characters, for as well defined as they are, never succeed at being engaging people to watch. Perhaps being too rational and lacking character flaws takes away any interest I’d have in watching them? But I’d say the main problemis the story lacks a hook. Do you want to watch more of Chagum and Balsa? Nope, not particularly. They’re rather dull characters. Are you interested in what happens in the story? Again no, it’s rather inconsequential and, because the characters are so rational, lacks any sort of twists that you couldn’t see coming from a bizillion miles off anyway. They’re admirable, but I don’t really care about characters being strong willed and admirable. That doesn’t make for exciting or interesting viewing.

Scrapped Princess does the complete reverse. The story in Scrapped Princess is far and away its most interesting part. As whiny as she was, I really liked the character of Pacifica and her personal fight with whether she should live or not. In fact, I liked most of the characters in that show and their strange relationships with each other. That floating girl with the permanent frown and her strange bond she had with Shannon. The wannabe Knight and Pacifica’s reaction to his affection. At least, I liked the idea of these characters. When you got down to the bones of what drove each of them and what fueled their conflicts and relationships with each other, it was a very interesting show.

But when I say I like the idea, that doesn’t bring to fore the fact that actually watching them was painful sometimes. Who the fuck wrote the script for this thing? Sometimes I wanted to smash my head against the wall for some of the lines these characters spouted. Use a bit of subtlety for christ sake. Remember that I am the good prince, so now I must sprout a line about wanting to protect my people. Scrapped Princess needed better staff working on it because boy did those on it do some clunky directing.

Scrapped Princess had a really interesting story but was let down by miserable scripting and art direction. Moribito had both of those in abundance and was really well created, but lacked anything engaging about what was actually happening.  If you could have taken the Moribito staff and stuck them on Scrapped Princess, you might have got a really great fantasy anime. Instead you’re left with two pretty average ones.

I did drop Moribito after about 12/13 episodes. This was partly because it was such a struggle to work up the enthusiasm to watch any further, but mainly because I was having exactly the same feelings towards the show as I had when I originally watched it. The same happened with Scrapped Princess. Despite having forgotten what my original misgivings towards these shows were, they came rushing back to me as I started to watch both of them. I did complete Scrapped Princess, but that’s because I had originally watched much further than the 6 episodes my MAL had claimed I watched. By the time I reached new material around episode 15, I was in too far to quit. Besides, I kinda wanted to see what would happen anyway. Plus, I think I had developed a bit of a crush on Pacifica…

The thing is, for ‘no anime is dropped forever’ to work, I need either a change in perspective or for the show itself to change in tone passed the spot I had originally reached. Neither of these had happened. Hence, they were doomed to getting the exact same reception they got when I originally watched them.

Were they worth picking up again: I probably should have waited a few more years before giving them another shot

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25 Comments

  1. Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m kind of surprised that you thought that Scrapped Princess had more of the same later on. Granted, it’s been years since I watched it, but I remember thinking that it was almost like a different show once they started to get into the Dragoons and the real background of the world.

    Pacifica? And not the onee-san charms of Raquel?

    • Scamp
      Posted August 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      No, it felt largely the same. Maybe the stakes were raised but the characters remained largely the same. I suppose the closest it came to improving was me caring more about the story, but that was natural progression rather than the anime actually improving.

      Honestly, I kinda didn’t see the point of Raquel. Also Pacifica looked better in a swimsuit

  2. Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I know what you mean about Moribito – I recently watched the first half of the show on DVD for review, and it really loses its energy about quarter of the way through the series.

    No idea how the second half pans out yet, but it does run the risking of sinking into mediocrity.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Actually my favourite episode was the one around episode 11/12 where Chagum outsmarts a rigged betting thing. I just tend to get a rush from anything to do with betting =/

  3. Posted August 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I actually like Moribito a lot. Balsa is such a strong female character to begin with. The fighting sequences especially made me squealed in delight. Besides, I think I have a crush on Chagum ^_^

    • Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Those fighting sequences were really cool. Spears are used so rarely, and they lead to great choreography. But I just kept waiting and waiting for another awesome fight that never came.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      I would say that they used up their budget animating those early fight scene, but it’s not like they skimped on the budget for any other episode

  4. luffyluffy
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Maybe you should read the Moribito novel. I read that first, and it made it easier to finish~

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      I doubt it. The problem was the story. The anime added in directorial quirks and amazing animation that actually made it tolerable

      • luffyluffy
        Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Are you sure? The book was fantastic. I need to buy the other books too..

  5. Posted August 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Scamp how far did you actually get in Seirei no Moribito? I had many of the same problems with the show as you did but it never got to the point of dropping it so I was still watching it when ep. 21 finally did some much needed character development. Suddenly I found myself loving the show because it somehow became a much better one. And it ended really, really well, not to put pressure on you to finish it or anything :)

    • vucubcaquix
      Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      I’d have to second this. There was an episode about 18 or 19 in that had a conflict between Balsa and Chagum that played absolutely marvelously. The emotional heft of the series hinged on a particular moment that stayed with me for a very long time afterward.

      And did you end up dropping it before the palace’s guard started doing some undercover work in the city? Because those scene were also quite very good.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      IT GETS BETTER I SWEAR!!!

      I watched 12/13 episodes. Think it was 12. The last one was the one with Chagum wrestling the foreign kid. Then Balsa came in and god-moded the dad. It wasn’t a bad episode by any stretch, but I had no interest in watching the next episode.

      I don’t doubt you guys that it would get better. But having a strong final few episodes does not make it worth it. It didn’t make it worth it for Kobato.

  6. Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    I… dunno what to say? I guess I like characters I can relate to rather than those I can’t, and characters with flawed personalities are those that I can’t relate to because I either avoid them like the plague in real life and want to slap them silly.

    That’s why I find Balsa appealing: she’s mature, has a good handle in situations of crisis, and almost allmoossst never loses her cool. The way she trains herself up to that mindset (revealed in the early 20s) shows how that comes about, and I thought that scene was pretty touching.

    Ending was a bit underwhelming, I’ll give you that, but the lack of a true good vs true evil was nicely done.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Yup, I figured as much. For people who complain about wimpy or unlikable characters, Moribito must have been a godsend. That’s not what I watch anime for nor do I care whether they are perfection personified. As I learned from this show, that just makes their actions predictable and in turn makes them dull characters.

  7. Posted August 29, 2010 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    I had the same issue with Moribito and I think it comes down to 1) Balsa is shown to be in such a league beyond that most danger doesn’t feel threatening and 2) there isn’t much plot escalation or strong character development for a while after the introductory episodes. These two factors drain those middle episodes of a lot of the momentum and dramatic tension the anime started with. You just have to get through them quickly and hit the ending stretch.

    I see the appeal of Scrapped Princess with the JRPG video game crowd, but overall not strong enough in any way to be very remarkable.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      You know, I didn’t mind the middle episodes that much. If anything, I probably preffered those s’life parts than the other parts, because that was where the rationality and perfection of Balsa really came to the fore and destroyed any tension. At least the s’life parts never pretended to be anything other than that.

  8. Posted August 29, 2010 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Interesting you only made it to the middle for both. Moribito is a sort of slow-steady journey, but I think it’s really about the growth of Chagum and the unusual family dynamic that was established by the end, so you completely missed out on all that. I know a lot of people just could not get into it, but I thought the story (and ending) was excellent.

    Scrapped Princes is the opposite with lots of action and a story that grabs you right away. It’s been a while, but I remember the story going to crap by the middle, with a brief respite during Fulle’s arc, and then continuing back into crap mode.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      Nonono, I completed Scrapped Princess. I only made it halfway last time I tried it. This time around I had to at least make it a few episodes beyond the halfway spot and by the time I’d gotten that far, I kinda wanted to see how everything turned out.

  9. axelucho
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Man i feel the EXACT same way about moribito i believe i even dropped it around the same episode…. still not sure if i want to re watch it. I don’t even remember much of the story so the idea if knowing that if i start again i’m gonna be lost as hell bores me even more.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      I’d say wait a few years before maybe giving it another shot. If I’ve learned one thing from these posts, it’s that you need a few years break between viewings to have a different aproach next time around

  10. Philipe
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Moribito should be watched with “slice of life” frame of mind
    and enjoy the strange world
    like ARIA or Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

    btw : dont watch Erin
    its same author and even slower pace

    • Scamp
      Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      I’d forgotten Erin was the same author. I’d been considering picking it up, but eh, maybe not now

  11. Posted September 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Scrapped Princess is pretty much a Tales of game… (shrug). Crazy worldbuilding, but so creatively so~
    That being said, screw subtlety. Shannon-nii’s super cheesy lines helped make him the best big-brother in anime history imo.

  12. Toosemom
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Someday you’re going to find that you’ve grown bored of series like Code Geass, Death Note, Last Exile and FMA. It’s at that point that works like Moribito, or those of Miyazaki and Shinkai suddenly become like gold, having immeasurable value and beauty. You will be confused as to why at first, but you will then grow to understand.
    That’s just my prediction; I could be wrong.

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