15 November 2010 | dee.reid
Very good, "Corpse Princess"
In the world of "Corpse Princess" (otherwise known by its original Japanese name "Shikabane hime"), there is very little distinction between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Ordinary people who die with deep regret or any intense obsessions on their soul are resurrected as "shikabane" ("living corpses"), who retain their original appearance and some intelligence but have the ability to transform into monstrous, other-worldly beasts when provoked while also possessing a vast array of supernatural powers.
Aligned against them, are shikabane hime ("corpse princesses"), usually teenage girls dressed in revealing schoolgirl uniforms who as their name would imply are also dead but live to hunt down rogue shikabane with the aid of their "contract monks," Buddhist monks who are their partners when out in the field. The series primarily follows the adventures of Makina Hoshimura, a teenager who was murdered by rogue corpses, was resurrected as a shikabane hime, and has been tasked with having to kill 108 of the creatures in order to enter Heaven. She is also armed with the most awesomely bad-a** pair of MAC-11s I've ever seen. (Also worth noting is the fact that it appears that Makina is not wearing any underwear, and a few choice up-skirt shots are very good at highlighting that fact.)
On the human side of the equation, Ouri Kagami is a normal school kid who has been swept up into this madness because his older brother Keisei is Makina's contract monk, and he witnessed him reviving her after a particularly harrowing encounter with one of her quarry. He also has a habit of just being in the wrong place at the right time. Eventually, he sides with Makina and other members of the Kougon Sect, an anti-corpse task force who are dedicated to eradicating the world of any rogue demons they come across.
"Corpse Princess," adapted from the Manga by Yoshiichi Akihito, is a really cool Anime' (Japanese animation, for the uninformed). While not especially deep or thematic in any real way, it is a pretty fast-paced thrill-ride with plenty of cool and likable characters and bloody princess/demon showdowns. Even though this Anime' is a hybrid of horror and fantasy (and it can be a particularly dark Anime' at that), there is also a lot of light-hearted humor present that goes so far as being slapstick in its presentation at times. Much of the humor arises from the fun-loving, unorthodox character of Keisei, who likes to adorn Ouri's room with racy posters of pin-up girls as a practical joke. (Indeed later on in the series, some of the other female characters on the show are also seen fully nude, though most of the time their most private of privates are obscured by steam, fog, or some very carefully-placed objects in the foreground.)
One thing that particularly struck me about this Anime' was how well-developed and sympathetic the characters are. All the human and corpse princesses are really likable. But they are also somewhat tragic, due to their present circumstances. They are particularly sympathetic because of how they've been denied entrance into a suitable afterlife due to some deep regret or obsession that has followed them into death, and likewise they spend their immortality trying to fix those mistakes that have followed them. Likewise, the rogue demons that they hunt are not the purely evil monsters we are initially led to believe they are at the beginning of the series; like the corpse princesses that hunt them, they were once real flesh & blood people who have been transformed into horrible monsters as a result of the same deep regret and obsession that haunts their hunters.
So even when I say that "Corpse Princess" does appear devoid of anything especially deep or thematic, there is still some added emotional weight to keep the series from being just another dumb, run-of-the-mill horror/fantasy Anime'.
"Corpse Princess" is a great piece of Japanese animation, all right - no more, no less.