Anime Review: Majestic Prince – From Zero to Hero

It is not your destiny to fight…but it is in your genes!

It’s not only isekai protagnists that are your typical zero-to-hero type of characters, we got those in mecha too – and sometimes more often than you think. A rag-tag group of teenagers with no tragic background, just your average kids (well, maybe less than average) in a military school, suddenly got chosen to pilot state-of-the-art giant robots to save humanity. Sounds quite shounen-ish and very tropey, right? Well, you’re not wrong, but if done right, a normal setup can become interesting – and Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince managed to turn a traditional shonen story into something amazing!

Everything about Majestic Prince screams mediocrity and predictability, yet it still tell an awe-inspiring story through the growth of its main cast. The concept of a mecha team with specialized roles also isn’t the newest on the market, but it’s a solid ground to build up some character development if done right. And sometimes sticking to the books is a good way to go about it. And Majestic Prince focus on delivering a simple, straightforward and inspiring story, and rely on the amazing animation to get the attention of the audience.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince is a 24-episode tv series by Kadokawa and Bandai, with CG animation by the god-like studio Orange. The story focuses on a 5-people team of cadets in a military academy. And they sucks so bad that everyone call them team Rabbit because, well, they suck. But out of the blue, they were summoned by the higher-ups and given state-of-the-art mecha called AHSMB cand sent off to the front line. Our heroes and heroines are shocked that they would send cadets – and the worst ones at that – into the frontline. However, the “red ranger” Izuru Hitachi think this is a chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a hero that save others. And with his fighting instinct screaming amidst the battle, his AHSMB charge into battle, and the rest of the team follow, and thus begins the saga of the “Majestic Prince”.

Story-wise, Majestic Prince (or MJP for short) is a classic coming-of-age story of a group of misfits that got stuck with each other thanks to their idiosyncrasies. Each member of the team has their own dreams and insecurities as well. Izuru is a hopeless naive and idealistic boy, Asagi is a worrywart despite having good skills, Kei is the honor student type but has abysmal cooking skills (it seems every series need one of those), Suruga is a weapon otaku that doesn’t know when to shut up, and Tamaki is another hopeless romantic that always shoot way above her league. A very typical and ragtag collection of misfits, but together they bring out the best in each other and the whole is stronger than the sum of its part. When the situation calls for it, everyone respectively step up to the role, even if there are some rough patches along the way. Seeing each team member grow after each passing episodes is very heartwarming and inspirational. Of course the main character is still “red senshi” Izuru and it is his idealistic dream that sorta string everyone along on his naive heroism. But sometimes a bit of simplicity and “just do it” attitude is the best approach to a challenge.

We also can’t skip the supporting cast, as they also contribute a lot to the character, although they are pretty one dimensional. The captain is your typical strict on the outside, but kind (and childish) on the inside. The mechanic gal is basically a walking fanservice, and MJP actually did something out of the ordinary: each Rabbit team member get his/her own supporting team with different quirks that at first glance cannot mesh with that pilot’s personality, but gradually they provide some value, albeit small, to their respective pilot.

Now we get to the villain. Well, they are as textbook as you can get. An alien race hellbent on killing and pillaging to take whatever they can, in this case – genes – to further their survival. And of course, they treat other weaker species like trash and take them for granted. Of course, amongst the Wulgaru (the alien race), there are certain individuals that rose among the rest with their own ideal. Most notably Jiart and Princess Teoria. Jiart is pretty much a lonewolf that does whatever he pleases and seek to fight strong oponent only, whereas Teoria is the opposite, wanting to have peace with human and defected to Earth and helped build the ASHMBs. While being a support character, Teoria has quite a profound impact on Izuru in the latter half of the series. And Jiart is basically Izuru’s rival that seek him out at every twist and turn.

On to animation, the 2D human character is pretty decent. The art-style is simple, and you can hardly recognize the characters are designed by Hiraishi. This is one of the few animes that looks nothing like Seed’s Hirai-face. Thanks to the more simplistic style, the 2D animation is quite good. But the highlight of the anime is undoubtedly the 3DCG by Studio Orange. Many mecha fans abhor CG and only watches 2D, but MJP can definitely change your mind about that. The mecha action is smooth and fluid with a very high fps. The camera work is definitely one of Orange’s strong forte, as we whiz around the battles through dynamic angles that bring us very close to the battle, making us feel the adrenaline of the fight. Furthermore, with the AHSMB concept of being able to act upon its pilot’s “Instinct”, their human-like movement is very fitting and that helps add another layer of mechanical fluidity to the animation. Even though the show is made in 2014, it is still the best CG anime in history of mecha for me.

The AHSMBs are designed by mechanical designer Hiroshi Tani – which is a relatively unfamiliar name with mecha fans. Even so, he did a very amazing job with the mecha design – perfectly creating specialized designs for each pilot. It’s basically giant Kamen Rider or Super Sentai where each mech has a distinct look and roles. The concept of each unit having the same “core unit” inside and equip different wear parts is also pretty cool. Of course, the main character mech has to be the most “humanoid” and heroic.

And the Red Five is exactly that. It looks sleek, cool and it has a pair of Freedom Gundam wings on the back, which just double the coolness. Well, if you take a really good look (or buy the model kit), you can see its feet is actually pretty funny (like a goat), but on-screen it looks perfectly human-like. Blue One is basically the secondary rider with basically the same silhouette as Red Five just…not as much cool stuff. But its swordplay is really impressive. Gold Four is the designated gun nuts and trigger happy unit, with a very interesting sniping mechanism that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere. Rose Three is the tank and charge unit, which is a huge high-mobility unit that is used to open a path in enemy’s formation. Make no mistake, it can beam spam like Jesus Yamato on a hot day, and its fighting style really suit Tamaki. Purple Two is the information control and processing unit, basically a non-combat commander type. Each unit has a distinct design that really set it apart from each other and highlight the difference in their functionality.

The OST of the show is pretty good. The opening and ending are both slow ballad that sounds quite melancholic and somber, unlike some more hype track in most modern Bandai/Sunrise mecha show. The BGM during the fight scenes are quite intense however. They really get your heart racing for the fast-paced giant robot action.

Overall, Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince is a very basic series about the coming-of-age of a gang of teenagers. Even though they are put into the middle of a war, their action can also inspired real world people as they go through the same challenges that we face everyday. The production quality is amazing and remain one of the best mecha action series in the history of anime. If you want an entertaining series about interesting characters that doesn’t go too heavy on the political or philosophy aspect etc… then Majestic Prince is the perfect series for you!

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