I’ve stated in the past that I used to avoid mecha anime like the plague. If I had to credit one anime that made me less wary of the genre, it would have to be Majestic Prince.
Why? Because it has lovable characters that never took anything too seriously. That’s why when I saw the extremely dramatic trailer for Gekijōban Majestic Prince -Kakusei no Idenshi- (Majestic Prince the Movie -Genes of Destiny-), I was worried–would they make the fun show into a soap opera? Would they try and force female pilot Kei and protagonist Izuru together in some kind of corny romance subplot? Would they push the characters of the newly-introduced Team Forn together with the members of Team Rabbits–the team Izuru and the others are on–just to make new couplings?
I sat down in the press screenings for the movie, prepared for the worst. And it was…
…A movie that had me smiling for its whole runtime.
You might be wondering, why the change in attitude all a sudden? It’s because contrary to my fears, the Majestic Prince movie never forgot its most important element: fun.
[This article contains some spoilers for the end of the Majestic Prince TV anime and the first five minutes of the movie.]
Just as advertised, the film takes place only moments after the end of the TV series. And, just as the movie’s summary advertised, Izuru is put out of comission. Surely the members of Izuru’s team and the crew of the spaceship they are riding on will hold their heads in grief and worry, lashing out at each other dramatically. Surely Kei, who has feelings for Izuru, will be draped over his recovery pod without ever leaving his side. Hey, maybe they’ll make Asagi–who showed hints of having a crush on Kei in the television series–confess to her in her moment of weakness.
However, only after a minute after Izuru is put in his recovery pod unconscious, it’s obvious that the movie is not taking this direction–the mood changes from anxious to light-hearted almost immediately.
Instead of grieving Izuru’s state, the members of his team choose to believe in the hero. The movie moves on to a comedic scene where each of the members of Team Rabbits and the ship’s crew are given a chance to expand on their connection to Izuru and what he means to each of them. And like the wide-eyed dreamer Izuru, his friends never lose hope.
Since as far back as they can remember, Team Rabbits members Asagi, Kei, Ataru, and Tamaki have been together, like a family. They know each other better than anyone else. Even in a moment of possible crisis, they know that their best friend is going to pull through. They are not overly worried about Izuru–they joke about how incompetent the usually competent “big brother” of the group Asagi is when he’s assigned to be leader in Izuru’s place. That strong bond and unwaverable trust in their leader is what makes Team Rabbits–and in turn, Majestic Prince–work.
Even during the battle with the new enemy–a young Urugaru girl named Diorna (seen above)–the battle is less about the foe that has appeared to invade the military academy Izuru and his friends once attended and more about the bonds and teamwork of Team Rabbits. Each of the members of the team gets their own time to shine on the battefield. But it’s when they work together that they succeed the most in taking down their foe. Instead of throwing in romantic subplots, the film chooses to focus on the bonds of family that made Team Rabbits so lovable in the first place. Seeing the team back on the screen fighting together–all while throwing snarky quips at each other in the face of danger–had me smiling through the entire movie.
The newly-introduced Team Forn–the new team of pilots featured in the movie–could have easily become such prominent characters that they would upstage Team Rabbits, thus taking away the lovable banter between Izuru, Asagi, and the others. However, they surprisingly don’t play a big role at all in the film and thus they don’t get in the way of the five main characters (or six, including the other member of Team Rabbits, Ange). Don’t feel too bad for them, though–they got their own “episode 25” that aired in Japan in September, which focuses solely on Team Forn (the screenshot above is from said episode).
The greatest thing about the Majestic Prince movie is that even on the big screen, it never forgets its identity. While many franchises try to take on a genre they never tackled in the TV series when given the feature-length treatment, Majestic Prince succeeds in remaining remarkably enjoyable while not losing its way.
In an October 1 press release for the film, director Keitaro Motonaga said, “I made this film full of feelings of wanting to give back to the fans.” And that’s exactly what this film is. It may be more of the same, but it’s more of the same extremely enjoyable content that enthralled audiences back when it aired three years ago.
Gekijōban Majestic Prince -Kakusei no Idenshi- premiered in Japanese theaters on November 4, and will remain there for two weeks. The original Majestic Prince anime (including the new episode 25 that premiered last month) is available to watch with subtitles on Crunchyroll. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the anime for home video release in North America, and the DVDs and Blu-rays for the series even include an English dub.
(C) 2016 Sotsu, Fields/MJP-sei