Shamanic Princess is a six-episode OVA series that was released in Japan between June 25, 1996 and June 25, 1998. The anime was produced by Triangle Staff and directed by Mitsuru Hongo and Hiroyuki Nishimura. As of this writing, Media Blasters holds the North American license for the Shamanic Princess anime.
The series focuses on characters who come from the Guardian World, which lies in another dimension. The inhabitants of the world have a duty to guard and control magical forces, and they possess varying levels of magical power. These magical powers can range anywhere from changing shapes, destroying objects, suspending time, to calling up elemental beings to do their bidding. The source of all this power is a mysterious painting known as the Throne of Yord, which is overseen by the Elders and the Neutralizers that they train. The story begins with Kagetsu, one of the Neutralizers, stealing the Throne of Yord and taking it to Earth. The Elders send two teams to Earth to reclaim the Throne of Yord.
The main character of Shamanic Princess is Tiara, and she is a member of the Guardian World’s royal family. Even though she may be royalty, Tiara is hot headed and has a short temper. She and her “partner,” a ferret-like creature named Japolo, are one of the teams sent to Earth to retrieve the Throne of Yord. Lena, the head of the other team, has a shared past with Tiara, Kagetsu, and Kagetsu’s sister, Sara. Tiara and Lena encounter each other on Earth when they both pose as normal girls and transfer students at a girls’ college.
Something I found fascinating is that the girls’ college in Shamanic Princess is portrayed a lot like a Japanese high school. I admit that my only knowledge of Japanese college is through depiction in more modern anime, so I don’t know if the depiction here is accurate for a girls’ college of that time, or if it was a decision made by the writer and director to depict it in this manner.
Tiara’s mission is complicated by the fact that she once had a romantic relationship with Kagetsu, and the fact that she and Lena have a strained friendship. Kagetsu’s sister, Sara, is a major key to the entire plot. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but by the end of the fourth episode, there’s basically a “happily ever after” kind of ending. When I saw how episode four ended, I wondered what could be left to cover in the two remaining episodes. Episodes five and six show the characters when they were younger, and the events that ultimately led to how the series began in the first episode.
The first episode opens with Tiara’s arrival on Earth, and the story basically gets rolling right from that point. Through the first four episodes, we learn information about the inter-relationships between the various characters, which helps to viewer to understand what’s going on. However, after watching Shamanic Princess, I think it would have been stronger if the last two episodes had been the first two episodes in the series. With that kind of buildup, the viewer would be much more emotionally invested in what happens during the first four episodes and have a better understanding of what’s going on.
I also believe that the overall story of Shamanic Princess feels rushed. I think this would have been a stronger project if more episodes had been devoted to it, so some of the plot points could have been fleshed out more.
The other thing that stood out to me is the fact that Tiara is the only character who doesn’t have what would be considered a “normal” name in either English or in Japanese. All the other names, such as Sara, Kagetsu, Lena, and Leon, sound normal. So when Tiara transfers into the all girls’ college and uses her real name of Tiara, one would think people would be questioning her name because it’s unusual. But… nope. Not a single word is said, and all the Earth characters are acting like it’s a normal name.
In the end, Shamanic Princess was just an okay anime. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, either. It just kind of “was.” To be honest, probably the best part of Shamanic Princess would be the animation in the main story, because I can’t say the same about the animation in the opening credit sequence. Even if the story was more on the “meh” side, at least the anime was enjoyable enough to look at.
Fortunately, I was able to obtain the U.S. Manga Corps DVD release from the early 2000’s at a local “antique mall” for only US$2.50. If Shamanic Princess had turned out to be a massive trainwreck or a dumpster fire, at least I wasn’t out a lot of money in order to check this title out.