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Corpse Princess: Aka – Part One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 23, 2010 by  



Action-packed, entertaining and a shocking ending for this first part of GAINAX’s “Corpse Princess”.  If you are looking for a darker, action-based anime series, definitely give “Corpse Princess: Aka – Part One” a chance!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Yoshiichi Akihito/Square Enix. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Corpse Princess: Aka – Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 17+

Release Date: September 14, 2010

Originally created by Yoshiichi Akahito

Directed by Masahiko Murata

Screenplay by Shou Aikawa

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Character Design by Chikashi Kubota, Kikuko Sadakata

Art Director: Hiroki Matsumoto

Art Design by Yohei Kodama

Sound Director: Masafumi Mima

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Anime Production: GAINAX

Featuring the following voice talent:

Tatsuya Hasome/Aaron Dismuke as Ouri Kagami

Keiji Fujiwara/J. Michael Tatum as Keisei Tagami

Nana Akiyama/Luci Christian as Makina Hoshimura

Chika Fujimura/Brina Palencia as Hokuto (Shichisei)

Fuyuka Oura/Claire Harp as Mizuki Inuhiko

Hidenori Nakamura/Kent Williams as Sougen Takamine

Kiyotaka Furushima/Chris Cason as Rinsen Shirae

Masayuki Shouji/Sean Teague as Sumitori

Michi Niino/Todd Haberkorn as Ena (Shichisei/Seven Stars)

Miki Maruyama/Tia Ballard as Nozomi Kasuga

Mitsuru Miyamoto/Josh Grelle as Akasha Shishidou

Nobutoshi Canna/Anthony Bowling as Honda

Takaya Hashi/T.A. Taylor as Isaka (Shichisei)

Tooru Nara/Micah Solusod as Hiroshige Ushijima

Toru Ohkawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Hazama (Shichisei/Seven Stars)

Yui Horie/Stephanie Young as Riko

Yuuki Hayashi/Bob Carter as Kowaku (Shichisei/Seven Stars)

Makina Hoshino is already dead, but she can’t let go of this twisted world. She burned to death along with her entire family in a fire started by freaks that wouldn’t stay buried. Makina knows she doesn’t belong among the living, but that won’t stop her from unleashing the full fury of her twin MAC-11 machine guns on the rotting remains of those who refuse to die.

She’s hell-bent on filling every empty grave she can find with the monsters that should be six feet under. Makina is a Shikabane Hime – a Corpse Princess – and it’s her job to finish off the undead leftovers haunting the dark corners of a city that used to be safe.

In 2005, mangaka Yoshiichi Akahito began his manga series “Shikabane Hime ” (Corpse Princess).    In 2008, an anime adaptation by GAINAX was created with the first 13 episodes are known as “Corpse Princess: Aka” (the first season) and the second season of the series (episodes 14-26) are known as “Corpse Princess: Kuro”.

The series is directed by Masahiko Murata (“Naruto Shippuden”, “MazinKaiser”, “Jinki: Extend”) and a screenplay by Shou Aikawa (“Wrath of the Ninja”, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”, “Gad Guard”, “Casshan: Robot Hunter”).  Joining both Murata and Aikawa are character designers Chikashi Kubota (“Girl Who Leapt Through Time”,  “One Piece – Movie 6”) and Kikuko Sadakata (“Gurren Lagann”, Princess Resurrection”, “Mayo Elle Otokonoko”) and music created by Norihito Sumitomo.

“Corpse Princess: Aka” revolves around a young teen named Ouri Kagami.  One night, he found a dead girl at his home, not know what caused her death, he hears people approaching the room and he hides.  He then sees his brother Keisei going up to the girl who is named Makina Hoshimura and instantly bringing her back to life (while incurring injuries to his own self).

Ouri is not sure what happened but maybe the girl was not dead afterall.

Each time Ouri is out and about, he ends up being in the same locations where this girl is fighting.  She doesn’t know why he is there and he doesn’t understand how she is always dead or near-dead and yet manages to come alive.

We learn that the Makina is a living corpse (a shikabane hime) and Keisei is a contracted priest bound to her.  Both are working for an anti-corpse group known as the Kougun sect.  Makina must kill 108 corpses for her to go into heaven, otherwise, if she is not bound to a priest, she would become a monster.  A Shikabane.  Keisei’s role is that each time Makina is hurt, when near hear, she can feed off his life force and easily heal her wounds.  Her goal is to kill

But most of all, Makina wants revenge on a violent corpse group known as the Seven Stars. The people responsible for killing her family and killing her.

As both Keisei and Makina fight and destroy the many corpse they encounter, Ouri ends up being at these locations where they are fighting because a mysterious cat is feeding him information of their whereabouts.  For Ouri, he is more of a hindrance because he does not want Keisei getting himself killed over a girl and he doesn’t like how Makina putting herself in danger.

And right now is not the right time for Ouri to get involved because the Seven Stars are back and are wanting to kill even more humans.

“Corpse Princess” features the following characters:

  • Ouri Kagami – A high school boy who was raised at his Keisei Tagami’s Temple.  He has no relations to Kesei Tagami but because he was raised with orphans thanks to Keisei, he seems him not only as a brother but like a father.  Meanwhile, Keisei has been able to see a dead cat who speaks to him and gives him information to where corpses are located.
  • Keisei Tagami – A Buddhist priest working for the anti-corpse organization known as the Kougon Sect.  Keisei was an orphan when he grew up and he was raised by Makina Hoshimura’s father.  When the family was murdered, he has committed himself to becoming Makina’s contracted priest and making sure she can meet her goal of going to heaven but also helping her avenge her family.  Keisei is also a pervert.
  • Makina Hoshimura – A shikabane hime who is a contracted “living corpse”.  Her goal is to kill 108 corpses so she can gain entrance to heaven.  She is bound to Keisei (her contracted priest) and because of Keisei’s relation to her family, she is committed in getting revenge on the Seven Stars, seven corpses who killed her and her family.
  • Rika Aragami – A female contracted monk and one of the ten great holy families.  She is the contracted monk of Saki Amase.
  • Saki Amase – A shikabane hime who is a 10-year-old who wields a huge hammer.  She is also quite stubborn.
  • Takamasa Sogi – A contracted monk of Itsuki Yamagami.  He cares deeply for Itsuki to the point of loving her despite knowing that she is no longer human.
  • Itsuki Yagami – Takamasa’s shikabane hime.  Unlike others, she and Takamasa have a deep connection and knows that she is not human and can’t bare for Takamasa to see her true self.
  • Shuji Isaki – The contracted monk of Minai Ruo.  Very arrogant and doesn’t care about anyone.
  • Minai Ruo – Isaki’s shikabane hime.  When her bond with her contracted monk broke, Ouri got to see what happens when to a shikabane hime without her contracted monk.
  • Sougen Takamine – The contracted monk of Kamika Tomoroki and former mentor of Keisei Tagami.
  • Kamika Tomoroki – Takamine’s shikabane hime.  Always serious about her job and the strongest shikabane hime with incredible will-power.
  • Kanechika Umehara – The contracted monk of Flesh Backbone and also a pervert.
  • Flesh Backbone – A foreigner/otaku who was on her way to Akihabara before she was killed and is now Kanechika Umehara’s shikabane hime.  A true otaku.

“Corpse Princess: Aka – Part One” features episodes 1-13 on two DVDs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – The Dead Dance – Ouri meets Makina Hoshimura for the first time and doesn’t know why she keeps pushing herself to fight against these monsters.
  • EPISODE 2 – The Game Continues – Several children killed in a highway accident have become shikabane and Makina must kill them.  Somehow Ouri ends up in the same area and allows one to escape.
  • EPISODE 3 – The Voice of Night – Makina must hunt down a shikabane.  Meanwhile, Keisei learns that someone is doing illegal experiments and is trying to create shikabane.
  • EPISODE 4 – Hymn of Tragedy – Makina must kill a popular J-pop singer named Kun Osaki who has become a shikabane.
  • EPISODE 5 – Traitor Monk – Keisei tells Ouri the truth of what his job is and because he told his brother, the Kougon Sect must ban him from being Makina’s contracted priest.  Meanwhile, we learn of a traitor priest named Akasha Shishidou.
  • EPISODE 6  – At the End of the Dangerous Run- Makina and Keisei take on Akasha Shishidou and in the process, makes a decision that will affect his life forever.
  • EPISODE 7 – The False Power of Words – Ouri encounters a classmate named Mitsuyoshi who has become a shikabane.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 8 – Serenity – Ouri tries to help a shikabane hime named Minai and learns what happens when a contracted priest and a shikabane hime’s bond is broken.
  • EPISODE 9 – Set Your Heart Aflutter – Makina saves a group of students who were inside a haunted building and one of the students she saved, Nozomi Kazuka, becomes infatuated with her.
  • EPISODE 10 Stars On the Ground – Someone one has killed Minai.  Meanwhile, the killing Seven Stars are back.  We learn in this episode of how Makina was killed.
  • EPISODE 11 – One Night – The Kougan discover that Hokuto, the leader of the Seven Stars is in the area.  Keisei explains to Ouri of why he is going so far to help Makina.
  • EPISODE 12 – Dawn – In order to save Makina, Keisei makes a final decision.
  • EPISODE 13Funeral Program for a Contracted Monk The funeral for a loved one and Ouri learns the rules in becoming a contracted monk.

VIDEO:

Corpse Princess: Aka” is presented in widescreen format.  Animation is well done and a good amount of detail put into the action sequences, especially with Makina and Keisei’s scenes.  Artistic backgrounds are well done and for the most part, GAINAX has done a great job with the overall look of the anime series.  Blacks are nice and deep, there are good lighting effects and for the most part, I wouldn’t be surprised if this series receives the Blu-ray treatment.  I have not seen Yoshiichi Akahito’s original work but I’ve read that Chikashi Kubota and Kikuko Sadakata were faithful in recreating these character designs for the anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Corpse Princess” is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Japanese  2.0.  The anime series does feature a lot of action and the audio is more front and surround channel driven in the English dubbed soundtrack. There was a good use of LFE during the more explosive scenes.  But overall, dialogue and music comes clear through the front channels.  My preference for this anime series was the Japanese soundtrack, as the voice acting was well done.   The English dub is fine but I felt that Aaron Dismuke voice acting makes Ouri seem a bit too whiny while the more emotional parts that require crying, are not as well done.  Veterans J. Michael Tatum (Keisei), especially Luci Christian did a good job as Makina.  But overall, both audio tracks are very good.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Corpse Princess: Aka – Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Terri Doty (Kamika), Luci Christian (Makina) and Aaron Dismuke (Ouri).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song #1
  • Textless Closing Song #2
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or previous released titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

The concept of “Corpse Princess” is quite intriguing and I felt that the first half of the series did a great job in establishing the main three characters, establishing the importance of the bond between the contracted priest and the shikabane hime.  But also, establishing the story of why Keisei and Makina were so close and who the Seven Stars are and why they must be eliminated.

I admit at first, I felt that Ouri was a character that was starting to get on my nerves, similar to Shinji of “Evangelion”.  Too much whining and always in the way.  But I realize after watching the first half of the series, he’s going to play a much larger part in the series in this second half and it will be interesting to see how both Ouri and Makina are going to respond on the battlefield, especially with his inexperience.

I felt that GAINAX has done a wonderful job in animating this series, artistic backgrounds are well-done and for the most part, the series was enjoyable, action-packed and even a bit dark and violent at times (Note: This is definitely not a series to have the younger children watch).

The overall DVD was very good and I really enjoyed the first half of the series and look forward to watching the second.   I can only hope that FUNimation Entertainment considers “Corpse Princess” for a Blu-ray release in the near future.  It’s important to note that both parts: “Corpse Princess: Aka” and “Corpse Princess: Kuro” are being released simultaneously, so no long waiting time in order for one to get into the complete series.

So,  if you are looking for an action-packed, well-animated, well-written series, definitely give “Corpse Princess” a chance!  An anime series that is definitely recommended!

NOTE: We are reviewing the discs only and can not comment on the actual packaging of the release and if there are any extra additional content that comes packaged with the release.






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