Girls with guns; it’s a peculiar fetish that has transformed into a genre unto itself as a result of movies, video games, and shows with a sole purpose of showcasing curvy women pumping lead into others. It has long since been a stable of anime culture, but has not necessarily reached the heights as it has in film. Studio Gainax decided to try its hand at the genre, however as those in the anime community well know, when Gainax applies its craft to something, it can never truly be confined to something as simple like “girls with guns”. With plenty of head tuners under the studio’s belt (Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, and Gurren Lagann to name a few) it has become clear that when a new project is released, it is wise to take notice.
Sprinkling the supernatural tone of Buffy the Vampire Slayer into the mix, Corpse Princess follows a pattern of showcasing grisly monster action while devoting time to focus on the element of human emotion. The word to watch here is grim. The series’ heroine, Makina, suffers one of the most gruesome deaths before being resurrected into a demon killing machine. The character as much a warrior as she is tortured. She’s a flawed person with a complex personality that gives her multiple dimensions. The series is broken down into two sets of thirteen episode seasons. Whereas the first follows a monster of the week trend while carefully inserting hints at a larger story that is payed off in season two.
Considering this is a Gainax series, one thing audiences have come to expect from the studio is impressive animation. Most of the budget and effort is pulled into the action scenes, reserving fluid animation for Maki and whatever threat she is battling, while moments that see less going on are mostly dark, expressive, and moody. Fans of the off the wall style and aggressive angles of FLCL will certainly find much to like here.
Considering the main protagonist is a young, easy on the eyes, female in a skirt, one can assume fanservice will almost certainly come into play. Indeed, upskirt shots, torn clothes, and exposed cleavage do crop up every episode to damper the mood of the series, and can even be excessive at times when the mood is meant to be somber. It’s almost as if Gainax is confused as to what the mood should be and decided to attempt both to see which would appeal to audiences.
The on disc extras are same as the prior release of the series, with a couple of commentary tracks, textless opening and closing music, and trailers for other Funimation releases. The commentaries are about what you would expect from Funimation, with the actors reflecting on the show and putting it over as interesting while sharing their thoughts on voice acting in general. It’s good for a once over but probably won’t bring audiences back for a another listen.
On the whole, if girls with guns appeals to you, Corpse Princess is something different. It’s a show that even those not fond of the genre can sit back and enjoy. It’s a gory piece of bone crunching brutality with a touch of humanity that keeps it from becoming a mindless action spectacle. Despite the misuse of fanservice and occasional erratic tone, this is still a Gainax production, meaning it’s worth a look.