Sunday, June 16, 2013

Corpse Princess

Last weekend, I picked up some anime. The Hastings in my town carries several Funimation anime series in their 'SAVE' format- green boxed DVD sets of an entire season of a random anime series for about 20 bucks. I picked up two: the most recent revamp of Guyver, and Corpse Princess. Guyver is a retelling of the anime I watched back in the 1990s- slightly better art, slightly modified story, but about what I expected. Corpse Princess on the other hand- wow, this anime is amazing. Seriously, it's basically Black Tokyo the anime.

I hadn't seen this series until a few days ago, and I'm amazed at how strongly it resembles Black Tokyo, arrived at completely independently. Basically, I think Corpse Princess' animators and writers were drawing on similar myths, attempting to do similar things, and were inspired by the same anime I was when I was writing Black Tokyo.

The basic princess is Makina, the character pictured above, is the titular 'corpse princess' a kind of undead girl who is tasked by a secretive sect of Buddhist monks with slaughtering other, more predatory undead. Undead of Makina's type are referred to as shikabane hime 'corpse princess', and are basically adorable undead schoolgirls/WMDs. Undead in this series are created when a person dies with unfulfilled desires, or intense regrets, very similar to the unsent in Final Fantasy X; the heroic shikabane hime are created by a ritual that bonds one of these undead to a Buddhist monk. Storywise, this set up binds a stronger male protagonist/mentor to a smaller, cute female servant- there's a strong romantic subplot, mixed with the sidekick/master relationship. I'm reminded of Al Tonelico, and Gunslinger Girl while watching this, but also the relationship between Batman and Robin in The Dark Knight Returns. Something interesting, is though the male monk characters are in a paternal role, they are actually less powerful than their bonded women- the series' titular corpse princesses are superhuman undead, each wielding unique weapons, from paired Mac10s to a giant temple bell wielded as a massive warhammer. By contrast the monks are merely human, and these male characters are cast in the traditionally feminine roles of mentor, cheerleader and emotional/psychic support. It's a cool dichotomy. The monk can also share energy with his bonded corpse princess, allowing her to regenerate and do interesting power stunts.

The shikabane hime are almost identical to my conception of the Goryohime as they appear in Black Tokyo, though the corpse princesses are created by angst rather than hedonistic lust. Basically, the Corpse Princess set-up can easily be poached for a Black Tokyo campaign model- Goryohime warriors and the monks that love them. Some of the monsters and powers are also easily importable to Black Tokyo, as is the concept of a male hero bonded to a female companion, empowering and empowered by her. One of the main villains is a corrupt monk with centipedes for arms- a concept virtually identical to my Omukame advanced class, and drawn from the link between centipedes and death/impurity in Japanese folklore. Another interesting parallel between Black Tokyo and Corpse Princess comes to the fore in episodes 19-20, which have some really bizarre breathplay/suffocation themes. Anyway, it's been a fun ride, and I'll probably finish up the season tomorrow morning sometime.

Blessed Be,

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