Anime Reporter takes off with The Princess and The Pilot, the upcoming anime film from Manga Entertainment based on Koroku Inumura’s light novel of the same name.
The Princess and The Pilot (TPaTP from here on out) follows two people, you guessed it, a princess and a pilot. Fana is, well she’s not actually a princess just yet, but very early on the film she becomes engaged to a prince, so she’s pretty much a princess-in-waiting. Unfortunately, she said “yes” to a prince whose nation is in the middle of a pretty gigantic war. As time passes, the war becomes more troublesome and, to make matters worse, it’s totally getting in the way of Fana’s impending wedding day. This is put ever so slightly into perspective when a large scale attempt is made on Fana’s life. As Fana is about to become a princess of the Levamme Empire, she is a symbol of hope to its citizens and her assassination would be devastating to morale.
Knowing this, the powers that be decide to make her safety an absolute priority (Like, ‘absolute’ barely does it justice. Her safety is pretty much all they seem to care about). On her fiancé’s orders, Fana is to be flown across the ocean by a lone pilot while the entirety of the Levamme Empire’s navy acts as a decoy, (see what I meant about priorities? The entire navy is put into danger just for her. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a princess’ shoulders).
Fana’s only companion on this trip is the best gosh darned pilot the Levamme forces could scrounge up, a mercenary by the name of Charles. Charles is a young lad of mixed race, which is apparently enough to infuriate everyone around him (Seriously, strangers, co-workers, even soldiers he’s fighting on the same side as). Fana and Charles must fly alone, risking everything for three days before reaching safety and freedom for Fana, with a hefty pay-day for Charles on arrival.
What follows is, honestly, a little bit tired. The pampered, though in no way hostile princess and the lowest rung on the social ladder are put into a tiny box and a high-pressure situation together and we’re allowed to learn that we’re all the same really and that friendship can overcome social boundaries. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this formula for storytelling, TPaTP seems content to let this be the entire story and the result is something which feels bare and more than a little stiff. This isn’t helped too much by the fact that our two protagonists are pretty much mannequins dressed up as a noblewoman and a pilot. Personalities are woefully absent and there really isn’t anything to be found in the way of humour.
There are several scenes where Charles is put through his paces, having to avoid enemy fire and play hid and seek in the sky but even these scenes feel a little lifeless. It must be said that the animation is truly lovely. Sea and Sky are rendered with beautiful attention paid to light and detail. The animation of the dogfights in the film is also excellent, with smooth, fluid manoeuvring throughout. The soundtrack for TPaTP is emotive and rich, conveying more of an atmosphere than the characters themselves.
The Princess and The Pilot is coming to DVD and Bluray this Monday 20th October 2014 from the good people at Manga Entertainment. Audio for these releases is Japanese with English subtitles. Check out the Manga website for more details on upcoming releases and, of course, stick around Anime Reporter, and don’t forget to follow on Facebook and Twitter.
60% – “A Little Bare” – The Princess and The Pilot offers a pleasant, but uninspiring story of friendship and conflict. Unfortunately, there’s little here that hasn’t been seen before and the entire film could benefit a lot from an injection of humour or personality. Still, there are some wonderfully rendered aerial dogfights to distract viewers for a bit.