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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/02/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Scrapped Princess, vol 1"

Scrapped Princess Vol. 1
Story: Ichiro Sakaki
Art: Go Yabuki
Character plan: Yukinobu Azumi
Translation: Alethea Nibley
English Adaptation: Liesl M. Bradner
Published by TOKYOPOP

Review by Tom Good

Ah, oracles. Their prophecies about children so often involve extreme events like saving the world or destroying it. They rarely reveal destinies like becoming a good cook or finding a puppy, although that might be nice for a change now and then. Oracles like the one at the beginning of this story tend to stick with tradition, and so this one predicts that the Scrapped Princess will become "the poison that destroys this world" unless she is killed. The Royal Knight Recita gets assigned to perform the assassination, and she rides out in search of the princess, but winds up befriending her and her siblings before she realizes who they are. Thus begins the first of many ethical dilemmas in the story: can Recita kill these people now that they are her friends?

This manga contains some untranslated Japanese terms of address, which can make the dialogue tricky to follow. Shannon is the older brother of Pacifica, the Scrapped Princess of the title. So she calls him onii-san (elder brother), onii-chan (a less formal form), or Shannon-nii.

Since Shannon only has one younger sibling, whenever someone says Shannon-nii it must be Pacifica speaking. This helps make sense of one page where some text appears in the wrong word balloons. There is an exchange where the word balloon near Pacifica says "What are you mumbling about? Did you hit your head on something?" Then the word balloon pointing at Shannon says, "Shut up, Shannon-nii." Obviously these two pieces of text should be swapped, since Shannon would not tell himself to shut up, or refer to himself as his own older brother.

The magician Raquel is the older sister to both Pacifica and Shannon, so they call her onee-san (elder sister), onee-chan (a less formal form) or Raquel-nee. Recita's younger brother also calls her onee-chan in a flashback. The bodyguard Kuphir calls Pacifica ojou-chan (Miss, or young lady), and she teasingly calls him otchan (old man), though these two terms are footnoted with translations.

While it does add interest and flavor to keep some of these terms untranslated, and most hard-core manga fans will understand them, a Volume 1 ought to provide definitions for all of the Japanese words in an appendix or footnotes. (A guide to simple Japanese words is also available online.

Scrapped Princess qualifies as a guilty-pleasure melodrama. Both Recita and Kuphir have similar back stories involving the loss of loved ones. Pacifica has a heartrending scene with a cat. Kuphir has Wolverine-like claws and a tough-guy attitude. In short, many things in the story seem a little too obvious, easy, and commonplace. But in spite of that, I still like it. It works because it taps into some powerful, instinctive human desires: the urge to protect one's own family and friends, and the need to act with honor.

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