Today’s review is a little unorthodox as far as the format I’ve established thus far. I watched Marginal Prince this week purely for leisure, and while I though before I started that I ought to stop after episode 5 and do a 5 episode review, I really just wanted to go through it. I had initially intended, therefore, to watch 5 episodes of something else…but I’m not going to. Instead you get a full review of Marginal Prince without having a 5 episode review, but I’m not sure anyone reading will really mind.
Quick & Dirty
Initial Interest: High
Favorite Character: Joshua
Opinion: Mediocre at best
“Marginal Prince” based off of the hit love simulation game series for girls! Yuta studies abroad in a tiny, far away island in the pacific ocean name Alphonso where he enters the all-dorm, all-male Alphonso Gakuen. However, the school is really a place for the children of the famous . . . and the school specializes in classes on empires and alchemy! And one day, after studying enough at the school, the students become known as “Marginal Princes”! Learn about the stories of fate and trial as each of the students studies to become kings! (Source: MyAnimeList)
I mentioned in my Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood review that I adore Okiayuu Ryoutaro’s voice. This started when I heard him singing on the Gundam Wing soundtrack (Operation 4) as Treize and developed further when I heard him as the voice of Tezuka in Prince of Tennis. There is a lot of music for Prince of Tennis, which means a lot of Okiayuu Ryoutaro singing. I have a lot of this music on my computer and on CD, but I recently discovered that one of those songs that I thought was from Prince of Tennis was actually just Okiayuu Ryoutaro singing for the series Marginal Prince. That, I’m afraid, was enough to thoroughly pique my interest. So, knowing nothing about the series other than at some point Okiayuu Ryoutaro sang in it, I endeavored to watch it.
My favorite character was Joshua. I’m not going to lie; most of the characters in this were pretty flat and not particularly interesting. And I know that probably a large portion of why I liked Joshua best was because he was voiced by my favorite voice actor. He was probably the most interesting character in the series, but that’s not particularly saying much.
I want to get a few things clear before I start breaking this series down. I literally knew nothing about this series when I started it. I came for the singing I was promised without any idea what the plot may have been. The synopsis up there is crap; it makes it sound a lot more interesting than the series is and has flat out lies. It reminds me of a comic I once read and a character called Bandai Guy. The subtitles on this were pretty bad. They came and went too fast often, they were grammatically incorrect, they were (I noticed a few times) just plain wrong, and when there was singing they were not clearly separated into ‘song lyrics’ and ‘dialogue’ or the song lyrics weren’t subtitled at all. I know bad subtitles will affect the viewing and enjoyment, so keep that in mind. Lastly, this series is based on a cell phone dating game. I have not played this game and cannot answer any questions about it.
What they did well: Some of the music was good, perhaps all of it but for reasons I will get to in a minute, it’s kind of hard to say. They also did a pretty good job of making character names clear.
What they didn’t do well: Let’s start with the most glaring issue here; being based on a dating sim, you would expect this anime to be a slice-of-life reverse harem anime. Think Ouran High School Host Club, if you’ve seen it. But it isn’t. It is slice-of-life or school-life, however you prefer to categorize, to an extent, but the reverse harem part is lacking a key ingredient – the girl. In this series Yuuta has just started at Alphonso Academy and he has left his sister behind. At the beginning of almost every episode he has a cell phone video chat with her where one or more of the other characters are brought in. Yuuta’s sister is, therefore, meant to be the girl. But she doesn’t have a name and you only sort of see her for the span of two seconds in one episode…toward the end. But I say it’s a slice-of-life to an extent and the curious reader will wonder what that means. Well, as it turns out Joshua is a prince. So after we’ve spent one episode with each character we begin this plotline about Joshua where he is meant to be king, feels obligated to do so, but doesn’t want to. Also, in episode 5 or 6 Sylvan starts doing something shifty and spy-like in the background. It kind of takes it out of the slice-of-life category. Also there is one more glaring issue with this series that makes me think it was meant to be another category altogether…
The music. Every episode contains a song, and I’m not exaggerating. So it starts to feel like maybe the creator really wanted to do a band anime but couldn’t get approval. Now, to be fair, apparently in the game you attempt to woo the boys to be rewarded with a love song. That’s probably the reason, but even if you give it the benefit of playing to the game fans there’s a glaring issue with the music. A lot of the songs are sung by characters in the middle of action. Or rather they are half sung by characters in the middle of action. The best example of this is Sylvan. Sylvan has parent issues, he misses his mommy who he hasn’t seen in a long time. So in his character episode he meets a woman who is about to see her son for the first time in years and feels a connection to her (as they often do in anime). Turns out her son used to be in with a bad crowd and they come to collect a debt, which here means beat up the pair. Sylvan, who is an otaku and interested in kendo, grabs a lead pipe and wields it like a katana, beating down the thugs with ease. But throughout the whole exchange Sylvan is singing. This would be okay if it was an inner monologue playing over the sequence kind of song. But in parts, between beating down individual thugs, Sylvan’s lips sync up to the song. So that the songs sort of take on a half in half out feeling and get awkwardly displaced (in my mind anyway). And they do this constantly. And it seems to get worse as the series continues, to the point where Joshua begins singing at some point and we get a full music video sequence complete with changing outfits and locations.
Next we have the issue of too many characters and too little run-time. In a 13 episode series there are 6 main characters (Yuuta, Joshua, Haruya, Sylvan, Henri, Red), one important-ish side character (Enju), and three throw-away extras (Michael, Yuuta’s sister, Butler). So we don’t really have enough time to get to know any of them well. Each character gets one episode and then we focus on Joshua.
Lastly there is no real resolution. I’m not really gonna say much more about it than that, but unless I really didn’t understand what was going on, they absolutely refused to give a concrete end.
So overall, I really wouldn’t suggest it. Well, no, if you like to watch anime MST3K style, this would make an excellent choice. If you like to watch good anime for the sake of pleasure, I recommend looking elsewhere.
Next Official Review: Sukisho.