Mecha anime holds a special place within many anime viewers’ hearts. Having been one of the most prominent genres of anime within America during the late 1990’s, children grew up watching shows such as Voltron, Gundam, and Zoids. Though once an incredibly popular genre, mecha anime is now a shadow of what it formerly was. Taking its place, shows lying in the slice of life or romantic comedy genres, have become much more commonplace in this day and age. While this is not necessarily a bad aspect of anime, it does leave mecha anime fans rather lacking. This is where Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince takes its place within the genre. Where the mecha genre has now degenerated into a form of show that must compete with the popularity of slice of life shows, Majestic Prince, has decided to go back to its mecha roots in order to try and revive what mecha anime formerly was, a powerful genre about men growing into heroes through fighting in giant robots.
From the outset of Majestic Prince, it has been apparent that this show would draw heavily upon mecha shows from the past. The typical five child pilots, the calm and collected captain, and the strong, but caring soldier who becomes a mother towards the pilots, all call back to numerous different mecha anime, predominately the Gundam series. Watching Rin Suzukaze as she tries to be both a mother figure and a captain towards the young pilots of Majestic Prince, is heavily reminiscent of Captain Murrue Ramius’s dealings with Kira Yamato within Gundam SEED. Both of these women wanted to help their pilots grow up to be normal sane human beings, but at the same time, had to realize that their pilots were soldiers going to war.
The strongest call back towards mecha anime of the past though, would have to be the five main protagonists. The mere fact that the team is composed of five young, childlike pilots, calls directly back to mecha anime such as Gundam Wing with its five teenage pilots. Unlike other mecha shows such as Gundam Wing though, the pilots of Majestic Prince are, in the best of terms, inept. Rather than introducing the protagonists as these magical pilots with the ability to destroy everything in their path, they are instead these young kids who need every bit of help they can get, and this is where Majestic Prince creates its own niche. Where most mecha anime of the past two decades seem to open with young pilots who are already prepared to fight, this anime does the opposite and gives the viewer pilots who are incompetent without their own special suits.
Looking at the five pilots within Majestic Prince, one can see that they are starting from the bottom, rather than the top. Their inherent abilities are unrefined and in need of improvement, but this is not a bad aspect of the show. Looking back on some past mecha shows such as Mobile Suit Gundam, most of the enjoyment within the show was derived from watching Amuro Ray as he grew into the great pilot he was born to be. Where mecha anime of the past decade has been more focused around the end goal, Majestic Prince is bringing the journey towards the goal back to the forefront.
While examining this journey, it is also important to take note of the suits within Majestic Prince. Each of the protagonist’s suits is outfitted with a computer system that takes into account the pilot’s “Flight of Fight” response. If the pilot wants to fight, then so will the suit, but if the pilot wants to run, then so will the suit. This system, appears to be a vague call back to the way in which Amuro Ray from Mobile Suit Gundam went from wanting to fight in the war, to not wanting to on an episodic basis. The suits give the main characters of Majestic Prince, the power to change the war, while at the same time offering the characters a source of visible growth. When the main characters overcome their fears and charge head first into battle, they are growing as characters and progressing the story forward.
As the season progresses, I expect that the characters will continue along the path they are currently on. They will continue to master their suits and change the tide of the war. The question though, will be whether or not the show will continue to reenergize mecha anime. Will our pilots become soldiers or will they become fake soldiers who are only out to “end all war?” Only time will tell, but for now suffice it to say, that the show is adding to the genre, and is a much welcome addition at that.