The small kingdom of Forland was thrust into chaos. The bulk of its small army was sent away in negotiations, and the small remaining guard was unable to stop the coup d'état. Princess Alita was given a chance to escape and perhaps seek help but on her way she encounters a very skilled bounty hunter. In a twist of fate the two have a near death encounter and their souls depart only to end up the wrong bodies. Alita makes a deal with Falis that she'll commit her body and soul to the bounty hunter if she helps save the kingdom in her new body.
The bounty hunter returns to the kingdom, now as princess Alita. As strong and skilled as she is, she takes back the kingdom easily. Questions start to arise about the reasons behind the coup. While becoming exceedingly popular among the people, can a bounty hunter really pull off being a princess? If Forland needed a strong ruler, that's certainly what they got. The girl who used to need protection, is now the protector. For her violent style she would later become known as the murder princess!
Body swapping is fairly common in short manga series, but for some reason these rarely make it to anime form. I'm not sure why, because the formula works pretty well. Murder Princess is a title mostly based around this kind of concept: dainty princess gains the ability to kick ass and save a kingdom. From this angle, it delivers this perfectly, but also has decent characters and story.
The defining feature of this title is certainly the soundtrack. As a fantasy anime, it has soothing orchestrated pieces during parts, but all the action is backed by heavy metal riffs. None of the music is recycled either. Each piece is something you haven't heard before which shows how there is a bit more quality to this title than expected. The metal tracks aren't prominent enough to discourage people not into it, nor is it exceptional enough for metal fans to watch it for the music, but it certainly gives Murder Princess a unique feel in the fantasy genre. Coupled with worthy action fighting sequences, this is an anime which can boast about how much ass it kicks.
Some of the character designs seem very out of place; like they wandered in from a wrongly scheduled Halloween special. That's actually explained believe it or not. The real guts of the show happen between Alita and Milano (the former princess). Both of course have problems adjusting to their new roles. There's also a blooming romance between the two. At first I thought it was my imagination, but the signs are all there. If either of them were a man it would seem plain as day. Watching it through a second time while more open to the idea, I found it a nice yet subtle love story. I felt annoyed I missed it the first time. This also makes it one of the weirdest love stories in anime. Not because it involves two women, but because these two women swapped bodies THEN fell in love. Think about it.
The subtitle and dub versions differ slightly in approach. Japanese is a language which is oriented around how polite you are, so there is a lot of context that doesn't buy you anything if you're not familiar with Japanese (like how a princess should be polite and well spoken, but uses coarse language after the soul swap). In the Japanese version, the voice actors also switched voices along with their souls, but in the English version bodies retained their voices. I didn't think the Japanese performances were anything special, and on the dub side I found the performances strong and the script well tailored for this anime. I'd recommend the dub on this one.
Murder Princess is action, fun and ass kicking. The story is only fair but glues everything together well enough. Thankfully it doesn't feel cheap because this anime never aspires to be more than it is, and thus delivers on its concept. Keep in mind it's nowhere near wall to wall action, and most of the story is a traditional fantasy tale. This is centered around a princess after all. Entertaining for what it is.
Alita: When the royal guard is trying to hunt you down, you know you've made it big time.
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