Tiara is a girl with a fiery temper sent to Earth from the Guardian world in order to find the Throne of Yourdo, which wears the guise of a simple painting. The throne was recently stolen, and is essential to the existence of the guardian world. Retrieving the throne would be tricky enough in itself, but adding even more complexity is the fact that the Throne was stolen by her former lover Kagetsu, who has the ability to nullify her power. Not to mention Kagetsu has allied himself with Tiara's rival since childhood: Leana. But everything is not quite so clear cut once Tiara learns the truth: that Kagetsu's sister (and one of Tiara's dearest friends) is trapped within the Throne of Yourdo. Should Tiara simply take the Throne back, or should she try to help rescue Sara? Could she save Sara even if she wanted too? Either way, time is running out for both Sara and the Guardian World.
If one word fits this title, it would be 'abstract'. The character designs at first look exceptionally cute upon first glance, but once you see deeper into this anime you end up captivated by the tendril like animation. Unfortunately the story is somewhat hard to follow, and flat in certain places. The confusion is only compounded by the fact that the story starts in the middle; ends, then begins again and ends where it started Eh.. that sounds a bit more confusing than it is. Think of the numbers [1.2.3] ordered as [2.3.1] While I enjoyed the way it was done, I know there are a lot of anime fans who get upset if anything is out of order. If the chronology thing bothers you, it's quite possible to fix the order of things by watching episodes 5 & 6, and then 1-4 with nothing really lost.
Characters aren't developed in a way that is very approachable, but the complexity of their relationships is outstanding. Sara and Kagetsu are close siblings. Both Tiara and Leana are good friends with Sara, and both fall in love with Kagetsu. The interesting thing about Leana and Tiara is that they neither like nor hate one another, they simply don't get along due to the nature of their personalities. They don't argue, but instead passively avoid each other. The result is a human but intricate relationship between the two, as they end up comrads, rivals, friends and enemies at the same time.
The subtitled version was fine, but I had a problem with the girl who played Sara in the dub. Sara is supposed to be a kind hearted, soft spoken sickly girl, but her English voice was much too deep. In Japanese you easily got the impression of the strong spirit of the girl, but could sense her physical weakness. That was pretty much lost in the English version.
What I like about Shamanic Princes isn't one basic thing, but the overall package. I like the surreal aspect behind it all, but I really love the design and environment it presents. Different doesn't always mean better, but I've come to appreciate this anime based on the things which it excels at. Many aspects of this this title also come across in what is unsaid, which is another pitfall if you're not attentive enough to catch it. If you're the sort that doesn't want to think much about what they watch, or need things laid out plainly for you, this will be a title to avoid but for those seeking something abstract it's an exceptional title.
Screen Caps: >