Matt Kamen takes the chainsaw challenge
Orphaned at a young age and separated from his elder sister Sawawa, Hiro Hiyorimi thinks his life’s about to take a turn for the positive when she invites him to come and live with her. Unfortunately, Sawawa’s job is caretaker for a boarded up and decidedly ominous mansion, one that seems to be completely abandoned when Hiro arrives. Searching for his sister, Hiro instead crosses paths with an elaborately dressed woman with long, pale hair – and pushes her out of the way of certain death from falling construction beams, killing himself in the process. Clearly, the boy doesn’t have much luck.
However, the woman he saves hovers over him as he lies dying, offering him one last chance at life. Revealing herself as princess of the monster world, and referring to herself only by her royal title, she resurrects Hiro as her servant. His future looks a little tougher than dishing out tea and changing the bedsheets – he’s now a conscript in the Princess’ ongoing battle against her demonic siblings. While he’s not gained any notable powers through his supernatural rebirth, he is at least semi-immortal, so long as the Princess sustains his life force. Able to survive wounds that would kill anyone else, Hiro’s just been promoted to ‘human shield’ in the war for the monster world’s throne.
Hiro’s woeful tale of servitude beyond death comes courtesy of manga creator Yasunori Mitsunaga. Born in Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, Mitsunaga had his debut in 2001 with Trafficker – a three-volume series focusing on an elite cycle courier drawn into an underground speed circuit, a story liberally inspired by Shuichi Shigeno’s Initial D. Princess Resurrection’s gothic fight for the throne first saw print in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Sirius anthology from July 2005, with Mitsunaga’s darkly elegant style and eye for intricate detail (plus a healthy dose of fanservice) attracting a loyal readership. While still producing fresh chapters of his best known series, Mitsunaga has also clearly found horror manga to be his calling, peppering his works with references to classic monster movies and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. More recent strips include Shinbashi no Miko and Kantantei D&W, both dealing with elements of the supernatural impacting on the mortal world, plus writing duties on Demon 72, a tale of a summoner and his indentured demon, with art by Satoshi Ueda. Mitsunaga’s only diversion from the genre has been 2008’s Cheer! Cheer!, a sexy cheerleading comedy set in an all-girl school – providing plenty of opportunities for even more fanservice!
Madhouse, the studio responsible for bringing zombie horror Highschool of the Dead to the screen, was tapped for Princess Resurrection’s animated outing, appointing Masayuki Sakoi to direct. The 26-episode series adapts the best of Mitsunaga’s manga, capturing the lighter comedy moments as well as Hiro and the Princess’ procession of tussles with vampires, werewolves and worse.
Princess Resurrection is out now on UK DVD – and unlike Hiro, you won’t have to die to find out how this particular game of thrones plays out.