Our heroine and her "friends", ladies and gentlemenShamanic Princess
, a six episode Original Video Animation
series from The Nineties
, is a Darker and Edgier Magical Girl
created years before it was cool. It starts with one of the oldest anime
character tropes, the Cute Witch
, makes a quick stop at Magical Girl Warrior
, and heads directly into Psychological Horror
territory without looking back. While it is a shojo
narrative at heart, focused on relationships and personal growth, it caters to the male Periphery Demographic
so well that it ceases to seem peripheral. Let's just say that the fight scenes
are impressive and the fanservice
The story follows the titular shamanic princess, Tiara — a remarkably capable
) Cute Witch
who works as a special agent for the Guardian World
— as she goes to Earth disguised as an Ordinary High-School Student
to recover the Throne of Yord, a mystical artifact stolen from her world. Her mission becomes complicated when she discovers a terrible secret
surrounding the artifact — and when some of Tiara's friends and colleagues from her magical world fight her to keep her from retrieving it. As Tiara soon discovers, the Throne of Yord is no mere MacGuffin
Those who know of Shamanic Princess
remember the OVA for its Mind Screwery
and its somewhat-infamous non-linear storytelling (which drops the viewer into the action with little explanation
and shows the circumstances that caused it all to occur
as a 2 episode flashback
after the story's conclusion).
Shamanic Princess contains examples of the following tropes:
- Above Good and Evil:
- Action Girl: Tiara isn't just a magic user. She's a Full-Contact Magic User.
- All Love Is Unrequited: There's a lot of UST, and it either stays that way or shifts to angst. Depending on your definition, there could be one happy couple to come out of this show, but it's a Crack Pairing - Sara and the Throne of Yord.
- As You Know: The In Medias Res storytelling makes Info Dumping difficult to avoid. It mainly takes the form of Japolo telling an indignant Tiara things she already knows.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The OP video is fluffy, luminous and Moe. The series itself is much darker.
- Big Brother Instinct: Kagetsu's protective instinct toward Sara kicks off the plot. He's willing to put the Guardian World at risk to rescue Sara from the Throne of Yord, forcing the authorities there to send agents to retrieve it.
- Blood from the Mouth: Leon, when one of his transformations goes awry.
- Bodyguard Crush: Afflicts 2 of the show's 3 Partners. Leon stoically adores Lena from afar, and Graham got it bad for Tiara.
- Cain and Abel:
- At home, Tiara and Lena are friends. Now, they are enemies.
- After everything's fixed, they become friends again.
- Cleavage Window: Tiara is a big winner in the Superpower Lottery, and her payout includes Boobs of Steel. Her stripperific primary costume uses this trope to show it off.
- Cute Witch: The heroines hail from a magical world, and they are cute. Tiara is a Hotter and Sexier Cute Witch.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Tiara's magic is often dark in color, and her Super Mode is pretty demonic-looking, but this is in no way stigmatized. Tiara is just trying to do the right thing. Whatever that is.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Graham's summoning is basically childbirth via magical portal.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Tiara and Graham's relationship is possibly the most twisted situation in the story, and that's really saying something. Her treatment of him is pretty much a textbook cycle of abuse and reward.
- Eye Motifs: If the Throne of Yord has a form, it would be an eye. There are numerous stylized eye images used represent it, from a giant, multi-colored, eye-shaped stained glass window to a primitive stone carving.
- Fantastic Caste System: Suggestions of this trope with the way Partners are treated. They are Familiars that border on a Servant Race - sapient beings that aren't given the same amount of social worth as the magic users that summon them. In fact, they're highly expendable.
- Fictional Game: There is a recurring image of a marble that changes colors from black to white. The origins episodes reveal the significance of the symbol when characters are seen playing a tabletop game on a vertical board using black and white marbles as game pieces. The mechanics seem similar to Go or Othello in that the pieces switch between black and white.
- Fighting Spirit: Tiara, Lena and Kagetsu can shape their powers into shadowy creatures which they pit against each other.
- Fusion Dance: The final Super Mode - a combination of Tiara and Sara that annihilates itself to set everything right.
- Gratuitous English: The Japanese voices say "Gaadiaan Warudo (Guardian World)" instead of "Kōken'nin no sekai
- Gray and Gray Morality: Tiara doesn't really have any real enemies, more like friends with differing goals at different times.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Tiara's muggle friends suggest that the attention she pays to Lena is the result of romantic longing.
- I Have the High Ground: The heroines can actually generate their own tall, thin objects to stand on while fighting.
- Intertwined Fingers: Tiara and Sara do this at one point. Except it wasn't Sara — it was the Throne of Yord.
- In the Style of...: The style of the character design makes viewers think CLAMP was involved in the production of this show, when in fact they weren't. However, the character designer had previously worked on Magic Knight Rayearth.
- It Amused Me: The reason why the Throne of Yord does anything. It's eternal, all-powerful, and catatonic most of the time from boredom. It really just liked the idea of having something interesting happen.
Sara/Throne of Yord: I'm just playing. There's no meaning.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Graham.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Tiara passes out from shock after seeing a Throne of Yord-corrupted Kagetsu threaten to kill her, and wakes up on a sunny hillside with her muggle friends. They chat about their pleasant, mundane hopes for the future, then Tiara wakes in her bed in the middle of the night. And that's not all. It goes at least another layer deeper before Tiara realizes what's going on.
- Magical Girl: Most of them.
- Magical Incantation: There are a variety, with transformation spells being the longest.
- Magic Contract Romance: Deconstructed. The fact that beautiful young women are summoning sometimes handsome young men to be their "Partners" which, despite the name, are distinctly subservient to them doesn't always work out too well.
- Magic Music: As opposed to Tiara's full-contact method of fighting, Lena uses a flute that manipulates a plant-like substance in battle. It's also used in invoking Leon's transformation.
- Marked Change: Tiara, Lena, and Leon all get facial markings when they shift into their Super Mode.
- Mirror Match: On two occasions, the Throne of Yord manifests as a duplicate of Tiara to fight her. Once in her normal form, and again in her Super Mode.
- Mind Rape: The Throne of Yord has a knack for the horrifying and likes pushing people to their limits. For example, when it assumes Tiara's form, then tells her about her personality flaws. Or when it tells Tiara it's in love with her and feels her up in the form of her ex-boyfriend.
- Ms. Fanservice: Tiara Gainaxes, gets a Shower Scene, gets Clothing Damage, gets to zip herself up, has a miniskirt and thigh-high boots, etc.
- Names to Know in Anime
- Nightmare Face:
- Once, when Sara's face splits open, leaving a black gash running from forehead to ground and a vertically oriented eye appears in the gulf.
- Again, when Tiara smashes her doppelganger's face.
- Nonindicative Name: The Throne of Yord is not a chair, it's a painting — of a landscape with pond. No thrones in sight. And there's more to it than that: the Throne is the all-powerful source of all magic, creator of the Guardian World.
- Orphean Rescue: Subverted. All the characters fail to rescue Sara from the Throne of Yord. She cannot be saved and does not need saving.
- Painful Transformation: Transformations appear to cause physical pain by default.
- Platonic Cave: The cave is Tiara's perception of her friends. As the show gets into exploring the nature of the "true self," and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who is an illusion, who is under outside influence, who's being forced to try to kill her, and who is "genuine". There are multiple exchanges that go more or less like this:
Tiara: "Are you the real character name here?"
Other character: "I am me."
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tiara (red) and Lena (blue).
- Rivals Team Up: Tiara and Lena join forces against the Throne of Yord, and even have a heart-to-heart in which they admit that the bad blood between them is fueled by mutual envy.
- Scenery Porn: The highly detailed watercolor backgrounds throughout the show.
- Screw Yourself: While Tiara, as a child, is trying to tame Graham, her great power manifests as a red-skinned (and naked) version of her powered-up form as an adult. It proceeds to grab her and give her a deep kiss.
- Smoking Is Cool: Leon smokes and looks cool while doing so. Lena admonishes him for it, but simply because it's illegal for people his age to smoke in the world where they're staying.
- Snow Means Love: It's snowing in Tiara's memories of when she and Kagetsu were together.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene in which Sara curb stomps Japolo is accompanied by a sort of lullaby, whose bilingual French/Japanese lyrics read like a Yandere love poem.
- Source Music: The background music is part of the scene when Lena plays her flute.
- Split Personality Merge: In episode 5, Tiara's uncontrolled magic manifests as a shadowy, seductive Enemy Without which attempts to dominate her. Eventually Tiara realizes its power is a result of her fear, so she asserts herself and shows it who's boss. It merges into Tiara, giving her access to her Super Mode for the first time.
- Swallowed Whole: Leon and Japolo are making a good effort at defending their partners against the Throne of Yord, then it just shoots out some mouth-tentacles and eats them. And they're gone. Without a trace.
- Talking in Your Dreams: Tiara has several cryptic conversations with Sara in her dreams.
- Tears of Blood: Lena cries a bucket-load of blood when she loses her transformation in episode 3. Before that, in that same episode, Leon shed a few.
- Time Stands Still: Partners have the ability to freeze time so their masters can engage in magical battles without attracting muggle attention.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tiara is strident, Lena is refined; alternatively Tiara is aggressive and Sara is gentle.
- Weird Moon: It's selectively huge, of course. Better yet, it appears to change phases from crescent to full when Tiara transforms in episode 1.