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Manga / Corpse Princess

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Corpse Princess is a manga series written by Yoshiichi Akahito and was published from April 2005 to August 2014. The first of three anime adaptations, Shikabane Hime: Aka, was produced by Studio Gainax, and began broadcasting in October 2008; a follow-up, Shikabane Hime: Kuro, began broadcast in January 2009.

Makina Hoshimura is a Shikabane Hime — an undead girl who must earn her way into Heaven by tracking down and killing 108 Shikabane, monsters formed from the regrets of people who die violent deaths.

Things get complicated a year after she returns from the dead when Ouri, the adopted brother of her contracted monk, starts stumbling across her missions and taking an interest in the whole thing. Makina insists he doesn't get involved, but to no avail.

Meanwhile, a renegade monk is using Shikabane to fuel his own power and direct it towards evil...

American and Canadian distribution rights have been picked up by FUNimation. In a surprising move, the company has offered subtitled episodes for download from its website, and also placed them online on their YouTube channel (even watchable outside the US!); when this proved popular, episodes were also made available from the company website. The best part? These are completely legal, and unless you download, are also 100% free. Australians and New Zealanders can also watch the show's first two episodes for free, courtesy of its Antipodean distributor Madman Entertainment, by visiting the Madman Screening Room.

No relation to Corpse Bride and Corpse Party.

Corpse Princess provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Ouri, a couple of times. Surprisingly, little to no attention is paid to him doing this.
  • Action Girl: The Shikabane Hime, even though their Contractors generally kick-ass big time as well.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: In episode 7 of Kuro.
  • And I Must Scream: What happens to a Shikabane Hime after they kill 108 Corpses. Instead of going to heaven, they become unkillable monsters and are bound in a coffin for eternity. Having this happen to his girlfriend triggers the Big Bad's Start of Darkness.
    • Also Makina's killer's comment: "I see your arms and legs have grown back. You looked so pathetic begging for your life with those bloody stumps."
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Ouri. To be more exact, a son of a zombie.
  • Anti-Villain: Akasha. At first he seems like the normal evil Jerkass, but when you hear about why he went rogue, what happened to his Shikabane Hime, and what REALLY happens when your Shikabane Hime kills 108 Shikabane you may start to sympathize with him, if not just feel sorry for him.
  • Attack Reflector: One episode featured a shikabane who could make his opponent take any damage they try to inflict on him. When Minai hit him in the face, she got thrown back as if she was the one who got hit, with a bruise on her face in the same spot she hit the shikabane.
  • Author Appeal: At least one person involved with making the anime adaptation must have thought this; compare Rika in the manga to the anime version.
  • Badass Biker: Minai is shown on her motorcycle briefly in one episode.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Minai's preferred fighting style is unarmed with only her spiked gauntlets.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: A Shikabane is fairly ordinary looking/attractive until it goes all crazy and stuff, at which point they turn into horrible monsters for more power. Justified Trope? Maybe.
  • Big Damn Heroes: How Ouri first meets Makina in the manga.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Makina. So very much.
  • Blood Brothers: Ouri and Keisei become some sort of this, because to contract a Shikabane, the Contractor must have his own blood written in his palm by his Shikabane. This contract is transferable. Before Keisei died, he transferred the glowing red seal of Makina to Ouri.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: This is the opinion of Ouri's friend Ushijima. He openly complains about the lack of busty women in their class and obsesses over Nozomi because of her breasts, calling her "Omune-sama" ("Breast Goddess" in the dub).
  • Cain and Abel: Makina and Hokuto. Turns out that Makina's ancestors are the Cain.
  • Car Fu: Used by various Shikabane and Shikabane Hime due to their superhuman strength. One of the Shikabane had a grudge towards cars and cars drivers, because he died in a traffic accident (someone else's reckless driving), another Shikabane was possessing a car.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: A ghost cat frequently appears from nowhere and rant cynically about Ouri's "real nature". Only Ouri can see it, even though every character is aware of the supernatural. Creepy. the cat is really part of Ouri's self, since souls permanently leave this world upon death. So it's an Uncatty Resemblance.
  • Children Are Innocent: They are, but the grudge in being a Shikabane twists their innocence the terrifying way.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: It's necessary to destroy a Shikabane's brain to kill it, since it'll keep regenerating otherwise.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played straight with the Shikabane. Though most of the time they're quite difficult to kill, they drop like flies in the few instances where there are loads of them.
  • Creepy Child: Ouri was like this, and also a death-obsessed boy. He got better...maybe. Also Hokuto.
  • Eagleland: Freshe is the mixed type. Having apparently died in a plane crash on her way to Harajuku, she is a blonde, freckled, tall, unbelievably boorish and obnoxious, hyperactive, hypersexualized (wearing a ridiculously skimpy mockery of traditional Japanese attire with no bra to hold her gargantuan breasts and no panties, a fact which she is insistent on making everyone aware of one way or another), and has learned everything she knows about Japan strictly from anime (her weapon, an oversized shuriken, is remarked upon as something that no Japanese in real life would ever consider using). While she is very friendly and good natured, she is simply too much an idiot for most people to suffer most of the time.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Ouri's Zadan. It's because he's born from a Shikabane.
  • Emotion Eater: Toya of the Seven Stars. She attaches balloons to her victims. These balloons cause their happiness to grow to its peak. At which point, it explodes and kills the victim. Or its final monstrous form could devour its victim. Toya was the result of a poor family going to an amusement park, then committing suicide.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: In the second episode at the scene of a school bus crash.
  • Everyone Can See It: Makina and Ouri's feelings for each other. Saki, Itsuki, Takamasa, and Fleshe all either allude to it or point it out outright several times.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Only young women within a certain age range can become Shikabane Hime.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Minai. In the DVD bonus episode, Minai says she knows some boxing, which is what she uses to fight Shikabane.
  • Good Shepherd: The monks are the ones contracting Shakabane Hime and fighting shakabane, thus keeping the public at large safe from the later.
  • The Grim Reaper: Hokuto is as close as possible to being an embodiment of Death, and it's the fault of Makina's ancestors.
  • Guns Akimbo: Makina and several other Shakabane Hime wield their guns this way.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ouri is revealed in Kuro to have been born when a heavily pregnant woman was killed by a hit and run accident, but her obsession/regret over having never held her child allowed her to come back as a Shikabane, the child surviving in her womb and being born as Ouri. Several characters wonder if this makes him human, Shikabane, or something else entirely — including Ouri himself.
  • Healing Factor: All the Shikabane and Shikabane Hime to some degree, but especially Makina after Keisei's death, due to the curse she acquires because of her attachment to him.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: 'Makina' means 'machine' in Filipino. Oddly fitting, since the girl's a frickin terminator when she's pissed off.
    • Latin - Machina, pronounced exactly the same way (ma key na)and means the same thing. See "Deus Ex Machina" above.
  • In-Series Nickname: Saki calls Itsuki "Ribbon-Hime", for obvious reasons.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Saki has a habit of speaking aloud her contracted monk's inner thoughts.
  • Love Triangle: A rather complicated one, with both romantic and platonic elements. Makina definitely has some romantic feelings for Keisei, but he loves her in a strictly platonic sense, more as a little sister (which makes sense, since he was adopted by her family). Ouri and Keisei of course have a strong mutual bond as brothers, and Ouri shows some signs of a romantic attraction to Makina, particularly later in the series.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: The Shikabane Hime are a rather darker variant.
  • Master Swordsman: Kamika. She even has the title "Sword Princess" due to her skills.
  • Maybe Ever After: Despite the cliffhanger ending, the last dialogue between Ouri and Makina before the cliffhanger scene implies this:
    Ouri: Brother once told me that we're not here for the dead. A monk's duty is to lessen the pain for those who the dead leave behind. I know I'm still new at this, but I can help you. So please, let me.
    Makina: Monks aren't here for the dead.
    Ouri: You're not dead. That's why you fight, isn't it? To stay alive. That's not something a dead person does.
    And cue cheesy smile. And this is to say nothing of their dialogue before this one.
  • More Dakka: Makina. Prefers MAC-11 machine pistols.
  • Mystical 108: Shikabane Hime must kill 108 Shikabane, the traitor monk uses 108 Shikabane to fuel his dark power.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: This show is basically about beautiful undeads killing horrific undeads.
  • No Ending: The DVD-only last episode is actually a prequel, taking place before any of the other events in the series start, and does nothing to resolve the loose ends left by the regular "ending".
  • Non-Action Guy: Ouri. At least until he begins training to become a contracted monk.
  • One-Winged Angel: All Shikabane have two forms; an (almost) perfectly human-like one and a far more monstrous one that they typically need to turn into to make full use of their powers, though they are often still supernaturally powerful even in human form. Shikabane Hime are implied to be locked into their human forms as part of the ritual that turns them from Shikabane into Shikabane Hime.
    • Ouri gets one when the Shiryo created by his mother merge with him near the end of Kuro, giving him a form akin to a monstrous, pseudo-bipedal, quasi-dragon creature made of black gunk and covered in staring eyes and gaping, fang-filled mouths.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Shiryo are the disembodied souls of people who were close to becoming Shikabane, but they lacked the emotional intensity needed to fully revive. The nameless black cat that follows Ouri around, his "brother", is a gestalt of the Shiryo born from all of the children who died at the hands of his mother.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Shikabane are the supernaturally powerful undead forms of people who die harboring intense regrets or obsessions, which enable them to possess their bodies and return to a pseudo-life.
  • Religion is Magic: The Kougane Sect are an order of Buddhist Monks who have a wide variety of magical powers due to their faith. Most prominently the Zadan techniques, which "borrow power from the stars and the gods to create miracles".
  • Sarashi: Kamika, at least in the extra-Fanservicey, Clothing Damage-filled ending sequence (she's too badass to get much Clothing Damage in the show proper).
  • Shoo the Dog: Makina attempts to not get Ouri involved in her missions at first.
  • Shrines and Temples: The main characters even live in one, which doubles as an orphanage.
  • The Stoic: Takamasa. After his inability to kill his buddy-turned-shikabane caused the death of a lot of people.
  • Stripperiffic: Rika, Minai and Freshe for starters.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: While all Shikabane Hime has it, most only assume it once, never go back, and have to be put down before they go an inevitable rampage. Itsuki is notable in that she assumes it whenever her Contracted Priest gets too heavily wounded or when her energy supply runs low, but she goes back to normal afterwards. We never get to clearly see it, but we do know that she gains snakelike eyes and fangs at the very least, and it seems that when in full gear she turns into a giant naga.
  • Super-Scream: The shkiabane singer Kun's scream can smash people against the wall and dissolve bullets in midair.
  • Super-Soldier: The Kougonshuu is basically exploiting the Shikabane Hime for their ability to fight Shikabane. The traitor monk disagrees with this practice.
  • Sword Beam: Kamika can do this with her dual katanas.
  • Synchronisation: A Shikabane Hime can heal most wounds very quickly if her Contracted Monk is nearby, but the wounds pass to the monk. Conversely, if a Contracted Monk is severely wounded it causes great trauma for his Shikabane Hime, and if he is killed then usually the Shikabane Hime, being cut off from his Rune, dies as well.
  • They Call Him "Sword": Kamika has the title/nickname "Sword Princess".
  • Training from Hell: All Contracted Monks must undergo this.
  • Vapor Wear: Though it is confirmed late in the series that Makina does wear a bra, we never see any sign of panties. If she does wear anything under that skirt, it has to be a thong.

Alternative Title(s): Shikabane Hime