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Manga / Murder Princess

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From left to right: Jodou, Pete Armstrong, Falis, Dominikov, and Alita Forland.

Hard times are upon the Kingdom of Forland: the heir apparent Kaito has gone missing and the righteous king was slain by the Evil Chancellor, Dr Akamashi, and his Robot Girl assassins. The only remaining royal family member, princess Alita, flees the castle in the last moment, chased by the Chancellor's Faceless Goons. Yet luck suddenly turns in her favor when she literally falls into the embrace of the most badass Action Girl in recorded history: bounty hunter Falis. After an accidental near-death experience, the two switch bodies and Falis agrees to assume Alita's persona, take Forland back from the usurper, and protect it until prince Kaito's return. Rounding up her henchmen, she proceeds to the castle to kick ass and earn the title of the most brutal princess in history...

Murder Princess is a 2005 manga by Sekihiko Inui and a six-episode OVA adaptation produced by Bee Train. Although initially believed to be a Red Herring to draw attention from Bee Train's real Next Big Thing for 2007, El Cazador de la Bruja, the OVA proved itself as a very solid piece of work and contained just the right amount of cool action, Pseudo-Romantic Friendship, and fitting (and slightly metallic) musical score to appease long-standing Bee Train fans with its character designs and straightforward story.

Since the anime and manga have their share of differences, there is a separate list of tropes for each version.

The show provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: For Cecilia, it's the glowing gem on her chest that provides her powers.
  • Action Dress Rip: Falis/Alita somehow cuts the hem off her dress and cuts a slit in it with two movements of her sword.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: Ana and Yuna tiny and cute female dolls with spunky and shy, respectively, personalities. They are also Dr. Akamashi's primary weapons in his coup.
  • After the End: Throughout the story, it is stated that the world is still recovering from a global war that destroyed most of the old civilization, and that civilization was recovering from an apocalypse before that.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: In episode 4, it seems like Falis and company will finally have their showdown with Dr. Akamashi... until the Black Knight kills him and forces Falis to fight him instead.
  • Bathtub Scene: Falis gets gets several, the first one complete with the obligatory Leg Focus and Censor Suds.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: During most fights, Yuna tends to fade into the background and leaves most of the asskicking to Ana. However, when push comes to shove, she's more than able to force Falis to go on the defensive.
  • BFS: The Big Bad Dr Akamashi's sword is almost as big as he is.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kaito's reappearance is him appearing as if from nowhere to save Alita from a giant monter.
  • Black Knight: The Dark Knight, A.K.A Kaito wears menacing black armor, so the viewer knows immediately that he is bad news.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Ana has one which she uses to duel Falis. It is one of her functions as a combat droid.
  • Blood Knight: Falis quite enjoys fighting.
  • Body Double: The original Milano takes the Princess' place before the invasion in episode one, and dies in the subsequent battle. This causes the body-swapped Princess to take on her name and role in her honor.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: One possible explanation for Kaito's Face–Heel Turn, either that or it's More than Mind Control. His initial hesitation in attacking Alita/Falis seems to indicate his actions are being caused by brainwashing. Unusually, if that is the case, he doesn't automatically turn good once Cecilia is killed.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday:
    Alita/Falis: You attacked my village and killed the villagers... and my family. Why?
    Cecilia: I have no reason why. It was simply because they happened to be there.
  • But Now I Must Go: Surprisingly enough, not Falis. The only opportunity to reverse the "Freaky Friday" Flip is used up saving the world, so she decides to stay on, at least until another solution is found.
  • Clarke's Third Law: It is eventually revealed that all the "magical" elements of the series, save for the soul transfer, are actually sufficiently advanced technology from the distant past.
  • Crash-Into Hello: How Alita and Falis meet. Well, it's more like a "falling off a cliff, hugging each other hello", but it is still a dramatic meeting.
  • Cute Bruiser: Ana is a cute doll and a combat robot.
  • Disappears into Light: All of the lost technology in the final episode disappears in the final episode through flashes of light, which sadly includes Dominikov, Pete, Ana, and Yuna.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Dr. Akamashi is only the Big Bad before the introduction of the Black Knight and Cecilia.
  • Doomed Hometown: Through flashback, we see that Falis got her sword and became a bounty hunter because Cecilia burned her hometown to the ground and killed her father. Her sword was his sword.
  • Dual Wielding: Falis/Alita pulls off some of the most beautifully animated katana+wakizashi action sequences in recent years.
  • The Evil Prince : Kaito is of the opinion that all the world, including his own kingdom, should be burned to ashes as a Mercy Kill.
  • For the Evulz: Cecilia's stated reason for killing Falis's whole village is because it was there, and she needed a target for her magic.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: One happens between Alita and Falis in the premise. Their souls switch bodies during a near death experience which leads to Falis taking the throne in Alita's place and becoming the titular 'Murder Princess'.
  • Gentle Giant: Pete Armstrong — Maybe "gentle" isn't the word, 'cause he never hesitates to crush a few skulls, but he's got plenty of compassion for his friends.
  • Gratuitous English: "Murder Princess" sounds a bit strange, though something like "Killer Princess" would've been rather cliché. The theme song is quite good, with the English lyrics making about as much sense as the Japanese.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Alita plays this completely straight when she's in her original body because of her great kindness and compassion. This initially seems to be subverted when Falis gets switched into said body, until she reveals the Jerk with a Heart of Gold side of her personality.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The guards who are attacked by the forest guardian in episode one are cut vertically, much to Alita's horror.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The original Milano, Alita's handmaiden and decoy double, is killed to cover Alita's escape.
    • And in the Grand Finale, Dominikov, Pete, Ana, and Yuna all sacrifice themselves to save the world. The only way to activate the method that will stop the Evil Plan involves removing all lost technology from the world, including them.
  • In the Back: The Black Knight kills Dr. Akamashi from behind. It is as surprising to viewer as to his victim.
  • Karma Houdini: Ana is initially presented as an Ax-Crazy psycho who delights in slaughtering anyone and everyone, from soldiers to defenseless staff. After her creator is killed, she explains that this was the result of her programming and joins the good guys, and eventually dies along with the other Lost Technology when the MacGuffin is destroyed, making this a subversion.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Whenever Falis/Alita battles while wearing one of Alita's gowns this is in effect because they never slow her down or get in the way.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Poor Dr. Akamashi is stabbed in the back during a verbal confrontation.
  • Lost Technology: Ana and Yuna, among others, are products of a previous civilization's technology. Only a handful of people understand how it works.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Falis has no idea of the proper airs and graces that come with being a noble, so she comes across as this when she gets stuck in Alita's body.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Yuna's talent lies in long range missle attacks.
  • Mad Scientist: Doctor Akamashi was in charge of a division of Farland's research. He created Yuna and Ana as well as monsters. Then he used them for a coup.
  • Meido: Milano is Alita's handmaiden and performed domestic tasks for her. Alita becomes one too after adopting her identity. It falls to her to keep the princess' room looking clean and the princess herself presentable.
  • Missing Mom: Both Alita and Falis only have fathers with no mention of their mothers, and both their fathers are eventually killed.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Falis sleeps in the nude during her first night in the palace, so this trope is in effect until it accidentally falls off.
  • Mr. Exposition: Dominikov, who is the one that manages to explain how the "Freaky Friday" Flip happened, among other things.
  • Named Weapons: Falis' sword is called the Princess of Cranes. It is also an Ancestral Weapon since her father used it.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: The first episode of the OVA is noticeably darker than the rest of the series, with a few genuinely disturbing moments. For a second, one might wonder if putting Falis on the throne is actually worse than letting the usurpers have it. By the second episode, her character is affirmed to be unambiguously good, and the general tone of the show lightens up to resemble most fantasy anime.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Shutting down Teoria causes all lost technology (including Pete, Dominikov and the androids) to vanish.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Falis/Alita is not happy about having to wear a corset.
  • Parental Substitute: Jodou is the grandfather of the original Milano, and, given the early deaths of her parents, he is a parental figure for the replacement Milano as well.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: Falis/Alita's fur trimmed coronation cape.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Ana and Yuna, with one being a Hot-Blooded Bratty Half-Pint and the other being a borderline Shrinking Violet.
  • Princess Protagonist: The real princess of the kingdom of Forland is a gentle Ojou but soon switches bodies with the most badass Action Girl in history, who proceeds to kick much ass and become the titular character and protagonist.
  • Princesses Rule: Falis/Alita is dubbed the "Murder Princess" immediately following her coronation to become queen. While she is called "queen", sometimes she is also called "princess". It's justified due to the fact that the populace sees her as a placeholder ruler until Kaito comes back. Indeed, Kaito's coronation occurs when he returns. Then he is revealed to be evil, and Falis/Alita is back in charge.
  • Proper Tights with a Skirt: Part of Alita's meido outfit includes tights with her skirt to fit with her sense of modesty and propriety.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: Alita and Falis quickly become close friends with a healthy amount of Les Yay to boot. It is worth mentioning that neither has an official love interest throughout the series (except maybe each other).
  • The Quiet One: Doctor Akamashi. He speaks precisely two lines aloud and doesn't get to finish the second one.
  • Rags to Royalty: Happens to Falis, who goes from bounty hunter to princess of the kingdom in the span of a day.
  • Red Baron: Falis-Alita's titular 'Murder Princess' title, which is given to her by her subjects due to their admiration and later by her enemies due to both fear and respect of her combat skills. It also doubles as Names to Run Away from Really Fast, especially if you're facing her during battle.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Alita, though it's her actual physical body that has them, and they only really fit this trope after the "Freaky Friday" Flip incident swaps her with Falis.
    • It is played dead straight with the Black Knight, although he only has one glowing red eye. The other is invisible under his helmet.
  • Reverse Grip: Alita/Falis does this with the dagger in her off-hand. Her sword is not this trope.
  • Rightful King Returns: Falis-Alita performs one of the shortest in anime history, coming back to claim 'her' throne mere hours after she was usurped.
  • Robot Girl: Ana and Yuna are robots designed to look and act like little girls (apart from the killing).
  • Rocket Punch: Ana kills most of the Royal Guards when she storms the castle by firing off her fists. It goes through their armor.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Although Falis isn't technically royal, no one knows that. What they do know is that she is incredibly willing to personally defend the country against enemies, which gains her a lot of approval among the populace.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Kaito is not killed in the anime adaptation because this version's Alita pleads on his behalf.
  • Spell My Name With An S:
    • At least one source spelled Alita's name "Akita" until this was corrected
    • Similarly Milano has been romanized as Mirano, though this can be excused by Japanese not having much differentiation between the "EL" and "R" sounds.
  • Squishy Wizard: While Cecilia can pack a punch, one solid hit sends her down for the count.
  • Super Window Jump: Falis/Alita and company storm the palace through a window. No guards, get it?
  • Tender Tears: Alita breaks down crying after discovering the body of Milano, her best friend.
  • The Goggles Do Nothing: Dominkov has goggles but he's a Skeleton guy. How does that work?
  • Title Drop: Twice. The last sentence of the first episode and the last sentence of the last episode reference Falis' title, which is also the title of the series.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Falis (crud mannered bounty hunter) and Alita (Proper Lady princess). When the former moves into the latter's body, she makes a couple wardrobe changes, and vice versa.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Well, we know better, but this is what it looks like to Alita's subjects when she is suddenly a magnificent fighter.
  • Unflinching Walk: Kaito finishes off his Big Damn Heroes moment in episode 3 by calmly walking away from his fallen enemies.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When things get really bad, Falis sometimes falls into a berserker-like state, and only Alita can stop her. However, this is actually insinuated to be an artifact of Alita's body, since it never happened to Falis before the switch.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Prince Kaito is a villain to the point of Omnicidal Maniac but the general public thinks nothing but well of him.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Falis' badassitude rests in her skills alone as she is able to unveil her full combat potential shortly after switching bodies with untrained (and likely unexercised) Alita.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Averted once Kaito turns the Forland army against Falis and Alita. The heroes realize that the guards are only serving their country, and go out of their way not to kill them.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The restraint shown to human mooks does not apply to Doctor Akamashi's monsters. Possibly justified, in that they appear to be Mecha-Mooks. Although being robots doesn't stop Ana and Yuni from being treated as human beings...
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Cecilia is the only one here with white hair and she is the Big Bad behind the other two villains.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Dominikov says that Falis has never hurt a child in all the years he's know her, which leads him to speculate that something external triggered her berserker state in episode 2 and almost led to a child's death.
  • A Wizard Did It: How exactly the soul transfer happened is basically Handwaved away. Dominikov gives a brief explanation that doesn't really explain anything, followed by Falis pointing out that his explanation can't necessarily be trusted anyway.
  • You Killed My Father: Falis is driven to kill Cecilia in retribution for the death of her father and the destruction of her hometown.

The manga provides examples of: