It's great when films break the standard conventions. Charlie Kaufman has recently become the lead gunner on the assault against Screenwriting 101 with his mind-bending Being John Malkovich, his goofy self-absorbed Adaptation, and the romance that never was (or was it?) in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His movies work in large part because he fearlessly destroys our expectations and gives us more than what we could have expected anyway. Forgetting the rules is a good thing.
Except when you forget the wrong rules for the wrong reasons, which spells disaster. And that is, in a nutshell, Princess Minerva.
In Princess Minerva, the lead character is a spoiled brat who stands to inherit the kingdom from her father, Wisler XII. But she's also a trained fighter who wants to get into battle...and a bored jerk who wants bodyguards to boss around. So she puts it upon her long-suffering attendant Blue Morris to create a competition to find her some perfect bodyguards. Meanwhile, she enters the competition herself as Cutey Kamen (a really blatant homage to Go Nagai that isn't as funny as the show's creators think it is). But as the warriors gather to try and qualify for the job, a group of ne'er-do-wells plans to kidnap the princess and displace Wisler XII, possibly with lethal force. But because she's so self-absorbed, Minerva may not realize the danger until it's too late.
Princess Minerva wants to be a cute, sexy variation on Dragon Half, one of the funniest fantasy OVAs ever. It bombs. There is virtually no good material here whatsoever. There are plenty of attempted laughs, but I'd say there's perhaps a 10:1 ratio of jokes attempted vs. jokes that actually work. Then there's the fan service, including a nude bathing scene that's completely tacked on, and the generally skimpy outfits virtually every female character wears. Princess Minerva's creators must have known just how bad this was going to turn out, since at every turn there's something waiting to distract us from the senselessness of the show.
Where it really heads south is in its disregard for simple rules of storytelling: have a sympathetic main character. Make us care about the situation at hand. Don't have characters you don't need. Princess Minerva throws these out the window. Only in the last moments does Minerva realize what a bear she's been and start to act like a decent human being. I disliked her character so much that I was hoping that she'd bite the big one. Instead, they beat up on the only good character in the show, which turns out to be Blue Morris. Then at the end, they even had the audacity to set up a sequel (which thankfully never happened). Few shows aggravate me, but this one came close.
I'm sure that a few people will get their kicks out of this show, but it just seems like a real reach to me. I mean, the folks who put this together seem to want to create the next Go Nagai show...which is a really low mark to try and hit. If nothing else, Go Nagai shocked his audiences with his brazen characters, but Princess Minerva can't even get that right. It's just a bland junk pile pretending to be more special than it is.
Princess Minerva -- nudity, violence -- D