What do you make of a show whose heroine's only prerogative in life is to eat as much pudding as possible? What do you do with a show that attempts to be madcap and winds up merely amusing? What can you say about a show that is too shoujo for the guys and too shonen for the girls? Not a whole lot, I'm afraid, and that's the problem with Suddenly Princess. It's like trying to describe a ball of fluff...it might feel nice and even a little squishy, but there's really no point...it's just fluff.
Princess Lapis is the title character. She uses a special power known as the Magic Eraser to combat any magic used against her, but it normally gets her into lots of trouble. She's also obsessed with eating as much pudding as she can stuff down her gullet. One day, her mother tries to reprimand her by transporting her to a nearby lake...but instead, she transports her a month's journey away from their kingdom. The king and queen quickly send her tutor, her special fairy, and her bodyguard out to retrieve her, and the two of them follow shortly behind to watch their progress. The show then follows Lapis' band as they try to avoid the advances of a goofy witch who collects young girls as if they were Pokemon while attempting to get back home. Along the way, they meet such foes as a two hundred foot tall killer pudding ball and the legendary health club trainers...and you thought you had problems.
Let's make this short and sweet...the animation here is fine. It's an OVA series, so there's nothing really terrible about the artwork, but it's just there, nothing special. The character designs are the same and remind me of many other shows as well. The music is occasionally interesting, and the opening theme is really quite catchy. But settling into the story, well, hmm...
Ultimately, this show wants to be a wacky comedy, but it somehow is lacking the high energy level necessary to sustain any real humor. There are a few truly funny bits--I loved the bodyguard who's immortal and thus gets skewered over and over again in the protection of Lapis, and the pop-up signs that comment on the events are sometimes outrageously entertaining--but overall, Suddenly Princess enlists a smirk rather than a smile. At times I was entertained, but there were long stretches between those points and the points where I nearly fell asleep. The show attempts several parodies, but all of them are rather lackluster. For example, one of the Pokemon witch's girls is a take on Lum, in complete tiger-striped costume and lightening bolts. However, that doesn't make a tight parody...there's no further joke other than the costume, and so it falls really, really flat.
What's sad is that the situations themselves are truly very funny--the third episode could have been hilarious--but the show isn't really ready to go as over-the-top as the scenarios suggest. There's more fun in fifteen minutes of Urusei Yatsura than ninety minutes of Suddenly Princess. Combine that with the fact that Lapis is not really all that sympathetic a character, and you've got real problems. I also can't figure out who this show is meant to be for. Lapis is ridiculously cutesy, to a point that I can't imagine that the typical teenage boy is going to watch it to see her. At the same time, there's some mild fan service that suggests that young men are indeed the target audience, and the show doesn't really feel like anything truly shoujo either.
Does this mean that Suddenly Princess is a complete writeoff? No. When I think back on it, I did find a number of things amusing, and if you're not looking for something that will knock your socks off, it's OK. I've seen a whole lot worse in my years of reviewing. It's not anything worth trying to track down, and given that fansubs are the only way to find the three OVAs now, that's the only way to currently find it. Suddenly Princess is good for a few laughs, but over ninety minutes, one should expect more.
Suddenly Princess -- mild violence, brief nudity -- C+