Man and woman. Day and night. Power and Neutrality. Life and death. Good and evil. And the End is the Beginning. Tempting though it might be, this is not an article about Eva. Don't be misled by the sensual artwork, the vivid character designs, or the glimpses straight into the characters' souls. Any number of wonderful shows are out there, if one is lucky enough to find them. As I was lucky enough to find Shamanic Princess.
Shamanic Princess, as it turns out, begins not at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle -- much like life, thinking back on it a bit. I'm accustomed to living my days occupied with the great adventures of college, adulthood, and love, but a moment's reflection shows me that those were not where I began. The deeper I try to remember into the days when potential was still unrealized and pathos still unripe, the more I realize how little I really know about myself. Hongou Mitsuru and Princess Project may have been thinking along the same lines when they devised the final two episodes for their show. The more we see of the backgrounds of the now-familiar characters, the more their mystery deepens.
Tiara is the gifted child, the privileged one. The sort of person that most would envy. Who among us would like to taste power? Would like to taste romance? Would we like to be envied? Some of us may have an inkling of how great the gulf between aspiring to greatness and achieving that greatness is -- Tiara, on our behalf, is allowed to savor the schism to its fullest. At all points in the series, her greatest enemy is herself -- the self which doubts its own skill, its own emotion, and its own worth. Time and time again, it is the urging of friend and foe alike to "know thyself" that keeps her on her feet.
All of us are children. Hopefully, most of us have parents who love us, who care for and about who we are and who we will become. Perhaps we have the luxury of taking the experience of being someone's child for granted, not really understanding what it is like to be our parents. In episodes 5 and 6, Tiara must shoulder the burden of "parenthood" through her summoning of Gram. Protecting, nurturing, teaching... disciplining... all the things that take most people a lifetime to learn, Tiara must do before her own coming of age. Must do as she, herself, struggles to break free of her own childhood and fulfill her own dreams. And what of that strange, painful moment when the child finally stands alone and bears the responsibility for its own life and its own choices? When all hope of restitution and restoration is gone?
The Tiara who greets us in the final two episodes of Shamanic Princess is both younger and older than the one we met at the outset. Both more inexperienced and more mature. Perhaps, like the show's creators. Perhaps, like ourselves. "History is a labyrinth, and those who survive remember only their own path out." As one more anime series and one more school year draws to a close, let us try to remember not to miss the forest for the trees.
Central Park Media has announced plans to translate and release Shamanic Princess beginning later this year.