The Princess And The Pilot – Review

I understand that stereotypically speaking a shounen-main-character has to be miraculously talented but what frigging talent enabled him to learn flying by watching planes…?! Flying isn’t really the kind of thing where you can have a learning-process while being a few thousand feet up in the air and from the ground you can’t learn flying by watching a pilot, can you?

The Princess and the Pilot Review – The Art Of Somehow Getting Away Again And Again

It’s strange to watch two movies one after another which are kinda similar. Hotarubi as well as Princess/Pilot are about a girl and a guy sorting out what their relationship is about. But where Hotarubi is the short focused story about emotions, Princess/Pilot wants to talk about racism, responsibility, war and decadence as well. Princess/Pilot has nearly two hours to try talking about all these things and of course it misses its chance to really talk about much of it. Princess/Pilot is good enough on the surface but it gives no reason why one should care about anything of it. And its ending is just atrocious, I think. It’s not only bad but ruined the entire movie for me. Not only is the end rather inconclusive the ending credits have a nice description of what the two main-characters do in the future and it ends with something like “And they died… but nobody knows how.”. Okay, so this movie apparently wants to have a sequel or someone had a very stupid idea about how to handle the ending.

Summary:
Release-Date: 2012
Running Time: 100 minutes
Synopsis: As a beautiful daughter of the noble family del Moral, Fana was proposed by Prince Carlo, who is the crown prince of their country Levamme. However, since Levamme is at war with Amatsuvian, the marriage had to wait until the war ends. Meanwhile, as a bestado, the lowest caste in Levamme, Charles had always dreamed of flying and eventually became the ace pilot of the air force. Although he was often mistreated, a glorious chance came about when the Amatsuvian bombarded del Moral’s home in order to get rid of the future empress. Charles was then entrusted with the top secret mission of delivering the princess to the prince.
– ANN.

Okay, so the very special main-character also gets a very special plane… so it’s basically like what any other shounen-series would do. What is surprising about this special plane is that it isn’t special at all, I mean, there’s only one little moment of Charles saying “Oh thank God that I have this super-special plane.”. If it’s that unimportant for him to have a very special plane then why did this scene exist to make this point clear…?

Review:
A Princess and a Pilot, stuff happens, a story about love, war, oceans and whatnot. This movie has a fairly simple story. You have Fana, the princess, who has to move from point A to point B with the help of Charles, the pilot. Problem is: Between point A and point B are enemy-ships trying to kill the two. That’s the basic story. It’s done by Madhouse, a fairly good studio and directed by Jun Shishido (who worked on some good series but the only series that he directed and which was acceptable was Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger). So there’s a simple story, an acceptable director and a fairly good animation-studio. You’d think that this movie would be able to do things right for the most part. But in the end the whole thing was rather underwhelming.
Let’s start with the story which isn’t the worst part of the movie and actually quite enjoyable for the basic stuff it’s doing. It’s fairly clear what the story intends to do in each moment and for that it’s entertaining to a minor degree while you’re watching it. The first thing to be noticed about the story, though, is that it’s rushed. It’s not so much that things happen too fast or that the plot forgets to mention an important plot-point. This movie just has no breathing-space for world-building to happen. Of course a movie always struggles with its time-restraints but this movie has literally no world-building at all. Some weird countries fighting each other, names of places – it’s the whole “fantasy”-package of a meaningless setting. The “enemy” apparently also has samurais (who are inconsistently honourable apparently) and has a name reminding me of Amaterasu. Well, you know where this is headed: It’s of course an alternate history fantasy-WWII-setting but with kings and queens and Last Exile Steampunk and… racism. Because Charles is a bestardo or something and everyone has to ridicule the shit out of him for that (except close friends who die off-screen and Fana). And this is another thing: The story takes its basic elements of how it wants to tell the story – and repeats them again and again. I think there are at least three scenes of Fana and Charles talking and then he or she notice the enemy and his face gets all grim and he says: “It’s the enemy…” And if a minor character appears and sees Charles that person always (!) somehow knows that Charles is a bestardo and he has to indulge in racism therefore. In the end much of what happens in this movie blurs together because it just seems so repetitive and dull.
The storytelling isn’t very compelling so the question is what the story wants to say and I think this again was a rather botched effort of the movie. When I read the synopsis I imagined it to be either about how evil war is, how great love is or how we all should be friends. Three different topics and with a rather simple story to lead through the movie I thought it would be about at least one of these things. In the end it was just a half-assed effort to talk about love and the issue of war and peace got resolved in the ending-credits. And I blame the repetitive storytelling for that because any attempt of saying anything wasn’t resolved in a meaningful scene but just got repeated another time. You have the racism against Charles but at no point there’s a meaningful conclusion to this issue. You have the discussion of freedom with flying as an allegory but there’s never any real conclusion. Obviously the movie didn’t have the time to face all these questions but this movie never actually tried in the first place, I think. Instead of talking about something and telling you a story it felt more like plot-elements got thrown at you during the movie that were loosely connected by the repetitive storytelling. And the final moments of the movie were the worst part of it. There where I hoped everything could come together and somehow save this movie from its own mistakes… it failed, it simply failed.

It’s strange for a movie which favours peace to leave remarks like this one undisputed. But giving no depth to the topics of the movie is one reason why this movie isn’t very good. Instead of talking about war this movie just shows you only people who like war and people who want to avoid it. Nothing more.

But first of all I want to talk about the worst aspect of this movie: The characterization. The movie was called “The Princess and the Pilot” so of course you’d think it’s all about those two characters talking and having a kind of chemistry-thingy going on. They never do that, though. Charles is the reserved, kind… guy and Fana… well, Fana actually has two personalities in this movie. On one hand she’s the distant silent princess who wants to marry this prince because he’s a suitable husband and powerful. The second part of her is this childish impudent girl getting all tomboyish if necessary by doing stuff and actually helping Charles. Are these two personalities brought together somehow? Yes, because there’s an explanation and people be amazed: Charles and Fana are childhood friends and they both have forgotten about it until the story demands from them to remember. Now that’s a true stroke of genius, right? Childhood friend, temporary amnesia – not like anybody uses these tropes a lot in animes or anything… But that’s not really what makes it so bad. The really bad part of the characterization is that Charles and Fana are rather one-note in their characterization which means that there’s no development and that they are entirely forgettable. That’s right, a movie about a princess and a pilot flying over an ocean while trying to flee from the enemy manages to make the two characters which are important – forgettable. There’s no chemistry between the two, they are not likeable and they have no background worth mentioning. Charles is bestardo which means people need to behave like assholes around him since racism is a thing cool people do in this movie’s universe and Fana feels imprisoned being a princess because she doesn’t know how to use doors or something. That’s their issues. Do they get resolved?
Well, Fana’s does. The ending credits tell us that she becomes a great empress who favours peace, ends the war and… oh god why would anybody use ending credits to close off important parts of the movie? So, obviously the movie doesn’t manage to talk about war, peace and how cruel life is but since in the far distant corners of the story it’s somehow relevant the ending credits explain to you that yes, everything’s fine. The day is saved off-screen by a footnote. Thank god for that. Well, not like I was anxious about it or anything because the world-building was rather superficial. And romance wasn’t part of the deal either because Charles and Fana decided heroically to mind their manners and realize what morale and duty wanted them to do. They were very mature about the whole thing but Charles got a bit carried away with spending his gold-dust as a way to say goodbye.
Well, it’s not a true goodbye because the ending-credits feature an ominous “But nobody knows how they both died…”-line which could be a hint for a sequel or it could be just the culmination of bad storytelling. Because you have the basic story, one-note characters without a development and a rather superficial setting and the reason all of this creates a rather boring experience is the lack of time. I said it felt rushed in some way and I think the reason for that is that this movie seems like (an unfinished) series condensed into a movie. All this movie did was moving from Point A to Point B, it didn’t tell you anything interesting along the way, it didn’t show you anything interesting along the way but it got there.

Princess and a Pilot is a movie with small ambitions but fails to meet them because it wastes its time on repetition instead of development which leads to an unsatisfying conclusion. The characters are all rather one-dimensional which is painfully obvious in the cases of the two main-characters who fail to entertain in their relationship which is supposed to be the centre of the movie. In the end the movie just goes through the motions of doing what it wants to achieve without caring about how it’s achieving that.

Rating: 5/10

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About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on March 4, 2012, in Anime, Reviews, The Princess And The Pilot and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I loved this movie, until I started to think (because, mind you, a plane cannot fly normally after having been so near a waterfall, nope) and then nothing could save it.

    Still, being stuck for so long in such a tiny plane (that didn’t look so tiny to me either) you’d think they’d talk more.

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    • Hmm, the talking in the plane was a rather fishy thing overall… At the start they made it reasonably clear that they would need to use these primitive sort-of telephones (there’s a name for that kind of device surely but it’s not that important how it’s called, I guess) because of the noise of the plane’s motor. But being bound to always use this device to speak to one another was a rather surprising decision because naturally it would limit the freedom of the dialogue between the two immensely. It seemed like a rather dumb move to establish such a limitation in a story that is so focused on the two main-characters’ interaction. But then during the movie it became clear that sometimes they could talk just fine without the device and sometimes they needed it again. It’s a little plot-hole, I think and doesn’t really matter to the overall entertainment-value of the movie. But I think it shows nicely that one of the movie’s greatest flaws is to never think things through. It always just threw these plot-elements into a story without really knowing what to do with it.

      I don’t think it’s a bad movie but it just left no impression whatsoever (except the ending with the credits as cheap epilogue since that part was really bad). It simply never seemed to get anywhere with its story and its characters which is quite funny considering that the movie’s story is all about getting somewhere.

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    • This movie was good. I don’t know why this guy is hating, but ya in any movie u watch, if u watch it just to find it flaws so u can talk shit about later is retarded. No wonder he didn’t enjoy the movie. Anyways i enjoyed watching it, i give a 7 out of a 10. I give this dudes review a – 10, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GO BULLS NEXT YEAR.

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  2. its just a movie -_-

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  3. I lay on my bed and pretend I am a banana

    What happened to the site? 😦 I miss you guys a lot..

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  4. So many aspects of this analysis are incorrect..Im sorry but this movie definitely had strong meaning to it, which you obviously did not catch. Nowhere throughout this review have you managed to stay objective, which is essential for a good and proper review. Instead of making the movie sound like a piece of animated nonsense, try focusing on understanding the message behind the movie. Maybe then you might be able so enjoy the movie to its full potential.

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  5. haters gonna hate. By no means a great movie but no where near the hate it deserves in this clearly baised review. People do not HAVE to magically get together just because they are the male and female characters that get the most screen time and there does not NEED to be chemestiry because hey you are that one kid I met when I was 5 for like 10 minutes. We were childhood friends? Wow anything is a friend these days. Sure the main chara takes a lot of the racist bull shit however he does express a wide range of emotions and expand to not wanting to lose, throwing away the money to keep his pride, getting angry when he found out his friends possibly died for no reason but I guess some people just be hatin that shit

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    • Hahahaha! Your comment is awesome. 🙂

      I like your points about how the main-chara threw away the money because of his pride, and how childhood-friend romance shouldn’t be a requirement in an anime movie, etc. But I do agree with M0rg0th in that it just feels like something is missing in the story – a moral or message or something like that.

      What did you think the message of the story was? Or were you just able to enjoy it for what it was without expecting something deeper?

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    • People do not HAVE to magically get together just because they are the male and female characters that get the most screen time and there does not NEED to be chemestiry because hey you are that one kid I met when I was 5 for like 10 minutes. We were childhood friends? Wow anything is a friend these days.

      The problem isn’t so much that they don’t come together, it’s just that the movie averted actually making it clear what kind of relationship those two guys have. And I don’t want to imagine the answer to that question by looking at various pieces of the story. The movie just didn’t say what they got from this relationship because it WAS meaningful for them. That much is clear. If it was just “another person I kinda met in my childhood” then the movie wouldn’t have much of a point since remembering the past with flashbacks doesn’t seem appropriate if there’s no meaning to the past meeting. Them getting together is one possible option of making the past meaningful but is certainly the cheesiest. The movie, though, didn’t really take their encounter to say anything about them. They just sorta knew each other and kinda respected each other – that’s it. I guess, the terrible ending is also to blame for this part not getting a satisfying conclusion. All in all this is still fiction written to entertain so if you’re making a movie about the relationship of two characters then that should better mean something instead of this vague irrelevance that coloured their interactions on a personal level.

      Sure the main chara takes a lot of the racist bull shit however he does express a wide range of emotions and expand to not wanting to lose, throwing away the money to keep his pride

      Yeah, but none iof that was portrayed in a way I would call a sign of hm having a character, it was more like that the reason for his action just miraculously appeared in the scene he had to take that action. His character seemed more concerned with telling us how bad war is instead of acting like he had a real personality to speak of.

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      • If you’ve watched Macross Frontier before, a similar concept triggered my mind when watching this movie. That is, to further emphasize the meaning to the flashbacks. In the flashback where the two main characters meet, the princess throws the idea of the sky being a place of pure freedom to the young pilot. Before she mentions that, I guess we are to assume the young pilot had never looked up at the sky and held those thoughts before, as he was always used to be beat up and looking at the ground. One can further assume that it was solely based on that inception that the young pilot specifically tried to get a job at that airport to get close to the planes that would grant him the freedom from discrimination he so desired. Eventually he becomes a pilot by “watching planes” and reaches the goal she placed in front of him. In turn, by having given him the hope he needed in the past, in the present day, it’s he who is her only hope. Fate returning the favor to the princess. If nothing else, I believe that the flashbacks at least served to convey that idea.

        Sorry for leaving a response so much later than the review and other comments. I only heard about this movie recently.

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  6. Most people go into this movie looking for romance, a theme or a message or just a good plot which they could make sense of and a happy ending. This is probably not the right movie if that’s all they are looking for. I felt this movie was tragic but beautifully made.
    This is not a movie about war, nor racism, nor about nobility and slaves nor money. It captures a moment between two characters, and rather than giving the audience every detail they need to know, it opens up the imaginations to allow for exploration into the character’s thoughts and emotions.
    What moment did they share together? How real was it? What sort of feelings could there be?
    The romance wasn’t explicit but it doesn’t have to be. The main characters weren’t madly in love with each other, but they did have a special bond. In the few days flying, running and fighting, it was all about life and death and they had to be there for each other to survive through it all.
    The pilot was torn between his sense of duty and his emotions he knows he shouldn’t have. He knew he had no other choice and his relationship with the princess is only temporary so he didn’t dare wish for more. Whilst the princess, more swayed by her emotions, was more open about what she wanted despite how unrealistic and impossible it was.
    I think the tragedy of the movie was the feeling of helplessness from the beginning to the end, the audience knows that there’s no way for the two characters to be together even though they have hope there may be.
    At the very end, both characters were able to part ways smiling and I find this quite beautiful. It becomes a matter of acceptance as both realises that whatever brief moment they shared would only be a memory and they had to go back to their duties.

    Sure its not a perfect movie, there are plot-holes and other minor things which prevented this movie from being the best it could be. If we overlook these small issues, the movie overall was quite enjoyable.

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    • I think, Princess and the Pilot is one of those movies where the execution is so bad that it actually gets in the way of telling the story it wants to tell. Sure, utltimately it wanted to say what you described but these subplots (war, racism, nobility, duty, money) took over a scene almost every time while the main-theme of the two getting comfortable with their place in the world and the responsibility that comes with it took a backseat. And with that most of the scenes got this disjointed feeling of talking about bits and pieces that never really had a convincing connection that could give the movie’s story a kind of flow.

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  7. just finished watching these, overall i like it. not satisfied with the ending though,the afterword said there’s no traces of him left and that’s it. i mean a scene showing him somewhere relaxing in a beach or something might be better, the ending makes me feel like the movie haven’t finished delivering it’s point and left a gap at the end. i kinda agree with the previous comment that just because there’s a guy and a girl stuck on the same plane doesn’t mean they have to be together. but despite that the background story and event that leads up to the point where the princess state her intention to the main character is kinda weak. maybe this whole war thing is too much for her and she just wanna run away and it happen at that time there’s this main character or maybe other reasons for whatever it is i think the character development is kinda pushed through at the end. Still it worth the time for me 🙂

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    • i think the ending is intented for us to be intrigued of what happened to charles. if the author clearly states what happened to him, it wil not be as controversial as what we are feeling right now. just a thought 🙂

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  8. the two personalities of fana is what makes ths story beautiful.can’t you see, she can only show this side to few people. and them not being able to be together in the end is so heart touching and very realistic. it means everyone, should sometimes be unselfis for the benefit of many. and charles is very touching. he has feelings for fana but chose to fulfill his mission because he knows it’s what is better. you see, not all love story should be the normal love story sequence to be beautiful. i think this one is relly beautiful

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    • For a story as adventurous and simple as this one the movie took itself far too seriously thinking it tackled important social issues and emotional drama in the disguise of a fictional world. But the movie’s main-failing is still that its world is just not compelling. The characters and the plot work on a basic level (except the ending) but it’s not just that the setting is vague, it’s just irrelevant. The worldbuilding gives the viewer no reason to take an interest in this world. And for an epic plot that goes for the full dosis of “historical storytelling” with its themes and plot-devices (including resolution of events during the credits) the world just gave you no reason to care about these large-scale-problems.
      Now, as I said, the characters worked for me on a basic level and if you’ve liked the characters enough to enjoy the movie, I’m happy for you. For me, though, it seemed like that the character-driven parts of the movie could’ve been a little more complex (meaning the movie should’ve shown more facets of the relationship) but by only doing the basic stuff it just seemed too forced to me. As if the writers were like “Well and now we need to do this… and now we need this scene… and now this needs to happen.”, it was all just about taking basic plot-elements into the expected direction.
      At least that’s what the movie was like for me.

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  9. I really hate endings where I get to decide what it is but… I think this movie flies in between reality and fantasy. I get how there are parts where it’s real and may not be possible in reality but I think the sad part only balances the good part.

    For me it’s like the story tells of our journey in life which have suffocated us and made us take or follow the rules of the society/ majority which might break us and cause us to be in the verge of giving up. It depicts how something can turn that around so easily. After all he did tell her she was his hope right? How it portrays that one good thing might save someone. I think he acted like it was all alright when he was bullied a lot and I felt like he was giving up as well as that girl but they saved each other.

    What I am saying is I think it says don’t give up. Count the good things that happened or is happening to you. Don’t just focus on the negative side. Don’t be a pessimist ’cause that would be no fun at all. It should be “One good thing outweighs the bad things” not the other way around. V(+_+)

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