a.k.a. Arite Hime
In a long-ago, medieval kingdom, the young and headstrong Princess Arete was kept locked in her tower to preserve her purity while knights of the realm competed to win her hand. Unbeknownst to her father and the ministers of the land, Arete longed to live amongst the simple peasants she could see from her window. One day, an old sorcerer appeared at the court and cast a spell to turn Arete into a proper princess, while demanding her hand in return for his services.
summary by Liegenschonheit
Highs: Sweet story; likable heroine; good music
Lows: Inconsistent artwork; slow-moving second half
Created during a time when most companies concentrated on making anime as slick and flashy as possible, Princess Arete is refreshingly old-fashioned. With a nostalgic, more rounded art style and slightly subdued colors, this anime looks like it was made in 1981 rather than 2001, and fans of older anime will undoubtedly feel right at home with Arete.
From its spunky, brave heroine to its sweet musical score, Princess Arete is charming. However, because of the art style, character designs and story itself, it is almost impossible to watch this movie without drawing comparisons to Ghibli films, especially Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Unfortunately for this anime, Princess Arete can’t hold up to such stiff competition. Though both films feature simple artwork, this anime often lacks the small details that really bring an anime to life. The artwork also begins to suffer a slight degeneration in quality during the second half, most noticeably when it comes to the faces of the characters.
Though probably a bit too slow moving for some anime fans, the story is sweet and inspiring without being too syrupy or preachy. It often relies on the characters themselves to move the story along. The seiyuu, including Kuwashima Houko as Arete, do an outstanding job keeping several long, dialogue-driven scenes from dragging. Music also played a key role in the mood and tone of this anime, and especially notable was the theme song Krasno Sontse.
Though this leisurely-paced anime may not be of interest to all viewers, those that are fans of drama may find Princess Arete to their liking. Despite its visual flaws, this anime provides a nice counterpoint to action-heavy anime.
Princess Arete can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.