Murder Princess

Review covers the full series

One interesting concept that story-writers like to use occasionally is the concept of their characters swapping bodies for an episode. They can have two allies swapping bodies if they want a funny story, or if they want the characters to start appreciating what each other has to put up with. Alternately they can have two enemies switch for a rather tenser story.

Murder Princess is slightly different, in that it makes the body swap the main plot element of the series. Princess Alita of a fictional, fantasy kingdom trades places with a bounty hunter named Falis in the middle of an attempted coup (coo). With the King killed during the attack and the only other heir currently missing, Falis is quickly crowned Queen in Alita's body.

Falis isn't overly found of being Queen, but has no way to revert the body swap and works together with Alita to try and hold the now quite shaky kingdom together.

Murder Princess is mostly an action story, but the action is generally well paced and mixes in quite well with character development and plot progression. The characters are all slightly unrealistic and very slightly crazy, while this does break the feeling of immersion just a little, it also makes Murder Princess enjoyable to read.

Besides, the feeling of immersion was already somewhat broken by one of the characters pulling out a motorcycle in the first chapter. And while I'm at it, the heat seeking missiles seem an odd inclusion as well. I thought this was supposed to be medieval-fantasy..? Still, I guess that's not exactly a complaint.

Alas, something that is a complaint and is going to ruin this otherwise very positive review is the length of the series. And unfortunately by “series” I actually mean just two books.

While we in the West usually read Japanese Manga in book form, the initial funding for almost all comics originating in Japan comes from the magazines that they serialise in. And Murder Princess had the bad luck to appear in a magazine that ended soon after it began, leaving us with just two volumes' worth of material.

Seeing the end coming in advance, the author has obviously tried to closed off as many story-lines as he can. However it's clear that there was a longer and deep story behind the Manga, and when the end of the series comes a lot of mysteries are left unanswered.

It's such a shame that the Murder Princess isn't as long as the author intended. It was shaping up to have a really interesting storyline, which now we're never going to see.

Still, anyone who reads the Manga should probably look on the bright side and be thankful for what they have. The author cramming as much of his ideas as he can into two short volumes makes for a short but really good read.