After seeing quite a few good reviews for this movie lately (after not even knowing it existed before NIS America licensed it, the anime blogging community often seems to miss movie works that aren't done by a well-known director, for the record this was actually based on a light novel and not a completely original work as I had previously assumed) I was thrilled to see it on the Otakon schedule and even more so when I realized that it conflicted with practically nothing else I wanted to do thanks to it's Friday morning scheduling. There were a few technical snafus (I think it all was whatever they were using to show the movie and not the staff's fault, either that or the disc itself had a problem showing the subtitles) but everything got resolved pretty quickly and we were still out right around when the video was supposed to end anyway.
The Princess and the Pilot
Summary: Princess Fana del Moral is set to marry the prince of Levahm across the ocean who is currently engaged in a brutal battle with a third country. The prince wants her to be with him and, after the entire palace is fire-bombed in an attempt to assassinate her, her family accepts and the Levahm prepares their ace pilot, the mixed blood Charles, to escort her directly through the line of enemy fire.
The Good: This is a movie that involves quite a bit of just two characters talking and once the story gets going (and it's the middle and end of the story which have the bulk of the talking) it never once feels dull and manages to feel remarkably natural as well, I suppose this is one of the cases where coming from a prose source material is a pro, not a con. It was well-paced, Charles and Fana felt like rounded characters by the end, the setting had been fleshed out, the plot didn't contain any leaps of logical, all around it had fantastic writing which translated into great material for every other aspect of the show.
The Bad: After seeing quite a few people declare this to be practically a masterpiece I was a bit let down since I didn't think it was one. I still think it was a great movie but the one thing that bothered me was Fana's character development. She certainly grew and changed and I have no trouble with that, yet in a way that story started so quickly that I wasn't sure if her distant and quiet personality when the plane ride began were due to the recent, destruction assassination attempt she was coping with or if she simply was a quiet, retireing person and learning about the world has made her blossom. I suspect it's the former, if it was the later then just under a week should not have changed her that much, but I wish the story had started out oh so slightly differently just to establish this since then the story wouldn't just be about her growing but also moving past that event and helping her find determination that she'll keep for the rest of her life.
The Production Values: The movie looks fantastic through and through and the art staff went to a lot of effort to make sure that the scenery was varied even though about a fourth or third of the movie is spent on or over the ocean. I seem to recall that Fana's voice struck me as a bit high, I expected something a tad deeper and more mature, but it wasn't a bad choice and her seiyuu certainly acted more than well enough (since this is a NISA release there is no dub) as did all the others.
In the end I'm giving this a solid three and a half out of five for being a good movie, recommended to all anime fans who enjoy slightly slow paced, character driven stories (and possibly to people who aren't exactly anime fans but enjoy a number of anime movies). However, I don't like it enough to justify buying NISA's fancy release right now (even though artbooks are always tempting), perhaps if I can find it for an amazing deal or if they do a regular edition release in the future I will grab that though. As far as I know this title is not streaming anywhere online, although if they were showing it at Otakon it might pop up at other American anime conventions this year as well.