Sacrificial Princess & the King of Beasts Episodes 1 12

Sacrificial Princess & the King of Beasts Episodes 1-12

For fans of the source manga by Yu Tomofuji, there is one burning question that this anime adaptation brings up: can all fifteen volumes fit comfortably into twenty-four episodes? While the answer isn’t final at this halfway point, it is apparent that the show is doing at least a decent job of it – episode twelve brings us to partway through volume seven of the manga, meaning that while things are being left out, the general plot progression is at least comparable to the manga’s storytelling speed. It isn’t perfect, but it’s also a far cry from worst-case scenarios.

Even if we don’t consider the manga-to-anime issue, Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts does a fine job telling a good story. The plot follows the basics of the Beauty and the Beast story as we’ve come to think of it (which is different enough from the actual tale type in the Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification system that the distinction needs to be made): Sariphi, a young human woman, is offered as a sacrifice to the beast king, a giant lion-like man. The expectation is that he will kill her, but the king surprises her by offering her an escape route. Sari, quickly recognizing his basic goodness, instead turns the tables and offers him understanding and comfort; the result is that instead of “killing” her, the king decides to marry her instead. Unlike in a traditional Beauty and the Beast tale, Sariphi doesn’t have to work hard to find the man inside the beast because the king (whom she names Leonhart since his father never gave him a name) is a werehuman: on full moon nights, he turns into a human. This is the result of his biracial heritage, which he must keep a secret even from his closest advisors because of the animosity between the humans and the beasts. With Sariphi, Leonhart can simply be, without worrying about her finding out. She offers unconditional affection no matter his form, ultimately drawing him to her.

I use the term “biracial” to describe Leonhart’s heritage because that’s how the show treats the differences between humans and beasts. However, it’s obviously not a perfect analogy. The enmity beasts feel for humans seems to stem from a belief in their inferiority, although we know that wars have been fought between the two groups that had a lot to do with this assumption. The idea of race relations comes to the fore in episodes eleven and twelve, where Sari and Leonhart travel to a cat kingdom (Leonhart is basically the High King, with lesser kings ruling their own smaller states within the kingdom). As the acting queen consort, Sariphi is expected to bless the cat realm’s newborn heir, but the queen has serious objections to letting Sari touch the baby simply because she’s a human. Her language is distinctly racist, to the point where her husband and daughter are appalled by it. Yes, the cat king is afraid of offending Leonhart, but he’s also ashamed of his wife’s attitude, which isn’t something we’ve seen spelled out quite as clearly until this point.

Small prejudices (with big implications and hurt) are the bread-and-butter of the story in many ways. Sariphi is largely unbothered by them because she grew up knowing she was being raised as a sacrifice. Still, we can see aggressions against her hurting and infuriating those who care about her, and the character Amit, a crocodile (alligator?) princess from the reptile kingdom, is consistently hurt by people’s cruelty to her as a “less beautiful” race. Amit is one of the most endearing characters in the story, largely because she’s such a good friend to Sari and just a genuinely nice person. Her reptilian exterior belies a soft and fluffy soul, and watching her interact with other characters is always charming, especially her crush on Jormungand, the snake man captain of Leonhart’s guard. But the most striking case of prejudice comes from Anubis, Leonhart’s chancellor.

Anubis is dead set against Sariphi (and wouldn’t mind her being dead), and his stubbornness on this front shows both how secure he is in his own (inherited) position and how little he thinks of his king’s judgment. Anubis was raised to be Leonhart’s right-hand man, as his father was to the previous king, and he consistently acts as if he knows much better than the king how to do everything. His actions clearly come from a place of love for Leonhart; he seems to honestly believe that Leonhart would be lost without him. But his disregard for the king’s words and wishes makes him the undisputed antagonist of this half of the story, even if he thinks he’s acting in the country’s best interests. He does start to learn that Sariphi is not the evil harridan he seems to think, but he has trouble admitting to himself that he’s wrong, which makes him a perpetual thorn in everyone’s side.

Sariphi herself is a relatively typical shoujo protagonist, but that’s not a strike against her in any way. She’s got reserves of inner strengths that combine well with her general warmth and kindness, and that combination clearly endears her to others. She’s hardworking but not a workaholic, compassionate without being foolish; even her jump to save Princess Tetra in episode twelve is less ill-advised than it would at first appear, given that she and Leonhart both have sacred flying beasts at their disposal. Like many a fairy tale or romance heroine, Sari’s greatest strength is her ability to reach the hearts of others, and even when that looks like it’s going to backfire, such as in the storyline with her childhood friend Ilya, ultimately, it ends up saving the day. She’s an easy character to love, which is important in the greater context of the story.

For the most part, the worldbuilding is handled well, with many things shown before they’re actively explained, such as how reproduction works in mixed-beast couples, which we see in the first few episodes but learn about concretely in the last of this set. It is a little odd to see Leonhart fit Sariphi’s entire backside in one palm while he’s in beast form (and it raises some questions we might not want to think too hard about). Still, the character designs are all interesting, especially the variety of dress and landscapes. If the animation isn’t spectacular, it’s more than up to the task, and the art sticks close to the manga’s style, which is always nice to see. While Kana Hanazawa‘s Sariphi sounds a bit perkier than I expected as a manga reader, she and the rest of the cast do a very nice job, with Takuma Terashima‘s Anubis being a standout.

Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts‘ anime version is doing the manga justice. It isn’t a perfect adaptation, but it respects the source material, and the tone is well-preserved. And if you’re not a manga reader? It’s a solid shoujo series with an interesting world and good characters, including at least one you can love to hate. This one is worth your time if you still need to start watching it, and I’m looking forward to the second half of the story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *