Scrapped Princess (novels)

When Pacifica was born, a prophesy was made: she was the poison that would destroy the world, and must be eliminated. Though she was rescued as a baby, now she’s fifteen she and her family must face assassins, soldiers, bounty hunters, inquisitors and betrayal.

Quite a few anime are based on novels, rather than manga or games – they even have a category called “light novels”, for the sorts of thin multi-volume books that are ripe for animating. But like manga, a novel that came first is unpredictable – they can sometimes be less polished and convincing than the anime.

I’m glad to say that not only are the Scrapped Princess novels as good as the anime, they also include a lot of stuff that was left out. Some of it tells of Pacifica and her family’s life before they started their journey, some of it fills in details that the anime skipped over.

One thing I particularly like is the detail it goes into of how magic works. It treats a spell as software running in the brain of the caster – and their psychological strength, preventing their conciousness from being overrun by this foreign data, is a limited resource. It also describes various tricks used to overcome these inherent limits. For example, there’s a scene in the first episode of the anime where Raquel repeatedly uses a fireball spell with a very short incantation, to the utter incredulity of the target. The reason for this is revealed in the novels: what Raquel is using is an Emulator, a virtual machine within her mind in which the spell is 90% cast. She then runs this emulator to complete the spell then resets the virtual machine to its previous state so it can cast again. There are other sections like this, and they’re more than just technobabble – they shed extra light on the events of the story.

It’s worth noting that the novels are also more gruesome than the anime, with vivid descriptions of being crushed by a trapped herd of cattle, or suffocated by a vacuum spell, or being swallowed by a Purger.

On the downside, they could have done with one more pass at quality control – there are a few bits of shaky translation, and moments they lost the ball – such as lines clearly ascribed to the wrong person. This sort of detail is more critical in a novel than a manga where the words are a small part of the story.