Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn started life as a concept by Masamune Shirow. Kōshi Rikudō took that concept, and wrote and illustrated a manga. It then went on to be produced as a film by Studio Gokumi and AXsiZ, before finally having a twelve episode anime television series, which is what this a review of. The director of the anime was Munenori Nawa, it was written by Tatsuya Takahashi and character designs were by Takuya Tani.
You can watch the series on Animax, at least in the UK.
Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn focuses on full-body cyborg girl Nene Nanakorobi as she arrives on the artifical Cenancle Island. It is there that she has a fateful encounter with inventor Uzal Delilah and her cyborg pet Clarion. Nene is instantly drawn to Clarion, and forms quite an attachment to her. Clarion also earns the nickname ‘Cla-ring’, much to her ire.
It has a near future setting, where full-body cyborgs are an incredibly rare sight, unlike in Ghost in the Shell.
A terrorist attack rocks Cenancle Island, and Nene ends up getting directly involved. This turn of events leads to her gaining the ability to utilise the Pandora Device in Clarion’s body, giving her access to many different abilities. Nene’s goal in all this? World peace.
So main protagonist Nene Nanakorobi is a girl who has a passion for gaming – her cyborg body allows her to play them extremely proficiently, and it is due to this that Uzal realises that she’s a full-body cyborg. She happens to be fond of cute things, and forms a strong attachment with Clarion.
Clarion is a stoic character, who is more than capable of holding her own in a fight. Losing an arm doesn’t even faze her. One thing she doesn’t like, however, is having her ears touched.
The person who pretty much kicks off the plot of the anime, and remains plot-relevant throughout is Uzal Delilah, who also goes by the name Sahar Schehera. She’s a manipulative type who seems to have a plan for every occasion, and is somewhat narcissistic.
Another character who plays an important part is Nene’s aunt, Takumi Korobase. She is acquainted with Uzal, though all her interactions with her tend to result in exasperation. She has crippling social anxiety and will hide whenever confronted face-to-face. Takumi spends a lot of time working in cyberspace and doesn’t leave her home. Nene and Clarion stay with Takumi whilst on Cenancle Island.
There’s also a mascot-like character, in the form of Buer. He has the head of a lion and five legs of a goat and looks like a mutated form of Kon from Bleach. He’s also somewhat perverted, so expect third leg jokes whenever he’s around – yeah, the whole ‘third leg’ thing isn’t handled as elegantly as Touhou‘s Utsuho Reiuji. This is probably on purpose when you take into consideration who created the original manga…
During Nene’s time on Cenancle Island, she meets a colourful cast of characters, ranging from the incredibly adorable Amy to the always ready to help Robert Altman. Oh, and I suppose I should mention the world’s unluckiest reporter, Vli-
So Nene and Clarion do happen to get caught up in terrorist incidents and help to save the day on occasion, but as stated in the narration during one of the episodes, this is a story of ‘girl-meets-girl’. The two girls in question are Nene and Clarion, naturally. Whilst it’s pretty much love at first sight for Nene, Clarion takes some time to warm up to her partner. However, watching their relationship develop is definitely well worth it.
The ‘girl-meets-girl’ thing is just one part of the whole, however. Throughout the entire series, there’s a shadowy organisation trying to access BUER, an incredibly powerful weapon that shows its devastating power at the beginning of the series. In fact, everything with a connection to Uzal draws interest from many places.
There’s some neat action scenes here as well, often after Nene uses the Pandora Device.
Ah yes, the Pandora Device. Nene activates it by putting her fingers into Clarion’s nether regions, and this is all shown on screen. Of course, since both girls aren’t entirely human, there’s a mechanical twist to it, but I’d imagine it would make for some awkward viewing if someone not well-versed in anime walked in on you watching the scene. It doesn’t help that it seems to get lewder as the series progresses…
The fact that they are both cyborgs means that the anime can, and does, show both Nene and Clarion completely naked without any censoring – because there’s nothing to censor. This is that kind of anime.
The pay-off of the Pandora Device tends to be pretty spectacular, though. Whether it be Nene becoming incredibly proficient with firearms or becoming a skilled chef, it’s pretty neat to see how she uses her newfound powers. The only downside to the Pandora Device is a time limit, so Nene can’t keep her abilities for prolonged periods of time.
There’s some decent humour as well. Whether it’s Clarion’s deadpan reaction to everyone calling her ‘Cla-ring’ or just Uzal in general, there’s a few moments here that could make you crack a smile. Most notable is a particular event in the final episode that concerns a certain stash of pictures. Buer’s ‘third leg’ gag does get repeated a little too much, but Clarion is generally on hand to shut him up.
A story where a girl meets a girl, they form a close bond and try to achieve world peace whilst a beautiful narcissistic scientist pulls everyone’s strings from behind the scenes. Nene and Clarion are great together, the cast of characters are varied and interesting and the whole ‘BUER’ plot is interesting. Serious and silly moments mesh well together, making for some great viewing.