I’m sure everyone has experienced the loss of a beloved character. Fiction is rife with sacrificial characters. It just sucks when it’s someone you like. Corpse Princess did that to me, but did she really need to die?
Corpse Princess (Analysis) – Did She Need to Die?
For this post, I’m going to be focusing on the events in the first season of Corpse Princess. More specifically, the events involving Minai Ruo and her contracted monk, Shuji Isaki. We were introduced to Minai later in the story than Makina which makes sense. She showed us a very different way for a Shikabane to behave. Unlike Makina, Minai was warm and apologetic. She spoke to Ouri and seemed surprised when he was kind to her in return. Of course, she came from a place where kindness had been limited.
If I jump forward for a second, at the end of the second season, there was an OVA which showed us how Minai became a Shikabane and how she ended up being contracted to Shuji. She was in a very abusive relationship where her boyfriend no doubt hit her and worse. Well, enough was enough. She defended herself with a knife, stabbing him in the back. He fell back, driving the blade through his chest. Shocked at what she had done, she took her own life by jumping off the rooftop. Only, she didn’t die. Well, not really.
Originally, the monks had identified Keisei as a suitable contracted monk as he had a connection with her through her job in a cosplay cafe which he frequented… He denied it but was fooling no one. In the end, he refused to take the contract so Shuji stepped up, claiming to have a connection. He was lying, but they went through with it anyhow. The contract seemed flimsy at best, but that can’t have been helped by Shuji’s indifference towards Minai. He treated her like a dog, expecting her to sleep on the floor. He begrudged feeding her too, since she didn’t need to eat.
Eventually, it turned out that they did have a connection from when they were children and that was enough to allow the contract to hold. That didn’t change Shuji’s attitude towards her, but then he had planned on using her to kill his brother who took all of the inheritance. Basically, Shuji was an awful person and treated Minai terribly. That made her time with Ouri special. He thanked her for saving him. He talked to her like a girl and not a corpse. She seemed to be finding a new way to continue thanks to Ouri’s compassion. Red flag!!!
Next, the worst thing imaginable happened. Ouri was with Minai when Shuji was murdered by a couple of street thugs he had gotten into a fight with previously. Minai knew as soon as it happened. She felt the contract break and knew what that meant. If she didn’t find a new contract soon, she would die or become a regular Shikabane, putting Ouri at risk. However, when the other Shikabane Himes came to take care of Minai, Ouri stopped them, running away with Minai. He hid her at the restaurant he worked, unaware that the boss and chef were inspectors for the monks.
Ouri ran for help, maybe searching for Keisei for answers. While he was gone, Minai died. We don’t know whether it was Sadahiro and Akira or another inspector but that seems irrelevant. Akira did ask Sadahiro why he didn’t set Ouri up with a contract there and then. It would have saved her. He refused to get involved, especially knowing Ouri’s relationship to Keisei. Minai’s death hit me harder than anything else in the first and second seasons. It made the OVA infuriating because instead of giving us some hope that Minai didn’t have it too bad, it just confirmed how awful everything had been for her until she met Ouri.
So, why did they kill her? I talked about it in my review of season one, pointing out that it raised the stakes. Making it someone that we should sympathise with raised them a little more. The fact that it happened to Ouri was intentional. He needed to see what would happen to a Shikabane Hime when their contract is cancelled. As much as I loved Minai, she wasn’t the main character. That was Makina and Ouri so they were always destined to be forced into a contract and Minai’s death made it so that he couldn’t refuse.
The real gut punch for me was when they revealed that contracts can be transferred. Ouri could have saved Minai and then passed the contract to another. I feel like this fits in with the list of other things that seemed to go wrong in the second season. A lot of the rules that were set out were broken or forgotten to allow the plot to work in a specific way. So, looking back at it, Minai did not need to die. However, her death was probably more powerful than anything she could have done by staying alive, especially as a fairly minor side character. It hurts, but it was a necessary development in the story.
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One – Aka
- Season Two – Kuro
- Did She Need to Die?