If Made in Abyss is the first Summer 2017 anime to surpass my already optimistic hopes and expectations, then Princess Principal is easily the second. It might even be a bigger surprise for me considering what I originally expected. The Victorian England setting and the espionage theme sounded cool enough. And in terms of presentation, visuals look great and who can deny a jazzy soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura? There was definitely something promising about Princess Principal but I suppose I played things safe and expected this to be a “cute girls doing cute things” show with an atypical premise. Well, Princess Principal does have cute girls (you can’t deny the character designs are marketable) but they’re not exactly doing cute things. In fact, it’s looking like it’ll be a stylish and legit spy series.
The first episode of Princess Principal immediately won me over. It starts off on an very cool and action-packed note and then slows down to show how these girls’ double lives as high schoolers and spies. I particularly really like the setting, Albion, which is an alternate version of Victorian England that has been split into two competing factions: the Kingdom (East) and the Commonwealth (West). But more intriguing than the setting is the show’s tone. Despite the cutesy appearances, the main characters operate in an awfully grey area. The main protagonist, Ange, is especially deceptive, even going as far as killing her own client of the week when she deduces that he’s a double agent. It’s an interesting dichotomy since there are times where I think the cast is charming and likable and times where they honestly kind of freak me out in how unrelenting they are. Overall, the pilot was a terrific start, so much so that I was compelled to watch the second episode right after.
While the first episode is great, I thought the next episode was even better. Perhaps the most curious thing about the episode is that it actually takes before the first episode. In fact, it shows us when Ange first meets the Princess (as well as her teammate, Dorothy, and Princess’s friend, Beatrice). The plot of Episode 2 itself is a very intense mind game with Ange impersonating Princess’s appearance and voice to gain political secrets only for Princess to reveal that she knows Ange and Dorothy are spies to begin with. There were a number of moments where I seriously gasped at how close Ange and Dorothy almost got caught.
Ange and Princess particularly stole the show for me in Episode 2. I just really love watching Ange act like a clumsy girl and then impersonate Princess. Meanwhile, I’m really intrigued with Princess’s decision to side with the Commonwealth so that she can eliminate the other heirs to the throne and become the queen. But I think what really sold me on the two is the big mystery surrounding them.
You see, at the end of the episode, you find out that Ange and Princess are not only lifelong friends but that Ange is the real Charlotte (Princess’s real name) and Princess is the real Ange. It’s a serious game changer and I’m shocked that it was revealed this early. It really changes at how you look at Ange and Charlotte’s characters. Like, when Princess said she aims to eliminate the other heirs and become Queen, was that something she really meant or was she secretly speaking on Ange’s behalf? It’s extremely possible that Ange and Princess have planned this scheme long before they reunited in this episode and that they are seriously deceiving both the Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
I was already sold on Princess Principal by Episode 1 but the mystery surrounding Ange and Princess has me even more hooked. I’m looking forward to watching more of this show and seeing where this story will go.
ED: “A Page of My Story” by the Cast of Princess Principal
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For all of my Princess Principal Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!
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