Yep, that was a doozy!
I’ve speculated a fair amount about Ange and Princess’s friendship in the past and while I admit that I ended up being a bit off the mark, this episode surprised me in a very, very good way.
At first, I had expected Princess Principal to perhaps do a “Case 0” of sorts; an entire episode dedicated to Ange and Princess’s backstory. That being said, I really liked how this episode chose to present the big reveal with Ange recounting the story to a little girl as though it is purely fiction. And without context, it kind of does come across as a fairy tale or myth.
One has to wonder why Charlotte (Ange) and Ange (Princess) look so similar. They look so similarly right down to their faces, their hair colors, and their hairdos. With only a few little details, it is no wonder that the royal staff mistook one for the other. I have feeling there is an explanation for the similarity but it is perhaps a detail saved for later. At the forefront is the tragedy that Charlotte and Ange lived through. There is no crazy conspiracy behind the switch. Charlotte and Ange simply wanted to trade places for a day. Neither of them knew that on the same day, the poor would storm the royal castle and begin the revolution that would split Albion apart. It’s an innocent act that went horribly awry. At first, I expected the two girls to be separated the second Charlotte ventured into the streets but I think it’s more effectively tragic that it happens when the revolution begins. Just as a country split apart, these two friends are separated for several years.
And this scene alone is awfully packed with thematic and referential content. I’ve started to notice that Princess Principal takes inspiration from a lot of historical events. The storming of the palace is reminiscent of the Storming of the Bastille and the aftermath is a sort of Berlin Wall situation. Even Charlotte and Ange being doppelgangers reminds me of the many imposters who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia. I also find it curious that Charlotte first met Ange through a hole in the wall. It appears to be direct contrast to the wall that splits London apart. Here, Ange crosses through a wall to be with her friend. And while I’m at it, the OP of Princess Principal is called “The Other Side of the Wall” and has a verse that says “get across the wall”.
Now, I really have to comment on how strong Ange (Charlotte) and Princess (Ange) are as characters. I can only imagine just how frightened and stressed Princess must’ve been; trapped in a whole different world and forcing herself to familiarize with it to avoid being exposed and killed. Princess ended up being really good at being a royal but no doubt, her childhood has taken a toll on her. And it’s evident that Ange feels extremely guilty about this. Not only does she directly apologizes to Princess, she even takes the time to explain to Julie why fate was cruel for both of them. I think Ange keeps calling her friend “Princess” (in spite of Princess’s objections) and tells her she’s more deserving of the title because Ange feels it’s the least she can do for her friend for all of her hard work. And Ange must’ve been really confused when Princess first told her than that she wants to become queen and change the world. If anything, Princess ought to be tired of acting as a royal and would want to run away with Ange. It’s only when Ange realizes that Princess shares the same dream that she had when she was little does Ange decide to support her friend.
Thing is, I think Ange is really selling her own struggles short. There’s a few times where Princess calls herself “empty” because all of her diligent training was to keep up an act and the same could honestly be said about Ange. Like Princess, Ange had to become good at thievery, self-defense, and (later) spying to survive. Both girls actually suffered the same fate: getting trapped in each other’s world and forcing themselves to adapt to it in order to survive. They’re both products of this unfortunate change of events.
As haunting as their past may be, Ange and Princess seem to be moving forward. They’re together after so many years of being apart (and in Princess’s case, assuming that Ange died). I really like that the episode ends with the two of them playing piano together for old time’s sake. While their lives have significantly changed and they’re both very different people now, they are still the closest of friends. While their future is uncertain (especially with their plan to make Princess the Queen), they’re at least facing it together.
- I really like how Ange befriended Julie. I think Ange saw a bit of herself in the little girl which is why she taught the girl how to pickpocket. Interestingly, Ange telling Julie her past is the one time where Ange is completely truthful about herself.
- I wonder if the orphanage Ange wrote the letter to is the orphanage Ange ended up in after being separated from Princess.
- Ange using the C-Ball to mess with Julie’s abusive guardian was great! To be honest, I think Ange could’ve just beaten the guy up or shoot him. It’s like Ange used her gadget to tell the man, “you’re really not worth it.”
- There’s an interesting exchange between Chise and Princess where Chise elaborates that she only works hard for the things that she really enjoys. Admittedly, that would suggest that Chise really likes killing but it’s still an interesting contrast. Whereas Princess works out of obligation, Chise would rather work out of interest.
- The rest of Team White Pigeon ended up having minor roles this episode but that’s fine. The focus needed to be on Ange and Princess this time around. Still, I really love the little moments we get with the others. I cracked up seeing Chise spying on the count by hanging upside down on a tree. And of course, Dorothy would bring booze to a stakeout.