It was about time we got an episode following Chise’s perspective. Considering that she’s a Japanese assassin studying and spying abroad in Albion (aka Alternate England), there obviously had to be a story behind how Chise is dealing with living in an remarkably different nation. As such, I would consider this episode to be most “slice of life” Princess Principal has ever gotten, right down to the fact that we see Team White Pigeon in school. I almost forgot that these girls even go to school.
Now I’ll confess that I really love seeing characters attempt to adapt to a new culture, provided that it’s not done in a super offensive manner. And the first half of this episode very much fulfilled that comedic niche for me. It’s hard to not crack up as Chise played cricket while holding the bat like it’s a katana (complete with a Persona cut-in) or when she paints a ukiyo-e style portrait of Beatrice. I particularly really like the depiction of food that reflects Chise’s perspective of English and Japanese culture. The animators do a good job presenting English toast and an egg cooked sunny sided up look gross while also making the Japanese delicacies Chise prefer look just as strange to the viewer. I do have wonder though: has anyone in Team White Pigeon taken Chise to a fancy restaurant? I don’t know if eating school cafeteria food is the best way to gauge the culinary culture of another country.
Things do take a more serious turn halfway through the episode. I mean, this is the 19th century so it was inevitable that Chise would be confronted with a racist classmate (the guy even calls Chise an “oriental” girl). That said, the duel scene did provide some neat action. Obviously, that dirtbag had the pistols rigged but that doesn’t stop Chise from using her school uniform’s ribbon to sling a bullet into him. I’m amazed his classmates dared to demand fairness; it’s pretty obvious that Chise can easily kill them all.
To my surprise, the one who helps Chise during this conflict is Princess. She explains the rules of a Western duel to Chise and even arranges the match for her. Princess even has Team White Pigeon celebrate Chise Japanese-style which is silly but she means well. I already really like Princess but the fact that she is so welcoming to Chise and doesn’t like seeing racism slide really speaks to her nobility (which is a bit funny since she is not of royal blood). And I find it interesting that by the end of the episode, Chise admits that she wants Princess to succeed. I imagine she’s still loyal to Japan and she still can’t confirm that the Commonwealth is worth siding over the Kingdom. But if there is one thing this episode confirms, it’s that Chise really does see Princess as a friend.
- One neat thing about this episode being more “slice of life” than usual is that Chise explains to her sister (and effectively the viewer as well) what Team White Pigeon’s daily life is like. We see how Dorothy signals for a debrief and how they evade people who are keeping an eye on Princess.
- Introduced in this episode was Lily Gaveston, the daughter of the Kingdom’s Chief Justice who is spying on Princess’s activities. I’m amused that even at school, espionage is going on. For crying out loud, the Team wiretaps her at the end!
- I love how Lily tells Princess to ditch her friends and Princess retorts by suggesting that she should ditch her. Seriously, someone give Princess a mic to drop.
- Even Chise is on the same page as Ange that Dorothy pretending to be a teenager is a stretch. I also love how Chise envies the fact that Dorothy has a ‘woman’s weapon”. What on Earth has Chise been learning from her leader?
- I took notice of the scene where Chise admires a butterfly and connects metamorphosis to growing up. I almost forgot how young Chise is and this scene as well her talk about being useful for her nation and her team suggest that Chise ponders about what she wants herself to become.