Princess Principal Addendum

Here’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Not too long ago, I actually got the chance to sit through all of Princess Principal a second time at my college’s anime club (which may or may not have been my decision since I’m a board member…). I rarely get the chance to rewatch anime in general and there’s some things I neglected to blog about. So before I finally get a review of this show out (need to find time for that…), here’s an addendum to my blog series.

Just as a side note, I won’t give my thoughts about the art and sound of Princess Principal (something that I should’ve commented on more during the blog series). I’ll be saving those thoughts for the review (though I will say, I really loved how the show looks and sounds).

Update (12/17/2017): AnimeNewsNetwork released an interview with series director, Masaki Tachibana. There, Tachibana elaborates on some of the plot elements I brought up in this post. In light of the new information, some additional notes have been added.

Team White Pigeon

I have talked extensively about Team White Pigeon but here are some additional thoughts.

Ange — I’ve written in different posts how Ange is the most open about lying and how her final bits of character development was opening up to her friends. In retrospect, those two aspects of Ange’s character seem awfully connected to each other. Everyone else (besides Beatrice) has something to lie about but there is a degree of discomfort to that act. Even Princess ends up letting the cat out of the bag in the finale and a scene in Episode 4/Case 9 reveals that she wish she didn’t have to pretend about her connection to Ange. It doesn’t seem unintentional in the slightest that the one who lies the most about herself takes the longest to admit that she sees her teammates as friends. Her development also supports two recurring and conflicting themes in the show: lying and friendship. While Ange lies as one of her means to survive, in the end, it was her trusting her friends that helped her save Princess in the final episode.

Princess — It never ceased to amaze me just how headstrong Princess is. It is a little bit funny that she never fights in the show and whenever she does, Ange usually whisks her away before she can get any action but I love that Princess makes full use of her royal status, charm, and beauty. There is something really cool seeing her talk to nobles in private about their nefarious dealings. In a number of episodes, Princess views herself as dull and empty which secretly attributes to the fact that she is more or less playing the part of a royal to survive. I frankly agree with Ange that she keeps selling herself short. Sure, she more or less forced herself to be a princess but she really has earned that title and role and it’s obvious that she genuinely cares about the people around her and the kingdom.

Update — So, something I didn’t pick up as much as other fans was the fan theory that Ange and Princess have a romantic relationship. I’m not sure why I didn’t originally bring that up in my Blog Series or this Addendum because I did feel like the subtext really hinted at it. Their little moments together in the finale were pretty darn intimate for example. Director Masaki Tachibana said the staff didn’t have romance in mind though he also said that he’ll leave it up to the viewers whether Ange and Princess’s relationship is romantic in nature. I don’t completely subscribe to the idea though I definitely see why some fans came to that conclusion.

Dorothy — It really wouldn’t be a spy show without something sexy going on. While Dorothy is pretty badass in her own right, it is kind of funny how everyone has a unique gadget or skill and Dorothy’s unique asset is…well, her assets. That part of her character is handled pretty well, especially since half of her wardrobe is actually quite modest. Honestly, it’s funnier that even with the outfits that do expose some cleavage, Dorothy still needs to pull her top down for maximum seduction. I also like that, despite being the leader of the team, Dorothy can be pretty chill about her job. I love how even when she just needs to act drunk, she still drinks some booze in advance because why not.

Beatrice I’ll never get over the fact that Beatrice’s spot in the roster is 100% justified because she’s part-robot. I can imagine that Ange and Dorothy’s plan was to axe her off but once you meet a girl who can manipulate far more capable spies with her voice, it’s hard to pass that ability up. I’m so glad that she’s been a part of the adventure though. Not only is Beatrice adorable, I like that we do have one character who doesn’t lie (and is probably bad at lying if she were to try). It’s a nice contrast to everyone else; someone who 100% friendly, has nothing to hide, and is very open to her teammates.

Chise — Upon rereading my posts, I noticed that I was a tad bit paranoid in Episode 5/Case 7 when I saw Chise join the team while knowing that she is spying on them on the behalf of her country. In the end, Chise wasn’t really manipulating any of her teammates and part of her arc was actually just trying to fit into the team while living in a new world. I still wondered if she’d stick through with her buddies because this is a samurai who committed patricide to uphold her family honor and remain loyal to her master. After Episode 9/Case 11 however, it seem more likely that she’d have he friends’ backs and that was confirmed in the finale when she chooses to leave Lord Horikawa to hep them.

Those Little Phrases…

Black Lizard Planet — I was waiting to see what exactly the phrase “Black Lizard Planet” meant but even after going through the show twice, there clearly was never a proper explanation. I actually kind of respect that decision; Ange dupes almost everyone in the show so why not have her dupe the people watching it. I did, however, have a few ideas as to what the phrase means:

  1. Ange is referring to the Farm and the “black lizards” are spies. This could explain why Ange briefly panicked when Chise asked if the planet is where she learned martial arts (and you can easily infer that Ange did get the training at the Farm).
  2. Ange is referring to Albion pre-revolution and the black lizard she is referring is actually herself. This theory kind of sprung up when I noticed that Ange incorporated her past into the Black Lizard Planet “canon” that she was sharing with Julie. There is also that bit in the OP where Ange briefly turns into some weird, black lizard thing, so it’s possible that she actually is referring to herself.
  3. Ange is a chronic liar and the Black Lizard Planet native just likes annoying her teammates. No evidence, just watch the show.

Update — Judging from the new information in the ANN interview, I guess I wasn’t horribly off. Tachibana said it serves as an obvious signal to the audience that Ange’s lying but it also allows her separate her past from her current self. It’s a pretty interesting trait as half of what Ange says in regard to the Black Lizard Planet is clearly false but if someone knew what she was up to, they could figure out that she’s the real princess. The only thing that’s truly an enigma then is the phrasing itself. Tachibana says that only the writer, Ichiro Ohkouchi, knows what it means but kept it a secret from everyone else in the staff. That’s a decision I can respect.

Operation Changeling — I didn’t really talk much about Operation Changeling but in my defense, Control was procrastinating on their objective so I sometimes forgot about it. When I really think about it, the whole name is a pretty ironic considering that the one pulling the switcheroo would be the actual princess of Albion. The very word choice of “changeling” is also interesting. In folklore, a changeling is a being who secretly substitute a child. A pretty fitting creature to refer to given the fact that Ange and Princess swapped places. And the operation name gets even more ironic since technically Ange is the one who actually got replaced and thus, Princess would be the real changeling.

More Thoughts on Episode 8/Case 20

I flat out admitted that Ep. 8/Case 20 was a doozy when I wrote my post on it but watching it a second time, there were two big moments that I somehow missed.

First was the little exchange between Ange and Princess when they were kids. I don’t know how I missed this, but their conversation mirrors the one they share in Episode 2/Case 1 (which is when they’re much older). I really love this touch and it’s really interesting how the conversation still carries the same meaning even after Ange and Princess swapped places. Both times, Princess says she’s a dull girl and Ange says she wants to be friends because they’re polar opposites. Even after so much has happened in their lives, their friendship is still based on the same principle (…pun not intended), they come from different walks of life.

The second scene I want to address is the piano scene at the end. I did actually mention this scene in my post but what I failed to acknowledge was the fact that Ange and Princess are playing a piano rendition of the ED, “A Page of My Story”. That choice of song is noteworthy given the lyrical content of the vocal version. There’s a line where the main cast of the show sing about a scene they “repeat in [their] soul” before talking about they are now free and can look forward to what’s to come. In the context of the eighth episode, the so-called “scene” could easily be the day of the revolution. But now that Ange and Princess are together again, they can press onward with a smile. How fitting that during this scene, Ange and Princess are playing piano on the same page; something that the two couldn’t do growing up. The phrase “a page of my story” is probably a nod to the show’s narrative structure and how we’re given bits and pieces to piece together one whole story. Having Ange and Princess play on the same page reflects that they are now going through their “story” together.

Update — Third, I somehow completely missed the fandom’s speculation that this episode was inspired by Mark Twain’s novel The Prince and the Pauper. And yes, in the ANN interview, Tachibana confirmed that the staff took some cues from it. Now that I think about it, I do see the similar plot points and the allusion is pretty darn cool. I especially like how Princess Principal diverges from the ending, leading up to a revolution that’s reminiscent of the Storming of the Bastille. Again, I really dig the allusion…I just wish I noticed that during the two times I sat through the whole show.

Conclusion

And that concludes my addendum to Princess Principal. Honestly, I can’t believe I neglected to mention this much stuff. Granted, I am still a rookie when it comes to blogging about recent and current anime. It wasn’t like I skimmed through these twelve episodes either. Still, I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed as someone who enjoys analyzing anime. At one point, I actually wanted to rewrite and re-post my entire Blog Series with this new information and observations added in. I might still do that but perhaps when some more time has passed. For now, I’ll settle with this addendum.

And yes, I still plan on writing an overall review on this show (as well as other things). I’ve just been so busy with life in general and I already have the Fall 2017 anime to worry about. When I finally have a lot of time to spare, like in a vacation or something, I will definitely write it.

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