Episode Title: “Case 2 – Vice Voice” — A direct reference to Beatrice’s ability to mimic voices with her mechanical throat. The word “vice” though is where the title gets clever. I imagine the most likely interpretation is that the word is functioning as a preposition meaning “to substitute” or “to be in place of”. It makes sense given Beatrice’s ability. However, “vice” can also be a noun meaning “immoral of wicked behavior”. In that sense, “vice” also refers to unethical actions of Beatrice’s father or, if we want to use the whole episode title, Beatrice using her device to her advantage as a spy.
While Episode 3 is primarily about Beatrice, it does start off with a continuation of Ange and Princess’s reunion from last episode. The main purpose of this scene is to confirm that despite all that acting she did at the ball, Princess genuinely plans on becoming Queen and change Albion for the better. Understandably, Ange is shocked over this. Not only did she apparently have an escape route all planned out but now her best friend truly is part of a very, very dangerous world. Princess does make a compelling counterpoint though: if she becomes Queen than she and Ange can just be together forever (the level of intimacy implied is of course being left to interpretation…).
There’s two other things about this scene that stand out to me. First is a line uttered by Ange where she tells Princess that becoming a spy is the only way she could “get across the wall”. The most obvious connection to make is the lyrics of Princess Principal‘s OP, “The Other Side of the Wall”. In fact, the same line is uttered before the chorus kicks in. However, this idea of crossing the wall and meeting with a friend does get brought up later in the series. Another bit worth keeping an eye on is the one where Ange says she’ll deceive everyone, including herself and Princess, to help her friend. I originally thought it was some throwaway line but it does foreshadow some of Ange’s actions and character development in the last two episodes.
After the OP, the episode shifts the spotlight over to Beatrice. About time too because of all the characters in Princess Principal, Beatrice is the one that you have to justify being a spy the most. At least with Princess, she’s got that royal clout going and as we saw last episode, she can talk the talk during a mission. You look at Beatrice and she just seems like the kind of person who would fluctuate between “I can do this!” and “Dear God, why did I agree to do this?!”. It’s not exactly spy material is it?
Sure enough, Beatrice joins the team rather reluctantly. While Princess is keeping her end of the bargain by first helping Ange and Dorothy out with infiltrating an airship for some plates, Beatrice is convinced that the spies can’t be trusted. To be fair, she has every right to feel that way. While not in the know about Operation Changeling, seeing Ange in disguise is enough of a cause for Beatrice to be suspicious (imagine her reaction if she found out who Ange really is…). Since no one in the Kingdom can be trusted either, poor Beatrice naturally takes it upon herself to make sure Ange isn’t putting Princess in danger and follows her onto the airship where the mission takes place. You can imagine how well that would go.
If you really think about it, the smart thing for Ange to do would be to straight up kill Beatrice. Dark I know but since Beatrice can’t fight and it’s safe to assume that she couldn’t last a minute in an interrogation, she is pretty much a liability. At first glance, she seems like dead weight and in the world of espionage, it would benefit a spy such as Ange to have her dead.
Would Ange actually pull the trigger though? I personally doubt it. As emotionless as she appears to be, she isn’t a heartless being and given where her loyalties lie, she would give any close friend of Princess a chance or at the very least tolerate them. And if she really wanted Beatrice off her shoulders, she would’ve let her drown in that tunnel of water instead of shooting her on the airship. If anything, her acting at odds with Beatrice is her way of helping the latter see the bigger picture. She tells Beatrice to get caught but she does so to remind Beatrice of the gravity of the situation. If any enemy finds Beatrice then Princess’s connection to the Commonwealth will be exposed and put the very friend Beatrice is trying to protect at risk. In other words, having a grudge against a spy really isn’t the best course of action to take right now and Beatrice comes to realize that.
Beyond Ange being a nicer girl than she lets on, Beatrice’s place in the team is 100% justified thanks to her ability to mimic voices. Director Masaki Tachibana explained in an interview that the staff realized that Beatrice needed something outstanding in order for a newcomer such as her to be on a team of expert spies. It makes sense. With an ability such as that, why would a spy pass that up? That said, I just love that staff happened to settle on Beatrice being part-robot. Seriously, how did they come to that conclusion? It’s a bit of a leap if you ask me. Not that I’m complaining though because it is hilarious and charming hearing such masculine voices come out of Beatrice’s mouth and it does create a unique gimmick for her.
Episode 1 admittedly gives away Beatrice’s ability though how Episode 3 leads into revealing the story behind it is still still well-executed. I won’t lie, it’s unsettling hearing Beatrice’s voice muffle and glitch with static. It’s the only time it happens in this show and thank goodness that is the case because I really didn’t want to hear it again when I originally watched this episode. I suppose Beatrice’s father never gets death beyond him being a mad scientist though it serves its purpose as a reason why Beatrice was experimented on. What does get rough to sit through is seeing Beatrice use pliers to fix her throat. Just…no. Seeing someone so innocent looking do something like that is too much for me.
At least Beatrice can finally put her ability to good use. At the start of the episode, she’s ashamed of it, as evident in her running off in tears once Ange and Dorothy find out. Being spy honestly makes her begin to at least appreciate its utility, allowing her to contribute to the team’s operations and by extension, help Princess in any way she can. This also refers back to what I was saying about Beatrice needing to see the bigger picture. When Ange finally is in danger, Beatrice realizes that she can’t do nothing but complain and decides to use whatever might be useful to survive for her sake and her friends’.
As usual, the action is very entertaining to watch. How it can it not when you have Ange running along the surface of an airship, dodging gunfire? I especially like how this scene incorporates the C-Ball. Episode 1 establishes that Ange has to let the gadget cool down, even putting it in a refrigeration container to speed up the progress. This episode really stresses that disadvantage as the gadget overheats, forcing Ange to speed things up before it malfunctions. It doesn’t put her life on the line (really, that was Beatrice’s job) but it does make things feel more hectic.
I quite like how Beatrice and Ange befriend it each other and it involves the concept of lies. Well, actually I guess it’s more along the lines of honesty. As the two skydive off the airship and on the off-chance that they crash and die, Beatrice very loudly declares how much Princess means to her and her resolve to be of use for the latter. It’s such a passionate speech that it actually compels Ange to smile, suggesting that she’s come to like her new associate. In an early scene, Ange tells Beatrice to take the plates and leave. Beatrice calls Ange mad but the spy once again counteracts by stressing the importance that no one finds out about Princess’s involvement. It’s the first, genuine moment where Ange expresses emotion and it makes Beatrice realize that Ange doesn’t care about money or politics or heroism but rather her friends. During the skydiving scene, Ange does say that she hates Princess but at this point. Beatrice sees through the lie and has already come to view Ange as a trustworthy friend.
The very last scene is extremely charming as you see Beatrice play along with Ange’s chronic lying. Princess and Dorothy’s reactions are especially priceless as they wonder what exactly happened at the airship that made their respective peers so close now. I think what impresses me though is that Beatrice does kind of get how the Black Lizard Planet phrase works. She catches on that Ange actually likes sugar in her tea and not salt as she claims and later gives sugar, calling it salt from the Black Lizard Planet. It’s very much in the same vein where Ange uses the phrase to separate a truth from herself. A shame Beatrice doesn’t catch on the trick entirely. When Ange said she and Princess met before at the Black Lizard Planet, she really wasn’t kidding.
English Dub Comments
God, the mechanical static when Beatrice’s voice glitches bugs me just as much in English as it does in Japanese. Bravo, Sentai.
Not going to lie, I’m really liking Shanae’a Moore as Beatrice. I might go as far as say it is my favorite performance in the dub so far. It is very different from Akari Kageyama’s performance but I quite enjoy seeing a dub approach things differently. Whereas Kageyama really sold Beatrice’s adorableness and timidness, I think Moore is doing a great job capturing the hidden confidence the character has. Also, Beatrice sounding so high class makes sense given her low noble status and her job as Princess’s attendant.
Everyone else seems to be getting more comfortable with their roles. I particularly got to hand it to Avery Smithhart this episode with how she sells Ange’s outburst during the climax of the episode. That was also a highlight in Ayaka Inamura’s performance so it’s nice to another actress replicate the success in a different language.
One nice little change to the script that I like is in the skydiving scene. In the sub (going by Amazon’s translation here), Ange says she “‘hates that stupid princess'”. The dub meanwhile, keeps that line but has Ange also call Beatrice a “bratty sidekick”. It’s a change I can accept since it helps make Ange’s newfound friendship with Beatrice a little more apparent.
Thanks for reading!
Featured image art originally by character designer Kouhaku Kuroboshi.
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