Princess Principal – Ep. 5

Besides Beatrice, Chise is the one among Princess Principal‘s main five characters whose presence needs some explaining. I mean, a samurai joining a team of English spies does sounds awesome but that very sentence merits an explanation as to what she’s doing in steampunk England in the first place. Hence where the fifth episode comes in. The funny thing is that if Princess Principal did air chronologically, you’d probably find Chise’s introduction to be extremely random. The nonlinear approach really works to her advantage as it gave you two episodes to get used to her being around and wait for the show to answer the question that was just waiting to be answered.

The fifth episode begins with Lord Horikawa arriving in Albion for a diplomatic meeting, meeting Princess and her friends at the dock. Chise isn’t actually part of Horikawa’s escort but has instead traveled to Albion and boarded the train of her own accord. She explains that she’s here for a chance to kill Jubei Todo, an assassin targeting Lord Horikawa and her father’s killer. Sure enough, Jubei shows up for the kill, having been tipped off by the Duke of Normandy (who hopes Princess will get caught in the ensuing carnage). Ange and Chise cooperate to stop Jubei from assassinating Lord Horikawa (and possibly Princess as well).

Considering how at odds Chise and Ange were “last time”, this episode almost serves to affirm that the two of them are ultimately friends at the end of the day. Both characters do start off a bit hostile towards one another as even if Chise’s sole intent is to kill Jubei, she’s nevertheless a new element in the situation. That naturally makes Ange put her guard up, especially since she’s on guard duty for Princess. Speaking of Princess, she’s the one who advocates for the two to partner up. There is of course a political angle, it’d be wise to keep good relations with another country, but it’s safe to assume it’s more that Princess wants Ange to make another friend.

In the following scene, you have Ange and Chise patrolling the train and passing by soldiers playing poker. Chise keeps grabbing a random card from someone, presumably curious of the foreign game, and Ange keeps confiscating the card and putting it in some other person’s hand. It’s certainly a funny scene, especially with the soldiers’ reaction to the girls’ shenanigans, though it’s peculiarly put together. In a sense, Ange and Chise are playing a game with each other, trying to decide if they can trust each other and if any of the information they’re imparting with each other is truthful or not. Chise grabbing random cards serves as a metaphor; it doesn’t matter what persona information she imparts or rather, what hand she has. Ange still doesn’t trust her.

Ironically, Ange is the one presumably gives false information as she gives her usual Black Lizard Planet claim. Much to Ange’s surprise though, Chise doesn’t give the usual, bewildered reaction but instead goes along with the conversation. It very quickly becomes apparent that Chise assumes Ange meant the moon. There’s also the possibility that she’s playing along with Ange’s lie. Nevertheless, Ange’s reaction is noteworthy. For a brief moment, she’s shocked and that implies that she wonders if Chise knows what the term Black Lizard Planet means. As I said in the Episode 1 review, what exactly the Black Lizard Planet means is purposefully kept vague and the term serves more to articulate Ange’s deceptive nature. Still, it apparently does mean something and I can’t help but wonder what it could be.

In terms of pure spectacle, the climatic action scene is very entertaining. A lot of that owes to the set piece which is Jubei and his men hijacking the Principal’s train with both trains on the verge of colliding into each other once the tracks merge. Ange uses the C-Ball to fly around and shoot down the enemies. Chise fights Jubei one on one with the former making great use of the otherwise tight space of the train. On top of being entertaining, the action really highlights Ange and Chise’s rapport with one another. They team up partially out of necessity but there is something genuine here. Ange recognizes that Chise truly wants to help and even smiles at the offer. Also, despite only knowing each other for a few hours, the two of them make an effective team. They coordinate a couple of maneuvers with the C-Ball and cover each other’s back before splitting up to individual tasks.

I’ll admit that I saw the twist that Jubei is Chise’s father all along coming a mile away but it does work in further developing Chise’s character. By making Jubei the father, PriPri creates a very personal dilemma. Chise has her reasons; she’s dutybound to protect her Lord and it’s mentioned that Jubei is no longer the same man who raised her after becoming an assassin. Nevertheless, Chise still kills her father and despite steeling herself for that, the reality does sink in after she buries him, It’s something to keep in mind as that conflict between her duties and her personal feelings does reappear later in the series.

Naturally, this episode concludes with Chise joining the soon to be named Team White Pigeon as part of an agreement with Horikawa and Control. The scene does feel a bit strange to watch as this plays after Episode 4 (which takes place after Episode 5) dropped the detail that Chise is a double agent for Japan. It’s also kind of surprising that Ange doesn’t even suspect anything with Chise joining the team. Helping keep Princess safe would certainly go a long way but even so, Ange seems smart enough to recognize the political implications. I suppose she does to a slight degree given her actions in Episode 4 though there’s little indication that she specifically suspects Chise’s true purpose. Plus, she clearly doesn’t suspect anything bad from Chise if she assigned her as Princess’s bodyguard. Even so, the tone of the scene is explicitly positive with Ange actually being the first to welcome her aboard and Chise happy to become part of the team.

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