Here’s where some clarification is in order. If you have watched Princess Principal back when it aired, then you’ll know that this episode isn’t the sixth one to have aired but rather the seventh. So what gives? On the series’ Blu-ray, both in U.S. and in Japan, as well as HIDIVE’s stream, Episodes 6 and 7 have swapped places and so have Episodes 8 and 9. I can’t tell you why that it is. The best info I could find is a reddit post where someone got a response from Sentai Filmworks saying the home video order is the one intended by the staff. Fair enough if that’s true but that then raises the question as to why these episodes aired in a different order to begin with. My only guess is certain episodes were finished earlier than others and thus aired first. Given PriPri‘s very flexible story structure, it’s plausible enough. Whatever the case may be, this is apparently the intended episode order so I decided to go with it for these re-reviews. It does feel weird, I’m quite used to the broadcast order, though I don’t think this significantly changes how PriPri is experienced.
Now, let’s actually talk about the episode at hand.
For the mission of the week, Team White Pigeon is tasked to identify a serial killer who has targeted various allies of the Commonwealth and uses nerve gas as his murder weapon. Since only the military has access to the nerve gas, the gang decides to work undercover at the local laundry mill and inspect the soldiers’ uniforms for traces left by the weapon. Despite the serious setup, this episode is actually one of the goofier ones in the series. In fact, the serial killer plot kind of slips into your subconscious as more emphasis is put on Team White Pigeon’s time at the laundry mill, bordering on cute girls doing cute things territory at times.
The first sign of the episode’s tone comes right at the beginning when our spies introduce themselves to the laundry mat staff under some pretty unoriginal aliases such as “Dorothea” and “Chieko”. Princess is a little more creative as “Priscila” is a riff on her title and not her real name though one has to wonder if it’s a good idea having such a public figure working undercover. Ange puts more effort into her cover, perhaps too much in fact. She pretends to be a delinquent and yes, it is as over the top as it sounds (really enjoyed Ayaka Inamura’s delivery here; so sad she had to retire from voice acting). Trust me, things get sillier from here.
As the team works at the laundry mill, it becomes clear that finding their needle in the haystack is further exacerbated by how inefficient the workplace itself is. All the equipment is in poor condition and the workflow is all the over the place. In turn, a lot of the girls who work there are unproductive. Things get worse when it’s revealed that the place is in debt and the loan sharks the foreman owes money to threatens to close the business down.
Those loan sharks, by the way, show up again in the next episode and they are actually the only thing that indicates that PriPri‘s broadcast order deviated from the intended order used for the home video releases. Them appearing in the next episode is meant to be a fun bit of continuity. I would however argue that it’s actually funnier seeing these guys appear out of order because then you’re wondering how our spies recognize them and you’ll have an aha moment when you get to this episode and find out why.
How our spies resolve the issues at hand is where things get sillier. Since the laundry mill closing down would complicate the mission, Princess decides to buy the entire place off from the lone sharks and become its foreman. Surprisingly, she somehow manages to pull this off without exposing her real identity. With the place entirely under their wing (pun not intended), Team White Pigeon pulls an all-nighter to renovate the entire place so that it’s more efficient and in better condition (this also results in a hilariously ragged Beatrice). And just when you think they’re done, they go the extra mile by helping the mill’s staff in getting more clients. It has no bearing on the mission and yet they do it anyway. It’s a really absurd sequence of events but it’s a really fun one. The best part of all this is when the episode cuts to Control and they barely buy that everything Team White Pigeon is doing is necessary to complete the mission.
For supporting characters, the staff at the laundry mill are quite charming. One girl is shown constantly eating food on the job. Another keeps tripping due to all the equipment on the ground. They’re really basic personality traits but they get the job done in making you invested in these extras. The most prominent of the bunch is Marilla (Yurina Furukawa), a veteran worker and the staff’s de facto leader. Chise forms a bond with her, at first questioning her leadership and later recognizing and respecting that she knows the staff and their equipment better than anyone. It’s such a fun relationship that it’s a shame that Chise leaves before properly saying goodbye to Marilla.
Naturally, this episode ends with the serial killer caught. Conveniently, his uniform gets sent to the mill and he goes there in order to take it back, only to get caught by Chise. Once our villain of the week has been captured, Team White Pigeon has to bid the mill farewell. A bit awkward that only Princess shows up to give the laundry staff the news. I would’ve at least want Chise to be there as things between her and Marilla are left awkward after the latter sees her apprehend the serial killer. At least Marilla imparts a message that Princess will no doubt relay to Chise.
More than any other episode, this one shows that the members of Team White Pigeon are good people. They’re involved in a lot of shady stuff due to their jobs but when the opportunity arises, their hearts are in the right place. Do they befriend the local workers, purchase the mill, and renovate the place to better achieve their mission? Yes but it’s also hard to deny that they are also motivated by a want to help improve those workers’ lives for the better. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have taken extra steps to do so such as helping them gain more clients.
What’s bittersweet is that the team leaves almost as though they were never there to begin with. The only proof they leave behind is the reorganized work space and the workers’ memories of them. In the end, the mill is back to doing laundry as normal and the team resumes their work as spies. The team won’t know if the mill will keep going strong without them just like how the mill will never know why they left or who they truly are.