I’ll be blunt: I consider these last two episodes of Princess Principal the weakest in the series. Is it “jumping the shark” bad? No. In fact, I wouldn’t go so far as to call these two episodes bad as there’s plenty to like about them. Still, there’s something about them that feels rushed. I don’t know if that correlates to anything behind the scenes. Apparently, the screenplays for Episodes 11 and 12 aren’t credited to head writer Ichiro Okouchi but someone else in the staff but chances are, Okouchi was still involved in some way. Regardless of whether or not the people were scrambling to wrap this show up, it does comes across that way in execution.
Picking up where the last episode ended, the plot this time around is that Control wants Princess assassinated and Ange must find some way to get her friend out of this bind. Why this is even happening at all is explained gradually throughout the episode. 7 reveals to Ange that the military has seized control of Operation Changeling. You later find out at the end that the plan is to have Ange assume Princess’s identity so that the latter can be used to rally soldiers in the Royal Army and stage a coup that could win the war for the Commonwealth.
Honestly, this is actually a great setup on paper. It’s a plausible and even exciting way for the plot to move forward and it would effectively wrap up the plot of Operation Changeling. The problem lies more in the execution. Past episodes did establish the military’s impatience with Control and the Principal as well as there being commoners within the military despite the unrest it would cause. However, these details are also brought up so sparingly and so sporadically, to the point that I couldn’t blame you if you blinked and missed them. I can’t deny that there was foreshadowing but I can question whether or not it was sufficient foreshadowing. On top of that, it does feel a little weird having PriPri be so plot-driven. You look at the past ten episodes and as fun as their respective missions have been, they function as backdrops in service to character development than the narrative. Suddenly, you now have to pay close attention to all the overarching stuff.
Suffice to say, neither Ange nor Dorothy wants to kill Princess. True to her personality, Ange lies and agrees to the mission and this leads to a heated scene with Dorothy. Like with the ending of Episode 10, this scene does an excellent job exploring the relationship between our two veteran spies. Other than Princess, Dorothy knows Ange the best. Ange might pretend to be committed to the mission but Dorothy sees right through it, confident that Princess is a dear friend of hers. Really, Dorothy’s anger at Ange ends up being fueled by the fact that even in a conversation between just the two of them, Ange still lies to her even if her true feelings are clear as day. Nevertheless, it’s because Dorothy knows Ange well enough that the former allows the latter a head start to check on Princess.
The rest of the episode forces Ange to deal with the problem alone. Dorothy gets transferred out of the Principal due to her objections over killing Princess. Horikawa hears rumors of the coup and thus pulls Chise out of the team. Chise does offer her assistance, believing she ought to return the hospitality her friends gave her, though Ange decides to not trouble her. As for Beatrice, I’m not sure what her deal is. She doesn’t seem to be attached to Operation Changeling but you still see her acting as Princess’s aide. It’s like Control isn’t bothering with her which is just plain funny if that is the case. For all intents and purposes, Ange is alone in keeping Princess.
A lot of new and unfamiliar spies take charge of the operation. The most prominent of which is the new leader, Zelda (Mie Sonozaki). I didn’t really discuss this character when I first covered PriPri and while that’s partly negligence on my part, I can’t really blame my past self here. Zelda is frankly a pretty bland character. She’s presented as a spy so good that Ange can barely deceive her but that frankly makes her rather overpowered, for lack of a better term. Whereas other guest characters largely have some personal connection to our main five, Zelda could be replaced by anyone and nothing would’ve been changed. Also, being a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda, that name horribly confuses me.
Eventually, Ange does hatch up a scheme. In fact, she flips Operation Changeling upside down by having both her and Princess switch outfits and wear wigs to trick the guards and escape. Also clever of Ange is using her and Princess’s recollection of tricking people with their appearances as shorthand for explaining to Princess what the two of them need to do. The most entertaining thing about the scene is seeing Princess impersonate Ange, right down to the voice. After establishing their resemblance to one another, one had to wonder if Princess could pull it off just as well as Ange could pull off impersonating her. It would’ve been a missed opportunity if the show didn’t do that at least once.
Everything seems to be going well up until Princess realizes Ange is taking her away from Albion. Once again, Princess doesn’t want to leave because she’s hellbent on becoming Queen and restoring peace to Albion. Knowing the two of them are a standstill, Princess locks Ange in a cargo hold and parts way with her. What surprises me is how harshly Princess talks to Ange throughout all this. She accuses Ange of taking control of her life which is rather unfair to say. Ange always regretted putting her best friend on the path of royalty and Princess assumed her place by chance, not of Ange’s own accord. Another point is when she talks about how scared Ange used to be and that she always hate that about her. That sounds contradictory when you consider the line in Episode 4 where Princess says it’s the old Ange she misses and loves most. Of course, considering that this is PriPri we’re talking about, you have to wonder if how honest Princess is being here. The tear she sheds as she tells Ange how much she detest here is a big clue as to where she actually stands here.
The episode ends with Princess meeting with Zelda and the other spies, pretending to be Ange pretending to be her (that’s not confusing at all). I have to wonder how Princess got her outfit back considering that Ange is currently wearing it and she got locked in an airship…but that’s a minor continuity error so whatever. When I first watched PriPri, I was really wondering what’s going to happen next. Team White Pigeon is split up and Princess just ditched her best lifeline so she’s on her own dealing with a coup she that neither foreseen nor desired. It definitely left me impatient for the following week. I’ll of course be going over what happens next in the next episode review but I will quickly say that even if this two-parter is rushed, I still find the finale pretty darn satisfying.