Princess Principal – Ep. 12 (Series Finale)

Obviously, this final episode doesn’t mark the end of Princess Principal anymore, not when we have a six-part sequel film series on the horizon. Really, I’m only using the “Series Finale” label because it is the last episode of the TV series and Crown Handler isn’t technically a second season despite being a direct sequel. That said, this was the original conclusion to PriPri and until Crown Handler got greenlit, it got the job done.

Continuing right after where the last episode ends, Zelda reveals that she knows Princess is the real one (oh, the irony) and not Ange in disguise. She also elaborates further on the coup. Apparently, the plan is destined to fail and the Commonwealth wants that to happen and use Princess as their scapegoat so that they have an opportunity to invade the Kingdom. Princess now finds herself trying to prevent the rebels for needlessly dying for this cause and saving her own hide. Meanwhile, Team White Pigeon band together to rescue her.

As undercooked as this two-parter have been, it’s the friendship of Team White Pigeon that makes it work for me. In particular, we get some very satisfying character development for Ange. As it turns out, all she needs to do to save Princess is ask her friends for help. It’s a remarkably simple solution that you can see coming but it works really here after watching Ange spend the entire last episode trying to tackle things alone. Even better is that we get to see a rarer, more honest side of her as she admits her shortcoming and shows genuine relief that the others are lending a hand.

And land a hand they do. Dorothy and Beatrice were apparently waiting for Ange to meet with them, having been laying low in the military’s attempted coup as per the government’s orders. I especially like that Dorothy pretended that those aren’t her orders just so that she can get Ange to finally admit that she sees her as a friend. Later in the episode, Chise musters the audacity to convince Horikawa to let her leave and help the team. With that, we see Chise finally choosing her feelings over her duties. If the strength of Team White Pigeon’s dynamic wasn’t evident in the past, it’s certainly capitalized here.

With the team largely back together, you of course get to see them in action once again. Dorothy, Ange, and Beatrice get chased by guards and I won’t lie, the whole scene is awesome. Tons of soldiers corner them and board artillery vehicles. At one point, Dorothy drives on the walls of a tunnel to better evade her pursuers. Just when you think the three are screwed, Chise arrives and buys them enough time to escape. Ange and Chise team up to fight Zelda while Dorothy and Beatrice tricks the crowd into escaping the cathedral. It’s all easily up there as one of my favorite set pieces in the entire show.

As for Princess, it seems that she too finds herself unable to tackle things on her lonesome. She does an admirable enough job. The bit where she tricks the rebels’ leader into telegraphing the location of a key needed for the coup is really clever (she definitely learn that from Ange). It just so happens that Zelda is consistently one step ahead of her (which again, makes Zelda a rather boring antagonist). Kind of like how Ange openly pleads for her friends’ help, what gets Princess out of her respective predicament is by being honest. And I do mean honest as she flat out confesses to everyone in the room that she’s not the real princess.

That’s definitely a really risky move on Princess’s part. Everyone seems more confused than anything else but I have to wonder if this might come into play later in Crown Handler. If it ultimately doesn’t, at least we got some valuable information regarding Princess’s character. We’ve known Ange feels guilty for letting her best friend take her place but the feeling really is mutual. Changing the country should’ve been Ange’s goal but she’s been so removed from royalty that she’s no longer the right person for the role. With the ambition now resting with Princess, she feels obligated to see it realized, both because she wants to but also as penance for taking the life away from her best friend. What also gets me is how realistic Princess is about this. She knows that to change the country, she has to be the last monarch and if that entails her execution then so be it. I’m assuming this is meant to her show of resolve but with how guilty she feels and her self-loathing in past episodes, I can’t help but be concerned if this is hinting at something darker.

Was I surprised that Princess lied to Ange last episode? Not really; I had a feeling that she was acting unusually cruel to begin with. As it turns out, Princess is more than okay with Ange wanting to run away. It’s just that she can’t do that herself. Since she knows Ange would disagree, she most likely acted the way she did last episode to make it easier for Ange to hate her.

Still, Princess’s actions end up producing a change in Ange that she perhaps had hoped to see this whole time. Throughout the whole season, Princess has been able to use Ange’s soft spot for her to help her best friend open up more. In this episode, Ange freely admits that she sees her teammates as friends and that’s largely because Princess’s words really got to her. It’s evident from the fact that Princess has kept Ange’s beret all this time that Princess really does cherish the old Ange. But combined with her lie, it also suggests that Princess still thinks that the old Ange is buried within the current one and didn’t truly think Ange became a completely different person. I doubt Princess deliberately risked her friendship for all this but if her goal was to help Ange to open up more, it certainly got accomplished here.

There are number of things left open-ended. For starters, the Duke of Normandy and his forces find Princess’s hat, left behind by Team White Pigeon during the chase scene. To what exact conclusion he comes to is unclear but it’s safe to assume that he does suspect Princess in some way. That merits concern as the man has been trying to get Princess removed from Albion in past episodes. Zelda retreats and you’re left to assume she’s still at large. It’s also worth mentioning that Zelda has a C-Ball of her own which is surprising as the implication is that only Ange has one. Really, you have to wonder if the infighting within the Commonwealth is truly over. L returns to his post, kicking General out, and Team White Pigeon are called back into action after a much-deserved vacation. On the surface, it appears that things are back to normal but who’s to say there still aren’t people who desire a more violent clash with the Kingdom. Obviously, these are all meant to leave the door open for a sequel and well, we are getting a sequel now.

And so ends Princess Principal though obviously, this isn’t technically the end anymore as we have Crown Handler on the horizon. The first installment just recently got a new release date – February 11, 2021 – though I take that with an asterisk since who knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. From my understanding, Crown Handler will be a direct follow-up to the TV series’ finale. I’ll admit, that isn’t the first thing I had in my mind for a continuation. Personally, I’m more curious about the missing 12 cases in the TV series’ supposed total of 24 (and director Masaki Tachibana confirm there were ideas for them). I also really question the fact Crown Handler is a film series as opposed to a television season. As if what I really want is for PriPri to be churned out so inconsistently, especially with the pandemic slowing down everything to begin with. Still, I’m glad that more Princess Principal is being made at all. As one of the best anime of 2017, it deserves it.

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