Cute girls doing espionage missions in a 20th-century steampunk London, the center of a secret battleground between spies.
To me, as long as it has cute anime girls doing things that you normally wouldn’t see them do, I’m pretty sure I would give it a try. So I have just finished watching Princess Principal and I must admit, it was better than I expected. Having watched the premiere episode at AX 2017, my first impression back then was that the show had a lot of potential.
However, I forgot all about it mostly because it was on AnimeStrike and back then, the streaming service had a paywall. Thankfully, Amazon fixed that this year. I picked it up again this week and like I said, it lived up to my expectations and maybe even exceeded it.
The story is set in an alternate universe where Albion, the greatest empire in the world since the Roman Empire. After a conflict between its upper class and its working class, it was divided by a wall into two nations: The Commonwealth and the Kingdom. The political atmosphere between these two nations could be comparable to the Cold War, where the war was happening behind the scenes.The central plot of the show is about a team of spies who works for the Commonwealth, one of them being the Princess of the Kingdom.
The story is told in an episodic narrative, which means that the episodes are not set in chronological order. Think of it like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. In each episode, we see the cast go on different spy missions that would consist of different members of the team.
A lot of the reviews I saw on the /r/Anime and MyAnimeList had a lot of complaint about the episodic structure of the show. Comments such as “this episode felt like a filler” or “they just threw away the plot” filled up the weekly threads for the anime on the anime subreddit. In my opinion, these comments are very misguided. I thought that the “filler” episodes were very necessary so we can find out more about the girls.
Most of the episodes that seemed to be “filler-y” were set up brilliantly as we delve deeper into the girls’ backstories. And even though all of them have gone through such a troubled past, we can still see how their characters develop from the interactions between them during missions. After all, the show would have been bland if all we had were a group of spies who interacted in the bare minimum only to get the job done.
In fact, I think the way the show developed its characters was done perfectly as you can’t help but like all five of them by the end of the series. None of the characters feel like they were just “there” as each of them gets their own spotlight throughout the course of the show.
My favorite part has to be the episodes where we find out more about Ange, The Princess, and Chise, mostly because they were always hiding their true feelings behind a mask. The background story behind The Princess and Ange was perfect as we get to see why their intentions are what they are based on their tragic history. You could see how hard the Princess has worked and that made you appreciate her more, as she was shrouded in mystery for the most part of the series.
The episode where we get to see Chise’s perspective of foreign England was also insightful and also relatable as someone who moved to a foreign land from Asia. Not only do we see Chise’s perspective but we also get to see the cast living as students, a break from them doing espionage missions.
The action sequences in this anime were all also very smooth and a pleasure to watch, particularly because of the gravity-defying weapon, C-Ball, and Chise’s fighting style. It was very thrilling to see Ange utilize it to its finest and fly around industrial England. Chise, on the other hand, was very proficient with the blade in a world of guns and cannons. The action scenes were also paired with good OSTs that will send hype throughout your whole body. Asides from the OST the opening and ending songs were also really good.
The only problem I had for the show was I felt like the ending was very rushed. It makes you want a second season and more but I guess that was the reason they ended the first season like that?
I really love this show!! I want to recommend it to everyone mostly because it has gone under the radar for some (I never saw anyone on my Twitter timeline talking about it). From its steampunk setting that seems unforgiving for our casts of high school girls to seeing them work and live together just as how regular high school girls normally would, I can definitely say that Princess Principal is the most underrated show from last year.
Enjoyment Factor: 10
You can watch Princess Principal for free if you have Amazon Prime here