Princess Principal – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Five girls attend Queen’s Mayfaire, a conventional and prestigious school. Under the guise of regular high school girls, they act as spies under cover. (Official Anime Strike Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: While Princess Principal kicked things off by thrusting audiences right into the middle of a mission in episode one, it then pulls back in episode 2 onwards and explores the origins of the group, how it came to be set up and how each of the girls came to join. We eventually get back to the ‘present’ but even then the show continues to give us glimpses into the girls’ backstories or lives before they joined the spy lifestyle.
Tom: Princess Principal takes a non-linear approach to its story-telling, jumping around in its pre-premiere timeline for much of its first six episodes. This is, surprisingly, not too confusing as the series is able to give a sense of which events precede the others, in part thanks to most episodes acting as introductions for the various members. Despite the girls acting as spies, the show isn’t about the traditional and faithful interpretation of the field. Many episodes feature heavy action and violence. It’s much more of a straight action series, with bouts of spy work thrown in for good measure.
Linny: I’m going to have to disagree with Tom in that while I do agree that there is a fair amount of action and violence in the show, it ultimately didn’t feel like the main point of the show for me. The show frequently includes melodrama through tragic reveals of the girls’ lives and the people they’re sent to spy on or get involved with. So far, to me, Princess Principal is proving to be more dramatic than expected for audiences wanting a more exclusively action oriented spy tale. It’s also clear that Princess Principal is more focused on its emotional and mental aspects than its physical and action oriented, as it makes little to no attempt to really explore the tools and weapons employed by the girls. In particular Ange’s levitating device, a huge draw and highlight of the action, gets little introduction or depth to its creation. For a show that looks so stylish, it’s a bit of a shame that we don’t get much of an exploration about its more unique visual aspects and elements.
Tom: The series definitely harps on the girl’s tragic history and this is something that could become a sticking point for viewers. By mid season, we’ve delved into three of the girl’s emotionally troubled pasts. The trouble lies in an all too common aspect running through each girl’s history, which can make their troubled pasts feel repetitive and too similar. It’s not a huge issue, but could become one depending upon how Princess Principal handles the reveals for its two major leads: Ange and the Princess, two characters who’ve only had their history teased thus far. Princess Principal’s more emotionally oriented content hinges upon how it handles these last two backstories and whether they feel too similar to the rest of the cast’s sordid history.
Linny: Princess Principal also has a tinge of yuri mixed in as it makes clear implications that Princess and Ange have some kind of a special and forbidden relationship. There are no sexually pandering scenes between the two, not even an innocent kiss, so the relationship, for now, remains mainly verbal. This should be a welcome move for those tired of yuri being utilized for cheap fan service.
Tom: Perhaps the greatest draw to Princess Principal is its solid visuals. While not nearly as innovative and breathtaking as Made in Abyss’ background work, Princess Principal produces a solid, uniform, quality with excellent action sequences. It’s easy on the eyes in a season with a quite a few clunkers.
Linny: While Princess Principal is a girl filled show, there’s very little blatant fan service. The only times the show gets even remotely sexual is when female characters are dressed in period outfits that flaunts the breasts, or the girls, namely Dorothy, the flirty spy of the group, seduces a target or guard during a mission with her feminine wiles. Even then, the above barely qualifies as sexual and gets only brief focus. It’s definitely a plus point and adds to its appeal for anyone who prefers their shows to focus on story and not fan service. Princess Principal ultimately seems to me to be more of a drama/character oriented series, with some intrigue and action provided by its spy theme and fights so there’s a chance you may walk away unimpressed if you expected spy showdowns and fights to be its main point. Other than that, the stylish visuals and aesthetic continue to help sell the unique charm of the show and if you’re looking for a spy tale with heart, you might just have found the show for you.
Tom: Princess Principal is all around a solid production with few significant flaws. It stands out thanks to its uniform quality, and while not exceedingly brilliant or uniquely creative like Made in Abyss, it exceeds by producing an overall top notch product that has remained engaging through to the Mid Season. If it can keep this up then Princess Principal has the good opportunity to remain one of the top shows for the Summer.