The Price of Smiles – Anime Preview
Synopsis: On a planet far, far away from Earth, there reigns a kingdom overflowing with smiles. Princess Yuki is twelve years old and beginning to ride the roller coaster of emotions that comes with adolescence. Each day brings with it tears, laughter, and even a little romance. The palace is full of fun, and the vassals who serve her there add color to her life. Seventeen-year-old Stella is a brilliant warrior. Even though she is cool as a cucumber, she never fails to smile. That’s because smiling is essential to life. This is a story about two girls born on a distant planet. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The Price of Smiles is near mediocre all around. Despite billing itself as an Action Mecha series, Smiles comes off more so as this perky slice of life surrounding the daily shenanigans of Princess Yuki and her royal guard Joshua. Yuki is classically naive and pure of heart, yet faces little opposition, making this first episode feel slow and plodding.
Linny: It doesn’t help matters that the art and character designs look very dull and generic. The animation looks uninspired and average at best and all this makes the slice of life content come off feeling all the more bland. Even when the episode ends on a ‘big’ reveal/twist, Price of Smiles fails to land it due to a lack of build up and a very insipid delivery.
Tom: The Price of Smiles’ twist, while painfully obvious the more Yuki is sold to us as a perky, naive princess, flops onto the screen like a wet noodle. There’s no tension, no stinger reveal, just a half-hearted matter of fact presentation that lacks oomph. One could even be forgiven for not realizing a twist happened at all. It’s that underplayed. Even as a Mecha fan, the fairly good CGI Mecha action isn’t enough to overcome the lack of conflict, drama or tension. I will say that The Price of Smiles hasn’t played its full hand, if the lack of the synopsis’ second character is anything to go by (Stella, our ‘brilliant warrior’ does not appear in this first episode,) there’s potential for course correction. Though I wouldn’t bet money on it. As it stands however The Price of Smiles feels too slow, boring and uneventful to recommend it as a title worth following this winter.
Linny: The most action packed part of this first episode is a mech battle between Joshua and two other mecha pilots. The entire point and cause of this showdown is Joshua’s determination to prove his solo skills and abilities by taking down both enemies on his own. Yet when Princess Yuri interferes and begins meddling in the match to help him win, he gladly and joyfully accepts her help, never once resisting and making the entire point of the match moot. It’s things like these that show The Price of Smiles’ inability to execute and play out convincing tension or conflict and makes it hard to imagine it pulling it off in the future. As things stand right now, I do not have much hope for The Price of Smiles unless someone is out there specifically seeking a Mecha show that also contains slice of life and a naive young heroine at the forefront.
The Price of Smiles is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.