Princess Principal Episode 1 [First Impression]

Cute girls not doing cute things.


The remarkable thing about Studio 3Hz is that, despite everything they’ve produced so far being very different in terms of theme, art style and tone, all of its shows have been really interesting. Princess Principal is no exception. It hasn’t got much in common with Flip Flappers or Sora no Method, but it really draws you in. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I was interested in it for all the wrong reasons – I was hoping for it to be about cute girls doing cute things, and for them to have fun each episode in school while being spies on the side.

This isn’t about a school at all. Insofar as the school is relevant, it’s just a place where the girls have tea and discuss things like how they delayed the publicising of a person’s death because insurance companies won’t pay out if the victim dies too fast after signing up to a policy. The focus isn’t really even on the girls, at least not yet. What really lay at the heart of this episode was the intriguing steampunk setting and the overarching conflict we’ve been introduced to, and it just happened to be the case that Ange and friends were the people whom we learned about it from. I live in London, so it was kind of amusing to see an AU version of it be the centre of an internal divide so severe that the UK (referred to using its archaic name of Albion) has basically been split into two – the obvious comparison is, of course, post-WWII Germany with its friction between the FRG and GDR, which is pretty much an intentional reference given how the border between the Kingdom and Commonwealth in Princess Principal is a barrier known as the London Wall. A few differences include how, unlike real-life Germany, Albion is the greatest world power (which is probably the easiest way to focus the story on our spies and not to have foreign countries interfere too much) as well as the fact that this entire mess came about in the first place because of an internal revolution and not because Albion lost a war.

We know almost nothing about it yet, but can I just say, Cavorite adds such a cool element to the setting. From what I can tell, its effects when contained in metal spheres are limited to removing gravity in a certain area (i.e. inducing weightlessness) but by starting and stopping it in certain ways like Ange did, you can do all sorts of stuff with it. Other uses include poisoning cute girls and making them suffer for the purposes of emotional manipulation. That scene actually shocked me. I thought the ballet bruises were caused by Amy being poisoned at first, too.

Ange is a qt. She’s totally my type. I’m just not sure whether she’s supposed to be the main protagonist, or whether the Princess is. You know, because it’s called Princess Principal and all. I also didn’t think they’d make much of her habit of lying with a straight face so quickly – for now, it felt like it was just an interesting quirk to remember her by, and then she killed Eric while saying to his face she wasn’t shooting him. Other potential best girls include Dorothy, as well as that lady voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki, for whom playing Kirari in Kakegurui clearly isn’t enough of a role this season. It wasn’t ever stated clearly, but I think Ange and the rest of the spies are working for the Commonwealth, but are currently stationed in the Kingdom. So they’re going to school and carrying out missions in enemy territory, and them being there is the reason why the Duke of Normandy hatched this elaborate plot to have someone pretend to want to defect and get in touch. I’m sure this sort of stuff has actually happened in real life too – with Korea for example, there are lots of stories about defectors wanting to cross from North to South, some more successfully than others. The sad thing is that Eric didn’t really do anything wrong. He was a double agent, but he was only ever pushed into that situation because Amy had an ‘accident’ and he needed to somehow get the money to pay for her operation. It’s just that, of the possible choices he could have gone for, he picked the one that got him killed the fastest.

It was a solid first episode. Not the best of the season (that goes to Made in Abyss) but it was very good. I wouldn’t mind blogging it, but it’s not for me to do full-time, as I’m just filling in for Berry this episode and it’ll be her task from next week onwards. Look forward to her thoughts!

Berry’s Impression

Cute girls not doing cute things is perfect for me! However, let’s be real, young girls being spies is strange but whatever this is anime. Now, I see a lot of people comparing this show to Joker Game and it’s obvious to see why. There aren’t too many shows about spies and these two happen to be the most recent one. I actually never finished watching Joker Game but I fizzled out of it halfway into it. While it did have a strong first two episodes and a more realistic approach with spies that fit into an actual part of history, the anime lost me with the sudden shift to episodic episodes after the second one. We never really got to know the characters (again this is based on the first half), we never really learned their names, or what made them unique. Which I suppose was the point because they’re spies, their identities were kept secret and/or completely changed into a new one. I never finished Joker Game so I won’t bother saying anything more about it, but Princess Principal gives off more promise based on the variety in character designs of the girls and their specific traits.

Ange and Chise both partake in combat, but Ange is different as she immediately puts herself into the action while Chise hides in the shadows, and also that she possesses a Cavorite ball, which we don’t even really know what that is.

Dorothy drives the getaway car and because of her gorgeous looks she can disguise herself and get in on the action while also gathering information.

Beatrice can disguise her voice, which I found hilarious. Also, she’s the cutest one.

And the Princess…I’m actually not sure. Like Vantage, I don’t know whether Princess or Ange is the main character (though all five of them are). I don’t know what role Princess has as she hasn’t done anything so far, but considering Eric had said everyone in the kingdom knew who she was, she probably holds a lot of authority and power.

What I love is that these characters are easy to define, and that they all have their own traits to what they bring to the team. Watching them work together was an absolute treat and just watching the story of the first episode unfold was very entertaining. I love the steampunk touch of the world and the jazzy music adds to the setting. I don’t want to sound boring but this all was pretty much perfect for me. I guess the only complaint I would have would be the moe artstyle but that isn’t something that would make me not watch a show. Also, maybe if these girls were older? However, them going to school as a farce is cool in its own right. Another worry is that I don’t want this show to go into the CGDCT for some episodes. I want all the episodes to have the tone the first one have. No cutesy stuff.

This episode gave us a good idea of what we’re going to get in this show. Animation and music (especially the OP) are fantastic and this could be contender to be one of the best anime of the season, but I don’t want to place it that high this early. But I do have to say that this has already met my expectations.

Possibility of watching: Guaranteed

Possibility of blogging: Guaranteed


I love cute things.

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2 Responses

  1. Wanderer says:

    “Cute girls not doing cute things.”

    What, are you saying that international espionage, skulking, deception, theft, assault, mayhem, and murder aren’t cute things? :P

    This episode was really interesting. A really good first episode. I’d say my favorite moment was when Ange grabbed Eric near the beginning and used her Cavorite ball. The art was beautiful, and the way the perspective swung around when she manipulated it made it feel like gravity was shifting directions for the two of them. It was really cool.

    I do feel bad for Eric. I doubt he had much choice in this matter. I suspect it was more a case of the Kingdom’s intelligence agencies approaching him after Amy’s accident and telling him “we’ll arrange for your sister’s treatment if you’ll just do us this little favor…” etc. But espionage isn’t a polite game, and he ended up knowing way too much. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Amy now either, without any family…

    • Vantage says:

      The deadpan lying was cute… until Eric was killed.

      There’s no guarantee that the Kingdom (or whoever offered to give Eric the money, if an unrelated party) would have done what it promised. His status as a scientist working on important, possibly Cavorite-related research was way too sensitive, and I think Amy would have been used to maintain leverage over him in different ways even after this incident. At least now they’ll probably leave her alone.

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