During the late 1900s, the unearthing of a novel mineral in London triggered a dispute. The Kingdom of Albion has been bisected by an immense wall separating its eastern and western regions. The tension between the Commonwealth and the monarchy is palpable, and both factions have their respective spies infiltrating each other’s ranks. Princess Principal tracks the endeavours of five such spies as they embark on missions to infiltrate the nobility and maintain harmony.
These young women are accomplished practitioners of espionage, trained to the highest standards, and they will leave no stone unturned in their quest to accomplish their goals.
The initial episode of Princess Principal expertly establishes the show’s tone. As viewers, we are presented with minimal information relative to what the spies are privy to. We assume the role of the man the girls are aiding in escaping, and our level of surprise is commensurate to his when he discovers that the girls were cognizant of his treachery all along.
This culminates in one of my favourite scenes in the series, where Ange confesses that she had lied about everything to the man, just moments before he inquires if she intends to kill him. Without batting an eyelid, she refutes his suspicions, only to assassinate him without any delay. This not only cements Ange’s predisposition to mendacity but also sets the benchmark for the show’s level of intensity.
“Crafting likable characters who are habitually untruthful is a formidable task.”
The following two episodes in Princess Principal chronicle the girls’ initial assignments, affording us a glimpse into their individual backgrounds and humanising them after showcasing their formidable capabilities. This decision is well-suited since it imbues the characters with a relatable quality right after we witness their impressive skills.
Additionally, at the commencement of episode two, we learn that Ange and Dorothy’s mission entails murdering and impersonating the princess. However, we already know from the first episode that the princess is alive, engendering a sense of curiosity about how events will transpire. If handled differently, the twist might have appeared contrived, but owing to the fact that the show had previously misled us, the suspense remains unbroken.
Crafting likable characters who are habitually untruthful is a formidable task. Princess Principle introduces fascinating characters but does not do enough to humanise them, and most of the veneer is dispelled by the conclusion of the episode. Therefore, in episodes two and three, the series devotes ample time to endear us to these characters. Each one of them possesses distinct qualities and personalities that enhance their worth to the team. The cherry on top is the revelation about Ange and Princess’s previous association, teased towards the end of episode two.
“Princess Principal’s well-crafted characters contribute significantly to the show’s compelling narrative.”
The main characters of Princess Principal each possess distinctive qualities and backstories that contribute to their overall appeal. Beatrice boasts the cutest character design, along with a quirky skill set that includes a game-changing voice changer. Her sincere demeanour and tragic past add to her appeal. Dorothy, the fun-loving party girl, is highly capable and serves as the voice of reason amidst her colleagues’ chaotic tendencies. Tragic events during the show’s plotline deepen her character.
Ange is the most complex member of the team, with her pathological lying making her stand out. Her well-defined character arc and heartbreaking backstory make her compelling. Princess, with her incredible work ethic and ability to hold the team together, serves as the glue that keeps everything running smoothly. Her tragic past adds to her depth.
Despite having the least amount of screen time, Chise leaves an impact with her unique Japanese aesthetic and perspective as a foreigner. Overall, Princess Principal‘s well-crafted characters, with their tragic pasts and unique abilities, contribute significantly to the show’s compelling narrative.
Princess Principal masterfully intertwines character-driven storytelling with undercover espionage. The show’s world-building and character design bring the late 1900s setting to life, while the incorporation of a steampunk aesthetic adds a distinctive flair that sets it apart. The stunning animation, captivating fight scenes, and vibrant art style further elevate the series. The non-linear story structure successfully delivers a strong narrative, complete with some surprising twists. Despite its many strengths, the show falls short of perfection due to an unsatisfying conclusion. One can only hope that the movies will fill the void left by this unresolved ending.