Princess Principal - Reviews

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CodeBlazeFate's avatar
Oct 8, 2017

“When you create a web of lies, you'll inevitably trap yourself and become everyone's meal instead”- someone, somewhere, sometime

Princess Principal is an unorthodox title to be sure. Steampunk, non-linear storytelling, and rule of cool. Sounds like it should've been a winner, but it was a case doomed to fail as soon as it set out, exposing itself rather quickly as a fraud and a disaster. It's uncool. It's stupid. Most of all, and worst of all, it's insulting. It tried desperately to confuse you and come off as smart and then it tries to patronize you.

Princess Principal is the condescending and obnoxious dreck from the same team that gave us one of last year’s most crushing disappointments, Izetta the Last Witch. As blasphemous as this sounds, that show was still better than this one in every single way. Keep in mind, Izetta was sort of a train wreck and plenty were hurt by its unkept promises despite the setting and premise. However, it's like this show decided to do it one worse yet still be seen as better. Let the truth be heard, let this series be exposed for its lies, and let it be cannibalized and demonized for ruining my hopes and dreams of having a better Izetta, just like with Youjo Senki only half a year prior! Let me, the man it deceived the cruelest, have my vengeance, for the lies end here!

Case ST 2

When a narrative starts out on such an awful foot as to have narrator exposition of the past as the opening scene and then have a bunch of asspull revelations and stupid moments (few of which ever come to make sense later), then your narrative needs to do a lot to make a recovery. It never does. In fact, those asspull revelations are occasionally present, like the ballerina revelation in episode 1. It tries to play itself as smart by creating information (that it claims that we missed) out of thin air; that obviously not smart. It does this a few times and it's annoying every time. The technology doesn't make any sense either and is poorly explained. Apparently there is this C-ball that the main character has and at one point they try to steal the prototype that was just finished, except they already have the original so that officially makes no sense. Lastly, the factions are insanely difficult to keep up with thanks to how the executed their non-linear storytelling, and we don't even k is which side between the commonwealth and the royals is the east or west side.

As stated earlier, this show treats you like an idiot. The asspull revelations that never add up aren't the only example of this. Hell, they're not even the most egregious. What’s more egregious is the fact that this show constantly beats you over the head. Every single episode, the show constantly drivers home the fact that spies lie and that they're not good people, as well as that everyone always lies. More than 5% of the total dialogue is centered around these three things. The dialogue is so condescending and terrible overall, and with all this thrown in the pot, it's just an especially big insult to the audience's intelligence. “Did you know that spies are liars?” Gee, I sure did, hell, so did everyone watching. You don't have to remind us constantly. Anywhere between 3 and 25 times an episode, especially in the early episodes. Not everyone knows when they're being mocked or patronized but when you realize that it's happening to you, it's aggravating, so a show shouldn't ever do that to the viewer, who is maybe trying to use this as an escape from reality. Instead, Princess Principal, how about you instead focus on telling a coherent story and SHUT THE FUCK U-

Lying is bad

That being said, there are times where you can see a glimmer of hope in the narrative. As predictable as episode 6 is, the finale and tragic irony of the song to the situation at hand is brilliant, almost reminiscent of some of the other works this writer has worked on, specifically the final scene of the 23rd episode of Code Geass, a personal favorite. This series, especially in the second half, starts actually trying to elicit emotion, but it's not always effective at it. Sure there are good moments like episode 7 which was the only really solid episode of the show barring some of 6, but then we get episode 8 which while that did provide context to some scenes from earlier, it actually reveals another problem and missed opportunity in episode 2, one of the worst of the series; this isn't even speaking of the embarrassingly bad and mind-numbingly stereotypical episode 9 which feels like it would normally be a sappy kids show episode that also patronizes the audience. In a way, it's almost trying to be the reverse Izetta where instead of starting off decently and turning to complete shit later on, it starts off horrendously and gets better later, except it stumbles as that hallways through the second half anyway and ends up back where it started. Too little too late comes to mind. Besides, the finale is a sequel bait disaster anyway and anytime the show takes a step forward, it takes a stab back as well.

Case C 2

With the exception of Ange and Charlotte, none of the characters have any semblance of chemistry. Hell, none of the are memorable. Their personalities are beyond basic and not-fleshed out or progressed at all. There is no one worth giving a damn about, for they are so lifeless and static. If this show I supposed to be a rule of cool series, why does only one character try for this angle (the girl with the tits), and why isn't it one of the more prominent characters? They're so plain and tired, and one of them, names Beatrice, starts out especially bad and hypocritical. She’s the typical “princess loli bodyguard” trope except more annoying, and then she becomes a mod benign version of this exact same trope with little to no progression. Hell, all of these people are little more than tropes! The two “best” characters are Ange and Dorothy. Dorothy because she tries at rule of cool and she’s hot (and she actually has an explored past), and Ange because she has this weird thing about the Black Lizard Planet she keeps lying about nonchalantly. Oh, and she and this princess kinda sorta love each other...I suppose. Reasonings loosely related to it are dumb though. Regardless fact that such straws need to be grasped just to say something interesting about these characters is proof of their failure as a cast. This isn't even speaking of the other characters that come later, since they're not worth mentioning and they exacerbate this issue.

Case A 4

The show’s visuals do not fare much better. Studios Actas and 3Hz did a joint effort for this project, and if nothing else, they were consistent...ly bad.The Light Novel default artstyle aggravates and does not look appealing in the slightest, and the designs range from mediocre to abysmal, with the worst being Chise’s design. The rest of the art looks decent and occasionally pretty detailed, like with the C-ball, and that's the only praise I'll give the visuals. The animation is ok at best, though the fights are pretty badly choreographed. The CGI ranges from mediocre (for the cars) to abysmal (for the people) and there is even a moment with a CGI room for the foreground and background and it causes a long 7 seconds of bad slowdown (what is it with anime that have CGI and slowdown and why are all of them always shitty anime?). When we see rads backgrounds in situations of motion, or any time for that matter, they look terrible, and so does the photorealistic backgrounds of the school garden, which you will see from time to time. Shame since the steampunk-esque setting is an interesting one innterms of potential visuals yet these don't warrant much merit.

Case SO 6

One of the most renowned composers in the industry, Youjo Kajiura did the music for this anime. This is honestly one of the weaker OSTs I've experimented from her to date. The songs are mostly pretty reserved and thus aren't very memorable, and the few that are more blaring and interesting aren't nearly of the same quality of some of the best tracks of her other works, like the SAO and Fate/Zero OSTs. The tracks are repeated quite often too to make matters worse. The OP, "The Other Side of the Wall" by Void_Chords feat.MARU, is easily one of the best of the season. It emphasizes rule of cool and is filled with the frantic energy that makes you pumped to watch each episode of the show, as awful as this show is; it is the only real good thing I could find in this show, which is unfortunate. The ED, "A Page of My Story" by Ange (Ayaka Imamura), Princess (Akira Sekine), Dorothy (You Taichi), Beatrice (Akari Kageyama), Chise (Nozomi Furuki), fares nowhere near as well, as contrarian as this apparently sounds. It is an ok enough track on its own but intro in particular gives me major mood whiplash every time I finish an episode. Overall, it was a decent enough repertoire of music but little was special and it was honestly underwhelming on the whole.

Case E 3

This show was very difficult to enjoy. The action wasn't even that competent, the characters were unbelievably dull and bad, the plot was wrecked beyond belief, and the show treats the audience like a dunce. The most enjoyment I got or of it was listening to the OP theme by you can do that as well as engage in the full version without having to see the show anyway. Not to say that the experience was heinous but it was continually frustrating.

Case O 3 CASE RAW 31/100

With that, the case is closed. Princess Principal is hereby found guilty of lying about being a good show, treating its audience like an imbecile, being caught so far up a web of lies and lack of proper establishing that everything is convoluted, and all around being a massive disappointment. For a rule of cool show, this didn't even try that hard in any aspect, even visually or musically, and for a show of emotion, it shot itself in the foot almost every time it tried. It's off to the cellar, Princess Principal; good riddance.

2/10 story
4/10 animation
6/10 sound
2/10 characters
3/10 overall
TheRogueNob's avatar
May 3, 2020

if you enjoy anime girls doing different things than you might as well watch this show it’s not terrible but other than a few standout scenes the show does nothing to make you feel on the edge of your seat or wows you throughout the season. that being said it is not a bad show so if you need to find something to watch then go for it. it is a bit different setting from the usual shows just don’t have high expectations. should there be a second season that follows through and delivers a better sequel then it might be a little better

I’m going to give the normal review there may be a spoiler, but I’ll give for warning and it will be near the end

first is the animation, it’s had its moments for sure with some very fluid animations, good lighting, good backdrops, nice effects and good fight scenes whenever they decided to come around. also, the CGI wasn’t terrible and was only used on the car and trains and only for the last few episodes. my only complaint was the lack of detail on the faces on some of the characters. why studios make many of the male characters with unique facial features, yet every female is a doll with four different features: hair, eye color, height, and how curvy they are. if I remember only 3-4 female characters stood out and not by much.

Sound, it was par for the course some scenes did a great job with steam, gunfire and other effects for the better scenes but other than that I couldn’t help but notice that some of the scenes felt empty a bird chirped every now and then but as most people who go outside birds are loud and they don’t stop chirping neither do bugs some pretty good shows with good white noise have the persistent noise in the background without it being too soft or to loud. the music was decent but during the end of the show it seemed like it was missing some edge to it there was nothing that made me feel like there was something dark or suspenseful. all I can really say is that the opening for the show is pretty good

the characters are a weird one. each of the main cast gets at least one whole episode to themselves giving them back story and some amount of depth the only problem is that other than D & Ange most of them lose that depth as soon as the credits role. I don’t know how to quick fix this either if they make a second season I guess the only way to really show up and show out these characters is to put them in different situations that allow for them to act differently or to challenge them. or maybe give the other characters more screen time. the dialouge between the characters seemed natural and there wasnt most of the usual speaking tropes that comes with anime dialouge. i did watch it in dub though and it was acutally pretty good the British speak seemed a bit proper at some points but they acutally sounded british or like a japanese girl trying to speak english so good on them for that

he story: this show could have been better if it thrust itself head first into the dark and gritty spy theme and at some points they did I won’t spoil them since some of them carry a lot of weight and kept me interested in the show. instead they stand on the wall not knowing whether to make a spy thriller or "cute girls spy for the people" comedy and I commend them for trying to keep it light when it was supposed to but when it was dark there wasn’t really any follow through afterwards. I felt like every character was safe and that any new one that showed up was only there for that episode the formula repeated itself readily. they definitely should have thought about the direction of this one a bit more because I do think that if a 2nd season comes out and it becomes a darker themed show withe same natural dialogue then I can for sure think that this could be a knockout series.

6/10 story
7/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
6/10 overall
shanedd's avatar
Dec 29, 2018

This should be my first time writing a review for an anime. This is just the kind of anime that excites me so much!! It was amazing and cool!! You would find yourself falling for all the characters.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9/10 overall
sw00ty's avatar
Dec 4, 2017

One of the reasons that I like Princess Principal so much is that it’s fun. Dark at times, sure, and with a cast of interesting characters, but above all, in a year that’s been very patchy insofar as anime talent, it’s genuinely fun to watch. Often, it reminds me of a weird mix-up between 91 Days, the Dishonoured video game franchise, and Gunslinger Girl, the lattermost in particular. In fact, though I did like Gunslinger Girl for all of its flaws, I think that Princess Principal is even better.

PP centres us in a fictional late-nineteenth century version of Britain known as Albion, which has been divided into two via a wall (clearly inspired by the Berlin Wall). The Commonwealth and Kingdom of Albion have thereby emerged as players in a ghost war between spies, agents and double-agents. The main cast is composed of girls from the Queen’s Mayfair Academy for Girls, an institution of the Kingdom of Albion, who are all agents for the Commonwealth and working towards ‘Operation: Changeling’, by which they aim to replace the Princess Charlotte (fourth in line for the throne) with a doppelganger. In a strange turn of events, however, the real Princess offers her services to the Commonwealth and begins to operate alongside the other spies.

One immediately striking aspect of Princess Principal is just how stylish it is, contributing to the sense of ‘fun’ I mentioned earlier. From the jazzy opening to the gloriously-drab (that’s an intentional oxymoron by the way) setting of Victorian-analogue London, to the costumes and the overall tone, there’s a great sense of place and atmosphere that prevails throughout the entire series. Back allies and the homes of the aristocracy make for great locales in a weird cold-war-esque tale of subterfuge and back-stabbing; like 91 Days, there’s a ‘realer-than-real’ ethos to everything from the superfluously British surnames and titles, to the name ‘Queen’s Mayfair School’ itself, which I think is genuinely ace.

This, by extension, aids the plot tremendously, given the focus on conflicting loyalties and the clandestine nature of spying. Though I sometimes question the necessity of having a non-linear story progression (the first episode happens well after the next two in terms of chronology, and the shuttling back and forth throughout doesn’t really add to anything), it’s easy to be impressed by how competently-written the most of it is. Though not quite ‘episodic’ in a generic sense, many episodes consist of stories that, like Gunslinger Girl, focus in on one or a pair of girls in order to reveal backstory or develop their characterisation. It works well on the whole, and with a main plot running through the season concerning Operation: Changeling, it doesn’t have the aimless feel that (IMO) a lot of semi-episodic series like Cowboy Bebop and Black Lagoon sometimes have.

Like Gunslinger Girl, one of the key points of interest is the conflict between the very ‘adult’ world of death and betrayal, and traditional notions of childhood innocence and bonds. It is often disturbing, but not crassly so, to witness what some of the characters are forced to do in the name of duty. The writers also handle the notion of lying in a very interesting fashion; Ange, the protagonist, is experienced as a constant and almost pathological liar, but these lies have very different functions throughout the plot and can alternate wildly between those that, again, belong in the adult world of sabotage and assassination, and those that are seated in the realm of white lies, and lying to save a friend. In other words, one is constantly presented with the unmistakeable fact that these are not just spies, but teenagers and young women. Names, pasts and identities are all changeable and, while certain early revelations are *almost* difficult to keep track of, this does entirely suit the themes and premise of PP. Meanwhile, the relationships between the girls are usually smartly-written and you start to genuinely feel for these characters; in particular, the dynamic between Princess and Principal, Charlotte and Ange, is probably my favourite of 2017 thus far. One can’t be too specific given just how easy it would be to give away spoilers with this kind of story, but I was entertained all the way through. There are some vaguely annoying sequences whereby one of the girls is regularly employed as a distraction and the camera aims leerily at her chest (I understand that the point is to have a POV shot from the guard's perspective but it just comes across as the wrong kind of fan service) but on the whole the female representation is pretty dope. We even have some fairly tacit hints at same-sex romantic frissons going on, which i also thought were well-handled.

Visually, PP is impressive, as I've already alluded to; more than just being stylistically cohesive, it LOOKS like a 2017 anime series, more than I can say for certain others released this year (Chronos Ruler, Clockwork Planet, etc). Action sequences are consistently entertaining and have the punchy, flashy-but-well-coreographed tenor of other great series' like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Fate/Stay Night UWB; they sit in a comfortable place between sci-fi and what can very loosely be described as 'realism', again befitting the show's premise. I was also impressed by the voice cast; none of the voice performances stood out especially but I think that's because the base-line was fairly high, the ensemble cast generally impressive, and even characters like Beatrice, who others have called annoying, had quality voice-acting attributed to them. 

TL;DR

Princess Principal is a genuinely fun little series with well-written female characters and relationships, some cracking action set-pieces, spy thriller elements and lots of style. With high-quality animation, a decent score and the potential for more to come (there's a rather clumsy cliffhanger ending that isn't especially satisfying, but it's far from the worst I've come across), I hope that this one doesn't get forgotten by the time the year's over and Top 10 lists are in progress.

7.5/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
Yaoilover9000's avatar
Aug 19, 2020

Awww the ep with dorothys dad :*(

Absolutely lovvveee this show  (>O<) idcidcidc but its actually rlly good. 

Ugh the art. Character designs are very stylish, everyone looks good and represents themselves in what they wear n everything. Steampunk setting developed the story instead o just being plopped in there.

The characters all have fun personalities and act very spy-like (^/^) they were all developed very nicely 

Some ppl might have a problem with the show cuz the lack of a central, over-arching villain or designated antagonist and.. i get it  ^^;  the show seemed to be leading up to the state of society as being what the girls were really fighting against, so ending the show so abruptly and then having the girls go back to just their average spy-shenanigans was a bit dissapointing. I wish princess principal was a few episodes longer with a finale featuring Charlotte channeling her ultimate girl boss power into taking the thrown and instating beneficial changes to society before the people demand democracy and then she and ange can flee to the country and live in a cute cottage and do lesbian things like bake bread idkidk ( ~ww~)  and then their cottage would have a well an Ange would tell charlotte about what she tried to do when she was little an they could have a moment which would end in them lik happy-crying and then credits and then an after moment where its like "dorothy became head of the board of education... chise became a renound tourist guide... etc.etc." that could be kinda nice, ey? But whatevs, anyway.

The action scenes were well-done. The characters didnt have stupid over dramatic moments where they dont get the job done. The fights were clean and often involved the location and scenery, making them more dynamic. The sneaking scenes were also fun and kept u on ur toes.

Not once were the spies ever overpowered by some lame loser on the streete! Ive often seen shows where theyll have a powerful woman being overpowered by some nobody man because "oh yeah shes a hardened warrior but also shes a woman so we gotta include this" NO!! Dorothy wasnt taking any of that shit, beat em up! And it was dare i say satisfying. None of the characters were ever subjected to or belittled by some random man on the streete. It was a good time, and i see the lack of sexual violence as a total plus!! The show was fun without those types of stupid, poorly-done, and mostly gross conflicts.

The characters were spies, and acted like it. They didnt have parts where they trusted some rando too much and then fuck up the mission. They were always careful, and when they did have moments of emotional vulnerability it was very believable (when dorothy was talking to that girl on the train, she never let her gaurd down and also had backup. Proffesional, trained.) They consistantly acted like spys and were very proffesional and cool. The times when they did break their cold facade even just a lil were impactful and rlly showed how much they cared about smth or someone. Even despite their spy-ness, the show also gave them time to show their personality. None of them were cookie cutter or boring. They were. FUN!

The episodes werent afraid to give characters the screen time they deserved and i didnt have a problem with any of them. At the end i rlly was attached and just wanted the girls to be happy :3  For the most part the audience wasnt kept in the dark when it came to what spy stuff was going on (except that one part where she like stepped on the rug on purpose, but that was one (1) time and ig it was to keep us on edge? i forgive it).

The soundtrack was also nice, accompaning each thrilling action scene with sexy spy saxophone, and each heartwarming moment with a fitting theme (i didnt rlly care for the op, ed was fun though and solidified that this shows main point is to have a good time). I liked how they included folk songs that the common ppl sang; the songs they sang at the lauderers and bars, it made the world seem a lot more lived in.

The laundry episode was definitely my favorite, showing all the struggles of girls barely getting by, what laws were like for employees and children. They had a lot of episode that showed how common people were treated and what they had to put up with (making the ending more dissapointing when charlotte wasnt shown to have fixed anything... the whole ending was just super rushed, like they suddenly ran out of budget and just had to close it lol). Also it was kinda funny how at the end, the ppl started refering to the spy group as principal, acting like it was called that the whole time lol , when they rlly just kinda shoved that in there to explain the title.

Some things were left unexplained which was a bit unsatisfying. I didnt rlly care that i didnt know all the intricasies of the orb thing ange uses to fly (cuz they were just given by their superiors how would they know?) But when they showed that one girl who was in an accident with the stuff that makes it, i assumed that it would become an important part of the story (like the girls reveal a conspiracy or smth) so again, having the show end with them just going back to same old same old when theres more to be explored was, yeah.

So yeah, princess principal was pretty good. Not a whole lot of nuance, but its goal was to be fun with just enough depth and it succeeded.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall