Princess Lover is a 12 episode ecchi harem anime. I for one, hate these genres, but I don't believe in pre-judging and this was on my 'to watch' list, so I gave it a chance. I settled down with a few cans of cider and prepared for the worst. I got mixed impressions from the first episode. It seems like there'd be good action and revenge. The only plot is ep1, 7-13. I stick by my philosophy on plots, if the main character doesn't choose a girl by the end, this doesn't gett more than 5. And he gets engaged in the first episode so it's worse that he doesn't get with a girl.
I was gobsmacked by the quality of the animation from the very start. Damn the quality is good for 2009. The style is a bit typical, but I like the designs of the backgrounds and the character. It seems a tad different, but I'm sure there's a billion other anime that look the same. It makes good use of the occasional comedic facial expressions. On the ecchi front, I wasn't feeling bad at first, just some minor panty shots. But then there were big bouncy boobs and the first episode ended on translucent lingerie, you could see the girl's nipples through them. Then the panty shots become more common and I realised I was right to critically judge this anime for being an ecchi. And the outro goes one step further by adding pointless nudity. There is so much pointless nudity and there's even a bit where a chick is masturbating. It's not even in a tactful or restrained manner like some other, more better animes do. Disappointing that the great animation was let down by the ecchi bullshit. I was regretting drinking for this one at the start, but this made me glad I was.
With such a disappointment with animation, the music was a pleasant surprise. It is probably the best bit of this anime. The orchestral & instrumental scores and the sweet outro really make this anime feel much better. The music isn't so amazing that I'd want to get the soundtrack though. It makes decent use of it and the sound design is not bad. The anime is only in japanese, just as well they didn't dub this. Though there is a lot of English text and even a tad of German. The voice actors weren't too recognisable, but it had the usual cringey high-pitched female voices for some characters.
Teppei Arima is a typical high-school student harem protagonist. He does have balls to go and save girls in trouble, with his skills of biking and kendo (swordsmanship). At the start, his parents are murdered by mysterious people who only target rich people. And his parents are fairly middle class. It just so happens that his grandfather on his mothers side is the richest man in Japan trope. And none of it goes to his family, so they remain middle class but get killed for being upper class? Makes no sense. Anyhow, Teppei gets adopted by his grandfather and becomes the heir to the Arima Group. He ends up living in a mansion with many maids and he's engaged to Sylvia. Some of the girls confess their love to him, but he is a typical spineless harem protagonsit and would rather keep them as friends. And then in one episode he tries peeking at them at a hot-spring with perverted intentions. Such characters make no sense, why perv at girls when you could be banging them right?
The titular Princess is Charlotte Hazelrink, who is the typical busty, pink-haired, flirtateous bitch. Princes of the fictional country Hazelrink, honestly did they not have any creativity for the name of her country? And she has a high pitched voice. At least she has the brains to abuse her situation in some of the later episodes. It really appears that she becomes the center of Arima's attention in the later episodes but it's only because she becomes the damsel in distress. Did I mention she is engaged to the most successful businessman of her country, who is a massive douche.
Sylvia Van Hossen is another busty girl who is the son of a rich representative of some fictional European country. Her behaviour is that of a high class ojou-sama but that of a sensible one, not the bragging rich girl trope.Her dad works for the Arima group and she is engaged to Teppei. As far as her character design goes, I swear they are trying to imitate Saber from Fate: Stay Night, she even has the same blue coloured combat outfit, but she has bigger breasts. Sylvia is even an expert swordsman and likes to challenge Teppei to sparring. She doesn't appear to have any romantic interst in him though, in a slightly tsundere way since she actually likes him. Heck she calls the engagement off seconds before she actually locks lips with him for the first time. But this character isn't tsundere. Nope, that role goes to Seika.
Seika Houjouin is the tsundere character of this anime. And of course she is rich girl model and designer. Unlike the other two, her breasts are more realistic and smaller, but not non-existent. She isn't the flat-chested trope fortunately. She actually has reason to hate the Arima family. Teppei's grandmother had an affair with her grandfather and she was banished from their family and the Houjouin family had all of its ties cut with the Arima group. This means that Teppei and Seika are technically blood related, so her tsundere covered love for him is just wrong and immoral. I don't care if they are half cousins, it's still disgusting. Of course she is a bit rude toward Teppei for most of the anime, before eventually confessing her feelings and snogging him.
Then there is the typical maid character maid Yuu Fujikara. She also has absurdly relatively large breasts and is Teppei's head maid. This anime goes into a bit of her backstory of how she was an orphan and was given a home and job by Teppei's grandfather. She appears to also like Teppei but can't do jack about it since sh'es a maid and he's too upper-class for him. What bullshit.
As far as other characters go, Teppei's grandfather, Sylvia's father and Charlotte's butler are fairly important characters that appear often. There's of course Charlotte's fiance, the douchbag and his right-hand woman Josephine. Who is an eveil hateful bitch, having big boobs and craving her masters... I'll try and leave this as family friendly as I can.
The main character Teppei Arima is adopted by his rich grandfather after his parents are murdered and becomes the successor to some major business group as a result. Along with this responsibility he becomes engaged to Sylvia. Then the usual trope highschool antics of harem ecchi occurs for many episodes. There seems to be some interesting interactions and develoments between characters, but they don't mean much. At first it seems like there might be action and revenge involved as Teppei wants to avenge his parents death. But, the last 6 episodes actually have a story, though nothing interesting in the romantic sense. There is actually betrayal and twists! This story is about the poor getting back at the rich. A very interesting concept if I must say so myself. It seems to want to purvey a message, that being rich and powerful has it's downsides. Heck what I took away from this, something I already knew, having things like money, success and fame is actually a curse. People only appreciate you for what you have and it didn't necessarily take much effort for those that have those things to get there. But it still had the trope harem ending, even if it seemed that Teppei was getting closer to Charlotte. They even refer to the fact that he has to choose a girl (the girls talk about it) which makes it all the worse when he doesn't.
All this has going for it is the interesting story of inheriting power and money and how it affects people. For the sake of this you only need to watch episodes 1 and 7 to 12. A good chunk of this is dedicated to story even if it's pretty terrible. If you are a fan of the typical harem ecchi I don't understand why. Why even bother for fanservice? You might as well watch porn or hentai if all you want is boobs, heck they at least do the harem thing better as much as I hate those things. It's barely a cut above the rest of the harem ecchi, but for the unique take on depicting the life of the fictional upper class. And I have tried my best to look at this in a positive light.
Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 What did you expect from an ecchi harem? (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 4/10 (higher is better)