OP: 「The Other Side of the Wall」 by Void Chords feat. MARU
「case13 Wired Liar」
As you may have been able to tell from our preview on Princess Principal, I had high hopes for this show and I’m happy to say right out the gate that this pilot met all of them and more. It’s an excellent start in both visuals and drama, and for those of you who ducked into this intro post just to get an opinion on whether you should watch PriPri: yeah, definitely pick this one up. Let’s take some time, though, to talk about exactly what kind of show it is, because in the preview I made a mention of how much I enjoy espionage thrillers and made a brief reference to Joker Game. I think it’s now safe to say that PriPri isn’t really Joker Game, and is arguably not entirely an espionage thriller.
I’ve talked about this before when I was blogging Joker Game and won’t belabour the point here, but basically the business of spying is in reality quite mundane and not at all glamorous. Spies do a lot of hiding and going through people’s trash and lodging stuff in one’s rectums, and the appeal of their stories in fiction is the psychological angle, of mind-games being played between two hostile sides. The cars chases and the murder and the, er, Last Exile flight technology, as we have in PriPri, are a Hollywood affection, less about spies and more for getting butts on cinema seats. I’m not saying that’s inherently good or bad, just that it makes for different genre. So despite sharing the beautiful foggy London that I love, PriPri and Joker Game are really not the same thing. And that’s fine. We don’t need realistic spies everywhere, and as PriPri notes itself, truth is overrated. In return for increased fictionalisation (though I don’t know why they invented a ‘Kingdom of Albion’ but still insisted on ‘London’), we get steampunk airships, and I will never ever object to steampunk in my anime.
Still, it’s not a hard line that’s drawn here, as PriPri tries to have its cake and eat it too, appealing to the classical spy fiction by playing on the ‘spies as tragic figures’ angle well established by pioneers of the genre like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Hence why we have Angie’s backstory and sick little sisters. Now, I’m not exactly sure why Angie had to kill the scientist at the end, but I understand the intention of the scene, to pull away from the glamor of Angie as super-powered-action-girl and establish her as a pitiable figure. Many anime are criticised for pushing the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ angle to rake in the moé money, and there’s no denying that PriPri does a bit of that too, but here I think they’re actually trying to make use of their cute girls for something interesting, juxtaposing them with the sordid business they’re engaged in. To that end, I don’t think Angie’s story is the story of a spy, but more the story of a child soldier, and I think a better comparison than Joker Game would be Gunslinger Girl. I don’t know if PriPri will be trying for the same melancholic depth as Gunslinger Girl, but I certainly see some underlying similarities between the two shows, and that’s a good thing.
Does it seem like PriPri is trying to do a lot? Yeah, it’s trying to do a lot, and that’s before we even sink our teeth into the fantasy angle it brings up from time to time this episode. So far it has managed to fit everything in with fantastic execution, narrating minimally, letting mysteries in the setting hang tantalisingly for the moment, and allowing characters to just do stuff and engage with each other. If it manages to continue on that line and capitalise on all the promise it has shown in this start, I think we’ll have something great by the time we’re done. Original anime don’t always work out for me, but I’m optimistic about this one. I think that’s the most exciting part of Princess Principal‘s entrance.
ED: 「A Page of My Story」 by アンジェ (今村彩夏)、プリンセス (関根明良)、ドロシー (大地葉)、ベアトリス (影山灯)、ちせ (古木のぞみ) (The main cast, don’t make me write out all the names)