「Case 7 Bullet & Blade’s Ballad」
If the show ran in chronological order, I assume this would have been our first encounter with Chise. Switching away from the glitz and glamour of espionage, we instead get a solid mix of backstory coupled with intense moments of action, all wrapped up in a conspiracy to assassinate Lord Horikawa. Talk about exciting!
Ange’s apprehension towards Chise in Case 9 is explained. Chise didn’t exactly make the greatest of first impressions, which I would say goes beyond a mere clash of cultures. When you come up against a person who you know is out to settle a vendetta, who you know is also skilled with the blade that they can deflect bullets like some cyborg ninja, you wouldn’t want to have them near anyone worth protecting. From what we’ve seen, Chise is incredibly loyal to Lord Horikawa, and that commitment can wind up being a threat to a third faction like the Princess. A simple order from above could spell the end. Chise’s superhuman martial skills would probably mean that she could easily kill Princess through even the best of protection. In short, a nightmare scenario for a skeptical and cautious person like Ange.
But we see a human side to our strange samurai girl hailing from distant lands. At the train station, she recites some words to make a kid who hurt their knee feel better. I see this as proof of being emotionally attached to the past, in a way that her honour as a samurai for Lord Horikawa would not permit. The eventual twist where Jubei turned out to be Chise’s father may have seemed obvious to many people, but I actually wasn’t expecting it. So the scene at the grave ended up hitting me pretty hard. I felt the moment could have been much better if they had panned to silent tears rather than having additional spoken words, but the moment suffices for now simply because it makes sense in the context of Chise’s character. She’s always been one to bluntly speak out her mind and her bereavement would surely be no exception.
Deathfight on a Train by Maidstone
The steam engine is something I would rate as one of the greatest British inventions. Harking from the Industrial Revolution, an age that very much inspired steampunk, it’s no surprise to see trains make a prominent appearance in Princess Principal.
I really want to praise the way this episode was animated and choreographed. The inertia in every movement felt weighty and lifelike, and this applied to two of the things I was most impressed about – the sequences pertaining to walking and fighting. There was also the fact it wasn’t limited to being a rehash of a singular style. The soldier’s jaunty walking greatly contrasts Chise’s nimble footwork, yet both offered a unique and pleasant visual experience that really spiced things up. There was also a strong force behind every swing of the blade, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could imagine the vibrations of metal travelling up my arms. That’s how immersive the experience felt.
A Small Excerpt on Beatrice’s Father
Though Beatrice’s father is still an utter asshole for carrying out inhumane experimentation upon his daughter, I begrudgingly concede that his tinkering ended up saving her life. Even though we’d seen her alive and well in later episodes, meaning she can’t have been killed by Jubei, the moment still felt really tense, since that’s not the kind of thing you think about in the split second when it occurs. That was a close one, otherwise I would have been allowed to quote the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland: “Off with her head!”.
This episode was so eloquently pieced together. From foreshadowing down to necessary plot elements, it made for thrilling watch that constantly left me on the edge of my seat. I’m amazed at the extent they are able to pull it off, seeing as the episodes aren’t even in chronological order!
Anyway, what I find unsettling is that due to his agency regarding the attempted assassination, the Duke of Normandy is onto something. I suppose he would truly be a fool to not suspect anything, after an important secret key vanishes at a dinner party attended by select few including the Princess. Alongside the leader of Control, that makes them the only two suspecting the Princess of having her own agenda, as opposed to being allied to any particular faction.
This would also explain the arranged marriage he proposed in Case 9, since the Princess would be tied down in a way that would damage her chances of obtaining the throne. Definitely a dangerous adversary for our girls, and I look forwards to seeing how they will continue to thwart his attempts at stifling their activities. With the next episode moving straight onto Case 18, I honestly wonder what direction they will be taking this series, since I had previously thought it would only be a single cour. Whatever 3Hz decide to do, I’m not complaining provided they keep up this quality!