「Case 24 Fall of the Wall」
Operation: Rescue Princess
God damn it Princess, please stop with the reckless utilitarianism! There are other ways of resolving Albion’s current problems, that don’t require such a steep price, ya know? From the duffel bag that Princess left behind, Ange discovers the truth. Princess always held their memories together dearly, and had gone to sacrifice herself for the greater good, leaving Ange behind so that she could live a safe life outside of the shadows. But let’s be real. Nothing was ever going to stop Ange from breaking free once she found out. By the way kids, I don’t recommend trying to escape a locked room by setting it on fire, because you’ll probably end up dying. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Anyway, Princess living on the edge of a knife left no time for thinking or formalities. After a touching reunion with Dorothy and Beatrice, who were thankfully still alive, they head straight for the cathedral. Steamrolling past the first line of security, and being chased by a train loaded with soldiers, our girls eventually came to a stop when faced by Gazelle’s firing squad. With cannons to the front, and gunfire from all directions, would this be the end of their journey? Nay. A small samurai ran interruption tactics, allowing for Ange and Co to perform a quick getaway with the C-Ball. Great to have you back on board, Chise!
Meanwhile, kill or be killed. Those were pretty much the only options that Princess had. Getting framed for the assassination of Queen Victoria would have destroyed any hope for her ambitions to come true. On the other hand, singlehandedly preventing the assassination may as well have been impossible. Despite being stuck in the heart of hostile territory, a valiant attempt was made, although failure was the inevitable outcome. Princess looked pretty screwed when Zelda caught her out, shot her leg, and put a gun to her head. Would she become a sacrificial lamb, a mere pawn in the Duke of Normandy’s grand scheme?
Apparently not. Ange and Chise barrel in, stopping Zelda just short of killing Princess. From the brief skirmish, we even discover that Zelda is another C-Ball user. It’s unfortunate that she couldn’t be killed off, since her character design is fairly awful. So much so that I suspect Zelda was a last minute addition to spice things up. However, tis a bitter pill I’m willing to swallow if it increases our chances of getting a second season.
Between the typical spy work, fluid action scenes could be found throughout the series. It is here that I want to include a special mention for Ebata Ryouma, who put in some outstanding work during Episode 5. If you’re interested enough, here’s a video montage containing some of his works.
Anyway, for a clock to get ticking, you need all the small components to work. Befitting of its steampunk nature, Princess Principal managed to achieve this by using its characters. Dare I say, the cast were absolutely fantastic, and had great chemistry with each other. Every girl had ample screen time which fleshed them out, and each had a tough origination story to tell, things that greatly benefitted from the episodic format told outside of a chronological order. Ange and Princess were separated, thrown into unfamiliar worlds in the aftermath of a bloody revolution, and found themselves in a brutal predicament where any minor mistake could have cost their lives. Meanwhile, a noticeable trend could be observed, where the remaining girls had paternal issues. Dorothy escaped from an abusive father, Beatrice became a subject of human experimentation at her father’s hands, while Chise was forced to kill her own father. None of these girls had it easy, and while they were lovely for the most part, that experience is something that came through in the form of grit when faced with adversity.
I’m not a fan of yuri, but still found myself cheering on the relationship between Princess and Ange. We got some deliciously lewd hand-holding towards the end, and a kiss would have been the cherry on top of the icing. Guess we’ll have to wait until season two for that one.
Among the tales of Hollywood espionage, Princess Principal delivered a compelling story about two girls who were switched at a young age during a revolution, as well as the the various boundaries that ended up separating them. Their reunion is purely coincidental, and joyful for the most part. However, disagreements crop up regarding how they should stay together. Ange advocates running away and starting afresh, while Princess throws down the gauntlet by seeking to change the nation herself. To that end, both go about carrying out secret missions with their associates, while uncovering conspiracies that are symptomatic of the political illness that eats away at the core of Albion.
With how frantic the pace went, I feared what seemed like an inevitable trainwreck. Princess Principal’s series composer, Ichiro Okouchi, doesn’t have a clean record. As the man behind Valvrave the Liberator and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, he often creates an ambitious premise, but struggles to keep everything together. In other words, his projects tends to fall apart, and I secretly had little faith in how our ending would unfold. Fortunately, my initial concerns were soon put to rest. Every sequence of events seamlessly melded into one fluid motion, as opposed to the messy jumble I had anticipated. The result? A homerun down the final stretch, though it feels like we stopped just short of completion.
For now, I would not consider Princess Principal to be a completed product. That ending might have been quite a thrilling conclusion, but it leaves too many loose ends to be described as satisfactory. Our spy girls remain on the loose, and with the Duke of Normandy still pulling strings, their greatest threat is yet to be eliminated. Not to mention Princess has a dream to break down all the invisible walls. While she’s taken some little steps, by breaking down the ones surrounding Ange’s heart, she still has a long way to go if she wants to change Albion for the better.