Capsule Review & Commentary: Princess Principal

Director: Masaki Tachibana

Animation Production: Actas, Studio 3Hz

Music: Yuki Kajiura, Ryo Takahashi

Genres: Action, Mystery

Season: Summer 2017

Episodes: 12

Final say: WALLET-WORTHY

As it so happens, the winning formula for comfort food entertainment still requires a certain amount of finesse from the creators’ part. Princess Principal flaunts its style and glee of not being chained to logic and reality, by throwing a top hat donning spy off a roof and have her land safely with a levitating ball, all within the first minute of the opening episode. The adventures just keeps getting more absurd from there, though not without a helpful dash of human sentiment.

In brief and concise capsule review speak, Princess Principal is Joker Game done right: a spy ensemble production that relishes in the glorified profession of agents and spies, the former opted to bring to life the ever so reliable steampunk-period piece aesthetic, pairing it with the timeless filth of turn-of-the-century London. Instead of a group of indistinguishable men who go on their merry behind the lines adventures without establishing any sense of rapport with the audience, the girls of Princess Principal are for the most part distinctive, efficiently characterised with silhouette-friendly outfits, immediate personalities and interactive liveliness.

And it gets even better when one take in the show’s music. Opening each episode with the impossibly soul-stirring and dazzling ‘On the Other Side of the Wall‘, performed with groovy, raw and raspy intensity by MARU, arranged masterfully by the rising star Ryo Takahashi, the opening sequence of Princess Principal is a perfect over-dose of fantasy and unhinged excess.

Marrying that with a collaborative effort by Takahashi and anime composing veteran Yuki Kajiura, the original soundtrack remixes the familiar Kajiura soundscape of semi-synthetic choral work, layered strings and electronics with a welcoming introduction of caper and jazz-centric action set pieces, influenced immensely by Takahashi’s extroverted sensibilities, as showcased by the OP and his previous work for ACCA: 13 (for which he both arranged the OP for, as well as composing the original soundtrack).

To put it bluntly, for a series of non-linear storylines book-ended as numbered missions, the show is ultimately a coherent presentation of extravagant style and pure entertainment. Highly recommended for an afternoon of casual fun.

Recommendations: Alternate Titles

Gosick

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Swap the cavorite with a smoking pipe, and we’ve got a period mystery show. Gosick is another exercise of style and fantastical theatrics which may satisfy anyone who is easily subdued by well done atmosphere.

Girls und Panzer

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Cute girls and tanks. Hardly a difficult sell. Off you go.

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