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Military Affairs Researcher Weighs in on Espionage in Princess Principal

posted on by Amanda Whalen
"Unless someone either has no conscience from the start or can ignore it, they should not be a spy."

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The currently airing "spy action" anime Princess Principal, directed by Masaki Tachibana (Barakamon, .hack//Quantum) at Studio 3Hz and Actas, follows five girls that are working as undercover spies while enrolled at the prestigious Queen's Mayfair school. The series, which is set in a steampunk-esque 19th century London makes no pretenses at being historically accurate, but just how realistic is the espionage? Japanese website Anime Anime took it upon themselves to find out, interviewing the military affairs researcher Yuu Koizumi to ask his opinion of the show.

Koizumi didn't describe himself as an otaku, saying that the last anime he watched to the end was Neon Genesis Evangelion, although he did say that he was at least peripherally aware of viral hits like Kemono Friends.

Of the show, Koizumi said,

This is an anime, so naturally it's incredibly flashy...When you say 'spy,' I think there may be a lot of people who think of flashy spies like (007) James Bond, but it's not necessarily true that that sort of thing is 'fiction and therefore impossible.' After all, there was the incident where the Russian spy Anna Chapman was arrested in America in 2010...

In this work, the character Princess is the most believable spy. In episode 2, there is the part where the Princess manages to avoid having her body searched [for the key], and using a privileged social position in that way frequently happens in reality. One thing that's particularly common is to use cover as a diplomat is order to have diplomatic immunity.

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When asked about the abilities and training of the spies in the anime, Koizumi said,

It's different for every kind of spy, but for plain spies like sleeper agents, above all it's important to seem like a normal person, so you really can't stand out at all. That being said, it is the reality that many former KGB agents are very strong, like Vladimir Putin.

Koizumi gave further analysis about the anime characters' abilities as spies by saying,

First of all, their physical abilities are very good, and their quick thinking during the limited time in episode 2 makes them very effective. After that, a very interesting thing in episode 1 was when [a character] reveals a weakness. It might be a lie, but this is a technique to unblock your opponent's heart and make them trust you. This is something that's calculated as part of a spy's tactics...There are frequently spies that use cool-headed judgement and inhuman methods [like in episode 1].

Apparently, Koizumi thought that the character Ange was most suited to being a spy, saying,

It seems like she has absolutely no feelings of guilt about deceiving people and lying, and this is the most important quality to have as a spy...As long as someone says that they're killing their conscience, they can't be a spy. I think that unless someone either has no conscience from the start or can ignore it, they should not be a spy.
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Yuu Koizumi works at the Tokyo-based think tank Institute for Future Engineering (IFENG) and specializes in foreign military affairs, with a focus on Russia in particular. He has a Master's degree from Waseda University and formerly worked as a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

Princess Principal began airing on July 9 and has 12 planned episodes. It was licensed by Sentai Filmworks and is available for streaming on HIDIVE and Amazon's Anime Strike platform.

Source: Anime Anime


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