Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Princess Connect! Re:Dive (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.2
How would you rate episode 2 of
Princess Connect! Re:Dive (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.1
(*Note: The review of the first episode is copy-pasted from when I reviewed it for The Winter 2022 Preview Guide—which also includes a review of this episode from another ANN reviewer. The episode 2 portion of the review is completely new.)
Princess Connect is an interesting show—especially as a tie-in to a popular mobile game. Rather than being a direct adaptation of the game it's based on, it's by and large a collection of original side stories. While the show does include pieces of character-specific stories found in the game, the main plot is avoided entirely. This proves to be a bit of a double-edged sword. While there is tremendous creative freedom for the makers of the anime—as is clearly evident in this episode—it also means that there can be little to no meaningful character growth or story progression. So, how does one keep an audience entertained under such limitations? Princess Connect's answer is simple: lean into the comedy.
Luckily, Princess Connect has pretty much the best director possible for this, Takaomi Kanasaki of KONOSUBA fame. Sometimes the humor comes in the form of simple sight gags—like Pecorine turning around to notice Yuki, who she's been having a one-sided conversation with, is currently in the process of being mauled by low-level wolves (who likewise seem to be more than a little embarrassed at being caught in the act). Other times, the comedic sequences are more layered: one example is the scene where Karyl realizes that the meat she's just scarfed down comes from semi-intelligent monsters who have just showed up and are super pissed she ate their friend and while wearing his skin as a fashion accessory, which is followed by the reveal that these monsters' meat is poisonous, leaving our heroes covered in their own rainbow vomit as they lie paralyzed and powerless before the monsters. Finally, there are all the little jokes about the fact that Karyl is part cat—which, as a cat owner, I appreciate.
All of this is to say that at this point, the story and characters are just vessels to carry us from one joke to the next. We have our Tsudere (Karyl), our Kuudere (Kokkoro), our meathead (Percorine), and our amnesic “stranger in a strange land” (Yuuki). All work well enough and serve as the butt of the joke at one time or another. If you're looking for a light-hearted fantasy/slice-of-life heavy on the gag comedy, you'll enjoy this one. And as there's no real overall story progression, feel free to give this episode a watch even if you're unfamiliar with the franchise. While it may be the first episode of season 2, it's definitely a good litmus test as to whether you will like this anime or not.
This episode starts with our heroes once again helping out another random guild, learning about who they are and what drives them in the process. As usual, this amounts to little more than a glorified cameo aimed at players of the game. Luckily, this is not the focus of the episode. Rather, it is a way of keeping Kokkoro, Yuuki, and Pecorine distracted so we can take a deeper look into Karyl as a character before going further into the second season.
This is done by contrasting Karyl to one of the recurring baddies in the story: Christina. While technically on the same side, their reasons for being there are drastically different. Karyl is spying on her friends out of loyalty to her perceived family—i.e., Kaiser Insight. Christina, on the other hand, just wants to fight stronger enemies and doesn't particularly care who sits on the throne as long as that person gives her what she wants. She's not evil exactly, but she is certainly amoral by normal societal standards.
Back in season one, Karyl started off largely the same and didn't initially feel morally conflicted about her mission. Yet, through her time with Yuuki and the others, she has slowly come to care about others. Karyl has always been loyal to her family—it's just that her scope of “family” has grown to include those in the guild. This, of course, is the cause of her current dilemma: one half of her “family” wants the other half dead—and she is right in the middle of it.
What's interesting is that Kaiser Insight is well aware of Karyl's inner conflict and knows how to twist it to her own ends. Instead of punishing Karyl for her betrayal at the end of last season, she forgives her—forcing Karyl's own conscience and sense of loyalty to tear her apart from the inside. Kaiser Insight even seems to send Karyl on a mission that Yuuki and the others would approve of: killing out-of-control monsters that are attracted to a local concert.
But as Christina points out, they are not doing this mission for altruistic reasons. These monsters were originally created by Kaiser Insight. Now that she's lost control of them—that they are no longer useful and are, in fact, hindering her plans—they must be disposed of. Deep down, Karyl must see this mission for what it is—a warning that should she no longer be useful, her fate will be all-too-similar. After all, it's obvious Christina could have handled the whole horde by herself. The true reason that Karyl is there is to witness how powerless she is before Christina—and to see that Christina would have no moral qualms about killing Karyl next.
Thus, Karyl is kept in check, enjoying the support and companionship of her friends while always harboring the guilt of knowing that one day she will be forced to betray them—and that even if she tries to side with them instead, Christina is just waiting in the wings to effortlessly kill them all. It's pretty dark stuff for what is usually a light-hearted comedy series, but fantastic character development nonetheless.
• Welp, I'm kind of surprised to be back reviewing this one again. I hope you all enjoy any insights I am able to provide.
• One big change since season one: I have now played the game. In fact, I played it daily from the time of the US launch in February through mid-November. Basically, I completed my original goal as stated in the season one reviews: I got Christina, geared her up, saw all her story—then promptly quit the game.
• On that note, what I wouldn't give for Christina's story to be incorporated into the anime. I feel she would benefit from some extra depth—especially after this episode
• I do like that Yuuki's ability to befriend anyone applies to not just the girls but random gangs of obsessed male fans as well.
• Carmina had to be shocked when no monsters showed up, right? Like doing a concert and fighting the monsters that come to kill them is kind of their thing.
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