Princess Connect! Re:Dive
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Princess Connect! Re:Dive ?
“In which nothing beyond the immediate threat is resolved.”
After 13 beautifully animated episodes, we have reached the end of the series--though this episode feels more like one set in the middle than the final climax.
At the end of the last episode, Pecorine, Karyl, and Kokkoro were whisked away by Labyrista when they found themselves unable to defeat the giant shadow monster that had been unleashed on the castle town. Awaking inside what appears to be the castle, Kokkoro stumbles across a painting which shows Pecorine is (unsurprisingly at this point) the literal princess of this kingdom. Soon Pecorine herself shows up and reveals her backstory to Kokkoro (and a hidden Karyl)--basically explaining that when she went on a journey to understand the plight of her people first hand, everyone in the kingdom had their memories about her wiped and a usurper took her place.
This explains why she is so touchy-feely with the guild--and why she drags them along on adventure after adventure. She is desperate to make strong, interpersonal connections so that those dear to her won't forget her again. And given that she has no idea how everyone was made to forget her, this is an understandable fear.
This also explains her warped view on reality--why she insists on seeing the world as a better place than it actually is. It's only by believing in something that it can become true. And because she has lived that way, it's not only her guild which she's made connections with. The common man loves her far more than the royalty at this point--to the point where they antagonize the city guard in an attempt to help her. In a very real way, she has become the people's princess. In the end, she recognizes this. While she may have lost her old family, she has made a new one that loves her just as much.
Karyl, over the course of the series, has been torn between loyalty to her master (i.e., Pecorine's usurper) and her new friends in the guild. It's always been a matter of when she'd have to choose between the two. What's interesting is that, in this episode, she makes the hidden third choice: to die.
Knowing Pecorine's tragic backstory and knowing that her master is responsible makes it clear to her how torn her loyalties are. She's reached a perfect balance--she can't choose one over the other. If she fights the giant monster and destroys it, then she'll be betraying her master. If she simply stays out of the fight and lets it kill Pecorine and the others, she'll be betraying them.
Thus the only thing she can think to do is to fight the monster alone and die--leaving neither side betrayed. The trick is, however, she is not allowed to make such a choice--not when Pecorine is around. What Karyl fails to realize is that the interpersonal connections she's built with the guild are a two-way street. Unlike her master who demands loyalty and gives nothing back, the guild loves Karyl for who she is--not what she can do for them. They wouldn't sacrifice her for any reason. And this display of affection is enough to get her to move directly against her master's wishes in the heat of the moment and defeat the monster alongside her friends--well, once Yuuki shows up anyway.
But while the monster is destroyed and a bit of character growth is had by Pecorine and Karyl, this doesn't feel like the final, climactic episode of the series--honestly, it feels like a normal (though important) episode. In last episode's review, I listed the plethora of unanswered questions the story has set up. Among the twelve I listed, only a single one was answered in this episode.
And that's the problem: the series as a whole feels like a prologue or perhaps the first half of an opening chapter to a bigger story. In the grand scheme of things, very little that has been set up is resolved. Yuuki still lacks the vast majority of his memories, Karyl is still torn between her master and her friends, and Pecorine is still an outcast princess with an evil usurper taking her place. Worse yet, even at this point, I'm still confused by basics like the rules of this fantasy world itself and the proper nouns the characters throw about without explanation (“Princess Knight,” “Re:Dive,” etc.).
In a lot of ways, this anime feels like a trip to nowhere. Now, was the trip a fun one with colorful characters, good humor, and astounding animation? Sure. I just wish there had been a destination--a complete story that tied everything together. Instead, what we're left with is a six-hour-long advertisement telling us to play the smartphone game if we want any answers--a game not released in English, I might add. And I'm not gonna lie: that sucks.
• So you can have sisters who are of different species but having a beastkin with two human parents is impossible. Great. I wish the genetics would have been explained a bit earlier.
• Apparently, Yuuki and friends fought the fox princess and lost? I wish I knew enough for that to mean something.
• If Labyrista and her team are “exposed” by helping Yuuki, what does that mean? Are they thought to be dead or something?
• Walking up to the palace gate and asking for an audience gets you attacked by a half-dozen guards? Huh.
• It saddens me that Yuuki is pretty much a non-character overall. He doesn't really grow or change, he's just a “good guy.”
• So all those extra characters we met and had adventures with were completely irrelevant in the end. Fun.
• All in all, Christina turned out to be my favorite character by offhandedly pointing out how everyone is a dumbass for believing their own memories over obvious logic.
• “How crazy is that” count for the week? 0 (I can't believe we didn't get one to send us off with!)
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