Princess Principal
Episode 4

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Princess Principal ?

After episode two, I commented that Princess Principal seemed to be taking an in media res approach. After episode four though, I'm starting to wonder if the series is just telling its story out of order instead, as it jumps way ahead to some point after Chise, the Japanese girl seen in the first episode, is added to the team without any explanation for how she joined and became so familiar with the other girls. Supporting this are the episode titles, which included “case1” and “case2” for episodes 2 and 3 respectively, but have episode 1 as “case13” and episode 4 as “case9.” We'll need a couple more episodes to see if the series is going down the route of a Boogiepop Phantom or The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but a spy series does seem like the right type of title to scramble in this way. This would also suggest that at least 13 episodes are planned.

We do at least find out a little more about Chise in this episode. She's apparently operating under the auspices of a Japanese ambassador with her own covert mission: to determine which between the Kingdom and Commonwealth is more worthy of an alliance with alternate-world Japan. The other girls don't seem to be aware that she's playing that angle, so it should be interesting to see how this might interact with Princess's goals. To add further intrigue, it would seem that the head spymasters don't entirely trust Princess, and given that she forced her way into the spy team with information from a source they don't know is Ange, I can't blame them. It's ironic that they mistrust her for the wrong reasons – they don't appear to know at this point what Ange and Princess are scheming on their own – so they're having Dorothy watch her based on that misunderstanding. If you want a story where the lies are so multilayered that you practically need a score card to keep track of them, Princess Principal fits the bill.

That doesn't stop the story from having fun in other respects, of course. There's another daring mission afoot, this time to obtain a Cavorite device similar to Ange's, which has been developed by the Kingdom and could imbalance the Kingdom/Commonwealth power struggle, since the Kingdom has a greater capacity to mass-produce it. Before that, the girls get in some practice with tailing each other, but once the mission starts, they're up to more familiar ploys. That's not to imply that their efforts have gotten boringly repetitive yet, as seeing the girls try to sneak around in dresses that have to be held up for them to move quickly puts a different spin on the difficulty of their mission, and Ange still gets to pull off plenty of daring feats. One moment where Ange reaches around and turns Beatrice's throat device off because she's talking too much is a hoot, and I still can't get enough of how their car moves. The big dramatic moment is Princess's demonstration of intent to sneak onto a ship that contains the lab producing the Cavorite ball, as the whole spy affair has left her teetering on the brink of disaster, so why not go all the way? She's already shown evidence of more backbone than her soft demeanor would suggest, so I liked seeing her toughness this week, even though Ange clearly doesn't like seeing her at risk. The whole team naming thing was kinda cute too.

The one potential complication coming out of this episode is that some in the Kingdom are looking to marry off Princess, which would interfere with her plans, but we'll have to wait and see if that ends up having any bearing on cases 10-12 when they come up. At the very least, it forces a sense of urgency into Princess's push to get more involved. Regardless of how that turns out, I continue to love what the series is doing so far on both storytelling and visual fronts.

Rating: A-

Princess Principal is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

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