Princess Principal
Episode 6

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Princess Principal ?

This week's episode jumps forward to Case 18, although what that implies is much more nebulous. Should this be taken as an indicator that the series is going to get a second cour? Or does this merely indicate that some cases will be skipped under the rationale that they're not interesting enough to warrant more attention? Either way, the story is clearly set long after Chise has been comfortably integrated into the group and contains no real movement on a larger plot front; a brief conversation between Ange and Princess indicates a continuing firm commitment to their ideals but little indication that they have accomplished much yet. Of course, it's also entirely possible that this series will never have an overarching plot beyond the mysteries of Ange and Princess's past relationship. If the rest of the episodes continue to be near the quality level of this one though, then a series full of individual cases isn't necessarily a bad thing.

To be sure, there's nothing terribly novel about the story at hand. Dorothy turns up for an episode that delves into her past, which means sorting out a troubled relationship with her father, an engineer who fell apart when he lost his hand in an accident and became a temperamental bastard. It's easy to understand why the girl he knew as Daisy ran away (as her mother had also abandoned them), and ending up in the Commonwealth alone right before the civil war would easily explain how she became a spy. The most interesting part of this is the young woman we now know as Dorothy apparently assumed her mother's name for her spy work, which is loaded with all kinds of deeper implications!

The scheme is also a fairly standard spy maneuver: a critical cipher is being transported to the Duke of Normandy via a dead man's tooth, and Dorothy and Beatrice have to work at a morgue to find the correct body. Dorothy's irascible father also works there as the Duke of Normandy's contact, hence the reunion. Naturally, he's being hassled by debt collectors, and he sees this ploy as a way to not only get out of debt but also try to reestablish some bridge to his Daisy, which she's ambivalent about.

What makes the whole thing work beautifully is the execution. Without going into needless exposition, we can see exactly where everyone stands. Dorothy's father isn't cartoonishly evil, he just couldn't overcome his depression after losing both his hand and wife and drove his daughter away by taking it out on her. And while Dorothy abandoned her father and seems to hate him, she can't distance herself from him as much as she'd like either, especially once she finds out that he didn't sell her and Beatrice out like she originally thought. Individual scenes are well-handled too, such as Dorothy's nicely-animated manhandling of the debt collector's thugs, the incredible first-person perspective of being targeted by a thrown axe, or the poignant scene at the end where Dorothy waits for her father at a bar while he's being passed through the morgue he used to work at. The episode also does an outstanding job with the ambiance it sets through its scenery and music and the details about how the morgue works. Even the humor in the opening scene about how both Ange and Chise are adept at bypassing locks but not so good at teaching Beatrice how to do it is a great touch – the two are also shown carrying on an animated conversation in the background while Beatrice is talking to Dorothy in the foreground, an extra touch that TV series rarely bother with.

So yeah, even though there's not much of an overarching story yet, I'll take more of this quality any day.

Rating: A

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

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