Princess Principal Episode 7
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Princess Principal ?
After last week's strong outing, anything short of one of the best episodes of the season would have been at least a minor letdown. Sadly, not even this series can deliver at that level all the time, as we see with this episode. This is easily the cutest episode of the series to date, but at the expense of it being the weakest in thematic and storytelling senses.
To an extent, the series has always traded in cute factor, as the character designs definitely lean in a traditional moe direction and characterizations often contain cutesy elements. However, I hadn't felt before this episode that the cute factor was actually a distraction to the credibility of the mission at hand. In this case, the whole episode seems specifically aimed around being cute, with the serious mission only being a backdrop to that appeal. Even Ange's attempts to act like the disaffected angry girl, though amusingly effective as a cover, play into this goal. The result is a barrage of mostly laser-focused-cute girls working in a laundry mill that Team Ange has to infiltrate in an adorable way; there's the girl that's always eating instead of working, the girl that's always tripping over things, the girl that's always dropping things in the wash basin, and so forth. There was room here to make some serious commentary about working conditions, but the farthest the episode goes is to show how inefficiently the equipment is set up and how the girls have sometimes gotten injured because of how ill-maintained it is; in other words, basic managerial incompetence is considered the enemy here, which is corrected too easily by Princess buying out the factory and fixing things with her team. Exactly how she's able to do that without revealing her identity, and while only controlling limited resources, is largely hand-waved as a needless storytelling complication. Although the series has sometimes stretched credibility on practical matters, this goes further than any previous incident.
Allowing for all that, this is still a fairly decent episode, with the details of the mill delivering the series' typical stamp of in-world authenticity, subtleties like the great vehicle design for the laundry transport vehicle and the plot to discover who's dealing in poison gas make for a decent mission. Detail work like how the person stealing the poison gas knew enough to normally wash his own clothing is also a nice touch, as is a little more character development for Chise and the revelation that Beatrice inherited at least some of her father's mechanical aptitude. There's also a brief but sharp action scene with Chise using an iron against a knife and gun-wielding foe. And yes, that's the same protection-racket guy (and accompanying thugs) who appeared last episode. This one has a case number of 16, so it happens before that one, but it gets away with the lack of the dandy recognizing the girls because he directly encounters different ones this time.
Essentially, this isn't a bad episode by any means, but it's just not up to the lofty standard that the series has established.
Princess Principal is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
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