Princess Principal
Episode 9

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Princess Principal ?

Episode 5, which was Case 7, gave Chise the spotlight, but it was also told almost entirely from an outside perspective. This episode, which backtracks to Case 11 after spending the last few episodes with later cases, returns the focus to Chise to tell the story primarily from her perspective. This allows us to get her impressions on both the whole spy situation and life in Albion in general, which definitely proves to be worthwhile endeavor.

The entertainment value goes well beyond the standard “fish out of water” moments that result from some intense cultural clash, although that's part of it. Her distaste for Western food and joy at her native cuisine allow Chise a much broader range of expressiveness than before, even if some of her companions regard two of her preferred foods (natto and nukazuke) as stinky by Western standards. Her thoughts about the wearing of shoes indoors are also interesting (she feels it promotes smelly feet) and her occasional etiquette flubs – and especially the way she doesn't get flustered by them – contribute to her adorability overall.

Beyond the culture clash elements, this episode provides two other key perks. One is a reaffirmation of Chise's role in delivering comedy relief. This shows up in little things like how she sneaks bites of rice balls hidden in her lap during a meal, or in bigger moments like how her misunderstanding of proposing a duel leads to her throwing a turnip in a fencer's face, not to mention her ill-fated attempts to participate in music and art classes. Even a typical anime moment where she laments not yet having the “woman's weapon” that Dorothy possesses is handled well. A later scene where the other girls comically attempt to imitate Japanese customs to celebrate Chise's big success at a duel (and how that helped them in a mission they were conducting at the same time) also proves the entertainment value Chise brings to her team.

The observations she writes about Albion and its people in a letter to her sister are also interesting. She gives a brief impression of her compatriots but also introduces a couple of characters who haven't been brought up before, such as Princess's male attendant or classmate Lily Gaveston, who as the daughter of the Kingdom's Chief Justice might be keeping an eye on Princess and her activities. Other observations allow us insight into how the team signals for discussion of a spy mission and carries out some of its tasks.

And of course, it wouldn't be a Chise-focused episode if it didn't allow her some action. The brief fight with the fencer at the beginning is interesting, but the real feature scene is the pistol duel she has against a male student who was being very rude toward her and her country. Chise's unflappability and resourcefulness shines here, especially in the amusing way she overcomes a sabotaged pistol by using her uniform's ribbon as a sling to fling the bullets at her opponent instead. Absolutely, this resourcefulness is part of her charm.

The one quibble I had with the episode is a seeming inconsistency. I was under the impression that the device Beatrice has around her throat, which allows her to mimic others, wasn't removable, and yet she's clearly shown not wearing it in the episode's opening scene. Dueling had also largely disappeared from England by the beginning of the 20th century, and I'm pretty sure it was an adults-only affair even when it was acceptable, but that would hardly be the series' only anachronism, and it's not a big distraction anyway. Overall, the series shows once again that it doesn't disappoint in these more personal stories.

Rating: A-

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

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