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This Week in Anime
Why You Should Watch Princess Connect! Re:Dive

by Steve Jones & Nicholas Dupree,

Cygames' Uma Musume has found a passionate audience, but did you know about the anime adaptation of another of its mobile games, Princess Connect! Re:Dive? The fantasy-comedy is full of stellar comedy and top-notch animation. Nick and Steve check out what makes it a rollicking good time.

Editor's note: Karyl is referred to as "Carl" throughout this column because the writers couldn't help themselves. I tried.

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Nick, despite the name of this column, it feels like ages since I've gotten to cover an anime that was actually currently airing on a weekly basis. But now that we finally have time to dig into more of the winter season's offerings, how about we start off easy with a nice and normal anime about some fantasy foodies?
Oh shit, they're finally making a Delicious In Dungeon anime?
Ah damn. Well, some day. For now, a cat is fine too.
It might not be so hot on the dungeons, but if weird monsters and bugs are your definition of delicious, then season 2 of Princess Connect! Re:Dive should have plenty to whet your appetite!

Or it'll make you throw up. It's a crapshoot.
So yeah, it's time for the second season of another shockingly well-produced gacha game advertisement from Cygames, who seems to be really good at funding these kinds of things. Thankfully PriConne S2 has yet to run into the problems of, say, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul. Though there's still have a season for Pecorine to fall in love with a genocidal prince.
Not if she keeps flirting with Carl out in the open like that. Keep that stuff in the bedroom, you two.
They can't, Carl keeps kicking her out of bed for eating crackers. And bugs. And fraggle meat.
The couple that accidentally poisons themselves together stays together. At least that better be true, or I have no idea how the Gourmet Guild has survived this long.
You've heard of being too dumb to live? These four are an order of magnitude beyond that: too dumb to die.
Gotta say, I am very glad to have this show and it's lovable cast of iron-stomached losers back. I enjoyed the first season, kinda trailed off in the middle, but came back to it in preparation for season 2, and it's a good time! I still can't believe Cygames trusted one of their flagship gachas with the guy who directed the notoriously irreverent Konosuba, but who am I to argue with results?
I'm in the same boat with season 1. I mildly enjoyed some of the episodic shenanigans in that one but trailed off around halfway in. I think the last episode I remember was Eriko's? She was fun.

But I figured PriConne was simple enough to work even without later adventures and jumped right into S2, which turned out to be a bad plan since somewhere in my absence this show decided to have a plot. Very rude if you ask me.
It's less that it has a plot, and more like there's a plot hanging around in the corner, and occasionally it walks up to the buffet and tries to make small talk, but it just makes everyone uncomfortable, because nobody really invited it, so it slinks back to the corner until it tries the same thing again.
So after watching this season's episodes, I had to speed run the back half of S1 to figure out what the hell was going on. Which did give me the chance to see the Gourmet Guild taking a field trip with the Cutie Mark Crusaders here.
Yeah there's good stuff in that back half! I was partial to the pudding ghost myself. I love anything that makes me wrestle with my own mortality and mutability, even if it comes in the shape of a horrific pseudo-yukkuri metamorphosis.
Oh, I should also mention I briefly played the mobile game when it launched in English a while back. And that left me with even more questions about this show's story and setting, and it ESPECIALLY made that swimsuit episode with Kokkoro awkward.
Ah, I have no familiarity with the game myself. I only play gacha games that meet a strict quota of catgirls in techwear, and/or have Shuten Douji.
I can't speak to the techwear, but as previously mentioned they have Eriko.
Not boozy enough, though valiant effort. But I will give PriConne this: turning Nico Yazawa into a giant llama was a stroke of genius.
Though personally I think their greatest move was turning Johnny form Ed, Edd, n Eddy into an elf girl voiced by Kana Hanazawa.
A character so irrevocably neurotic that they already had to bring her back for an even worse shellacking in season 2. A rare distinction.
It's a good choice! Personally, the reason I fell of S1 is because the Gourmet Guild themselves aren't particularly strong comedic personalities, so every episode lives or dies off of the guest cast and individual gags. So having this fuckin weirdo who lives in the woods and talks to logs is a saving grace.
Yeah it's probably the S2 episode I've had the most fun with so far too. As a rule, you can judge the quality of a PriConne episode based on how deranged it draws Carl, and this one is no exception.

And yes, readers, we're going to call her Carl the entire time. There's nothing you can do to stop us.
I mean, of course we are. That's her name.
And she's very important this season! The first instance I realized I probably needed full context for S2 was when we got an honest to god dramatic episode for this tsundere stray cat the guild adopted.
Yeah, she's in the unenviable position of being both the most consistent butt of the show's jokes, and a primary vehicle through which the story explores angst. Her divided loyalty between her hilariously and hornily evil sister(?) and her hungry hungry hime girlfriend is something alright.
TFW you have to betray your big tiddy GF for your furry mommy GF. Such is life.
The furry mommy also rules. Like, literally, she's managed to overwrite the entire kingdom's memories and steal Pecorine's seat on the throne. But also figuratively, because she hasn't met a single piece of scenery she couldn't chew, and the animators are so horny for her whole deal. It's a winning combination.
Also they stole the idea from Symphogear to cast Shota Aoi which was just *Chef's Kiss*.
Doesn't come close to his acting magnum opus as himself in the Pop Team Epic extended universe, but yeah, he's pretty good here.
Just saying, if his agents want to keep pitching him for sultry villainesses I won't complain. I want every anime fan to have an equivalent of this experience:
Symphogear and Shota Aoi: two gifts that keep on giving.
Also it's totally in line with the rest of this season.
One of the inviolable laws of gacha games is that, no matter the setting, they will all eventually converge on idols.
The world is not ready for Carl to learn about the Minmay Attack.
I just love how Carl here looks exactly like a cat who, through an unfathomable amount of misdirected effort, got shoved into a cheap pet costume by their owner.

Absolute misery.
Though I hope nobody is actually doing this to their cats:
The idol episode's probably also the weakest out of the current bunch for me, but it still has its moments. Like, a lot of the show's shortcomings (mostly from the writing, and more granularly, from the plot) are compensated by the fact that it is really well put together. Consistently colorful, bouncily animated, thoughtfully framed, and with the snappy comedic timing honed in the harsh mines of Konosuba.
Yeah, the biggest weakness to that episode is the character writing is just super basic. Carl's conflicted about following her sister's orders vs her growing companionship with Pecorine. But it doesn't really come to a conclusion and tries to tie it into an underdeveloped plot with the Idol Guild. This was something that might have worked better in S1, where one-off adventures with guest guilds was the norm. But here it's in a weird limbo of too serious for comedy but too lightweight to hit the way it wants.
And despite that, flashy moments like the idol performance, and tender moments like Carl's eventual return to the rest of the group, both hit their marks as far as their presentational emotional appeal goes. Craft goes a long way.
Granted the craft sometimes goes a little too far. We didn't need so many shots of Carl's pits, guys.
I was going to make a S1 feet compilation for this column but I thought better of it. Instead, please enjoy more craft through this mouthwatering onigiri, which I can't stop thinking about. It is a crime that I live in a failcountry where I can't just walk down to the convenience store and buy one of these right now.
Look there's a lot of stuff we need in this country. For instance, as we enter Year 3 of this pandemic I could really use some companionship.
First things first, we can at least be happy that our little elf girl managed to make a non-plant friend by finding someone even worse off than she is. That's what companionship is all about.

And all she had to do was fight some glitchy skeletons to do it!

Man, Crunchyroll's encoding is really going down the crapper these days.
That episode sure does go places too. This stuff doesn't exactly jive with PriConne's predominant breeziness, but I also think it's cool that PriConne has the ambition—and the ability—to branch out into other moods and styles like this. While it might not always work, the show is more interesting for them.
It's all fun and games until you slip into an alternative dimension and find the undead remains of a ruined kingdom that has been wiped from universal history.

Still weird how everyone just shrugs their shoulders over that and doesn't bring it up again.
It breaks my heart to say this about a show I've been singing so many praises for so far, but it appears we may indeed have a wee bit of a tiny isekai situation on our hands.
Yeahhhhhhh that's about where I dropped the mobile game too. I can take the 18 different resources you have to grind to upgrade your girls. I can take aggressive free-to-play mechanics. But I will not be hornswoggled into watching Konosuba Art Online dammit.

Season 1 pretty well established that the twist of this show is the main character, Yuuki, had reversed time in order to try and redo a future where he and his companions lost. The joke being that doing this also gave him literal brain damage and now he doesn't remember his quest. But also, now, apparently all these characters are from the real world, and have just forgotten, and also this is probably a virtual reality world instead of a typical fantasy setting.
I can at least respect the audacity of the double isekai time travel grift. And Yuuki is basically the funniest take on the generic self-insert character. And this girl's goddamn name is Metamorregnant.

So I'm a little forgiving of all the over-convoluted plot nonsense.
I am less forgiving. A lot of this stuff just serves to suck the fun out of a show that's otherwise pretty good at it. The only thing that kept me around for all of this was that these episodes have fucking insane animation. Episode 4 especially is just bonkers.

Episode 4 is fucking nuts. Like, it's one of the most staggering assemblies of virtuosic action and character animation to ever be televised, and it looks like it just pops up randomly in the middle of this giant shitpost of a show. And I absolutely love that.

Real Shadow of the Colossus hours here.
It's up there with Mob Psycho 100 S2E5 as just a staggering achievement for television animation. And it basically never stops. Even when it's not an action sequence there's near constant movement, expressive body language, and ridiculous face game.

Carl has never looked whinier, and that is a real feat of sheer artistry.
Also it has a higher than average number of gay furries, so you know it's a quality piece of entertainment.
This is episode director Takahito Sakazume's first credit in that particular role, but he's been around for a while doing key animation and animation direction for a number of sakuga highlights (including the aforementioned Mob Psycho 100). And apparently, he and the production crew managed to recruit a laundry list of industry titans to make this episode the concatenation of fireworks that it is. Suffice to say, this one had to have been in the hopper for a long time, and it pays off spectacularly. While episodes like Mob Psycho 100 S2E5 or Fate/Apocrypha 22 are obviously incredible, it's nice to finally see that caliber of talent and hard work go towards something that is, at its core, monstrously, beautifully stupid.
Never before has the "My own clone...now neither of us will be virgins" gag been so sumptuously illustrated.
They get along (never mind one is the other's IRL cat).
There's a lot to unpack there but we don't have time because Yuuki has to fix his brain so he can debug the world.
Oh I'm sure that'll only take a sec.
Not gonna lie, I was already tired of this plot when it was called Fate/Extra: Last Encore and it's not much better here. But at least the show kind of makes things work by bringing it back to Carl and Pecorine.
A good anime director knows that GF power is not to be trifled with.
For real though, these characters aren't particularly deep, but they're likable and have chemistry. If the story can focus more on that and less on big twists and mysteries—and keep up this ridiculous production—it could be a real treat.
Yeah PriConne's lovability, for me, stems from its good-natured goofs and a bouncy cast that capitalizes on that. Or, to put it a different way, it takes a hell of a lot of sakuga to make a little bit of plot tolerable, so absent infinite resources, PriConne is better off throwing Yuuki to the wolves.
They're good boys. They deserve it.
Looks like everyone agrees!

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