It looks like we weren’t out of the introductory phase in Princess Principal, as this episode shows how Chise joined the team while adding more interesting details to this spy story.
This entry shows the events before the team’s ninth case. A Japanese delegation is here to revise their country’s treaty with the Kingdom of Albion, and the Princess has been sent to greet them and escort them to London. And where the Princess is, her spy friends are.
There’s the looming threat of an unstoppable Japanese assassin named Jubei who has been killing people left and right. Lord Horikawa is endangered by them, and since he’s with the Princess, she too is in a risky position. We have an interesting aspect here, which plays in line with what we saw in the last episode, regarding the Princess. The Duke of Normandy actually wants the Princess to get involved in the assassination attempt, which is why he’s aiding the assassin.
Why does he want the Princess of his own country to get involved in such a bad situation? To push her away from the throne, of course! The Princess is the fourth in line to the ruler’s seat, but whether she wants it or not is irrelevant; the Duke doesn’t want to take any risks. The proposal to marry off the Princess, most likely to someone without noble blood, was part of this scheme to try and get her out of the picture.
Chise claims to board the train to avenge the death of her father who was killed by the assassin. But that’s a lie: as it turns out, Jubei was her father, and she kills him because he’d changed and become a treacherous bastard.
The assassin shows up as was planned and hops on the train. He’s a pretty ruthless man who doesn’t care about who he’s killing; he swings his sword at Beatrice to slice her neck off, but her mechanical larynx saves her from losing her head. His acolytes are taken down by Ange and Chise and he himself is taken down by Chise.
Princess Principal had been pretty reserved with its action so far, but this episode had quite a lot of exciting fights as Chise took on the assassin and his men. The fight between Chise and Jubei is the better of the scenes here, though the other fight scenes, like Chise taking on some of the goons or her fighting Ange and Dorothy, don’t lack much either. The fights aren’t overly flashy or excessively fast; the movements tend to appear a bit slow and calculated, but can be fast and dynamic enough when needed, without ever getting hard to follow. There are a few instances of neat camera angles, though only in the fight between Chise and Jubei; the other battles are pretty straightforward, and lack most of the dynamism the combat between father and daughter has.
The fight between father and daughter had all the ingredients of success. Watch it below:
A very important thing in fight scenes is that they should be exciting enough without being too hard to follow. They should strive to be fast-paced and dynamic with varied movements and camera angles, but not at the cost of devolving into a sequence of confused cuts that make the fight’s proceedings unreadable. An example of a scene failing at this to an extent is the fight between the two Sabers in the first episode of Fate/Apocrypha. The fights in this episode of Princess Principal keep things somewhat simple when it comes to being flashy (there are flying sparks but even those are somewhat restricted, probably due to the color scheme of the show), but maintain a degree of smoothness in their movements and stay easy to grasp, even when the scenes speed up.
After the deed has been successfully done in the carriage, we see Chise joining the club as a spy. Dorothy introduced Horikawa to headquarters and they let him in. But this feels weird; why would the Commonwealth let some foreigners inside their intelligence agency and make them part of their operations? The previous episode explained that the Japanese want to decide who to side with. This means that they’re unaware of the fact that the Duke of Normandy, head of the Kingdom’s intelligence, and most likely the Kingdom itself, doesn’t care about the Japanese, and, in fact, aided the Japanese assassin. If this is the situation, then it makes the Commonwealth including the Japanese in their intelligence operations even more questionable. Do they hope to achieve something specific by allowing the Japanese into their party? Or did they simply assume that the Japanese would be on their side after the assassination attempt? Being an intelligence agency fighting such a difficult spy war, they should be smart, so we’d like to think that the Commonwealth is hoping to get some benefits from having the Japanese on their side.
That Chise has been planted here makes us think that maybe the Japanese are expecting a lot here; or maybe they just played along with the situation.
Chise’s role as explained in the previous episode was enough, but this adds some background to her character: she’s not just a Japanese mole, but had her own reasons for coming to Albion in the first place.
Now, how will the Duke see all this? Does he know about the fact that a high school girl and friend of the Princess is the one who saved the day along with a little Japanese girl with a sword? There were no witnesses though, as the guards were all separated from the main carriage and everyone else on the main carriage itself died save for some Japanese. But if he does find out about this situation, it would blow the Princess’ cover for sure.
There’s also this interesting little bit about how the Princess and all the other Albion people saw the Japanese and their customs as strange.
This is the Princess and Beatrice’s first mission where they’ve been in direct danger. Beatrice almost lost her head, and the Princess could have been killed too if Chise hadn’t dropped in from above. Beatrice had been in a weird situation in her first mission too, but it was nothing like what she went through here. She’s probably learnt that protecting the Princess isn’t as easy as she had thought.
Overall this was another excellently exciting mission for our cute spies. Things started to take a worrying turn when Dorothy got injured and the carriages separated, but Ange and Chise managed to control things, and with help from the Princess they managed to stop a murderous collision.
The introductions are now complete. The show has a rather interesting format, with this latest episode recounting events that occurred before those of the previous one. We’ll have to see if this was only a one-off, or if it’ll occur again later on. At any rate, the time has probably come for the main plot to take center stage. There’s plenty of potential excitement waiting for us in future episodes.
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