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Author Topic: Princess Principal  (Read 831 times)

Offline Marid King

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Princess Principal
« on: July 09, 2017, 10:35:04 PM »
1:

HOLY F!CK

This is the best opening to an anime I've seen in years and years. More to follow.

EDIT:

This is the first time I've sat down, rewatched an episode, and taken literal notes. I'll post them in raw form here, then come back and post my thoughts when they're more organized. I will address the elephant in the room, which is that the spies are all lolis. So far, the show is so good I don't care at all. However, I can't deny that as of right now, the show would probably be strictly better if all the spies were adults, or at least college students. That could still change depending on how the show handles things.

Spoiler for Hiden:
[INTRO]
-Grainy opening is gorgeous, very brief, but manages a ton of exposition through implication. The empire's existence implies corruption, corporate intrigue, social inequality, oppression, a technological arms race, political instability.
   References to World War 1/2 and Cold War bring even more baggage along for free.

[OPENING CHASE]
   Artwork:

-The city looks incredible.

   Attention to detail:

-If not realistic, reality-based technology. Giant spinning balls might be Van der waal generators.
-Ange flips through multiple lenses which are physically present on her monacle. More are shown than used, which is realistic.
-Edges of scope are blurred. You can even see outlines of the multiple lenses in the left side.
-The technology is steam-punk obviously, but there are generators belting out literal steam, which is used to enhance the city's mystique and add atmosphere.
-Float device needs to cool off in water, putting logical limitations on the magic powers while doing a bit of world building on the side.
-Ange pulls up the mask on her face when she jumps onto the pursuing car, to conceal her identity. She pulls it down on-screen when she makes it back.
-Bad guy in the car reacts twice, once to being jumped, once to the implied panty shot.
-Ange receives help to get back in the car, instead of landing in it with impossible accuracy.

   Direction:

-By joining Ange in surveillance, we get time to take in the setting, before diving in (just like she does) and the action speeds makes things zip by too fast.
-Ange's very first two lines are ridiculous lies delivered in deadpan. There is a moment of hesitation for the viewer; since we are new to this world, the girl just displayed glowing green powers, and she's cloaked in black, the lie
   might well be the truth, but it isn't. This is echoed beautifully later. For now, our confusion is matched by Eric, which stops the viewer from feeling too lost.
-Chise is introduced elegantly by panning down to her during the fall, losing zero time from the chase.

   Execution:

-Restrained, excellent music choice during this surveillance scene.
-Gunshots sound perfect.
-Green power is explained very quickly through visuals and 1 line of dialogue.
-Again, restrained, stylish choir and piano music during chase.
-Gorgeous rotation shot in the sky.
-The movement of the cars is energetic and believable, even bumping up and down on the road. Great shots.
-Spy team communicates verbally and plan things out between them in advance.

[THE SCHOOL]

   Story:

-It's established that we're currently in the royal side of the wall, not the revolution's side. Since they're supposedly helping Eric defect to the commonwealth, that would make the princess a spy against her own family.
   Or is she? Later this is thrown into doubt, when she speaks of lies that become truth.

   Characterization:

-Ange's deadpan personality is enlivened greatly by her silly lies. It stops her being a dull character with nothing going on; very clearly, she's thinking on her feet.

   Direction:

-Again, when she drops the bucket, the viewer isn't sure if she's lying. It does seem ridiculous, but on the other hand, the time period makes it plausible, as does the need for secrecy. We don't learn the truth.

   Artwork:

-F!cking gorgeous garden.

[THE HOSPITAL]
   
   Execution:

-During the conversation at the school earlier, Ange suggests drugging, which indicates she is familliar with it. She performs this in the hospital; were it not for this tidbit, this could have been perceived as lucky or gung-ho.
-The girl in bed next to Amy was a spy, she shows up later with a bandage around her neck.
-LOL at the girl across the room reacting to the drugging.   
-Simple but effective exposition. Amy's eyes have the same color as the float power, and 1 line is given to confirm that it's Cavorite. We aren't told the symptoms; we don't need to know.
-Ange says she's getting insurance, and again there's the confusion. Is it just a pun? Is she getting it for herself?

[BACK TO SCHOOL]

   Characterization:

-It's established that driver girl and Chise are trained in forgery, by showing them doing it along with 1 line of dialogue, then lying about it. More easy exposition, also used to develop the characters while having a bit of fun.
-Again, Ange's playful lies are used to add another layer to the dialogue. By tying her sob story to her previous lie, what could have been bare and bland exposition is thrown into doubt. Or at the very least, we get a good joke.

   Artwork:

-Holy Jesus, yes those stars are beautiful.

[ANOTHER CHASE]

   Music:

-Again, restrained and perfectly chosen. Some deep drum beats lead us in, perfect for a reveal.

   Execution:

-The bad guys shoot the hostage. This gives the enemies both competence and threat.
-Nazi-lookalike laughs while the others disapprove. Even more great exposition; one, the girls clearly have a reputation for badassery, and two, there are multiple factions on the same side. None so far seem clearly 'good', as it
   should be in any spy show.

[THE END]

-When Ange says 'No' and fires the shot, the confusion strikes one last time. There's a delay before the blood stain spreads on Eric's shirt, confirming that he was shot; before then, it's possible Ange missed on purpose and only
   fired as a joke. Her repeated 'No's have multiple purposes. They hammer home the point that, yes, Ange really is going to kill Eric. They demonstrate how ruthless Ange is, especially by each 'No' getting quieter than the last,
   showing that this is not an emotional struggle for her. Finally, she says 'no', but of course means 'yes'; this echoes her previous deadpan humor and baldfaced lies, this time with a black twist. I'm sure a lot of people will
   hype this up as an emotionally gripping moment, and while it certainly is, that's not the point here. The episode has developed this narrative from the literal beginning. Here, it caps it off beautifully. This is not merely
   an emotional highpoint. It's a storytelling highpoint, an artistry highpoint, a technical highpoint. It's the culmination of setting a hundred different elements in motion, and having them all work together as one. F!cking amazing.     
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 02:43:26 AM by Marid King »
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Offline Gadget

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 09:08:05 AM »
Ange uses the  Webley–Fosbery Self-Cocking Automatic Revolver. I notice the zig zag lines. Talk about attention to details. now where are the googles and the Barbagge steam powered computer.

Offline Marid King

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 07:53:27 PM »
After some consideration, I've yet to think of any reason to dampen my expectations. Princess Principal is an anime that takes advantage of every storytelling element available to the medium, executes with skill and incredible attention to detail, and constructs a compelling narrative. This show accomplishes in one line of dialogue what most shows spend entire scenes on; in one episode, more than most in twelve. What's more, the ambition and potential of the premise match the talent that's been displayed. Everything in my body is telling me the sky is the limit.

Unless something goes horribly wrong, this is the anime of the season, year, and possibly decade.   
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Offline HuuskerDu

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2017, 01:09:24 PM »
The Cavorite, the steampunk London skyline, the baroque cars, the guns, the fantastical architecture, the fin de siècle AU historical setting, with a group of secret agents with amazing abilities?  Somebody's been reading Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the GN not the cheesy film).  But since it's anime we get gothic lolis instead of Nemo and Hyde.

Edit: The director, Masaki Tachibana, has an impressive CV as a storyboardist (eps of The Eccentric Familiy, Eureka Seven, GITS, Tokyo Mag 8, FMA, NGE 2.0). However, the series composition and screenplay are written by Ichiro Okouchi, who wrote the screenplays for Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Code Geass, Valvrave the Liberator, and he wrote half the eps and was the associate series compositor for Guilty Crown.  So I expect to see a series with lots of flashy style and great world-building with a so-so plot.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 08:54:49 PM by HuuskerDu »
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Offline Gadget

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2017, 11:34:21 AM »
2
Back story time. After the actions of the first episode, it's more of a psychological 'who is the traitor' story. Stay for the ending. The truth really (f)uck my brains out.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The princess (the long hair blond girl) is a fake. One of the girls is the REAL princess.

Offline HuuskerDu

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2017, 01:34:13 PM »
2:

This felt like an episode of Joker Game.  We see some perfect inscrutable spies in perfect disguises standing around while talking to the mark and palming stuff back and forth for 20 minutes.  Yawn.

It ended with the reveal of an implausibly long deep cover agent (also just like the perfect spies in JG).

The marked drop in animation quality didn't help either.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 07:32:32 PM by HuuskerDu »
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Offline Marid King

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 09:49:16 PM »
2:

A quiet build-up episode, which nevertheless manages to cram in a solid spy heist. I'm quite impressed with how many elements were used together; the spies, the mark, the party, the scouts on the outside, mission control, the Duke, and the princess all played  key roles in how everything worked out. Again, the show's efficiency and density shines. Like last week, enemy forces make competent decisions and not everything goes the way of our spies, but they pull through on account of screwing over the mark and cutting deals. A detail I liked was how the agreement with the princess was hammered out over comms, but the fake deal with the mark came out of nowhere; Ange fed him a pile of BS to make him give up the key. Continuing from last week, Ange's propensity for lying is explored, and it seems almost every interaction she has with any character is deceptive. The princess seems like the only person to whom she tells the truth, and even then only in private.   

Then they drop the switcheroo bomb. I really like how they swap is made more believable by showing us first that yes, Ange can look and sound just like the princess. Going back to the intro from episode 1, there actually is a girl who looks a lot like both Ange and the princess in the royal family photo. In addition, the princess' line about lies that become truth takes on a second meaning, without losing the first. Are the pair loyal to the royal family, or to the commonwealth? Are they on opposing sides?  Or are they a faction to themselves? So far, it could be any of the above.

Laying all those possibilities down sets the stage for a classic spy story. This episode has my excitement building, and if this is the first reveal they're going to drop, I can't wait to see what's coming.
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Offline Marid King

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2017, 07:15:53 PM »
3:

...Only for my hopes to be immediately disappointed.

What the f!ck happened? Gunfire, which had been handled wonderfully so far, falls to the 0% accuracy trope in laughable, bog-standard action scenes. Dorothy was a fine character before, but morphs into an annoying, screechy moeblob who yells at the top of her lungs during a stealth mission. Worse, her voice changing is explained in probably the worst way I can imagine; a mechanical voicebox that you can alter on the fly is actually less believable than her just being able to sound like a man. There was a great opportunity for Dorothy to contribute to the growing narrative, as a fanatic singularly devoted to the princess' well-being. This would have added gravity to the interplay of loyalties, since if Ange really does betray the princess, Dorothy would immediately do everything she could to damage Ange. It would require that Dorothy be a competent spy in her own right, instead of a useless moeblob. Instead, this episode actually PREVENTS this possibility, by making Dorothy trust Ange out of absolutely no where. We spend an entire episode on Dorothy, and at the end of the day both the character and the overarching narrative became less interesting and more simple. This incompetence is actually blowing my mind. On top of everything else, Ange behaves like an empty parody of herself. Whereas in episode 1 and 2, every single lie she told had purpose, here she throws them out every other line just to troll. They took an excellently written aspect of her character, turned it into a bad joke, then ran that joke into the ground.

Somebody explain this to me. I cannot reconcile how good the first two episodes were with what I'm seeing here. Did somebody else direct this episode?
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Offline AH

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2017, 08:29:10 PM »
^^^
I don't feel like getting into long debates, plus most people seem to be liking the third episode, but what I will say is this: please don't confuse Dorothy with Beatrice. They're two different characters. Dorothy is already a spy. Beatrice isn't. We saw this last week.

Beyond that, I feel Beatrice's loyalties still primarily remain with the princess. She distrusted Ange during most of the episode and, in the end, they only bonded over a mix of evident self-preservation and confirmation about their mutual liking of the princess. Yet that doesn't have to guarantee they'll be good buddies in the long term, especially since the prologue of the episode also made clear that Ange and Princess have a pre-existing relationship and/or arrangement between them. Which will probably bring more complications. Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to jump to  conclusions at this time, Marid King.

As for the gunfire accuracy...well, if Star Wars and a dozen James Bond movies can get away with that, I don't mind. But for the sake of argument, here's an explanation: they were firing outside of a ship, which means those bullets are subject to high altitude winds, and Ange was using the cavorite sphere to defy gravity. In addition, I have no problem with the voicebox. Convenient but not out of place in a steampunk setting.

Offline Marid King

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2017, 12:17:07 AM »
whoooooooooooooooooooooops

leaving it there because the people must know how dumb I am.

Quote
Beyond that, I feel Beatrice's loyalties still primarily remain with the princess. She distrusted Ange during most of the episode and, in the end, they only bonded over a mix of evident self-preservation and confirmation about their mutual liking of the princess. Yet that doesn't have to guarantee they'll be good buddies in the long term, especially since the prologue of the episode also made clear that Ange and Princess have a pre-existing relationship and/or arrangement between them. Which will probably bring more complications. Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to jump to  conclusions at this time, Marid King.

If Beatrice doesn't trust Ange now, then this episode was wasting our time. The heist had no other purpose but to develop the two characters and their relationship. Even if that weren't the case, this episode establishes that Beatrice is not a spy anywhere near Ange's league, so she'd be helpless even if she doesn't trust Ange. Either Beatrice would never see through Ange's plot before it's too late, or she'd get killed immediately upon figuring it out.

The bullet thing is bizarre for multiple reasons. One, like I said, Princess Principal handled shootouts much better before. Two, there's an extremely easy way to avoid this problem; just have the soldiers realize they can't use the machines on Ange, or else they'd be shooting at their own airship like complete morons. Not only does this remove the accuracy problem, it actually improves the setting by making the airships more realistic, since they'd be no longer made of indestructible magic metal. Three, the shootout is just an pointless scene. It doesn't move the heist forward, it's not an interesting spectacle, it doesn't cause any development, and nothing that happened before makes it necessary. You could just have Ange and Beatrice zipline down exactly as planned, then sound the alarm when a soldier spots them through a window.

I have no idea what the director was going for here. I'd seriously be less confused if, in order to distract Beatrice from her nervousness, Ange starting making out with her in a blatant fanservice scene.   
« Last Edit: July 24, 2017, 12:52:52 AM by Marid King »
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Offline HuuskerDu

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2017, 04:30:22 AM »
I'm confused about the Charlotte-Ange switcheroo.  It took place 10 years ago when both girls were, what, only 5-7 years old?  So Ange is really the princess (biologically speaking)?  Does Beatrice know this?  Where did the real princess (Ange) get her nasty nihilistic attitude?  And how can the oh-so-sweet 'Charlotte' become the queen, when according to the family photos she is 4th in line to the throne (at best)?  And would the claim even be valid (a la Jean and the ACCA)?

3:

Apparently the Kingdom's air sailors are all graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

I suspect that Ange is going to suffer the effects of Cavorite poisoning soon if she keeps using it as heavily as she did here (possibly foreshadowed with the hospital scene with the dying ballet dancer in ep 1).
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Offline Zeitgeist

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2017, 05:55:05 PM »
1:

Me during OP: is this one of the cute girl killing simulators or is the another Joker Game(ie shit)? Notice neither of those invite expectation or quality

There has been a different early-ish 20th century series for like the past 3/4 seasons. I wonder why.

a dandere short-haired girl is Main Girl? But I hate literally, almost everything

OMG the architecture. I am dying. I love it

That line about lying and friendship was great. These characters genuinely don't like one another. Or, at the every least, have such a warped perception of friendship they cant distinguish a genuine bond with one built upon meaningful lies.

This episode was certainly a ****ing rollercoaster ride. I somehow hated all of it while absolutely loving all of it. My main thing is, this first episode, like many, really works as just a one-off. This was a fantastic episode and I feel as though I have gotten all I need/will from this series. I don't want to watch the rest only for it to inevitably decline in quality.

I love the architecure, being set both in my favorite time period and "location", I loved the props(vehichles, arms, clothing), but..

2:

I swear to god if these teen-aged loli's are shown to better than full "grown" adults Im gonna "groan."
Man I'm sure glad this Dorothy exists to explain Ange's plan cause it was oh so complex that it couldn't have been explained via directing(shot composition).
Insane. Ange is just a stethoscope. Why would sh have such knowledge? So spies are super cool martial artists and psychologists and medical doctors and scientists and make up artists and actors and ****ing teenagers.
So when is the abrasive arian guy going to be revealed as a traitor?

Obviously the Main Girl was the true princess. Have you never experienced a narrative? What other role could a lead female possibly occupy?
...
 Or is this some Memento bullshit and I have to actually give a shit?

3:

The intro sequence was great. Ange pretty much said "sure, I'll surrender everything I am so YOU can feel fulfilled" with a very accusatory tone which even had the princess taken-a-back.
Beatrice sucks and serves no purpose - so obviously she is a spy. Reveal when?

Insane "Let's get the biggest virgin to defend the door." Great plan. Was this always Austin Powers?

As predicted given episode one, I have since lost all interest in this show and genuinely regret that it wasn't a single episode OVA.

 

Offline Marid King

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2017, 01:33:37 AM »
4:

And we're back on track. I really have no clue what's going on with the direction's ups and downs, but I'm glad of the upswing.

Chise coming from her own faction, and Dorothy being deeper in the agency's trust than Ange are both excellent developments. Most importantly, Chise adds to the threat of the Princess' personal agenda. This episode reinforced the fact that the princess's connections are the team's biggest asset; if she goes rogue, then Chise will join her, because she'd be by far the stronger faction. If Ange is in with her, and assuming Beatrice joins as well, Dorothy is ultra screwed.
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Offline Marid King

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2017, 10:29:57 PM »
5:

Straightforward, but excellent. I have to wonder again if the direction changed hands, because this time the physics of the anti-gravity ball were explored skillfully, and the spies seems to break a different set of rules than before.
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Offline Gadget

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2017, 08:41:47 AM »
If you check out wiki, it seems the episodes are all over the place.

Episode 1 is case 13.
Episode 2 is case 1
Episode 3 is case 2
Episode 4 is case 9
Episode 5 is case 7
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 11:18:53 PM by Gadget »

Offline Gadget

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2017, 08:37:44 PM »
8
It's a soup up version of Mark Twain's Prince and the Pauper set in a Steampunk background. I be if Princess (the real Ange) becomes the queen, she'll switch places back with Ange, the real Princess.

As a spy story, I think the last 2 episodes open themselves to exposure by the Department of Homeland Security. So it's not hard core spy action. It's cute girls doing cute spy things.

Offline Gadget

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Re: Princess Principal
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2017, 05:48:30 AM »
Final thoughts

I feel let down after the first episode. The story is all over the place. And after the good story in the first episode, the rest was run of the mill cute spies doing cute stuff. It lost the excitement of a good spy thriller.

Although Ange was the MC, there is nothing about her that I can like. It's not that I don't like her, she's a blank. Even droids like R2D2 or C3PO got more character. Although she has a 'wall' around her heart and she has a 'bland' character, but her team can reflect on this and indirectly built her character. But the writers choose to take a short cut and make her bland.

But production was top notch. Bandai Visual money? It did create a steam punk feel. Not as good as  Project Itoh's The Empire of Corpses. I was hoping the see the Barbbage mechanical computer or Tesla's ray gun. The only thing that is stem punk are the airships.

Beside the production, everything else was flat. 6.5 for me.
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