What They Say:
Control gives Ange and Dorothy a new assignment along with an old acquaintance. Unfortunately, old memories arise that can’t be swept away.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With everything we’ve learned about the cast, the one major question remaining is how the hell these kids became such professional spies. Princess has been forced to become perfect at everything, Beatrice is clearly not on the level of the others, and Chise had been trained in many related arts throughout her life by her father. But Ange and Dorothy were introduced as spies, and all we knew of Ange’s life prior to that was that she was the sheltered princess of all things, traumatized by the horrors of the outside world and certainly not the sort one would expect to become such an accomplished spy before reaching full adulthood. So in its latest weaving together of backstories with new missions, Ange and Dorothy are tasked to work with their old classmate, always second only to Ange herself, and in the process discover if she had in fact betrayed them, ultimately allowing the series to delve into their past as students at a spy training facility known as the Farm. Evidently this facility seems to only accept young cute girls, since this is anime after all. We don’t get every detail of how they ended up there, but it’s only important to tell so much to get an idea of how we arrived at this point, and too much might affect the mystery.
Unlike some similar episodes that use their present-day plot purely for the purpose of propping up flashbacks, the scenes of their past at the Farm really only cover the very beginning, and the emotional investment ends up coming from the new interactions with their old classmate they call Prefect. Most of the discussion of the good old days seems fairly inconsequential, with the major exception being the fact that these three are apparently the only three left, something that almost certainly has to come back for some major flashbacks. Whether we get those in the last couple of episodes or they’re simply counting on a sequel (from the episode numbering, perhaps that’s the case), there’s no telling, but it strikes me as the next big question to follow up on. While Beatrice is woefully unprepared for another spy on the level of Ange, the three former classmates engage in an almost comical level of spy one-upping, such that it could seem a parody if embellished upon only slightly. As the truth comes out and the stakes heighten, though, it’s easy enough to get sucked in. Ultimately it’s shown that Prefect isn’t the person she portrays, something that shouldn’t be surprising given the nature of spies (as Ange directly acknowledges at the end of the episode), and that Dorothy is a far more important piece of this puzzle than it initially appeared. The greatest intensity comes not from action but from emotional weight, and Kajiura unleashes a particularly impactful arrangement to accent Prefect’s bittersweet memories of simpler times with Dorothy. The conclusion is harsh and unforgiving, bringing a level of brutality we had yet to see.
And in case that wasn’t dark enough, the series basically tells us that we don’t need to worry about the events of the final two episodes jumping around, because there’s a major plot point to jump on, and it’s not going to be any more pleasant. It’s the first time we’ve really gotten the sense that the next episode would be critical, but it is that point in the run of the series, after all.
Princess and Chise may largely sit this one out, but this episode is a big one for Ange and Dorothy (and Beatrice comes along for the ride). Princess Principal is perhaps more gruesome than ever, but the raw emotion weaved into this tale is probably some of the better material so far.
Streamed By: Anime Strike
Roku 3, Sceptre X425BV-FHD 42″ Class LCD HDTV.