This is the final episode of the visually beautiful Princess Principal, and though the show is able to wrap up it’s short arc cleanly, we are left with a lackluster ending way below the level of storytelling I’ve come to expect to this point. Of course, Princess Principal was largely episodic, so the ending here could be considered perfect, though a bit frustrating since it simply piddles off without a particularly impactful feeling (other than the melancholy of the show’s end).
We pick right back up with our beautiful Princess as the details of the mission are handed down between Zelda and the Major.A combination of immigration woes, poverty, and classism have caused the soldiers of Albion to turn on their leadership which lead to the idea that they would be able to assassinate the Queen and make the Princess Charlotte, last in the line of succession, their leader of choice. When put like that, it’s hard to believe this plan will even work, right?
The goal is to bring down the ceiling of the new church during the victory prayer service the Queen of Albion is to attend in an effort to spark a kingdom-wide revolution. Charlotte knows she can’t allow this plot to succeed, and begin to wrack her brain for a way to stop it all. Unfortunately, Zelda seems to have known all along that Princess Charlotte isn’t Ange in disguise; furthermore, Zelda understands that the Princess will do everything in her power to stop the assassination. After Zelda calls out Charlotte, she intimates that Control’s real intention is to use the confusion and panic of this revolution to invade and take over the Kingdom. Control, under the leadership of the Commonwealth Military, wishes to turn the the proposed revolution into a revenge war.
On Ange’s side of things, there’s a pity party in the cargo bay of a giant airship hot on it’s way to Casablanca. Ange is showing a ton of emotion and finally letting her guard down after all this time, and I can’t blame her. However, after seeing the hat Charlotte left in her bag, Ange is given new resolve and begins to literally burn the airship down. After escaping the cargo bay, Ange also sees clothing and a note from the Princess leading us all to understand that Charlotte fully expected Ange to come to the rescue.
Not quite sure where to go next, Ange heads back to the school in the hopes of finding a clue to Charlotte’s whereabouts. Luckily, she stumbles on a man working for Zelda who spills all the information he has on the assassination plot and future disposal of Princess Charlotte, and ends up meeting our dear friend Dorothy who admonishes her behavior. As it turns out, Dorothy wasn’t killed or reassigned to another area- she was given orders to watch Zelda and learn (and hopefully foil) her devious plot. With a mix of emotion, Dorothy, Beatrice, and Ange all rush to save Charlotte and stop the murder plot that would only ruin the current tenuous relationship between the Commonwealth and the Kingdom.
Back at the church we see Horikawa and Chise arrive which gives us just enough to understand that Chise will be a part of this last act due to “right place at right time” syndrome. Ange and company are able to break past the piss-poor security to the wall road that leads to the newly constructed church, but news of their escapade makes it to the Duke who orders for their death. It’s likely the Duke has some idea of this plot as well, especially considering his previous inaction when Gazelle told him about the solder’s unrest last episode.
It’s there that things start to get a big hairy for our girls. After a fight with a train-like transport, Ange, Dorothy, and Beatrice are left taking cover behind their car as bullets chip away at the hull integrity. Chise, hearing rumblings below, uses her intuition to figure out that her friends are in the fight of their lives. She rushes to their aide, after Horikawa grants her leave, and saves the day just as all looked lost. The meet-up is short as Chise and Ange move to safe Charlotte, leaving Dorothy and Beatrice to crash the victory prayer.
Back with Charlotte is the quite possibly the tenses atmosphere in the entire show as Charlotte dances around Zelda’a watchful gaze to trick the Major into ending his own assassination plot. However, because the Princess tried to stop the ceiling from falling a few times, she ends up tied to column as the Major and Zelda get ready to turn the key that will bring down the entire church. At this point the Major has realized that the Princess isn’t complicit in the future murder, and he begins to question if this is the right path. During this time, we learn more about Charlotte’s resolve and her personal ideals. She’s terribly smart, and understands that if she were to be Queen, she would not only be the last ruler of Albion, but also die to guillotine due the changes she would institute.
For some reason, the Major and his troops believe Charlotte when she says she understands their hardships- maybe they can sense that she isn’t originally royalty- so, when Zelda turns to shoot the princess, the Major inadvertently sacrifices himself (he didn’t think Zelda would shoot him). Before Zelda can kill Charlotte, Ange and Chose burst into the room causing enough of a distraction to save the Princess. With his dying breath, the Major tells Charlotte that she is the true Queen, and Ange finally takes the Princess away from this danger while both girls apologize for their behavior.
Dorothy and Beatrice are able to disrupt the church service, and Chise fends off Zelda long enough to kill the revolt. Our ending centers around Zelda escaping and the Princess being safe as Control’s leadership is stripped from the General’s military and returned to L. It looks like the Commonwealth leadership wasn’t keen on their military’s use of intelligence to attempt a coup.
I really loved Princess Principal, not only for the stellar animation, coloring, and character designs, but also for the innovative, original story we were given. With so many shows based off manga and light novels, it’s nice to see us hopping back to the basics with stellar execution. While there are some slow points in the story itself, the animation quality never drops and there is no point in the show where I think the studio is losing its love.
Unfortunately, Princess Principal is this season’s Re:Creators in that it’s a hidden gem that many people aren’t going to give a chance until some time down the line- if at all. Since anime relies so heavily on merchandise sales, and I have seen so little PP merchandise online, I’m worried this will be the last we will see of our girls for some time. It’s too bad, but if you’ve come across this series of reviews looking for a cool title to pick up, give Princess Principal a try. It’s beautifully animated, wonderfully paced, and has great characters you can get behind when the final arc is introduced.