Blu-Ray Review: Princess Principal – The Complete Collection

Spies, deception and war between countries; it sounds like a great plot for a story but what story can be found within Princess Principal? Well let’s take a look and find out in MVM Entertainment’s Blu-Ray release of Princess Principal – The Complete Collection.

Synopsis:

Early in the 20th century, the discovery of Cavorite, an anti-gravity substance, gave birth to a technological renaissance including the development of giant airships and other fantastical inventions. However, the scientific revolution was not the only one afoot, as Great Britain was torn in two by an armed rebellion when the oppressed poor finally turned on the ruling elite.

Now the Commonwealth has a plan to take Albion by stealth, substituting their undercover operative Ange for the beautiful young Princess Charlotte. But Charlotte and Ange both have surprises in store for their respective governments and instead hatch a plan wherein the Princess herself will act as an agent in exchange for help in claiming the throne!

A dazzling team of femme fatales sets out to rule Britannia and English History will never be the same!

Our View:

Animted by Studio 3Hz and Actas, directed by Masaki Tachibana, written by Ichiro Okouchi and featuring character designs from Kouhaku Kuroboshi and Yukie Akiya, Princess Principal is an original anime production that differs from the norm to deliver a confusing experience that ends just as well as it started; unique. Princess Principal hopes to deliver a story about government espionage and secrets, but instead what it delivers is nothing but a prelude to future events that we will (most likely never) see in a six-part feature-length film series.

Taking place in a fictional variation of 20th Century England, known as Albion, the government has constructed a powerful fleet through the use of Cavorite; a specialised mineral that can grant flight to those who wield it effectively. As such Albion has become a super-power within the world and finds itself isolated, of sorts, amongst those who are not in wealth or in power. Several years later the Commonwealth, through the use of spies in the kingdom of Albion, form a plan known as Operation Changeling which will see the spies of the commonwealth swap the princess with one of their own, in order to restore balance within the world.

This plan is the foundation of Princess Principal and despite it being the talking point of the series the focus is more about understanding the team and the difficulties they have overcome within Albion and the commonwealth. In hindsight it is a very ‘wishy-washy’ approach to story presentation and pacing; with each episode being an individual story with elements of that episode building a bigger picture for that particular character.

For instance the first episode already has the team formed and focusing on their latest spy mission; while the second episode focuses on how parts of that teamed formed together. Later episodes meanwhile focus on specific characters and their origins which led them to be with the Kingdom of Albion as well as the school they reside within.

In this case the Princess, who the spies of the commonwealth had planned to swap with, actually becomes a spy and a member of the team due to her own desires of wanting to become Queen. This desire leads Charlotte, and her long-time-friend Beatrice, learn how to become spies and become better acquainted with team and skill sets required. It’s not until the final three episodes does Operation Changeling become relevant and it this point things become confusing with characters disappearing and ideals changing.

A linear progressive story is not what Princess Principal offers; instead it is a consistent back and forth exploring each character before the operation begins. Naturally the highlight here is the characters, their personalities and the backstories they present rather than the actions and missions they partake.

Extras:

Although I found the series to be underwhelming the selection of supplementary content is relatively surprising and is consisted with other releases of this calibur. In this case viewers will receive a selection of Picture Dramas, of which are fully voiced in both English and Japanese, as well as a selection of Japanese Promotional Materials that were used when the series was broadcast in Japan.

In addition to this surprising selection of content we also have the opening and closing songs in textless form, as one would expect from any ‘bare essential’ anime release.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:46:48 (Disc 1), 3:31:11 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

From my perspective Princess Principal is a series that acts a prelude to future content that we may (or may not) ever get to see; but disregarding this statement viewers will receive an intriquing story that focuses on bonds of the past, a kingdom in ruin and the underground world of spies. In this case the ‘Principal’ consisting of Ange and Dorothy make friends in the form of Princess Charlotte and Beatrice after being tasked of kidnapping the princess in preparation for a major operation. This ‘new team’ of spies undergo missions and training in order to better themselves in preparation for the task at hand.

Each episodes acts as an individual story with some episodes following a relatively linear approach while others act as a ‘present and past’ element. It’s entirely up to the user on how they choose to watch the series and in some cases watching in the traditional manner may result in more questions being asked then answer. Each episode is numbered as ‘Case’ which relates to what point in the timeline that episode takes place within; so viewers can feel free to watch in this manner or the traditional manner.

However you choose to watch the series will always result in the same disappointing set of circumstances that sees the spies complete their objective; that is until the final three episodes which just adds more confusion and disappointment to the fray. If you are looking for an ever developing story then Princess Principal is not it; but it does have some interesting characters with deep emotional backstories… some more than others.

Princess Principal looks great, sounds great (whether it be the English Dub with tolerable British voice acting or int’s original Japanese audio) but the story progression and presentation is not what I expected and nor something I enjoyed. Would it have been better if it was done in a traditional manner? Probably not; but it is what it is.

This Blu-Ray release meanwhile offers consistent quality, a respectable English Dub (once again if you can tolerate the British accents), a strong selection of bonus content and some entertaining subtitles that make the sense more entertaining (especially when it involves Beatrice). Princess Principal is a unique series and offers an interesting story; but how this story is presented to the viewer is (to be blunt) disappointing and could have been done differently and more effectively.

Score: review-stars-2

Princess Principal – The Complete Collection will be available on the 18th March 2019 on Blu-Ray.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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