Episode 5 is in many ways similar to episode 3, giving us a backstory of one of our characters via a spy case as they did with Beatrice. Before we get into that though, I’d like to say that I thought Beatrice’s backstory was definitely touching in ways I did not expect from the series, although it wasn’t as if they focused the whole episode on it either. This may have been a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you like to know about your characters before the story progresses, however I think in this case it fits the show, especially if they put just as much emphasis on the other characters and their stories later on as well.
Episode 5 took a bit of a different approach, giving the series a wide diversity of how it’s writing these segmented episodic plots to keep them connected to a main plot thread of the story and also managing to make each of them different enough from each other to keep the story itself fresh and interesting.
This time, the story focuses on the introduction of our favorite spy girl with a sword, Chise. Unlike Beatrice’s story in episode 3 though, where her backstory seemed to come second to the actual case of the episode, episode 5 did the inverse; making the actual case surrounding Chise’s backstory come second to her backstory itself. Although that’s not necessarily fully true, as by the end, they both intertwine together nearly perfectly, making it my favorite episode of the series thus far.
The case featured in this episode is about our classy group of spy girls protecting a visiting Japanese lord from a mass murdering killer that’s attempting to assassinate him. Of course, all the standard fair applies to the murderer. Known for killing large groups of men by himself, using unorthodox and dangerous tactics, and just all around being a crazy assassin like you’d expect one to be. This episode was definitely more action-packed than some of the others we’ve seen thus far because of this, but I think a lot of that also just has to do with my love for action battles on a train, as that’s where most of the episode takes place.The star of the episode, Chise, gets introduced in a way that puts everyone against her, especially Ange, early on. With her sneaking on the train by jumping from a tall bridge, our spy crew rushes out to meet her, only to think that’s she’s the assassin mentioned in the story by the Japanese lord. Of course, this naturally isn’t the case and is clarified within moments by the Japanese lord himself, and it’s revealed that Chise is also looking to fight this assassin as well, but for more personal reasons revealed later on in the episode.
While the episode itself progresses in a way that seems obvious looking back, the execution of the episode (no pun intended this time, I swear) is what makes this episode stand out the most to me. This layout of having to protect a highly regarded target from a killer, finding a suspicious person that’s not the kill and having them assist, and then having a kick-ass battle with the actual assassin is definitely not one that’s original. Also, the fact that the series is out of order for this particular episode kind of hurt it in some ways and helped it in other, as it took out some of the surprise that Chise wasn’t the killer, but also made this unoriginal plot line feel refreshing since it wasn’t being played completely straight either.
That’s how most of this episode tends to play out, as it does definitely play this escort mission out like you’d expect, but the setups of previous episodes have made this episode engaging in a different sort of way, such as putting a lot more emphasis on the fighting instead of the tactics being used by the spies as previous episodes have.
Yuyucow, the main writer for Sakuga Blog, has a whole tweet thread about the action scenes within the episode, which has some great examples of what I mean and includes some details about the staff behind them as well.
With pretty stellar action scenes also backing up this episode plot of protecting this lord, the episode had already done enough to win me over. But I think what I enjoyed the most about this episode though was the reveal, where the assassin is revealed to be Chise’s father, as she strikes the final blow ending his life.
There’s a lot to be said about this reveal, but most of it would just be me re-describing the entire episode in order for you to receive the same impact that this moment was set out to do, and I feel like that would be an injustice to the scene itself and also would make a really boring read if you’ve already seen the episode. I will mention though, that the one moment that showed the most emotion in the episode itself was Chise at her father’s grave.
They turned a heartwarming moment for Chise early on the episode into a highly dramatic emotional moment during this scene, and I thought that was probably the biggest reveal of the episode to me. It was as if the whole episode was made focusing around this particular moment to happen, as if this was the actual reveal of the episode over anything else that happened. It’s these sort of surprises that keep my level of investment in this show high as the episodes continue.If this is how it’s going to be for every character in this show, then I really think that Princess Principal could be shaping up to be my favorite from the season, if not the entire year. I’m finding it hard-pressed to even find something that isn’t a nitpick to be a fatal flaw of this show so far. I’m really hoping it continues to keep up this great quality, and I feel like I’m hopefully ready for anything this show throws at me emotionally, but since this show has yet to reveal all its secrets, I have no idea what it’s gonna do next.
That element of surprise is only one of many aspects that has me invested in this show, and I hope that future episodes do not disappoint me or anyone else watching the show, as this show is the star of the season in my eyes.