This has been one of the best times for anime and the sheer evolution of the industry over these 10 years is crazy to consider. Just looking back on the number of anime that came out in one season in 2010 compared to a season now shows an explosion of growth. And sure, there’s been plenty of sequels, reboots, and rehashes of old tropes. However, there also have been stand out hits that did something unique and were immediate loves of mine at first watch.
So for this list, I didn’t restrict myself to one per year, nor any limitation of trying to number one anime above another. Instead, I just wanted to share anime that had a big impact on me and, I think, also the industry. So given when this list is coming out, let’s celebrate the holidays in alphabetical order with something morbid: Death!
Something I’ve always respected about Princess Principal is how unabashedly it likes to just do its thing time and again. From its first episode, it tossed us into its high-flying world of steampunk technology, deception, and espionage and essentially told us nothing except to buckle up. It asked us to trust it with its narrative, its characters, and its fascinating world, and to just let it take us where it was going, wherever that may be. If the final three episodes are any indication, this show did indeed go places, and it escorted us through them in a masterclass style.
Following on the heels of the last two episodes, Princess Principal 12 picks up right where 11 left off, and it’s only fitting for the rollercoaster ride that this finale has been shaping up to be. The show decides to ask us again to simply sit back and take in the sights one last time, and it truly is worth it to do so. The major happenings of episode 12 aren’t necessarily surprising, per se, but they are cathartic, and they work to bring an all-around satisfying conclusion to Princess Principal.
As we head into the final lap of Princess Principal, it’s not surprising to see some larger twists that would indicate where the show is intentionally going for its finale. In episode 10, we learned about a change in command that shook things up for our cast of girls as they have been given the command to execute Project: Changling in order to assassinate the current princess, and as expected, our cast of characters has some diverse reactions to this news.
As previous history with Princess Principal has indicated thus far, the show has kept consistent with its character explorations with each passing episode, especially if we consider the bombshell that episode eight was. Episode nine chooses to focus once again on the combat expert and resident Nihonjin of the spies, Chise. We already had a pretty solid episode of development dedicated to her earlier in the season, wherein which she faced off with and slayed her father-turned-traitor, and we saw a distinctly human side of her by the end of it. That episode focused somewhat on integrating her into the team, and in many ways, this episode is largely the same, thematically. However, we learn far more about Chise in relation to her Japanese pride and heritage, and how that comes into play with her work as a spy. In a way, though, this episode serves as a deep dive into the character of Princess, as well, using the events of last week as a frame of reference.
I feel that every week that it’s my turn to write these articles, the show gets infinitely more interesting than the episodes of the previous weeks. Whether that’s because of the fact that I’m legitimately enjoying the pleasant surprises that this show continues to deliver, the fact that it’s just paced its bigger moments with more impact well, or possibly both, I’m glad that I’m watching this show and I take back all of my skepticism that I had about this show before it aired.
This week’s episode answered some of the the concerns that Mythos had in his last article, as he wondered if the show was going to tie some of these threads from these singular cases together into an overarching plot, which is something I also wondered about the series after the previous few episodes. But episode 8 has decided to finally reveal some of the cards that it had hidden in its hand and has now played them in full view of the audience. I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise twist or anything, considering some aspects have already been hinted at in Episode 2 specifically and could have been picked up on in smaller ways throughout various other episodes as well.
Another episode, another reason to like this show. I have no idea how they’ll tie some of the threads between these different cases together as we’re now working our way towards the ending, but I’m enjoying the ride nonetheless.
While definitely a departure from the emotionally charged last episode, this one is just as good in what it attempts to do. Going from sadness to peppy optimism this episode, our group of spy girls attempt to stop a nerve gas assassin by going undercover in a laundry mill, blending in with the other poor girls who are tasked with washing the military’s uniforms. I have to say, every scene in this episode exudes the feelings and ideas of Rosie the Riveter, women working hard together and accomplishing great things by their own hands and effort, and the wonderful ways in which our main characters help these girls in the mill succeed and even buy out their own business to run it themselves was fantastic. The ending then nicely tied the bow by the cast commenting on how they’ve left their friends in the mill empowered and able to take care of themselves now. This is a great idea to see expressed in this show and Princess Principal never seems to drop the ball in representing some kickass female characters.
She is adorable but believe me. She is insanely kickass.
God, what a bummer of an episode.
This episode of Princess Principal, Case 18 – Rouge Morgue, is by all regards a fantastic episode, but is by far the heaviest that we have seen thus far. It follows in the footsteps of episodes 3 and 5, in which we got to know Beatrice and Chise through their own focused episodes, respectively, and this time, our sights are set on Dorothy. Unlike the other character-centric episodes so far, however, this one has little high-octane action, if any, and instead hones in on story. What also sets this episode apart, however, is how decidedly somber it is, and how tonally different it seems to be from the previous episodes. Personally, however, I believe that this brief departure from the show’s established norm makes for a solid, deeply interesting episode, dealing with love, betrayal, and ultimately, death.