Princess Connect! Re:Dive is an anime based off of a JRPG mobile game under the same name. Our main character, Yuuki, is dropped into a world with no memory and no clue what he is doing. He is greeted by a personal escort/healing elf lady named Kokkoro who makes the pilgrimage from her town like she was part of the Three Wise Men coming to meet Jesus. Together, they add a knight named Pecorine and a cat-girl named Karyl to their party. These four create the “Gourmet Guild,” where they seek out the best food across the land. Trouble brews and as it turns out, not everyone is quite who they seem in this world.
Yuuki is one of the first characters we are introduced to. We learn quickly that he has lost his memory, but he is essential to the deeper workings of this world. The problem is that this crayon-eating swordsman has so little memory that speech is rare. He is used comically throughout the show as a chew toy for monsters. This is odd for someone who is supposed to maintain a greater sense of balance in the world like he is Anakin Skywalker. We learn a small amount about who Yuuki was/is over the course of the season, but he does not really “develop.” Instead, we just watch him struggle to remember his past and use his power successfully even one time. I found him to be quite the useless character and probably my least favorite, an ironic stance to have for the main character.
Kokkoro Natsume is nothing more than an ornament. She plays the healer role in the party and pretty much spends 90% of her time making sure that Yuuki doesn’t die. She has a pretty dull personality and ensures that Yuuki isn’t killed by any of the monsters’ mouths he ends up in, but doesn’t really bring anything interesting to the table. I kept waiting for her to have her big moment but she seemed allergic to the limelight. The story implied that she knows the absolute most out of the group as to why Yuuki is messed up and what power he truly holds, but she never mentions anything or actively helps bring him back to his original state. This drove me nuts. She dotes on him 24/7 and provides nothing more than a protective spell or a good suit of plot armor.
Pecorine is a knight who joined the gang after a chance encounter with Yuuki and Kokkoro. She is an infectiously positive character who takes the phrase, “I could eat a horse” far too literally. If the giant tiara and the fact that she shouts “Princess Strike!” whenever she attacks didn’t make it clear she is a princess, we need to talk. She is a super-powered and hyper-naive swordswoman who cares for her kingdom’s people above everything except a good rice ball. I can’t blame her, personally. Fun character, but not that deep and certainly does not carry the show.
Karyl Momochi might be my favorite character in the show. I mean… cat-girl. Need I say more? Early on, we learn that she is not on the side of the rest of the gang. She reports to an unknown “she” on the whereabouts and activity of the “Gourmet Guild”. As a spy, she might be the worst in existence. Karyl helps the crew at almost every turn — whether she means to or not — and ultimately becomes a critical member of the guild. Pecorine is absolutely infatuated with her and Karyl hates every moment of it. Remind you of any felines with an overly cuddle hungry cat-mom? While most of her time is spent pretending like she doesn’t want to be friends with the crew, she is the only character with an internal conflict of any sort of interest in the show. I wish dearly that she had a backstory that we could learn about, but she, like all the characters except for Pecorine, was not given a backstory.
The stage is set. We pan into a shot with our plain-looking hero. We hear the voice of an odd woman, half anime and half mech, say that he is vital to the balance in the world.
Then he does jack shit the whole season.
Before anything else, the most egregious thing a show could do is create a sense of anticipation and not deliver. The only people who are allowed to tease me without repercussion are my brother, my parents, and the girl I’m dating. Anyone else gets a scathing review on my anime blog.
Beside the whole show being a tease, the “plot twists” feel super predictable. I love plot twists. I constantly think about how to rewrite shows to be more interesting. When I see a plot twist the size of a chihuahua from ten episodes out, I am not camping happily.
I can’t stress enough that Pecorine and Karyl carry the cast but the rest don’t bring much intrigue. The main enemies feel very out of place and unexplained in the world which just adds confusion in a bad way. All in all, we are given so little to latch on to in the show. I look for a lot of reasons to like whatever anime I watch but there has to be more to a show than a dull sense of wholesomeness.
In the first episode, Yuuki wakes up in a barren, empty field. This field is the forest of ideas that this show grew. There are no trees. There is no forest.. There are no new ideas. Almost nothing in this show is original or provides an interesting slant. The hero losing their memory is not original. The healer/knight/mage combo is not new. The characters are heavily troped. The plotline that I will avoid spoiling is not original. I cannot, in good faith, give this show anything other than a one in the ideas category. For this reason, I mercifully bestow upon Princess Connect a single point.
You may ask, “Marshal, it sounds like there are no redeeming factors. Why not give it a zero?”
That would be a good question. That issue is that like dividing by zero, we don’t yet know the kinds of damage the world would see if I was to dole out a zero.
Have you ever started writing anything, gotten about half way through and been pretty happy with yourself, only to realize that you were writing about the completely wrong thing? Now image you are the writer of Princess Connect and this exact thing happened to you. We start off with a storyline of finding the best food in the world only to get thrown into a watered-down version of a battle of good versus evil. Nine episodes in, the viewer has seen the enemy twice and the cast has not seen them yet. In the next four episodes they go from seeing the evil minions once to seeing them fighting them basically for 4 episodes straight. Switching from the beach episode to the main boss “arc” is… odd. I don’t really know how we got there, but it felt like they were planning just for season two, and because of this, nothing really impactful happened in season one.
I have two main issues with the animation. The first issue is the mixed style. Princess Connect has a very bright color scheme and a very matte, unmoving, backdrop. While I think you can do better than this, it’s common to use when you are character focused. However, someone thought it would be a good idea to pierce this style with 3D art whenever magic is used or we see certain enemies. The 3D magic grew on me, but the enemies and other elements never did. They stuck out like a sore thumb and detracted from the visuals.
The second issue I had was how boring the scenery was! I get this isn’t a super high budget show, but we really aren’t treated to any majestic, scenic views in this show. Which is too bad because the fantasy genre really opens the door to any kind of scene you can dream of. It feels like most of the animation budget was spent on fight scenes, but we really don’t see a ton of those either. For as varied of locations as we get to travel, they all come off as uninteresting when we lack the details.
This show is largely dependent on travel, which is very common for RPGs. I have to say, we get to see a good portion of the world this way. We get the impression that there are many kingdoms, but we focus on the city of Landsol and the surrounding regions. Our crew gets to act as our reverse UberEats by delivering us to where they get their food. Giant chickens messing with your rice patties? They conquer the chicken and feast on the eggs. Giant squid attacking drunk swimmers? Turn that baby into sashimi. Yet, I wasn’t attached to any setting or location, which were easily replaceable with anything else. It felt like locations showed potential, but even the rice patties where the kingdom gets all its rice didn’t look big enough to feed one thousand people. The locations aren’t deep and the only one that seems to have any recurring value is their guild house.
Princess Connect transported me back to my time as a wee lad playing Pokemon. The classic combination of horns and strings playing lightly in the background just brings up these nostalgic feelings of marching through Route 29 as I move to the next town. Normally, I am an anti-nostalgia nun with a ruler in hand ready to smack anyone who gets overly sappy with that stuff. But I will say, the music got to me just the slightest bit. It’s not a stretch to picture yourself at the helm of deciding where these characters go, humming along with the music in your headphones, only for your mom to yell five minutes later to stop humming. Did the music add to the emotion of the show? Yes. Was the wave of nostalgia enough to push it into the upper tier? Not quite.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||2||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||1||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||1||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||2||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||1||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
Save your time on this one. Season two would have to prove to be monumental to make up for the bland nature of season one. Of the two storylines, the interesting story line somehow takes a backseat during the show. Things supposedly shrouded in mystery are… rather obvious. Yuuki is less than useless and the show really flaunts this. This poor excuse of an RPG-rooted anime feels more like a cheesy mobile game than the grand AAA title it tries to be.