Good food, good company and one powerhouse Princess!
What’s the Story?
Yuuki, a young man with no memory of his past or, well, anything really. Kokkoro, a sweet young woman who is sworn to care for and protect her Lord, Yuuki. Pecorine, an energetic swordswoman with an ample appetite, as well as a tiara and an attack called ‘Princess Strike’, take a guess at her previous occupation. And finally Karyl, a cat-eared sorceress who cares only for ‘Her Majesty’, whoever she is. Together they form the Gourmet Guild and they make it their mission to travel around the land of Astraea, discovering new foods and ingredients to share together. Of course there’s also all the unique people of Astraea, from pudding-obsessed ghosts to transforming llamas, the Gourmet Guild will make friends with all of them, but it’s not all happy and fun. There’re shadows stalking the land, stealing souls and wiping out entire villages, and they have something to do with Yuuki’s lost memories…
This show should not work. It just…shouldn’t, and yet it does. No, scratch that, it more than works it’s downright amazing! If it weren’t for Tower of God I’d be calling this my favourite show of the past season by a wide margin. It’s funny, sweet, utterly gorgeous, explosive and extremely heartfelt in places and somehow it holds itself together despite the fact that it should have been crushed by it’s meandering plot and excess of characters. Shows have taken me by surprise before, even in this past season, but nowhere near as much as this one did. I feel like I’ve uncovered a tiny diamond and I need to show it off to the world ‘cause I can almost guarantee that not enough people have seen this show. I’ll admit in any other season I would have skipped this show. I don’t do any of research on shows before I start watching them, but from the series artwork and description it just reeked of some sort of fanservicey harem nonsense (and I was already taking a chance on a harem with My Next Life as a Villainess). Then I heard it was based on a mobile game and I was officially out. Nope, I’ve seen these types of shows before, there’s just one male character and then an endless parade of fanservice maidens and that’s just not my thing.
Then I got bored one night and tried an episode. It was like getting a bucket of cold water dumped over my head because suddenly I was awake and Princess Connect was lighting up my Monday evenings for the proceeding twelve weeks. This show is just such a joy to watch, it’s hard to put my sheer levels of glee into words. I love these characters and the many, many, many side characters, but we’ll come to them in a minute. What I want to talk about first is the look of this show, because it looks a million times better than it has any right too. From some terrific character designs, to the use of lighting and particle effects, every frame of this series just glows. I want to screenshot everyone second of this show and decorate my walls with them they’re so, so pretty. Whether it’s the sun-drenched streets of Landosol, the blazing attacks of Pecorine or even just an establishing shot of a field or forest it looks utterly gorgeous. Add on some pitch perfect timing in the animation and you’re really on to a winner here.
When I did my first impressions of this series I called it the baby of Konosuba and Food Wars and that comparison still holds true. The series is certainly obsessed with food and the pretty visuals make each dish that is served up utterly glistening, but it has the comic instinct of Konosuba, probably something to do with the fact that they share a director, Takaomi Kanasaki. Now the comedy in Princess Connect is a lot tamer than Konosuba’s, there’s hardly any fanservice in this show and all of the characters are genuinely nice people (unlike the disaster zones of Konosuba who, no matter how much I love them, I can never call any of that cast ‘nice’ in any shape or form). A lot of the comedy in Princess Connect comes from the reactions of our main characters, both to one another and to the strange people that they meet along the way. Whether it’s Yuuki being so clueless that he lets wild dogs drag him away, or a food stall making the mistake of telling Pecorine she can eat as much as she wants, these are all loveable people. Each joke lands with such perfect timing that I can’t help but laugh, even if it’s just a silly little thing in the background, this show leaves me beaming.
Lastly, let’s talk about the characters and the true miracle of this series. This series has a tremendous amount of characters in it, I’ve never played the game this show is based on, but I take it it’s one of those where you go around recruiting dozens upon dozens of female characters to your side and damn if this series doesn’t make an effort to fit them all in across it’s thirteen episodes. A lesser series would crumble under such weight, they’d never be able to introduce so many people and make each of them feel distinct, not without a lot more episodes to work with. Luckily Princess Connect has the guild system to help it. After spending the first few episodes firmly establishing our core cast of the Gourmet Guild, we then pretty much have a guild-of-the-week formula, with the Gourmet Guild running across three or four characters an episode set around a particular theme. Of course it helps that the show never loses it focus, the Gourmet Guild are the focus and they get the most attention, and while each other guild is distinct they’re very much treated like the side characters they are.
The Gourmet Guild themselves are all simply a delight to be around, their various personalities bouncing off of one another so well that I don’t even mind the meandering plot or lack of resolution. Yes, the series does spend a lot of time just going on silly little adventures, ignoring it’s main plot to the point that while the ending of the series gives us some idea of what’s going on, there’re are also a lot of questions remaining. I can see that annoying some people, but, personally, I enjoy the company of these characters so much that I don’t really care. I’m just praying that a second season is going to be announced.
In the end, Princess Connect! Re:Dive is a gem of a show. It’s probably not for everyone, the plot does meander and there is a lack of resolution to the main plot without a second season (yet), but honestly the characters, comic timing and visuals more than make up for that. This is such a perfectly packaged beam of sunshine, whether it’s going along on the odd little misadventures with the gang, the stunningly impressive battle sequences or the genuinely heartfelt moments throughout, this show has been a joy to watch. I’m praying for a season two, as well as for more people to check this series out because it really deserves it. Good food and good company, what more can you really ask for?
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.