When it comes to adaptions of video games, specifically gacha phone games, well, the outcome is usually bad. Since I am an Azur Lane player, it is always the first to come to mind but there have been several game adaptions in recent years. Blade & Soul, the ever so popular Fate, and even Rage of Bahamut have at some point had an adaptation of some sort. Now as stated, not all of these were flops, Fate alone makes millions every year, but typically when I stumble upon shows like this my bar is already set low. So when I saw (on Reddit naturally) a short video about some chump helping out this demon-looking lass because she was starving in the street, only then to stalk and kidnap him, I was, intrigued. A couple of episodes later I was hooked and had the gacha game installed on my phone. Princess Connect! Re:Dive is without a doubt one of the funniest fantasy series I’ve seen in a while, then I found out it was under the direction of Kanasaki, Takaomi, and it all made sense.
Gacha and I have past, to say the least. I’ve been an active player of Azur Lane for almost 2 years now but no other series really stuck with me. Arknights was fine, Fate had its moments but overall Azur has been the only one that really sunk its fangs into my neck and wallet. Then I started playing Princess Connect! And what followed is nothing short of the big oof. But I digress, we aren’t here to discuss the game, no, we are here to talk about the anime. So the series follows Yuuki, a man that fell from the sky, literally. So I am going to be straight, Yuuki, is, well, special. What they dress up as someone simply losing their memories, it a bit of a hard sell when it comes to Yuuki as a character. He didn’t just lose his memories, he lost the basic ability to function. In the first episode, it is eerily uncomfortable to watch him try to operate in day-to-day life, fortunately, he has a caretaker, elf Kokkoro. So Yuuki clearly represents the player in this instance, and a lot of the boneheaded stupid things he says in the show match the dialogue in the game, in short, as I said, he’s special.
Kokkoro role in this is the game assistant, the person the explains to you how everything works in the world and guides you along the way. The two of them make an interesting pair since they are both fairly useless and airheads but the real meat of the how comes from the other two, the sword-wielding glutton Pecorine and my newly found religion Karyl. It’s with the addition of these two that really make the dynamic work for the group of four. Pecorine is a shining beacon of positivity, has a strong sense of justice, and is a talented cook. Added with her general strength she is a whimsical maiden whose pure heartiness makes her both fun to watch, and the perfect polar opposite to my dear Karyl. It is rare for me to stumble upon a character archetype and just lose my shit, Nori from Kiznaiver is a good example of me just loving every single thing about the character. So when I found myself on the other end of a screen to a sassy, pessimistic, neat freak, can’t be bothered cat girl mage it made me think, maybe there is a god.
I love Karyl by herself, but when she is with Percorine, enduring her blind optimism, trying to get the group in logic check, I love her just that much more. She is standoffish, but ultimately succumbs to Pecorine’s willingness to do anything to help people around her, and to make matters even better, she is technically the antagonist. Princess Connect is bright and bubbly but like most things, it has a dark underbelly, some events occur within the world where people are actually hurt, there are powers and play that are actively trying to change and destroy the world in its current state. Karyl took her mantle as a servant to Kaiser Insight (though I don’t think she a named in the anime) a malevolent force that is manipulating the kingdom. Though the series semi glosses over the fact, the reason Karyl and Pecorine even meet, is because Karly is tasked with murdering her. Attempting too many times she not only fails but accidentally ends up befriending the bubbly knight, confusing her line and allegiances as her daily life with the Gourmet Guild becomes the norm.
There are some real heart-touching moments within this series, along with tons of humor, an interesting plot, and a really decent amount of suspense. Karyl and Pecorine have true hardships and harsh pasts, and now partnered with Yuuki and Kokkoro their daily lives of creating the best dishes ever become a welcome change of pace for the two girls that had suffered. The animation is crisp the world outside of the 4 is genuine and interesting. Every interaction brought me some sense of either joy, humor, or annoyance, and at no time did I not wonder what all was actually going on within it and Yuuki slowly get bits of his memory back. Princess Connect is by no means perfect, all of this is in the context that is it a gacha adaption. There is never a real sense of danger and even when things look grim, it’s understood that some force of friendship or love will prevail.
I had a lot of fun watching and playing this game, it was a pleasant surprise and I’m thrilled it’s getting a second season, if not for anything else, at least for more Karyl screen time. I’d easily give this show a 7/10 and recommend it to anyone that is looking for a fun adventure of friendship and waifus, it’s definitely worth the watch.
As always thanks for the read!