Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2 Review

Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2 Review
プリンセスコネクト!Re:Dive S2 episode

Having gotten into the first season of Princess Connect! Re:Dive, thanks to my friend Gruzbee (Western Otaku) as well as Japanese folks I follow on Twitter, it was only natural that I watch Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2 when it aired.

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* * * S P O I L E R S ! * * *

The Story, in Brief

The Gourmet Guild go off on a silly quest before returning home to more silly stuff. However, their old acquaintance Aoi connects them with some folks at her new school, St. Theresa’s Academy for Girls. There, they find the first evidence that there’s something wrong with the world. Next, the guild travel to an island for a quest. However, they find Shadows are a massive problem that has to be dealt with.

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The beast queen Mana kidnaps Pecorine, thanks to a teleport ring she gave Karyl. Yuuki has visions of the “real” world in addition to his previous visions of previous experiences in the current world. Pecorine is sent back by Mana as she’s not “ready” yet. Instead, Mana begins kidnapping powerful individuals and using their power.

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Karyl continues to be tormented over her loyalty to her queen and to the guild. Just as Pecorine decides to tell Karyl the truth of Pecorine’s identity, Mana kidnaps Karyl. Mana makes Karyl her Princess Knight, and she is very powerful. Meanwhile, Twilight Caravan members attempt to free the powerful Metamorregnant, but Christina stops them long enough for the real Mana to emerge.

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Pecorine battles the real Mana, aided by Jun and others. Karyl switches sides and Yuuki frees two of Mana’s most powerful captives. Mana is defeated, then taken into custody. Pecorine is reunited with her family, who now recognize her. Later, she returns to the guild to gain more experience to be a good queen.

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The Great: Christina vs. Eriko

One of the problems with the Princess Connect! Re:Dive series is that most of the characters don’t have much of an impact on things. There were two super  interesting characters out of the first season. First was the warrior Christina, who’s part of the palace guard guild Nightmare. Fighting strong opponents drove her. Second was Eriko, the powerful, yandere member of Twilight Caravan. Eriko stole the scenes she was in and was very funny.

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In Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2, the two characters get to meet and do battle. While most of the battle stuff in the series was fairly cliched shounen action fare, Christina’s and Eriko’s personalities made their battle fun. Both characters are nutters in their own right. However, Eriko is more nuts than Christina. (Though to be fair, Eriko’s insanity doesn’t keep her from doing the mission or protecting her guildmates.)

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It was a shame that the art and animation of their fight was rather poor. I hope they fix that in the video release ’cause they deserve it. I loved how Eriko’s bloodlust thrilled Christina. Transversely, I love how Christina’s haughty attitude and desire for battle fired up Eriko. It didn’t matter that Christina was more powerful. What mattered is that Eriko was not going back down for some blonde so-and-so.

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The Good: A More Interesting Plot…Mostly

The main plot with Mana usurping Pecorine’s title and position was interesting for the most part. I do have problems that I will address later. However, the stories that were more plot-centric, or that dealt with greater mysteries of the world were pretty enjoyable.

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I was please to see Pecorine’s story get resolved in Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2. I had wondered if this would be the case, considering how the game’s story is still ongoing. Granted, I haven’t had time to really do the story, beyond reading a bit of summary. But I did like how her story arc got resolved, yet at the same time, the writers found a reason to have her stay in the guild.

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The Bad: Reliance on Game Knowledge

The biggest problem with Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2 (and the franchise in general) is that the writers expect the viewers to know things from the original game and even the sequel game (which I’m playing). This has always been a problem with Japanese anime titles based on games or anime titles reliant on canon material from other sources. Unfortunately, the Japanese tend to view these anime adaptations ad giant ads.

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As such, when Yuuki has visions of other showdowns with Mana, these are apparently from the original game. In a properly done story for the anime, we would have been given a proper explanation of what had gone down before and why things were as they were. Folks shouldn’t need to have played the original game to have these answers. Which leads me to my next point.

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The Bad: Unanswered Questions

There are so many unanswered questions left at the end of Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2. This is tied to the prior “reliance on game knowledge” entry, but let me spell out some of the things that I wanted the anime to answer.

  • What exactly is a Princess Knight? How does one become a Princess Knight. (Yuuki and Karyl apparently have this title.)
  • Who are the Crown Seven? What is their function in this world?
  • Why did Ameth (apparently helped by Labyrista) keep pulling Yuuki out of time to reset it? Why is he so special?
  • Who is the person Mana wanted to see (Minerva)? What happened to Minerva? Why did Mana need to usurp Pecorine to accomplish this? And if she knows time is repeating itself, why isn’t she doing things differently from the start?

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I’m sure I could think of lots more questions, but you get the point.

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The Bad: Real World Connections

I was vaguely aware that there was some sort of real world connection in the mobile game’s story. However, for Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2, I hoped this wouldn’t be the case. Why? Well, even thought the anime writers were following a similar story as the game, it is also quite radically different. So I felt there was a chance of no real world connections.

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Unfortunately, Yuuki is given a vision of Kasumi in the real world. But he doesn’t understand the vision. Further, no explanation is given for the vision. However, it does strongly suggest that the world of Yuuki and the others is some VR game world. Frankly, that element sucks as far as I’m concerned. I’m not really interested in a story where everyone has no clue they are in a game, or what their real names are.

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Were this real world element not there, the world of Princess Connect! is pretty interesting to me. There’s a lot of material to be explored. But one the real world element is added, then to me, everything is pointless.

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The Bad: Too Many Characters, Little Development

Much like the first season of the series, Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2 introduces even more characters. I mentioned Christina and Eriko being favorites, but that’s because of their warped personalities. Otherwise, we know nothing about them. I’d like to know why Christina is part of Nightmare, when those duties clash with her personal goals. I’d like to know what drives Eriko and why she’s bat-S crazy.

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Outside of Pecorine, even the core cast gets no development. I know nothing about the loli elf Kokkoro. Why does she address Yuuki as Aruji-sama (主)? Why did Ameth pick her to help Yuuki. And speaking of Yuuki, what is his story? Or Karyl.

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Indeed, as I watched the final episode, I thought about how little I was invested in most of the characters, including the core characters. That’s not good. I should know and care more about these characters. I like Kokkoro and Karyl. And though I understood Karyl’s dilemma, I never knew why she was in this position in the first place.

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Sadly, too much time is devoted to characters who are just there ’cause they are in the game. The writers did attempt to make more of them play a relevant part. Ironically, Twilight Caravan (including Eriko) ended up being the most interesting group outside the core characters. That was in part because we’d previously been introduced to them. But also because they had something important to do with the story. Everyone else is just there for the ride.

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Final Thoughts and Conclusion

In the end, Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2 suffers from forcing its audience to have knowledge of the source material. It has too many characters who are pointless and forgettable. As a result, the core characters, outside of Pecorine, get zero character development. However, there is enough fun, humor, and even intrigue to give this series a watch.

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