Premiere Date: 7/5/09
After losing his family to an accident, second year high school student Teppei is left alone. Having no one else to turn to, he is taken in by his extremely rich and influential grandfather. On his way there, Teppei runs into and rescues a girl named Charlotte Hazelrink who claims to be a princess (and with a name like that it’s hard to doubt her). After finally arriving at his new home, Teppei is informed that his life is now different beyond what he thought. Yesterday he was a second year high school student, now he is the new successor to the Arima Group, has a new fiancé and will be enrolling in a very prestigious school to complete his education while attempting to ferret out who wants him and his family out of the way to get the company for themselves.
The Good and Bad
If you give Princess Lover credit for one thing it would be that it will get your attention one way or another by the end of the first episode. It may not necessarily be a good type of attention but within twenty two minutes, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being at least slightly curious about what is going to happen next.
Touching on many levels, GoHands puts together a first episode that seeks to engage its audience in multiple ways. It’s not a huge leap to guess that this was entirely to keep the series from being cornered into one genre or another. Starting with the emotional, the episode begins with a very sweet family scene between Teppei and his parents before they die. Right away this puts Princess Lover off to a good start simply because of how sweet and subdued opening. There aren’t any over the top explosions or hijinks to get the audience involved; there are some good jokes to get things started but this scene is really all about creating a sympathetic hero which works remarkably.
From here Princess Lover moves in odd directions creating a segmented and almost jarring opening. Going from 0 to ‘Are you freakin kidding me?’ in a period of only six minutes, the pacing instantly goes up to 11 as a chase scene ensues almost instantly after the opening animation before moving the pacing right back down to introduce new characters. This is an issue that comes up frequently during this first episode. While never told in a poor fashion, the scene work in the first episode never comes across that smoothly. Every scene has a clear starting and stopping point with few moments or scenes blending seamlessly into each other. While only a small complaint now, it already has me wondering if this is going to continue to be a problem in future episodes or if this is something that will be smoothed out before long.
For their debut production, GoHands, does manage to create a nice looking opening to the series. Beyond initial storytelling complaints, there aren’t a lot of negatives that one can say for the animation here beyond unoriginal character designs. Getting his first credit as character designer, Shingo Suzuki does little here to impress with character designs that come across more as parodies than anything else. To pick a couple of easy examples out of the air, Charlotte Hazelrink immediately comes across as a heroine that audiences have seen a million times before and Sylvia looks like she could be the long lost twin of Saber from ‘Fate/Stay Night‘.
Regardless of the character designs or storytelling, at least the animation in this opening episode comes across smooth. While the early chase scene may not grab everyone (I almost gave up on the series after seeing the ridiculously amazing acrobatics that Teppei pulls off), the sparring match between Teppei and Sylvia certainly will. Slightly slowed down, the scene moves well and does a great job of showcasing the sword talents of both combatants while creating a solid character base for Sylvia. Unoriginal or not, this is a character that I already want to see more of.
Despite theme songs sung by Miyuki Hashimoto (OP) and yozuca* (ED), there is little to say about the music at the moment that is particularly substantial. While rich and flowing from the background, there is little about the music in the opening that ever made it stand out as particularly memorable.
The debut of Princess Lover does little to make it stand out from the rest of the season. Plagued by unoriginal character designs and stilted storytelling, the early going isn’t the easiest thing in the world to get through. Barring that however, enough foreshadowing is dropped in this first episode to keep someone watching for at least a couple of more episodes. Don’t get too excited about this one but if you’re into harem romantic comedy, Princess Lover has potential if nothing else.