As the title of this episode – “So, I’m Not in This One, Am I?” – suggests, the titular character does not appear at all in this episode. (Or at least not in spider form in the spider-side timeline, anyway.) White – who’s been all but outright said to be the human-side version of Hiiro Wakaba – makes a brief appearance to play a critical role, but that’s it. This is entirely a human-side chronicle, showing how Shun and crew get involved in the opening maneuvers of the assault on the elf village. However, the lack of Kumoko is not why I am rating this episode considerably lower than normal; while Kumoko is the powerhouse which carries the show, what’s happening on the human side is interesting, too.
Unfortunately, once again the artwork and artistic direction proves erratic. This episode leans heavily on CG for animating human/elf characters in the action scenes, but while that is not a great visual effect, I do not find it totally objectionable. However, whether characters are animated in CG or not at various points in the actions scenes is somewhat random, as if the CG was being used for emergency patches when the production did not have time to do it without CG, and movements are often stiff or fixed. (One shot of Hugo galloping forward on his horse, but not actually looking like he’s advancing any, is especially egregious.) Occasionally the battles scenes do also get off a good cut or two, but the way it is all put together is also quite rough. The action lacks a good flow from shot to shot, especially when Oka is going head-to-head against Hugo. This is merely the first stage of the pivotal battle of the entire novel series, and it does not leave me feeling good about how the rest of the battle is going to be portrayed.
Thankfully, the story side saves the episode from being a disaster. This happens in part because the adaptation goes back and covers a couple of scenes that had previously been skipped, and after seeing how the episode fits them in, at least one of them works better here. That scene is the one where Oka explains to Hyrince and Anna that she, Shun, Katia, Fei, and the ones that they have met at the village are all reincarnations from a different world, one which lacks the game mechanics-like structure of this one. She further spills one other crucial bit of information for everyone: that gods called Administrators exist in the setting (which implies that the general populace is unaware of them) and that the elves have long believed that they are up to no good, including draining skills from people for some unknown purpose. Notably, Oka does not entirely buy what she’s been taught while growing up, but the fact that she has seen at least Kanata listed as dying after Katia gets her skilled drained is enough to get her to act. Why she could not have explained some of this earlier – like, back at the academy – is not clear, and anime-only readers should not ever expect a good explanation on that. Oh, and she also finally reveals that Sophia was Shouko Negishi. Again, not sure why that revelation had to wait until now, either, other than maybe that Oka would have had to explain some things about her earlier meetings with Sophia that have yet to come up in the anime. (And they likely won’t before the end of this season.)
The other add-in scene is a shorter one – too short, in fact. Anna’s status as a half-elf is not going over well with the other elves, but the elves are such douchebags about it that it’s hard to believe that they didn’t start picking on her earlier. It just timed out better to do it here, I guess? That results in it feeling more like it was thrown in as filler rather than as an integral part of the story.
But hey, spending the whole episode on the human side allows more reincarnations to get involved, such as the two former adventurers (honestly, their names are not critical to remember at this point) and Kasuma, who is revealed to be both the guy practicing with swords in front of the church last episode and a ninja. He seems very capable despite his demeanor, too, and plays the role of shutting off a line of retreat. The other one is the oni who appeared very briefly in the Demon Lord’s council meeting a few episodes back and has been named Wrath in advertising copy. All indicators point to him being Kyouya, so that should make for an interesting reunion in another episode or two.
Not much content is left on the human side before the end of novel 5 (which is the only sensible stopping point for the series), so I’m betting that next episode will be mostly or all spider-side. Big battle scenes await there, too, so hopefully it will look better than this one does. But I’m not holding my breath at this point.
Since the first Princess Principal sequel movie is now available on HIDIVE, a review of it is likely coming sometime next week.