Princess Connect! Re:Dive
Being sent to a mysterious world and with no memories to his name, Yuki finds himself in the care of Kokkoro, an elf from said mysterious world. As it turns out, her first task would be to save him from two derpy-looking wolves, and later to make him understand how this world works.
It's lucky, then, that they meet up with mysterious warrior and big eater Pecorine, who eventually decides to start a gourmet guild. They're also joined by Karyl, a catgirl mage who has an ulterior motive for joining.
Until my stint with Azur Lane, I haven't really been playing a lot of what typically consists of gacha-driven character games with light RPG mechanics, even though, going through their list of games, consists of a surprising amount. (Even Uma Musume?) Part of that reason might be that, out of the games I know of, only one of them have had an official English release. That sadly also extends to Princess Connect! Re:Dive, a game that even has had a collab event with another game whose anime conversion I've reviewed: Granblue Fantasy, although in the sense that characters from this franchise has shown up in Granblue Fantasy and not the other way around.
Princess Connect! Re:Dive is certainly off to an auspicious start too. For one thing, it's an almost astoundingly nice-looking show compared to some of its more derivative cousins, although maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Clearly, CyGames has money to throw around, since the shows carrying their game names -- Granblue Fantasy in particular, but also Rage of Bahamut... and Uma Musume to a slightly lesser extent -- tend to feature nice character animation and some lovely scenery to go with it, and Princess Connect! Re:Dive is on the ball from the very beginning as Yuki is sent down from a celestial plane to a lush, wind-swept grassy plain.
Curiously enough, while Yuki might in some ways be considered the lead of this show -- it's entirely possible he's meant as a stand-in for the player of the game this show is based on -- he couldn't possibly have been more insignificant to the main story as it is. Outside of occasionally providing the girls some extra powers and generally being a source of mystery about the powers behind it all, that role is also partially filled by some of the other girls, and so Yuki seems more like a personification of the show's drive. What's more, the guy is almost spectacularly useless outside of this ability of his -- he gets his ass handed to him by even the derpiest of wolves and is constantly dragged off by all manners of slobbering wildlife -- in fact, him being eaten and then regurgitated seems to be one of the show's running jokes -- and while this is partially explained by his amnesia, it makes him more of a liability than actual help, at least as far as battle is concerned.
No, the main players of this particular venture are found in Pecorine and Karyl. Pecorine is a wayward somewhat paladin-like girl armed with a sword... or she would be, if two doofuses hadn't stolen it from her in the opening episode and kept it for one more. But even without her sword, she's a formidable opponent to put it mildly, and the only reason she isn't a bigger danger to the people around her is that she comes across as a bit of an idiot of the happy-go-lucky kind. The two men who steal her swords aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer themselves, and it is a credit to Pecorine's almost relentless optimism that not only does she get her sword back, but she is so adamant in her faith in the best of humanity that our idiot duo actually turns over a new leaf. She's also a bit of an eating machine, for what that's worth.
We're also quickly introduced to Karyl, a mage-like character sporting cat appendages (ears and tail) and a bit of a tsundere attitude. We quickly learn that she's sent out to kill Pecorine, although we aren't told why, at least at first. That order gets rescinded, at least temporarily, by the person who sent her out to kill Pecorine, replaced with an order to rather observe her instead, to figure out what gives Pecorine her overwhelming strength. Thus, she becomes a part of Pecorine's gourmet guild alongside Yuki and Kokoro, albeit under that guise of hers. She's also the slight cynical bent to Pecorine's goodwill, and her mild antisocial streak isn't solely caused by her tsundereism, as we'll eventually learn.
The remaining member of team foodstuffs is found in Kokoro, an elf girl tasked with serving Yuki, or amnesiac mind-blasted lead. She is about as single-minded as the others, albeit in a more quiet manner. Unlike the two others, we don't really learn a lot about her, other than that looking after Yuki is what she's being tasked to do. Much like almost everyone else, she seems a bit detached when it comes to listening to others, but she's a much better team player than the others as well, and her expression every time Yuki gets to be another beast's chew toy is priceless.
In this case, I really wish I knew more about the game and how it treats its obtainable characters. For better or worse, all the girls in this show do come across as the kind of simpletons you'd find in a show based on a gacha-mechanic smartphone game with a simply ginormous cast roster, you're simply not going to be able to give everyone full and well-written character personalities, so Princess Connect! Re:Dive simply does the best it can; develop its main cast carefully throughout the first season and simply let the rest of them remain simple in that pleasant way shows like this tend to do. And I don't mean that in a bad way, because while I'm sure a lot of people's favorite characters are going to be left out or given minor roles, many of them do show up, and some even get their very own episode or half-episode chance to shine just a little bit. That leaves the situation of our trio, and out of that, Pecorine and Kyaru are the ones who gets to shine the most.
In Pecorine's case, I can't really spoil anything in case you happen to be new to this franchise, but I can say that her happy-go-lucky attitude is there for a reason, as is Kyaru's reluctance to grow close to anyone else who isn't her master. While the quartet's starting of a gourmet club seems a bit low-key for a show based on a game with villains and all, there is still enough going on here that said club merely function as a charming core reason for said quartet to stick together through thick and thin, and the revelations learned by the end of this season serves as a good season ender, at least now that we know a second season is coming.
On a potential downside, Princess Connect! Re:Dive shares a problem I've seen in other, more low-key shows; popular culture is sort of entrenched in this show too, albeit in a much lesser degree than in... say, the Koihime Musou franchise -- the latter allowing this idol trio to eat up far too much screentime, particularly in the second season -- and the same can maybe be said about this show. Princess Connect! Re:Dive is mainly a fantasy thing, with some serious JRPG allusions, but a lot of the characters kind of behave like pop stars and/or are dressed like magical girls, with hairstyles to match. If you like this sort of thing, this is of course going to come across as a nice bonus, but for people like me who don't care for it, well... it is to be expected, given its gaming roots. At least this aspect isn't allowed to eat up much of the show's runtime, so I consider it mostly a non-issue in this case.
The real main problem with the first season of Princess Connect! Re:Dive doesn't really resolve anything, and unlike many other fantasy-driven game-based anime, feels more like a prologue than anything else. As with many other franchises based on something, my main concern with this one is that we'll probably never see a proper end to it, so the one thing I would at least like to see is it coming to a nice stopping point, at least. Princess Connect! Re:Dive doesn't quite do this, but as it turns out, this is now less of a problem compared to when I first watched it, seeing as the second season was just announced at the time of writing. So....
Its four star rating really is a no-brainer. We're already getting a second season too, which handily addresses the major potential complaint you might have about this whammy of an opening season. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: We have busty women showing off cleavages. That's about it in the fanservice department. The violent content is more or less your typical JRPG fare, although the show has this thing with shadowy beings kind of absorbing and assimilating the main cast in a way that will probably come across as a bit disturbing for the very youngest. That said, I don't think there are any actual deaths in this show, so take that as you will.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Princess Connect! Re:Dive © 2020 CyGames Pictures.
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