Episode 11 – Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2

I’m truly impressed by how Re:Dive is handling its climax. Splitting it into three episodes has allowed the story to naturally incorporate the numerous characters we’ve met over the course of two seasons without sidelining its central relationship—ie, Karyl and Pecorine. Last episode Kasumi, Tamaki, and the Friendship Club got the ancillary spotlight; This time, however, it’s given to Twilight Caravan.

We haven’t really seen much of Twilight Caravan since the fifth episode of the first season. Even in episodes where many of the guilds gather together, they have been conspicuously absent. This makes sense in the context of the story: after all, they are basically antagonists in their introductory episode. However, in this episode they are undoubtedly the heroes of the hour as they go up against the Darth Vader to Kaiser’s Emperor Palpatine: Christina.

Once again, this battle highlights just how terrifyingly powerful Christina is. However, it also shows that she does have weaknesses. The obvious one is that she can only glitch through things she is aware of—overload that awareness and some hits will make it through. That said, even exploiting this with their numerical advantage isn’t enough for Twilight Caravan to take her down.

Christina’s true weakness, and what ultimately led to her defeat, is that she is too caught up in how she sees the world. She is too focused on getting into situations where she can revel in the thrill of battle. In the midst of a life-and-death struggle, she assumes that her opponents will think like her and put the battle itself ahead of anything else. However, Twilight Caravan’s mission is not to defeat Christina—it’s to free Neneka—and that is why they win. (Though the sudden appearance of Kaiser seems to make that a moot point, to say the least.)

As for our main characters, Pecorine is forced to fight Jun as she attempts to rescue Karyl from Kaiser. This is an inspired face-off: no one else cares more for Landsol and its people than Pecorine and Jun. They are the sword and shield of the kingdom respectively. Still, it makes sense that Jun of all people would be able to break free of Kaiser’s mind control for the sake of her nation and its princess, and so we get that wonderfully cathartic moment where the two turn on Kaiser, blow her to pieces, and rescue Karyl—y’know, until we learn that the Kaiser we’ve seen these past few episodes are actually just a shadow. The real Kaiser simply shows up and one-shots Jun, leading to Yuuki’s timely arrival and the setup for our final episode.

But while the fight against Shadow Kaiser works well as a climax to Pecorine and Karyl’s story, it also introduces an unneeded complication to the narrative as a whole. While we have known that there were two Kaisers for a while now, learning that one was a fake (as opposed to a complete clone or some sort of shared consciousness) brings up a vital question: which Kaiser has done which things? Which Kaiser teleported Pecorine to torment her mid-battle? Is it the one who shared a meal with Kayrl? Hell, given the fact that the true Kaiser’s character design is so radically different from what we’ve seen up until now, who’s to say that we have ever seen the real one before? Maybe she has several Shadow Kaisers running about and we’ve only seen those. Can we even be sure of what we know about Kaiser’s personality and motivations at this point?

More importantly, this reveal obfuscates her connection with Karyl, which is a large part of what makes Kaiser such a compelling villain. With their relationship thrown into doubt, she risks losing much of her nuance and reverting to being little more than a one-dimensional megalomaniac—and that’s before we get into all the logistical questions.

With the Shadow Kaiser reveal, we’ve lost even our certainty about what Kaiser can even do. Shadow Kaiser used Labyrista’s powers. Does that mean the real Kaiser can use them too or was it specific to that Shadow Kaiser? Can Kaiser make more Shadow Kaisers that can all use Labyrista’s powers? What about her own magic? Can they all use the same magic at the same level?

What I’m getting at here is that such a late-stage complication messes with a key ingredient to building tension: knowledge of what the enemy and the heroes are capable of. It’s important to let the audience know just how screwed the heroes are so they can worry about how they will overcome their current predicament. All we really know for sure about the true Kaiser is that she has gravity magic, and that’s not exactly enough to keep us on the edge of our seats—especially as Yuuki’s princess powerup seems to overcome that quite handily.

Hopefully, some tight writing and/or good visual storytelling can clear up all these questions early on in the next episode so we can sit back and enjoy the final battle. But as it stands now, not knowing who has done what and who can do what throws both the plot and emotional themes into unnecessary confusion. And heading into the final episode, I should be excited, not confused.


Random Thoughts:

• It seems that the characters that didn’t show up last episode are locked in pods in the castle basement. Hopefully, Twilight Caravan is able to free everyone so they can dogpile on Kaiser in our big, final climax.

• Alright, given that Sol Tower was specifically called out this episode, I’m expecting the triumphant return of Twinkle Wish when our heroes are at their lowest point next episode.

• The way I understand it, Kokkoro got a key that can basically turn off Yuuki’s power.

• Well, I wanted Little Lyrical to kick some ass, I just didn’t expect them to cast “summon giant chicken” to do it.

Princess Connect! Re:Dive is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.

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