Seven episodes in, it’s clear that “memory” is this season’s big recurring theme. Pecorine has been literally replaced by Kaiser in everyone’s memories. Yuuki has been completely memory wiped—robbed of both fantasy world memories and real-world ones. Yuni gets a chunk of her memories erased each time she figures out what’s truly going on in the world. And with this episode, we have a memory-altering spirit messing with pretty much everyone.
What’s so interesting about this episode—and the previous one focusing on a side character’s memory loss—is the tone. On one hand, the situation is mined for comedy as a popular singer becomes a ravenous bear, an elementary school-aged girl acts like a jilted lover, and a burly bartender regresses to the state of a toddler. On the other, there is a clear, existential horror behind what’s going on. Having your mind tampered with in this way may not cause physical harm, but it’s basically a death of personality. The shell is fine but the contents are completely different. Watching Chika run from the woods in the cold opening, trying to keep ahold of who she is, is deeply uncomfortable—and would be outright horrific were it not undone by the end of the episode.
The other big focus of the series so far has been the relationship between Karyl and Pecorine. Rarely does an episode go by without at least a scene showing them growing ever closer, and this episode is no exception. However, it also feels like the show may be overdoing it on that front. Let me explain.
Karyl’s arc is that of the classic spy’s dilemma: that is, the spy who is supposed to infiltrate the enemy group ends up befriending them, leading to a big climax where the spy is forced to choose between new loyalties and old ones. The problem, however, is that the Re:Dive anime has already reached the climax once. At the end of the first season, Karyl chose to go against Kaiser’s orders and help Pecorine, fully aware that she would likely be killed as a result. However, with Kaiser forgiving Karyl’s transgressions in early season 2, we’re right back to the status quo—with Karyl once again agonizing about which side to choose. And this time, there is none of the tension or drama that should be inherent in such a storyline, since we’ve already seen it play out once. There is no further need for the audience to see more scenes of Karyl and Pecorine growing closer, since the dilemma is so lopsided that Karyl betraying Pecorine would feel wildly out of character. What the season desperately needs in its back half is to flesh out Karyl and Kaiser’s relationship, either through flashbacks or new events, to balance things out and make Karyl’s dilemma more compelling. But sadly, I don’t think we’re going to get them.
• At this point, I hope that the show allows Karyl and Pecorine to go full yuri. That would give all their scenes this season an extra layer of meaning outside of the spy’s dilemma.
• You know, I’ve seen a ton of explosive anime nosebleeds, but never before have I seen the blood spray make a heart shape in the air.
• It’s nice to see the show do some more with the more underutilized members of Sarendia and Carmina.
• We finally get an appearance of the Twinkle Wish trio—ie, the main heroines of the first, short-lived Princess Connect game—and it has some worrying implications .
• I had initially planned to write a whole section of this review speculating about Twinkle Wish and how the anime relates to the games, but realized it would basically be a ton of spoilers to anime-only viewers so I decided to hold my tongue (though I suspect the comments will have a lot to say on the topic).
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.