Princess Principal Shows That Moe Can Be Cool

Watch/listen to this:

Now tell me that isn’t some of the coolest shit you’ve ever seen and/or heard – at least in terms of moe shows, which are designed to be as cute as cute can be whenever possible. I’m not sure if it’s possible to quantify levels of cool, but if there was a list of things that were cool, I’d say capes, cowls, top hats, spies, and the steampunk look are all pretty close to the top.

I think the opening adds a layer of atmosphere, of setting to the show. Watching it is a thrill. And why wouldn’t it be when it has music composed by the amazing talent that is Yuki Kajiura and Yoshikazu Iwanami as sound director (notable for his work on Kill la Kill, Psycho-Pass and over a hundred other things)!

Goddamn, I love the lyrics and vocals so much, but it would be remiss of me to ignore all the other things that make this so satisfying to me. Everything about this opening is incredibly awesome and oozing with exhilarating details. My brain lights up like a candle burning whenever I so much as hear this play.

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Not to play favourites with the visuals, but one of the shots I’m particularly fond of in the opening is the transition from Princess Charlotte falling to the ebullient appearance of the Dorothy and the others in the car rocketing off into mid-air with sheer excitement on Dorothy’s face. It gives me the most awesome of goosebumps.

Going back to the beginning, another shot I thoroughly enjoyed was the opening crawl of lighting spreading fast over the shadowy pipes in tune with the build-up of music to the explosive entrance of the car and the close-up on Ange in her sensationally stylish outfit right into the title card. All technically brilliant stuff with a lot of visual and symbolic playfulness. What a ride! I love it.

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Is it Really “Moe” Though?

Yes, there is a certain character design aesthetic (on a spectrum) that indicates this is moe to some extent. But considering the nebulous definition of the term, I must address it as more than simply its meaning in terms of visuals, but also as a feeling.

The idea of a moe show is something that is lighthearted and fun while evoking a happy kind of satisfaction in seeing these cute characters act cute (see Lucky Star). Which is why a lot of moe shows are also slice-of-life shows. While on the other side of the spectrum you have GAR, the embodiment of ‘manly’ things and feelings (see Fist of the North Star). It is hard to feel moe when you are being shown cool stunts, violence and other dark stuff that possibly jeopardizes the lovable characters.

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Kinda moe
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Really frickin’ awesome!

There are moments in Princess Principal where characters do evoke shades of the moe feeling, and one character in particular, Beatrice, is closer to acting moe more than anyone else in the show. But the cool elements and thriller factors take more of a precedence and ultimately act in counter to it being proper moe. This isn’t to say that it makes it a lesser show as a result, but rather that it is much harder to classify it as moe because of things like the violence and the dark shadows that are present for a large portion of almost every episode.

When characters are flushed or embarrassed there are signs of moe.

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When characters get nervous and make inconsequential mistakes, such as tripping and falling over, that can be considered something evocative of moe.

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But when the characters take out guns and kill without hesitation, that is a far cry away from moe.

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Wicked cool though

Further Reading

If you’re interested in more of this moe business, Pontifus had some relevant thoughts on the curious ironies of modern moe (circa 2010).

~ Ace

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14 thoughts on “Princess Principal Shows That Moe Can Be Cool”

      1. Gamers! and Tsurezure Children are pretty standout-ish. Though if we’re talking AOTY it’s really hard to top Dragon Maid and KonoSuba S2. But if whether we’re talking season or year, I think Re:Creators is pretty outstanding.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I do like Tsurezure Children. But Gamers! kinda dropped off for me, it wasn’t going in the direction I hoped (not watched the last few episodes though) Oh, I definitely loved Dragon Maid and Kono S2. And well… I haven’t actually watched any Re:Creators… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Seconding “watch Re:Creators”. It wanders off track a couple of times and has some pacing problems… But it’s still very, very good – and they stuck the landing like few shows ever do.

    That being said and addressing the topic of the post, when I reviewed this season’s OPs a couple of weeks back, PriPri’s was my favorite by a long shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The moe character designs were the reason I thought I would drop this when I went to watch episode 1. I didn’t have high expectations, or any expectations, for this series. It has since become my stand out favourite of the season (except for My Hero Academia which technically started last season). Definitely showing that moe can also be cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I still find it difficult to call it true ‘moe’ (I know how I sound right now, but I’m sticking with it!). Character design-wise, I’m inclined to agree they have that moeblob look to them, but beyond that a couple of cute moments, it’s mostly antithetical to what moe is. At least that’s how it appears to me anyway.

      Though I suppose for the sake of this post I should have been more specific from the outset like, SHOWS WITH MOE GIRLS CAN BE COOL GUYS (NO REALLY)!

      lol

      Liked by 1 person

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