A team of 5 young ladies aim for the top spot in the fictional sport known as the Circlet Bout.
Title: Circlet Princess
Studio: Silver Link
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Sports
People’s lives have changed because of VR and AR, and a competitive sport was born from these technologies called CB (Circlet Bout). CB can be competed between two schools and became an e-sport that decides the wealth of the schools. It also became the real ability of the school, which depends on not just the students’ academic skills, but also on the data based on sport ability, art, skills, etc.
Finishing picking and prodding through the rest of the Winter 2019 anime lineup, like with any season, there is bound to be a series or two that fails to make an impact but not completely lacking in curb appeal. Of course, where most of that appeal is usually dependent on cute girls or some unscrupulous content leading the way, I’m surprised that a few are willing to leave the cheap gimmicks at home. Then again, if you count girls wearing well-fitting outfits while duking it out in a virtual sport for glory, Circlet Princess is one anime that does have itself a nearly spotless record. Spotless as it may be, that does nothing to eliminate the mundane quality to an otherwise decently thought out idea.
STRONG CONCEPT, NOT SO STRONG EVERYTHING ELSE…
Without giving it too much credence, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Circlet Princess started life as a browser game. Having been graced with titles like 18if and Last Period: Owarinaki Rasen no Monogatari, titles that made for decent and serviceable anime adaptations, it is possible for these dime-a-dozen experiences to be enjoyable. Throwing credit where it is due, Circlet Princess actually has some interesting concepts behind it such as the Mixed Reality one: the basis behind forming the fictional sport of the Circlet Bout and many other underlying aspects within the world. Giving that detail some spotlight throughout the series, sadly, it isn’t a fully realized or an explained element. Becoming a running theme of things not getting the attention to detail they might need, Circlet Princess has the foundation in place but nothing of actual substance to back it up which is unfortunate for what it does have.
THE REST THAT IS NOT AT THE BEST
Lacking the power to be carried on the wings of story and concept, the other components don’t fare too better. The characters, as cute as they are barely have anything of worth. Getting the extent of personality and background shoved into individual episodes, the character arcs are short and simple but lead so much more to be desired. Our scatterbrained heroine Yūka Sasaki is a marginal step up: wanting to enter the Circlet Bout after an accidental match with champion Chikage Fujimura. Over the course of the series, it is a slow burn to that end and also uncovering the mystery behind Yuka’s latent abilities. Dealing with St. Union’s soon be dismantled club and building it back up just happens to be apart of the predictable and not so enjoyable process.
Of course, for those holding out hope for the battles…they are also seriously lacking. Having more time seemingly devoted to the character designs and artwork, the animation ranges from decent to below average with many of the fighting sequences dropping to sloppy proportions. This isn’t much of problem as the battle themselves are quick affairs and not too noticeable, but the feeling of corners being cut persist. An example of this comes from the previews that only replay the current episode highlights with some commentary. Not sure if that is to preserve some mystery or work with animators that might not have material ready. In any case, can’t say that any explanation inspires confidence for it to improve.
As average as an experience as Circlet Princess is that doesn’t mean a painful watch. In fact, it keeps up the momentum quite well, moving episode to episode in the face of ho-hum developments. More anything, the tone seems to be the missing element. With no sense of progression, no moments of excitement, and simply nothing to support it, you are left with a product moving on its inertia. Either a good or bad prospect depending on the material, this is one of those times where it doesn’t work too well. All that being said, with the ending episode putting into place a few new prospects for the sport, I have to admit that the shift and things to come seemed so much more tantalizing that I can’t fathom why they didn’t incorporate it into the series. Regardless, that all seems like a little too late and really doesn’t address much of the issues to begin with.
Final Verdict: Giving itself an intriguing concept against the backdrop of an interesting sport, Circlet Princess can’t seem to keep up. With lackluster fights and boring characters, it does the job it sets out to do even though it might not be so clear to the audience. Of course, that job seems to be a glorified ad for the game rather than watchable anime.