Reborn Princesses Abound the Winter 2024 Anime Season!

It's a strange irony that many complaints that animation gurus had about Disney's Wish also apply to modern anime, which is supposed to be the last salvation for creative freedom in the animated world. With an abundance of new shows each season, Japan provides animation nerds worldwide with a myriad of options for every individual taste. Yet, the vast majority of these shows have had the same basic premise for the last five years or so. The "isekai, or "other world," genre has blown up exponentially in Japan. Almost every new show is about a person from the modern world getting killed by a speeding vehicle and waking up in a vaguely European medieval fantasy world full of magic and spellcasters. This season's offerings are no different. Though there is a wide variety of princess-related shows available, only one of them breaks the current mold and is too simple to be the most appealing of the bunch.


Like my favorite anime from last season, 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess has an intentional misnomer, making the show sound far less innocent than it actually is. Its premise revolves around a generic unnamed warrior princess who has fallen in battle and now resides in the enemy's dungeon. However, the woman in charge of the captive maiden, ironically named Torture Tortura, has a very different idea of what it means to torture a prisoner. To get the princess to reveal secrets that would allow Torture's army to conquer her kingdom, she tempts her with decadent food. She does this three times in the show's pilot episode, and all three times, the princess enjoys a delicious meal followed by a shameless confession. The formula is similar to Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, an anime I have enjoyed in the past, only it revolves around food instead of sleep, and I personally prefer the latter. While it's a great show for foodies, it comes off as formulaic with the potential for new food torture in each episode and little progress in the ongoing war between the two kingdoms.


The most promising offering of the season is 7th Time Loop: The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Life Married to Her Worst Enemy. I was sold by the gorgeous cover art for the show featuring a regal couple in a Cinderella-like ballroom scene over a reflection of an Oscar/Utena-like soldier fighting her partner in a war. This series follows the same formula as many other recent isekai anime, particularly last season's Tearmoon Empire. In that show, the protagonist gets reincarnated into a younger version of herself and has the opportunity to relive her life without making the same mistakes again. As the title implies, the protagonist in 7th Time Loop has relived her life seven times and is sick and tired of constantly dying in the same war. This time, she is going to charm the evil emperor who has killed her in at least one other previous life and prevent the war from ever happening so she can live to a ripe old age. It is a unique twist on the enemies-to-lovers trope that is filled with romantic potential. Doctor Elise: The Royal Lady with the Lamp, another new offering this season, has a similar premise except that the protagonist lives one lifetime as an expert surgeon in the modern world before returning to her fairy tale past, giving her incredible medical knowledge that no one else from her world has.


An honorable mention goes out to Tales of Wedding Rings, which features a male protagonist with a princess as the primary love interest. Satou, the main character, follows his high school crush, Hime, into a portal to another world, where he becomes the "Ring King," a hero who must save Hime's world from evil. Learning Hime's true identity as Princess Krystal and the huge responsibility of being the Ring King does nothing to deter his strong feelings toward her as her new husband. However, the second episode reveals that he must also marry five other princesses to receive the power of their wedding rings, which creates frustration because he is loyal only to Hime. A fun fact about this series is that it had a virtual reality demo that covered the first few pages of the original manga, but it was so short that it revealed almost none of the plot. I learned far more after watching the first episode of the anime. While it is another isekai series, it stands out that the main character chose to follow Hime into the magical world instead of being reincarnated there. It is also one of few princess love stories that focuses on the male lead instead of the princess herself.


Considering the current landscape of anime, it's intriguing to observe the prevalence of the isekai genre and the recurring themes of reincarnation and fantasy worlds. Amidst the array of new shows, 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess stands out as one of few non-isekai series this season with a unique take on the concept of torture and confessions, albeit a potentially formulaic approach. The allure of 7th Time Loop and Doctor Elise lies in their intriguing twists on reincarnation and the opportunity to rectify past mistakes. 7th Time Loop is the more appealing of the two due to its untapped romantic potential. Additionally, the male-focused narrative of Tales of Wedding Rings brings a fresh perspective to the princess love story trope. As the anime landscape continues to evolve, it's evident that despite certain recurring themes, there are still innovative and compelling narratives to discover within the genre. Do you have a favorite new show from the current season? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

Sugar said…
The problem with those "he should marry more girls" "he should be a boyfriend to more girls" anime is that although true love is already defined, the plot usually promotes a kind of harem where everyone ends up falling in love with the protagonist and having "romantic moments" with he. If he remains loyal to only one of the girls, he generates sadness for the others. If, on the contrary, despite his supposed love (or even a committed relationship) with one, he begins to hesitate between several, I will lose all interest in the romance.
Curiously, Elise, like the Raeliana anime, were originally Korean comics, manhwas are interesting as due to their success they are being adapted to anime. We can expect more similar stories because the genre exploded in the comic format a few years ago and does not seem to stop just recently starting to adapt it to anime. I can only hope that someone thinks of adapting "Miss no so sidekick" due to its more comical and fun story than the rest More serious (except Tearmoon Empire clearly a comedy).
Lisa Dawn said…
Yes, I believe Tales of Wedding Rings was listed as a "harem" genre on myanimelist.net, which is unfortunate because the first episode made it look like a romance, and it wasn't until the second episode that they dropped the big reveal. I think Japan is one of few countries that could get away with that genre and still be taken seriously, as the Western world would never be able to get away with a harem show.
Sugar said…
By the way, it's not an anime but I recently found this short musical film: "A moonlights tale" seemed very sweet and romantic to me.
It looks like the kind of thing you might enjoy.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrdn-LXNn9U
Lisa Dawn said…
That was lovely! Thank you for sharing!

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