The fundamental goal of Crown Handler – Chapter 1 is to establish a fresh course for the Princess Principal series through a personal narrative centered on our primary character, Ange. Team White Pigeon resumes its covert operations in hostile territory in this television series after the events of the original. But as the Queen’s health deteriorates and the Duke of Normandy ramps up his counterintelligence efforts, espionage job has grown even riskier.
A lot of Commonwealth operations may already be jeopardized if Bishop turned out to be a double agent for the Duke of Normandy. This is made worse by the possibility that he might have given misleading information. On the other hand, if he isn’t a double agent and they manage to capture (or kill) him, they would have wasted their best opportunity to gather intelligence by losing the Queen’s closest ally. So, before it’s too late, Team White Pigeon needs to figure out if he’s playing both sides.
Naturally, the entire plan is complicated by Bishop’s early realization that Ange is the genuine Princess Charlotte. Outside of the two girls, Bishop is the only person who is aware that a switch has been made. He has taught both of them how to play chess, thus he also knows them personally. Naturally, they both want him to be on their side, even if they are both afraid he might reveal their secret. All of this creates intense tension as human impulses clash with the logical and cold threat.
Ange is made to spend a significant portion of the movie as the princess she was born to be, which serves as a distraction and a tactic to catch Bishop off guard. The circumstance also permits a direct discussion between Ange and the Duke of Normandy, which is risky because he is aware that someone is impersonating the princess somewhere. Ange’s character gains a lot from realizing that she has the ability to go back and change her life if she so chooses. She never once seems to be tempted to do this, though. Her allegiance remains with the friend who has been made to live the life of a princess ever since the flames of the terrible revolution tore them apart.
Having said that, the disruption of the status quo as we know it is the film’s most significant accomplishment. As things go on, it becomes clear that a third force—someone or something other than the Commonwealth and the Duke of Normandy’s agents—is involved. However, their identities and objectives are still unknown—at least for the time being.
Visually, Crown Handler – Chapter 1 keeps convincingly bringing Princess Principal’s Victorian steampunk universe to life. We observe everything, from shabby inner-city neighborhoods and businesses to rural estates and affluent gatherings. It’s fun to watch the main action scene of the movie, which features a jailbreak and a vehicle chase. The soundtrack’s new big band-style opener by Void_Chords sticks out even if the majority of it is standard Princess Principal material.
Overall, Crown Handler – Chapter 1 is both a suspenseful spy thriller and a deeply moving drama rolled into one. It’s a cute little mystery that stands on its own, but it has revelations and consequences that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on future Crown Handler movies.
Disclosure: Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc. (Sunrise) is a non-controlling, minority shareholder in Anime News Network Inc.