Feb 18, 2022
The third season of Pri Chan was neither as great or as middling as previous seasons have been, but was instead perfectly solid. Though not necessarily as good, this season was at least as interesting as the previous ones and it attempts a lot in tying up all the loose ends. All kinds of characters from all seasons have had some role in this season and it feels like we leave off many of them in a much better place than where we found them. This season also introduced quite a few new characters, all of which were very welcome. Overall, the final season of
Pri Chan doesn’t feel like it leaves off unfinished, but ends off leaving me perfectly satisfied. A solid end to an otherwise shacky, inconsistent series.
The first obvious difference this season, its gimmick so to say, is the addition of several new ‘mascot’ characters. They act as semi-protagonists for this season and learn a lot from the obviously more experienced established cast. It’s a similar situation to Akari in the original Aikatsu, but that show actually went through with a complete main character swap, which I appreciate for being pretty ballsy. The reason why I like this type of storytelling a lot is because it avoids a common trap a lot of shows like this run into. You create a show about characters becoming idols or doing something else, at the end of the season they beat their rivals and become the best idols in the region or the world and then season 2 happens. All of a sudden new rivals show up and nobody really recognizes the main characters for their achievements last season. The first episode of season 2 feels like it starts of in a slightly different place than where season 1 ends and it feels weird. This is the trap that Pri-chan season 2 falls into, though from the fact that I liked that season significantly more than the first one, you can probably guess I don’t actually think it’s as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be. But whenever I see it happen in a show, it’s just a little baffling and confusing. The shows feels slightly alien and you have to warm up to it again.
Pri-chan season 3, thankfully, goes the other route. It adds new characters who can do most of the growing, allowing the main characters to fill the role of mentor. Seeing how much the original squad has grown through how they teach the mascots is super satisfying to see and makes you really think about how long it’s been since the show started airing. It’s really great to see how far these characters have come and it’s a fantastic place to leave them off, just knowing they’ll be alright. As for the mascot character’s themselves, I’d say they’re alright. I liked them a lot, but I just don’t think they’re good enough to carry an entire episode. I preferred them when they were the B-plot of an episode, which often enough they were. In those episodes they didn’t have to carry the plot and got to simply focus on being goofy, which I appreciate greatly. Overall I liked the mascots a lot, I just didn’t like it when they replaced, rather than supported the main characters.
Aside from the new mascot characters there’s an idol that farms rice. You see, the kira-kira theme park has an entire section dedicated to several rice paddies that supply all the food stalls and there’s a rice-farming-idol to go along with it. The questing is then brought up: should we be using this ultra-valuable land in the middle of a big city for farming rice, rather than for expanding the theme park with new and exciting attractions? The resolution to this dilemma comes with the statement that the theme park ‘needs rice’. I love this stupid fucking show.
The most important new side-characters of this season were the black cat mascot luluna and the white mascot cat solulu, as well as their owners. As the season progresses they start taking centre stage in the seasons final plot-arc, which I can definitively say was alright I guess. I liked it enough and there were enough interesting moments that I can say that it was worthwhile being there, however I kinda wish the final story arc of the whole series involved the main characters more. Then it would have felt like a great send-off, rather than a random story arc at the end of the show, mainly there to facilitate a final competition. As it is, I just don’t remember what happens at the end of the show very well and if the final arc was just a bit more memorable and involved with the main characters, I might have left the show off being more excited, rather than merely satisfied.
I think the great irony of season 3 is that I’ve been labelling the show’s greatest shortcoming for the past two seasons to be it’s lack of consistency, however now that the most consistent season of them all has come along, it doesn’t excite me as much as the first two. It was very solid and I liked it quite a bit, but it never reached the highs of season 2 or even season 1. In hindsight I realize that the thing that I wanted out of the show wasn’t necessarily consistency as a whole. In fact, the unpredictable nature of season 1 really appealed to me. You never knew what something crazy or hilarious would happen. Rather, the thing that I wanted out of the show was for it to be more consistently what I wanted it to be. A goofy show with fun goofy characters and an occasional slightly more serious episodic episode. And that’s what the show was for most of season 2 and I loved it. What I liked about these episodes in particular was the cast consisting of the six main girls. I thought a lot of the episodes of season 1 involving only the kiratts were kind of dull, but whenever the meltic stars girls were also involved it was usually great. The chemistry of those six girls together was so good and fun I wish that was just what the show was about, instead of the meltic star girls being gone for large parts of the show. Ultimately I think the reason why this season doesn’t excite me is because it was too consistent and never fully dove into the elements of the show I loved. As a result I was never truly excited by this season, even if I liked how much the show did for it’s existing cast, showing them in their best light and developing them, leaving them off better than they were. It makes me happy that this show that I love was in good, skilled hands till the very end. But overall season 3 was solid. Just solid.
In the end I am very happy I picked Pri-chan back out of my dropped list 3 years ago. It’s a show that gave me a lot to love, but ultimately a hard one to recommend. The show’s being succeeded by ‘Waccha Primagi’, a show directed by the wonderful, the lovely, the legendary Junicho Sato. Though my first impressions of that show have not been any more than lukewarm. Perhaps I should be taking this opportunity to look into some of his enduring classics, like Crayon kingdom of dreams, goldfish warning or the ever praised Kaleido star. Of course I would like to take this opportunity to recommend some of his works I have seen and love, like Aria, Princess Tutu or Ojamajo Doremi, all of which some of the greatest works of the medium. Sadly I wasn’t that into his most famous work, Sailor Moon, but maybe I’ll continue that one day.
Ultimately the experience of watching Pri-chan was a positive one, even if not every episode was great. I got to learn a lot about the anime community, heard a lot of ‘interesting’ takes on anime and saw a lot of weird stuff I wasn’t expecting to see. Overall Pri-chan has a lot greater of a place in my heart than just the 153 episodes of it I watched. It’s an experience that’ll probably stick with me for a while. It’s a good example for me of how anime can be much more than a show, it can be an experience, it can be a community, it’s a way of life. It’s the work of a team of loving staff, many of whom probably still working their way up the ranks, but soon, ready to start shaping the future of anime. The director will likely continue to be one of the most consistent comedy directors in anime, maybe one day a well respected one. Kids anime are often the playing grounds for new anime staff and can be a good place to find up and coming future big shots. This eccentric anime, ignored and unknown by most in the west might have a much bigger footprint on the future of anime than anyone may ever realize. A little show like this could give a tremendous roar. In the end Pri-chan is neither the ultimate underdog of anime, nor the ugly ducking-turned-beautiful-swan I described it to be. It’s a serene dragon, hidden in the clouds, but clearly there if you know where to look for it. I’m just happy to have gotten a glimpse of it’s majesty.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7
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