In the near future, technology has evolved to the point where holograms and VR systems are commonplace. Yuuka, our heroine, is a young woman visiting the big city. After getting lost, she stumbles upon an ad for a VR competitive sports game called “Circlet Bout,” where fighters fight each other in a VR space. Through a series of circumstances, Yuuka gets roped into a Bout and manages to do surprisingly well for her first time fighting. However, Yuuka’s Bout with the current champion (a red-haired woman named Chikage) ultimately ends in a draw.
Having found out that she loves this sport, Yuuka enrolls into the school from which Circlet Bout began–only to find that the school no longer has a Circlet Bout club. However, things may change as Yuuka’s arrival piques the interest of two girls trying to become popular on a video streaming service.
This anime is the very definition of the term “generic.” The story from what I can gather so far is made up of elements I’ve seen countless times. There’s a random fancy-ass competition people participate in for funsies; there’s high school club shenanigans; there’s the conflict between a long-time champion and a newbie; and the list goes on. And I am also so annoyed that we had to start out with one of my least favorite tropes, the “newbie gets roped into something somehow, but are surprisingly good at X thing despite never having done it before.” It’s so damn cliched and always plays out in nearly the exact same way; with the main character marveling or being surprised at everything, and it’s just really annoying to hear such similar dialogue over and over again. Anime writers, please think of better ways to introduce the main character to a sport or X thing, I am begging you.
The girls all feel and look like characters we’ve seen in multiple other anime. Our main character Yuuka is the “clumsy protagonist.” Chikage is essentially the “champion who is so good at X thing that they’ve become bored and are waiting for a new challenger to rise up to defeat them.” The two other girls we see towards the end of the episode are just the “tomboy” and “science nerd” respectively. Hardly riveting stuff.
The only somewhat novel thing about Circlet Princess is the VR battles–which is really just an excuse to have the girls in skintight outfits and have them fight with mecha-like weapons. The Nanoha series and Symphogear series already did this aesthetic far better. Admittedly, the fight scene between Yuuka and Chikage was fairly well-animated and choreographed; and was the highest point of the episode for me. But then we got a really bad cut and scene change in the middle of it all for some bizarre reason. I guess so the episode could move the conclusion of the Bout to the very end? It was so jarring and unnecessary.
One other thing I really disliked about Circlet Princess was all the fanservice present. It’s not as bad as something like, say, Queen’s Blade. But boy was there a lot of boob, crotch, and butt shots in this first episode. It was pretty blatant too, with some scenes completely focused on these girls’ chest area or on their short skirts. There’s also a really sleazy scene of another character getting out of the shower and putting on her underwear. Nothing is shown except for her bare legs, but it made me feel real uncomfortable. The same character then talks casually to her friend whilst only in underwear and completely topless; because yeah, that’s totally how normal girls act in real life!
This anime isn’t the worst I’ve seen this season, but it’s definitely not the best either.
Out of five: