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It is the turn of the 20th century. The Kingdom of Albion’s new royal air force, commonly known as the Air Fleet, has created a dramatic shift in the balance of global power. With its monopoly of Cavorite, and the Air Fleet at its command, the Kingdom of Albion became the greatest world power since the Roman Empire. However, revolution split the kingdom into East and West, with the London Wall separating the Kingdom of Albion from the Commonwealth of Albion. Ten years later, London became the front-line of a secret war fought between nations’ spies. At the heart of the story is Queens May Fair School where a group of 5 high school girls involved in espionage, infiltration, sabotage, and deceit. “We are spies, creatures who live by lying.”
Princess Principal is an anime thriller series with an interesting package of a Cold War-esque story that involves espionage and deception, lots of cute girls working as spies and assassins, a steampunk setting just to name a few. Now, you might be thinking: “I love to see more cute girls wearing goth dresses or I want to see more of steampunk, but I’m too impatient to wait every week for the new episode! Whatever shall I do to kills some time?!” Well, dear reader, you’ve come to the right place!
For this list, we’re going to list down 6 anime series that share one or few similar themes found in Princess Principal. While the standout feature of the anime is certainly the steampunk theme, Princess Principal also has themes of female spies and/or assassins, a gripping story, and girls in goth dresses. With those points in mind, let’s dive right in! Full steam ahead!
Similar Anime to Princess Principal
1. Shuumatsu no Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2016-December 2016
Set in an alternate universe in 1939, the imperialist nation of Germania invaded a neighboring country and because of these series of events, it dragged Europe into the biggest war in history. In 1940, Germania sets its sights on Principality of Elystadt, a small and peaceful nation. With the military might of Germania, her army slowly marches towards the capital of Elystadt until they meet a powerful resistance in the form of a witch named Izetta.
The setting of Shuumatsu no Izetta takes place in an alternate World War 2 era, right after the Industrial Revolution setting of Princess Principal. The Eras are a bit off, but both anime share that European aesthetic, themes of war, espionage, sabotage and uniting nations. The spies take on missions that will hopefully shift power between powerful nations of Europe and it may end in war or diplomacy. In Izetta, the small nation of Elystadt is fighting against the advancing Germania forces using the power of witches, good old fashioned espionage, and diplomacy.
Shuumatsu no Izetta Trailer
2. Akuma no Riddle (Riddle Story of Devil)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2014-June 2014
Azuma Tokaku is a young assassin from a reputable clan is transferred to Class Black in a seemingly ordinary private boarding school Myoujou Academy. Class Black is no ordinary class, it’s a special class for trained assassins, spies and saboteurs from various clans. With 13 girls in attendance, the 12 girls are assigned to kill their classmate Ichinose Haru. And whoever kills her first will have their wishes granted. Originally tasked to assassinate classmate Ichinose Haru in exchange for having anything she wants to be granted, Tokaku had a change of heart and decided to protect the girl against 11 other assassins. But why the change of heart? Is Tokaku somehow attracted to the kindness of Haru? And how will Tokaku fend off 11 assassins all out to kill Haru?
Princess Principal started in a time skip where Ange is teamed up with other spies in a rescue mission to give the viewers a taste of what the show has to offer with a complete cast of characters. Episode 2 then jumps back to the past and we watch how Ange arrived at the school and how she befriended other spies with different agendas. Akuma no Riddle is more or less in the same vein -- Tokaku must ally with other assassins to stop other assassins from killing Haru. It’s a shaky relationship that relies on trust and friendship.
Akuma no Riddle Trailer
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2001-September 2001
Mireille Bouquet is a professional assassin stationed in Paris, France. One day, she received an ominous email from a girl named Kirika. The email reads “Make a pilgrimage for the past, with me.” Mireille travels to Japan to find this girl only to find out Kirika has no recollection of her past, and yet, she adept at using guns, martial arts and shows no emotions when killing people. Realizing the two share the same history, Mireille and Kirara team up, and travel the globe looking for clues and while avoiding the grasp of this shadowy organization called Les Soldats.
At a glance, it’s very difficult to find similarities with Princess Principal. There’s no steampunk setting, the female characters in Noir don't wear any frilly goth dresses, nor the story involves any wars or corporate sabotage, but the key similarity is Noir and Princess Principal both focus on female characters who were brought up to become assassins. Yeah, Ange or even Dorothy from Princess Principal are spies, but they’re also trained in the art of assassination when the time arises. Mireille Bouquet and Kirika Yuumura have checkered pasts and the two travel around the globe looking for answers.
Along the way, they piece together and recollect their memories until they’re dragged into a conspiracy about training the perfect assassins. With strong main characters, a gripping story and entrancing soundtrack, Noir will satisfy your itch for badass female leads.
Noir Complete Series Trailer
Any Anime Like Princess Principal ?
4. Rozen Maiden
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2004-December 2004
Sakurada Jun is a shut in and spends his time buying random and often bizarre stuff from online stores. When he’s bored of the stuff he bought, he sends them back before the trial expires and get refunds, so this is exactly not his first rodeo. On a typical day of receiving new stuff from the mail, Jun literally bumped on a big box he’s not sure where it came from. Upon opening, he sees the wind up doll of British Victorian Era origins. The doll started to move after he winds the doll with a key and to his shock, the doll is sentient. The doll identifies herself as Shinku, a magical doll called a Rozen Maiden, and Jun has unwillingly become the doll’s caretaker. Jun really unboxed a big one.
Welcome to the anime that became popular on the internet because of the memes it generated-desu. The story of Rozen Maiden can a bit complicated like how the dolls becoming sentient, how their existence came to be, and how each Rozen Maiden is tied to their human medium and the motive behind the Alice Games which pits each maiden for a battle to the death. Like Noir, there’s only one thing that makes Rozen Maiden similar to Princess Principal and that is the cast of cute girls/dolls wearing goth dresses similarly found in the British Victorian Era. And each doll has their own unique powers that will aid them in battle.
If you like watching girls in frilly goth dresses and drinking tea all the time, Rozen Maiden is a fun distraction while keeping the mood when waiting for the next Princess Principal episode to air-desu.
Rozen Maiden Trailer
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2011-July 2011
Originally from Japan, Kujou Kazuya has moved to the Southern European country of Sauville to study in the most luxurious board school, Saint Marguerite Academy. The curious young man in search of supernatural stories, Kujou visits the academy’s towering library and there he meets a beautiful doll-like girl with long golden hair with a matching frilly dress named Victorique de Blois, with deductive skills that it’s almost unreal.
We’re pretty sure we didn’t misspell “Gothic”, but what do we know? Anyway, Gosick is a collection of solving mysteries and some of them have a supernatural twist. The show is similar to detective stories like the popular Sherlock Holmes and along with it are the thrills of the heroes solving the unsolvable. Since Gosick is an anime series, certain mysteries were solved in incomprehensive and silly ways. It’s to be expected at this point because a literal goth loli of fifteen years of age can magically solve almost anything because it’s anime!
Apart from the goth loli Victorique de Blois, the setting is somewhere post Industrial Revolution and pre-World War 1. You get to see some European architecture, old technology just like Princess Principal, albeit with more steampunk. But really, the entry for those who can’t get enough of goth lolis.
And speaking of steampunk…
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 07, 2004
So the last 5 entries are focused on the female cast, spies, assassinations, espionage, war and the British Victorian-esque aesthetics, but what about the most striking feature of Princess Principal, the steampunk theme? Fear not because if you’re looking for steampunk, then look no further than Steamboy aka Machinery Porn Simulator!
Steamboy tells the story of James Ray Steam (oh, Japan!), a young inventor living in the steamy and bustling city of British Victorian Era London. James’ life as a young boy turned upside down as he is caught in a web of chaos that involves a device called the Steam Ball that was given to him by his grandfather, also an inventor, from the United States. The Steam Ball is a breakthrough device that can produce a limitless amount of steam power, and evil forces are out to steal this powerful invention.
Your experience with this anime may vary, but one thing Steamboy has it going is the very detailed steampunk world. Chimneys expelling smoke blanketing the skies, buildings are covered in soot, streets, and factories hiss as every gigantic machinery are operated using steam power. And Steamboy is a mechanic’s dream come true as every machinery from steam-powered monocycles to airships with steam-powered mechanical claws are meticulously drawn and realistic that these inventions may actually exist in real life.
Princess Principal is steampunk, but with its own twists of the theme and if you like the idea of lots of gigantic gears on buildings, cars or any type of machinery that make London a living and breathing giant clock, then Steamboy the same thing, but even bigger.
And there you have it! It’s understandable we were nitpicky with the anime listed, but as we previously stated, Princess Principal is a lot of things that got packed into one interesting package. The list was basically separating the ingredients of a dish and find out why it was delicious to eat. Now that we figured out the key ingredients, it’ll be easy for us to find shows with similar, yet tasty flavors.
...or something like that. We’re trying to sound sophisticated here!