Prima Doll Review


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Prima Doll is about Black Cat Cafe, a located in the fifth ward of the Imperial Capital. Having lost their purpose after the war ended a few years prior, advanced mechanical dolls known as Automata have been restored and now work at the cafe wearing elegant kimonos. While they adjust to the peaceful world, events of the past continue to haunt the Automata, preventing them from letting go of the responsibility they once held.

Among the Automata working at Black Cat Cafe is the recently restored Haizakura, who has lost her memories during a reset. Her identity and role in this unfamiliar world are a mystery to her, but one thing is certain—she loves to sing. With never-ending curiosity and beautiful songs to guide them, Haizakura and the Automata search for their new purpose together, supporting each other no matter how rigorous that endeavor might be.

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At first glance at Prima Doll, one might see the 6.92 average rating and the cursed words “multimedia project” in the synopsis and instantly cross this show off of their potential Plan to Watch list. However, the fact that you are here means that despite of all that, you decided to also scroll down to the review section to get an idea of how the show was received. If this is you, then you’ve come to the right place. This review is here to give a spoiler free synopsis of what to expect from Prima Doll and explain how the average score and some of the unfavorable reviews don’t do the show justice. Let’s begin.

If I had to describe Prima Doll in one phrase, it’d probably be “moe Violet Evergarden”. If you haven’t watched Violet Evergarden, then definitely go watch that first, because while I do like Prima Doll a lot, Violet Evergarden sits comfortably in my top 5 anime. Both Prima Doll and Violet Evergarden have extremely similar settings of a post-war steampunk European continent and similar character dilemmas of people losing their purpose with the end of the war or being unable to adjust to the abrupt advent of peace. Just like Violet Evergarden, Prima Doll will also sucker punch you right in the feels throughout the entire show. Both shows are very good at creating these episodic scenarios that draw you into the character narratives and get you to empathize with their situation. Even the term “doll” is used prolifically in both shows, furthering the theme of these mannequins that were used as tools of war learning how to live their own lives.

I think it is quite obvious how the description of “moe” plays into the show, with the color schemed moe blob cute anime girls and all. Moe has always been a big point of contention in the anime community, but for the love of Madokami it’s 2022 already. Love it or hate it, moe will have a perpetual influence on anime and just because you don’t like moe doesn’t mean all moe anime are automatically trash. As a resident of the moe trash can myself, I appreciated the moe parts of the show. The slice of life elements served as both a good foil for the emotional high points of the show as well as furthering the overarching theme of learning to live a life without strife. If you are also a cultured moe enjoyer who likes shows such as K-On, GochiUsa, Yuru Yuri, Blend S, Hinako Note, and Comic Girls among many others, then this aspect of Prima Doll should be an easy sell for you. As for comparing Prima Doll to a recent show, it really had a lot of similarities to RPG Real Estate from last season while also outperforming that show in almost every aspect. I feel the tone shift from slice of life to emotional was far less jarring in Prima Doll than RPG Real Estate, and Prima Doll’s character interactions were also more genuine and heartfelt as a whole. RPG Real Estate suffered from having a very weak connection between the overarching theme and what was usually occurring on screen; Prima Doll more deliberately built up its overarching theme throughout the show, making the narrative feel more natural because it was paced better.

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The final part of the review will be dedicated to easing any remaining concerns about watching Prima Doll while concurrently refuting claims made against the show by some haters. The topic to address first is definitely the “multimedia project” aspect of the show. While I do understand why everyone hates multimedia projects because multimedia projects typically entail watching the anime, playing the mobile game that is most definitely going to be a gacha, buying merch, following the official twitter posts, and watching the official youtube channel to get the full “authentic” experience on the series. It’s essentially all one giant cash grab and a huge time sink that serves as an excuse for the anime being not very well produced because there’s also supposed to be the mobile game’s story, the character profile cards included with the albums you buy, and the bits of lore dropped from the official youtube channel that’s also supposed to supplement it. That generic umbrella of multimedia project is genuinely awful and I hate it too, but Prima Doll doesn’t fit under that. I was not shilled a mobile game when I finished the last episode in tears. All I saw was “Fin” and then the voice role credits started rolling as usual. There is an official youtube channel for prima doll, but outside of some 5 second clips of the VAs saying some cute stuff using a 3D avatar of their character, I didn’t dabble in it at all. There definitely are songs and albums available for purchase, but those are just for the fans that want to listen to more Chat-noir songs. You don’t tangibly lose out on any type of experience from not interacting with the other forms of Prima Doll media; I personally found that simply watching the anime by itself is a fulfilling standalone experience, so it makes no sense to hate on Prima Doll just for being a multimedia project. There isn’t some character that got their character development shafted on purpose because that’ll be covered in the upcoming mobile game, and the ending wasn’t some to be continued that’ll be picked up with the mobile game but only after you follow the twitter lore they drop over the course of 24 months. Prima Doll isn’t some incomplete halfass show that was only made to sell the mobile game, like Takt Op Destiny.

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There are quite a lot of people saying that the ending of Prima Doll was rushed, but I can’t see what they’re talking about. Most people compared it to the likes of The Day I Became a God, which is also produced by Key and Visual Arts. While I haven’t watched that show, I can definitely point to another show done by Key which is Charlotte. Charlotte is infamous for absolute trash pacing for everything after episode 7, squeezing what a 12-episode season would barely be able to cover into the final episode. Prima Doll definitely did not have a Charlotte ending. I won’t get too much into it because having this be a spoiler free review is more important to me than refuting their claims in detail, but I thought Prima Doll’s ending was appropriately rewarding and moving for the amount of narrative buildup that was done with the storytelling.

The final thing I want to talk about with Prima Doll is the VAs. As a big Love Live fan, the first thing I noticed going into this show was Kusunoki Tomori (Setsuna Yuuki) as Karasuba and Kitou Akari (Kanata Konoe) as Retzel. If you’re a Genshin Impact player that plays with Japanese voiceover, then you’ll probably notice that Murase Ayumu doing Nagi in the show also does Venti, Kuno Misaki doing Chiyo in the show also does Klee, and Kitou Akari does Barbara. The VAs in Prima Doll are especially important due to the song segments of the show, as well as each main character singing the ED solo during their respective episode. All the VAs put in stellar work making the OP, ED, and all the insert songs all sound amazing while also bringing life to their characters. Playing Haizakura, Waki Azumi has had a plethora of experience singing theme songs for Blend S as Maika, Slime 300 as Flatorte, Noukin as Mile, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear as Fina, Senko-san as Senko, Ms. Vampire who lives nextdoor as Elly, and much more. Tomita Miyu’s noteable roles other than playing as Gekka include Iino from Kaguya-sama, Riko from Made in Abyss, Gabriel from Gabriel DropOut, and Kuina from Hinako Note among others. As Kitou Akari has had experience working together with Kusunoki Tomori for Nijigasaki concerts as well as Murase Ayumu and Kuno Misaki for Genshin, Waki Azumi and Tomita Miyu have also had very close roles together as a matter of fact, with Tomita Miyu being Fina’s younger sister Shuri in Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear as well as fellow vampires with Elly as Sophie in Ms. Vampire who lives nextdoor. Playing Houkiboushi, Nakashima Yuki definitely has had the fewest roles amongst all the other main members of the voice cast, but her roles as Lisa Imai in BanG Dream’s Roselia is a very engaging and demanding role that she has excelled in, not to mention has had lots of experience singing for. I want to specifically mention Kitou Akari again because I especially love her role as Chiyoda Momo in Machikado Mazoku. Kitou Akari-san is ridiculously talented for being able to pull off aloof and nonchalant characters like Chiyoda Momo as well as more breezy and witty characters like Retzel and Nijigasaki’s Kanata. Okay, rant over. Moral of the story: Prima Doll has an all-star lineup of voice talent. So when I hear haters say stuff about the voices being annoyingly squeaky, or the production forcing the voice talents to strain their voices to match the character, all I can do is scoff at their ignorance, and everyone else should brush off those baseless ramblings as well. It’s definitely one thing to have opinions of voice talents, but it’s another thing entirely to attack them for the roles they act out. I’ve seen some rude and undignified comments about Kuno Misaki’s role as Chiyo and I’m not going to stand for it. Her Chiyo voice is not some one-off fluke that was forced on the production side; she uses practically the same tone and pitch for Beni-enma in FGO and Klee in Genshin. The roles that Kuno Misaki chooses to play and the voices she uses to get into character are her WORK and her TALENT. People that want to attack that based on their own shit taste need to shut the fuck up.

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Professor Nagi Tooma fixes up the dolls and runs the Black Cat Café because he believes in the potential of the dolls to move the hearts of others by preserving the peace, rather than fighting the war. Prima Doll was an extremely enjoyable show for me that definitely moved my heart. While part of that might be because I reside in the moe trash can, the show also undeniably has an engaging narrative even without the moe. I think that if you can at least tolerate the moe and are looking for a heartwarming and character-driven emotional rollercoaster, then Prima Doll should be the next thing you watch.

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プリマドール Synopsis Prima Doll is about Black Cat Cafe, a located in the fifth ward of the Imperial Capital. Having lost their purpose after the war ended a few years prior, advanced mechanical dolls known as Automata have been restored and now work at the cafe...Prima Doll Review
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