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Princess Waltz is a Visual Novel by Pulltop, notable for being easily the most graphically intensive and text heavy example of the genre to be published in the west. Indeed some reviewers have declared it a possible and quite intentional Crowning Moment of Awesome for publisher Peach Princess, who it is safe to say have produced what is easily the most accomplished of their localizations so far (which is to say that spotting a spelling mistake is rare).
It is a tale of a land called Eldhiland, where for years the six princesses of the land have competed in the titular tournament in order to win the hand of the Prince of the Imperial Family. Now it is time for the ladies to compete for the hand of Prince Chris, these six beautiful girls showing off their graceful dancing skills as they discover the values of friendship, love and embroidery...
Oh, it's not that kind of story? Ok, strike that, it seems the Princess Waltz is less about dancing, and more about said six princesses beating the unholy crap out of each other with a selection of improbably huge and unlikely weapons. With Eldhiland choosing to hold the tournament on present day earth, main character and good natured jock Arata is drawn into events when he accidentally befriends the local Enigmatic Transfer Student and discovers that said transfer student is the much coveted Prince Chris himself. For unknown reasons Chris has joined the Waltz in disguise as the mysterious Princess Iris, and after much Ho Yay Arata decides to aid him in his battle to beat the other five and win the tournament himself.
Said Princesses include:
Princess Suzushiro Shikikagura: On the surface the Token Mini-Moe Proper Lady Shallow Love Interest and Unlucky Childhood Friend of Chris. In fact it quickly becomes clear that she is also Hot Bloodedness and a Plucky Girl, along with being a very badass Bare-Fisted Monk.
Princess Angela Victoire Blendin: An unapologetic Blood Knight, she cares less about Chris and more about getting the best fight possible from her opponents. As such she is antagonistic but honourable, her Slasher Smile in combat mediated by her tendency to Pet the Dog outside of it.
Princess Liesel Hansel: A Genius Bruiser and borderline Badass Normal, who makes up for her lack of physical ability with deadly cunning and her mechanical augmentations. The Little Miss Snarker of the cast, she prides herself on her lack of concern for the concepts of a fair fight and regularly derides those who choose Honor Before Reason .
Princess Liliana Guenther: Genki Girl and Plucky Comic Relief, she is also rather Genre Savvy and could probably singlehandedly qualify for half the anime tropes on the site. Don't let it fool you, at least some of her personality is Obfuscating Stupidity disguising an experienced and clever combatant.
Beast Princess: The last princess, introduced near the end of the story. It is implied that she makes a few appearances earlier on, protecting Arata from the shadows. Unlike the other princesses, she has little interest in the Princess Waltz and Chris, and is more concerned in protecting Arata. It is implied that she is closer than everyone thinks.
Not getting by simply on the strength of its high production values (Even the minor characters get unique paperdolls!) Princess Waltz combines likable and interesting characters with a tone that shifts seamlessly between comedy and drama with equal attention and skill paid to both. The plot isn't anything new but it's well told, and even if it occasionally veers towards thin excuses for everyone to punch each other the fights are so damn good it doesn't matter. So good indeed that at times you ache for them to be animated, excellent sound effects and clever use of paper dolls combining with strong writing to produce some truly badass stuff.
Provides examples of:
- Adaptive Ability: The Guardeners. They start in a few basic forms--wolf, giant bug, etc--but regenerate into a new, more powerful form after defeat. The only way to prevent this is to destroy them completely.
- Awesome but Impractical: Your Mileage May Vary of course but the skills in the game during the card battles. Sure they can deal way more damage than the usual damage but there's a catch. To give you an example: 1st phase throw a Feint: you get initiative. Fair enough. 2nd phase throw an Overdrive. Oh look, the enemy has a card and is using it to block using Parry. Too bad try again the next day. Skills are one shot only and they can only be refilled the day after.
- Fortunately, the enemies have very specific criteria for them to use their skills, one of which includes you throwing out four cards in the right phase. They also visibly bring out the skill card whenever you fulfill the requirement, allowing you a chance to decide whether to bring out more guns, let it use the skill, or put the card which triggered it back (which also causes the enemy to withdraw their skill).
- Badass: Most of the main cast.
- Badass Crew By the end of the game, Badass Normal Arata is the leader of one, consisting of the other Princesses.
- Badass Normal: Ordinary High School Student (well, mostly) Arata manages to do some pretty badass things, though he often has to suffer afterwards. He never tires of going after monsters who could kill him with a look, armed with some Improvised Weapon.
- Well, ditto for Liesel: she actually isn't a real princess, as her homeland is a meritocracy without a nobility. For that matter, she's not the official competitor either. The girl chosen for Waltz was disqualified for... taking the celebration about the fact she was chosen too far. Liesel, who made her dress, was the only one who could have mastered it in the remaining time... And she did, wiping the floor with two arguably strongest princessess in the Waltz, only losing to a Love Power-up. Gah.
- Badass Princess: The female characters who fight.
- Batman Gambit / Evil Plan / Gambit Roulette: At the end of the game, its still not clear what the hell April was up to, so there's really no way to know which of these apply. Maybe she was just following orders, or maybe she was just doing it For the Evulz. Except she might be the Goddess of Wings and the whole thing was a plot to get rid of Shichiou forever.
- Battle Ballgown
- Berserk Button: Suzushiro has quite a few, including touching her or pointing out that her Proper Lady facade is looking a bit shaky.
- Also Chris, if anyone so much as hints at his "feminine qualities".
- Better Than a Bare Bulb
- Beware the Nice Ones: The contrast between Suzushiro's normal personality and her personality in battle is... dramatic, to say the least.
- Also Liesel's battle persona vs. her secret identity
- Bifauxnen:, Chris, who makes all the girls Squee.
- Chris doesn't seem to hide it very well as he could have, but Arata didn't seem to notice the hints, like when he lifts up Chris' shirt on the basketball court, and notices Chris' "bandages" over his chest.
- Well, to be fair, this game seems to be very Genre Savvy about itself, and considering the sheer idiocy that would result by insulting our intelligence, the designers thought lampshading this trope immediately would be a good idea instead. Considering how hard maintaining that plot twist would be anyway, that was probably for the best.
- Arata feels stumped after the reveal, not knowing how he missed that Chris is not biologically male. After all, Chris did look to be quite feminine for a guy.
- Hell, on the official English site, Chris is referred to a she. Which is strange, since it also mentions that Iris always appears when Chris is in danger, but is never around him. The reason is Heavily implied in the first chapter.
- If you turn off cismale voices, Chris keeps talking.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Liliana actually refers to Suzushiro as 'eyebrows girl'.
- Biological Mashup/Fusion Dance/Gender Bender/Sharing a Body: The Iris form is a combination of Arata and Chris. Later on, when Chris is Put on a Bus, Arata can combine with the other Princesses to fight.
- Butt Monkey: Poor Chris proves The White Prince for about ten seconds before the whole world gathers together to make his life hell.
- Glen too, who despite being a powerful dragon lord is invariably referred to as a chicken and tends to have every attempted moments of badassery go horribly wrong before the scene is out.
- Big Bad: Shichiou.
- Bloodless Carnage: Despite the characters clearly being described as being covered in blood this is rarely evident in any of the CG's, where they sometimes don't even seem bruised.
- BFS: Iris's Finishing Move. Angela and Liesel's weapons are also ludicrously huge.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Arata and his adopted sister Shizuka. Even more so Arata and Chris who are half-siblings, cousins, and second-cousins
- The second one probably counts as a Crosses the Line Twice, considering how H-Games usually dance around actually doing this trope for real.
- Captain Ersatz: Fans have noted a large number of similarities between Iris and, thusly, Chris and Saber, and Shichiou with Gilgamesh.
- Card Games: Hybridized with a traditional RPG battle engine for fights against enemies, and done amazingly well.
- Calling Your Attacks: This is a given, considering the genre.
- Cast From Hit Points: Final Blitz, Liliana's Finishing Move.
- Cast Of Snowflakes
- Celibate Hero: All the Princesses, mostly for 'Love Is A Distraction' reasons (Seems a requirement for participation is being a Plucky Girl). Liliana has three married sisters and falls into 'Love is Beneath Me', she frowns on their lack of ambition and won't settle for anything less than a Prince.
- It's a requirement to participate; this is a tournament to decide the Emperor's wife after all... Reference: Nanae.
- Subverted. But then, it's an H-game, so how could it not be?
- Chekhov's Gunman: Remember Kanada Riko? No? She's the tall girl in Arata's class. The one with glasses that swoons a lot and has a tendency to be a bit of a covert pervert? Yeah, that's the real Liesel. Also April.
- Also Shizuka, aka the Beast Princess.
- Chessmaster: Kije tries and fails to be one of these. April and Shichiou are both genuine examples.
- Clothing Damage: Pretty much everyone by the end of a fight.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Toyed with in the battle engine. Any card that you don't play one turn gets held onto for the next turn and increases its value by 2.
- Christmas Cake: Liliana spends most of the game pretending to be a middleschooler, yet rather pointedly asks Arata if he likes 'older women'. His mother on the other hand outright accuses her of being a cradle-snatcher.
- Combat Pragmatist: Liesel.
- Cool vs. Awesome: Both the company that translated it to the USA, and the gamers whom have tried this game have ALWAYS compared it with Fate/stay night, and it even has IMPRESSED some fans of the actual Fate/stay night. So, it should be no surprise that this game has a HIGH Holy Shit Quotient.
- Covert Pervert: Suzushiro and Shizuka are the standout examples. Suzushiro tries to be a proper Yamato Nadeshiko, but her sex scene is the kinkiest in the game. And Shizuka styles herself Arata's bodyguard/maid, but she...comforts herself daily while thinking of Arata.
Arata: What? DAILY?
- Crazy Prepared Liesel has everything in her dress from a jetpack, to missles, to a frickin shield!
- Crash Into Hello
- Defeat Means Friendship: Angela's quote from below. plus the whole second half of the game.
- Determinator and Plucky Girls: Everyone. Arata actually notes that more than anything else the Waltz seems to be a test of just how stupid and stubborn you are.
- Deliberate Injury Gambit: Arata beats Suzushiro this way, along with a hefty dose of mostly justified Moral Dissonance. He allows her to punch him (breaking two of his ribs) before tacklehugging her, binding her with power neutralizing bandages and at the same time breaking her Can't Touch Men promise. Still, he feels bad about doing it, and she was the one who picked a fight with him.
- Downer Ending: Halfway through the game, it tells you that you got the bad ending. It's just Bait and Switch Credits, but a very mean one that almost makes the player cry.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Chris and Arata are 2/3 siblings, having the same father and mothers who were sisters. This is never brought up by anyone, ever. Even though Arata does seem to have some issues about having sex with his adoptive biological sister/transgendered brother. Granted, incestual marriages between royals aren't unheard of, but one of the two involved here was raised as a modern-day Japanese teenager.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: And how!
- Also contains a mild subversion with Liesel. Since the country Palmied is run by a merchant oligarchy rather than a monarchy, "princess" is simply the designation for whichever girl is selected to participate in the Waltz, rather than an actual noble title...though it's hinted that the princess is usually upper-class, since Riko was only a lowly engineer, but the only one qualified to use the Dress after the original girl was disqualified.
- Fan Nickname: Chris was christened Reverse Trap Saber by his detractors.
- Finishing Move: Everyone gets one, given an appropriately awesome CG.
- Fission Mailed: There's a fake "bad end" halfway through the game.
- Five-Man Band: In the second half we have;
- Genre Savvy: If you look at some of the dialogue of the characters, especially Lun Lun and the Big Bad, they seem to be VERY aware of the H-Game and RPG tropes the game runs on. Angela also has a few moments where she does a very snarky Lampshade Hanging on how poorly the Chekhov's Gunman trope was hidden. In fact, Nodoka even notices the clichedness of the stock excuse that is given for Arata knowing all the girls, but Nanae convinces her to follow the MST3K Mantra. Hell, it approaches Leaning on the Fourth Wall levels when April and speaks with Pigeon about how the Elder Guardener has infinite HP!
- Good Morning, Crono: In the grand Dating Sim and RPG tradition, the game begins with Arata waking up in the morning and discovering that he's overslept and is late for school.
- Graceful Loser: After Shichiou gets one-shot by the Arata/Chris/6 Princess-powered Eldhi Arc sword he acknowledges that the heroes are stronger than him and Iris has won their millenium-long game, the two then make-up with Iris admitting she always loved him and the two gently fade away to the afterlife to watch over their descendants.
- Grand Theft Me: Shichiou takes over Chris' body, so that he can seal the blessing that kept him bound.
- Halfway Plot Switch: A pretty epic one, too. The game looks like a Tournament Arc with a Chessmaster working behind the scenes, but then halfway through The apparent Big Bad is killed through a tertiary character stabbing her in the back, Chris crosses the Despair Event Horizon and commits Suicide by Cop via Arata, and following Bait and Switch Credits, a new Big Bad shows up requiring everyone to work together to save the world.
- Healing Factor: The Prince's Blessing.
- The Heartless: The Guardeners. Also a Meaningful Name as they guard the garden.
- Honor Before Reason: Angela, Arata, Chris, and the Big Bad shamelessly adhere to this trope a LOT.
- Hero Ball: Arata repeatedly charges into battle against monsters that totally outclass him. It tends to work out for the best, but, as the other characters point out, it's extremely foolish.
- Given how any and all of the Princesses tend to be a lot more heroic around him ( his Back-to-Back Badasses moment with Angela, Lun-Lun's resolve to fight returning simply from remembering something he said to her days before, Liesel's badass return to action in order to protect him, and the fact that they can join with him to become Iris), let's face it: Arata is the Hero Ball.
- Hot Shonen Mom: Arata's mother.
- Ho Yay: In-Universe example; Chris and Arata, something commented on repeatedly by the other characters.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Liesel seems weak at first, very powerful but slow and clumsy. Then she reveals she can fly. And has missiles. And a backup weapon. And revolving spheres of death...
- Idiot Hair: One of Arata's unnamed classmates, a girl with an ahoge who displays the amount of intellect you'd expect.
- Irony: Wait a minute... It's considered foolish for the Emperor to assist in the tournament that decides his wife? Where does this balance of power come from? Are you sure the Emperor's the one running the country?
- Jerkass Facade: Princess Liesel, the ice-cold Combat Pragmatist of the group. It turns out that the Meganekko Huge Schoolgirl Kanada who's willing to run into a damaged building to save a classmate is her true personality.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Your Mileage May Vary, but Angela is only a Blood Knight when she's got an opponent in front of her. She's still haughty and supremely confident at other times, but often does so while Petting The Dog.
- Karma Houdini: April, remaining as mysterious as when she begun.
- Kill It with Fire: Both of Angela's finishing moves are perfect incarnations of this trope.
- Kiai: Used with Shizuka & Arata's finisher, an overhead swing, the most basic move in kendo.
- Kill It with Water: Liliana's water pistol allows her to do all sorts of tricks with water.
- Level Up At Intimacy 5
- Lightning Glare: Suzushiro and Lun-Lun have enough of these to power the entire East Coast for a few days.
- Love Dodecahedron: By the end of the game, all the available girls like Arata, their feelings ranging from profound respect to outright devotion, leaving huge hints of the Tenchi Solution.
- Macross Missile Massacre: One of Liesel's attacks.
- Mega Manning: Angela manages to defeat Liliana by using Iris's Finishing Move on her, having observed it in a previous fight.
- Angela also notes that if Liliana had the chance to observe this Finishing Move beforehand she would end up with a powerup of her own: and she seems to do just that during the final battle, if chosen.
- Ninja Maid: April is this for Chris, much more powerful than she looks.
- Not Blood Siblings: Arata and Shizuka
- Not So Different: The Big Bad claims that Arata will eventually come to the same conclusions he did, which will lead to the exact same thing happening again. Iris retorts that if it does, then the current generation will have to deal with it.
Iris: Our time is done. It is time for us to go.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: If you think that "Lun-Lun" is nothing more than an anime-obsessed Genki Girl Ditz, then you haven't gotten to the scene where she points out that her family is in charge of the most powerful naval force in their world, and are responsible for constantly battling pirates. As a result, she has at least as much combat experience as ANGELA.
- Actually, this troper remembers differently. Lun-Lun had more combat experience, but Angela had more raw power. Finesse vs Brute Force
- Oh Crap: Liesel instantaneously goes from being about to deliver the finishing blow to completely screwed in a single move from Suzushiro. The look on her face is a picture. "I have brought down the bird in the sky."
- Omniscient Morality License: Frigging APRIL.
- Our Dragons Are Butt Monkeys
- Poor, poor Glen.
- Out of the Inferno: If you go with Angela for the 2nd chapter, the battle with the Super Elder Guardener not only involves their Iris form doing this, but turning said inferno on their rival and REDUCING IT TO ASHES.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: No one connects Iris and Chris, despite the fact that they even have the same hairdo.
- May have something to do with Identical Grandparents. The real Iris and Cecilia (Chris' mother) look a lot like Chris as well. It might not be too surprising to people that every female that comes out of Soldia looks like Iris. Shichiou actually comments upon Iris appearance and reveals that Arata resembles her more than Chris do.
- Even if you don't wind up teaming with the 6th princess, the game does a very terrible job of disguising who she really is.
- Playing with Fire: Angela's Finishing Move has her cloaked in huge dragon made of fire. Also, as Liliana learned the hard way, if you leave something as small as her fingertip sticking out of the ice block you've imprisoned her in, she can burn herself out.
- Made especially impressive in that said Finishing Move was thought of right on the spot, based solely on observing Iris' Eldhi Arc technique once, and figuring out exactly how it was powered perfectly just from that.
- Porn with Plot: Very, very plot heavy, with the porn, while unskippable, brief, rather tasteful, and it compromises about maybe 3-5% of the game content at absolute best.
- Psychotic Smirk: Angela rarely wears anything else. Suzushiro also pulls one occasionally when she's in a bitchy mood.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Liesel. Not evil as such, but certainly not a very nice person.
- Becomes outright inverted after you figure out that Riko and Liesel are the same person. She was pulling a Jerkass Facade.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Angela vs Liliana. It had to happen sometime. Also: first battle of Iris and Angela.
- Reverse Shrapnel: Liesel uses this trick with high-tech cannonballs.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Self explanatory.
- Running Gag: Chris and Arata being forced to hold hands, and the reactions of everyone around them.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Eldin/Shichiou. It turns out the whole Princess Waltz was just to keep him trapped.
- Secret Identity: The other princesses do not know that Chris is Iris, Liesel is gathering data in the form of Riko, Arata's Huge Schoolgirl classmate.
- Sexy Mentor: April of course! At least as far as she's concerned. Oh and as that previous trope hints, she's not quite as harmless as she seems.
- Tenchi Solution: Princess Waltz implies that this could easily be the case through dialogue, plot implications, and practical reasons. To wit:
- Dialogue: ALL of the girls and also Chris (especially in the true ending), wind up liking Arata to some greater or lesser degree, ranging anywhere from profound respect to outright love.
- Plot Implications: We are given very broad reason to believe that not only is the world the Princesses have come from very relaxed standards wise (they aren't as hung up over illegitimate kids), but the Brother-Sister Incestimplications in the plot are not regarded as Squick by the other girls. In fact, they SUPPORT Arata/Chris (with the broad implication on both sides that they wouldn't mind being haremettes or in a polygamous relationship, which is actually not uncommon for royalty)
- Practical Reasons: Due to the events of the game plot having caused major political uncertainty, the Tenchi Solution would be a great idea for political expendiency (with the added bonus the prince and princesses would actually be pretty okay with it), and considering the whole plot was an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny to determine the continuance of the political balance, the Tenchi Solution benefits all sides.
- The above said, the plot begs for an extended epilogue Fanfic.
- And at the very least, the game pretty much says flat out that although Chris is the more important, Arata also gets together with at least the princess he merged with at the end.
- Shout-Out: Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Suzushiro's Big Ol' Eyebrows combined with her When All You Have Is a Hammer power set puts one in mind of a certain Ninja.
- Surprise Pregnancy: Twice in the backstory, disqualifying the princesses in question from participating in the Waltz. In the current Waltz, it resulted in Riko becoming Palmied's "Princess Liesel". In the last one, Nanae dropped out after becoming pregnant with Shizuka.
- The Glasses Come Off: To Ominous Latin Chanting no less. Go Liesel!
- The Ojou: All the Princesses really, though it's Suzushiro who really embodies the trope.
- The Faceless: The very creepy Kije.
- The Worf Effect: Shichiou proves his credentials by effortlessly beating Angela in his first appearance. Also a Kick the Dog, as he makes an effort to humiliate and degrade her at the same time.
- Theme Music Power-Up: When the Techno Ominous Latin Chanting starts up, someone is about to do something awesome.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Highly encouraged in this game, in fact, as damage past an opponent's last Hit Point translates into an Experience Point boost. Managing to drop an opponent to 1 HP and then unleashing everything you've got on them is an excellent means to level up faster.
- Totally Radical: "What the hoppin' heezy are you doing!"
- Transgender: Despite Chris eventually coming out to Arata revealing his birth gender, he feels intense feelings of gender dysphoria, and insists he is a male long after telling and sleeping with him.
- Tsundere: Chris and Angela , neither of whom fit the standard mold.
- Chris keeps a princely mask up at all times, but underneath he may be a Type A Tsundere.
- Angela is mostly Type A, but switches to Type B for her Pet the Dog moments. Even those are pretty harsh, though, and are more like "Don't screw up too bad" rather than true deredere moments. The only exception is her sex scene.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Poor Nodoka doesn't even get a second glance. And given the nature of the game her lack of a nude scene, more or less and H-scene is very telling.
- The "true ending" you get after completing all the others implies that she follows Arata to Eldhiland and is determined to become a princess herself.
- Wham! Episode: Chapter 12-13 : Those that Fall.
- Weapon of Choice:
- Iris (and Chris) use a sword, as expected of The Hero.
- Liesel uses a freaking huge hammer, obviously in reference to her being a blacksmith. Arata actually notes that it looks rather odd wielded by the emotionless and small framed girl.
- Suzushiro is a Bare-Fisted Monk, her personality a equal mix of cocky and disciplined.
- Angela uses a lance, counter to her Blood Knight personality. Though arguably, she later becomes The Lancer to Arata.
- Liliana uses guns and whips, and seems to think she's The Gunslinger. It's arguable.
- The Sixth Princess, Shizuka, uses a Halberd, a different kind of Blade on a Stick. Appropriately enough, there is some antagonism between her and Angela, due to their personalities being stark opposites.
- Worthy Opponent: Angela does this for everyone, screaming out their names, encouraging them to fight harder, showing mercy when they lose... she even mentions after the fight against Liliana that she would have called the woman a friend.
- The reasoning behind her later alliance with Arata is that she feels the Chessmasters are dishonouring the pride of the fallen Princesses and the honour of the Waltz by using both as pawns.
- Yaoi Fangirl: All the schoolgirls except Nodoka and at least one princess.