Yuki isn’t all that different from a typical preteen: she loves to have fun, hates the heavy study required of her, and enjoys the company of friends. But the difference here is that on her 12th birthday, Yuki is assuming queenship of her family’s kingdom. Not that she’s alone—Yuki is joined by advisors, including her childhood friend and confidante, Joshua; military leader, Harold; and twins Lune and Yuni from a neighboring country, The newly empowered princess intends to run a country where she can bring happiness to her subjects, though she may that that doing so could bring Soleil to the precipice of war.
What happens when you bring together uninteresting characters, bad animation, and an opening episode where a game of “Capture the Flag” is the climax? Well, you get The Price of Smiles. Episode one was unimpressive, focusing on Yuki’s incorrigible youth and optimism and her relationship with Joshua, who protects and treasures her. But there is hope here—the simulation exercise was kind of exciting and the the post-credits scene (make sure you watch it) is unexpected*, raising the stakes in a series that for the first 23 minutes felt insignificant. And I think that’s where we’ll find how successful the series will be. Most of episode one screamed that this show is made for younger and less demanding audiences, while the the ending scene indicated that maybe there’s more to it—The Prices of Smiles needs to settle on one tone or the other if it wants to be anything more than another forgettable series.
The Prices of Smiles can be streamed on Crunchyroll.
*I should say that the scene should be unexpected. Someone in my household watched the episode before me, so when I started it I saw the ending credits first, than the post-credits scene, and then it ended—I didn’t know what was happening at first until I realized that I should have checked the time stamp from the beginning!