• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

The Winter 2024 Anime Preview Guide
'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess

How would you rate episode 1 of
'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess ?
Community score: 3.9

What is this?


A princess held captive by her kingdom's enemy, the Hellhorde, is tortured for information with delicious dishes, which are withheld until she coughs up the info they require. But the answers are never enough, and so the torment begins afresh each day.

'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess is based on a manga of the same name by Robinson Haruhara and Hirakei. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Mondays.

How was the first episode?

James Beckett

'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess is in the running for becoming my new go-to example of how a comedy with precisely one (1) joke to its entire shtick can work like absolute gangbusters if it simply goes to increasingly absurd and ridiculous extremes to commit every fiber of its being to the bit. Here we have a show that seems like the only well it will ever return to is the gag of its titular Princess failing miserably to resist the Hellhorde's nefarious, culinary-based torture methods, with the main source of novelty coming from the different cuisines that Torture Tortura will bring in with that little Iron-Chef Maiden of hers. Presumably, Excalibur the Talking Sword will be disappointed and upset that his once-valiant Princess is physically incapable of resisting the allure of a nicely toasted slice of bread, or a freshly cooked bowl of midnight ramen, or what have you.

Here's the thing, though: If the show can continue to be this incredibly well-animated and directed every week, then that one joke is going to be funny as hell each time it lands. Thankfully, what the team adapting this manga understands is that, for this line of comedy to work at all, then it must be played with so much unearned gravitas and drama that the viewer cannot help but take the Princess' stupid, stupid conflict with the utmost seriousness. Watching this episode's opening scene, with its surprisingly well-done action and spectacle, you believe that the Princess is a bona fide badass who could stand up to any maiming or mangling that the Hellhorde offers. Then, later, when the single bite of one mere takoyaki ball takes on literally galactic levels of size and influence in the Princess' mind, you once again believe that you—or any other mortal on this Earth, for that matter—would absolutely sell out your nation and its deepest held secrets, if only it meant that you could get just one more bite of that gooey, octopussy goodness.

It helps, too, that the voice actors here are just killing it with their performances. With Haruka Shiraishi embodying the Princess' every exaggerated yelp of hunger and Chikahiro Kobayashi selling Excalibur's genuinely shocked reactions to the Princess' betrayal, I could be convinced that 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess has the means to keep itself going for a full season. As to whether or not that pans out, well, we can only wait and see. The premiere I just watched presents what is an essentially perfect execution of this premise, though, so if any one-joke comedy can go the distance, I'd put my money on this one.

Richard Eisenbeis

I feel like my score might be a bit too low on this one. As I've mentioned before “food porn” is not my thing. So all the scenes focusing on the wonderfully animated bread, takoyaki, and ramen do nothing for me. It's almost to the point of beating a dead horse after a while in my eyes.

So, if the food porn is a non-starter, what's left? Well, the humor. The series seems to be based around a single joke: that the princess can resist any kind of physical torture but is weak to simple things like delicious food. While it's patently absurd that anyone—much less a princess and a general—would sell out her kingdom for a slice of toast, it comes to make a bit of sense.

As a princess, our heroine has been pampered from a young age. She's used to the best food. Yet, now she's in a dungeon and—even assuming they are not starving her—is not getting what she's used to (unless she gives up her secrets, of course). But more than that, the “torture” plays on the idea that she's always had to keep up appearances as a responsible princess. There are many foods that “only the commoners eat” that she has never been able to try. And on top of that, none of the demons she's surrounded by could care less about her image. They just want information.

In general, the humor works well in this episode because the show goes all-in on every joke—to an enjoyably surreal degree. But, in the end, I am left wondering: Where does the show go from here? When the main joke grows stale what will keep it going? I don't know. We'll just have to see for ourselves.

Rebecca Silverman

Like Mr. Villain's Day Off, this is the sort of comedy show that may have worked better in short form. Its first episode is largely a lather-rinse-repeat formula that I don't feel does it many favors. Gags are funny on their own but strung together the way they are, they get old more quickly than healthy. It's a shame because there's something fun about the combination of food porn and inanity that the story relies on, with my favorite joke being the return to the opening scene after the closing credits. This one works well with the longer episode because it relies on you forgetting that the Princess looked incredibly cool and competent during the opening minutes. Replaying the same footage, but this time with her inner monologue, lets us know that the Hellhoarde may have had her number all along.

While it's doubtless best not to get stuck on details like the world having video games but still fighting with Medieval technology (I am who I am), the more intentionally amusing disconnect is the fact that aptly named torturer Torture Tortura keeps tempting the Princess with Japanese food, at least after the toast attempt. Ramen and takoyaki, both of which the Princess has seen if not had before, are the order of the day, and they almost work here. I think the takoyaki gag is a bit better if only for the face she makes when she pops the whole thing in her mouth and then tries to chew and not burn her mouth simultaneously is fantastic. But coming after the fluffy toast joke and before the ramen one, it gets lost.

That's the most significant issue here. Apart from the type of food Tortura uses (and having her zombie cook up), each segment is functionally the same as before. Tortura comes in threatening, the Princess and her sentient sacred sword try to pretend to hold firm, Tortura whips out the meal, and the Princess dissolves into an overly descriptive drooling mess. She caves; Tortura's boss says it's not enough. Do it again. Again, this isn't bad, per se, but it is a lot of the same thing over and over. It's fine, and you probably shouldn't watch it hungry, but it just isn't enough to hold my interest for a full twenty-three minutes.

Nicholas Dupree

On paper, this premiere should end up in the same comedic limbo as Mr. Villain's Day Off – a show with one joke that would work much better as isolated shorts rather than a full-length series. In practice, "Torture" Princess (not to be confused with Torture Princess) shows that through clever execution and stellar presentation, you can get a whole lot of mileage out of a single punchline.

Take, for instance, the cold open. It starts the show off with a deliberately self-serious tone, presenting our titular Princess as a mighty warrior and revered leader. It's a perfect setup to lead into her first "torture" treatment, itself starting off deadly serious, before leading into the swerve that the demons are simply tempting our heroine with toast, rather than stuffing her into an iron maiden. In a lesser production, we'd have started with that punch line in the first minute, but by delaying the delivery and building up a darker atmosphere, the twist lands way better than it would have otherwise. The episode ends by repeating the opening sequence, but now showing us the Princess' inner thoughts, is a perfect way to cap it all off. It showcases the much more indulgent and childish personality we've seen across the episode. It recontextualizes her actions, bringing her whole personality in line with the series' singular joke.

It's just good, solid craft, and the same thing is true of the whole premiere. The Princess' tempting fantasies are delivered with buoyant, expressive animation that keeps things fresh. The fights against her own appetite, and Tortura's devious methods of sweetening the pot, are paced and scored like epic battles, heightening the joke in a way that feels effortless. Whenever a gag isn't all that funny or risks being repetitive, the pacing ensures it never wears out its welcome. They even have the food porn down perfectly, making every crumb of toast and spoonful of ramen broth look mouthwatering. Seriously, do not watch this episode without eating first. It really will be torture.

I also appreciate that the show avoids feeling mean-spirited, even though it very easily could have. I can imagine a version of this episode where the entire joke is about how pitiful or stupid the Princess is, or else take glee in watching her get tricked. Yet somewhere in the delivery of it all, it never feels like we're making fun of her. Maybe it's just that the animation helps us get as caught up in the temptation as her, or just the fact that the only voice of dissent is her baffled, sentient sword. Either way, it keeps the humor lighthearted while the Princess and her captors remain likable. Altogether, it's an enjoyable time and one of the best examples of how this kind of show can work when firing on all cylinders.

discuss this in the forum (483 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

back to The Winter 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Season Preview Guide homepage / archives