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Duty vs Love – A Look At “The Princess and the Pilot”

March 15, 2012 By: Nopy Category: Anime

Should Charles from The Princess and the Pilot have done his duty and escorted Fana to their destination or followed his heart and run away with her?


Prelude: As you already know, I am currently preparing to write the GMAT. One of the sections has some fancy name, but it is essentially a persuasive essay with a 30 minute time limit. English has always been a weak point for me and I haven’t been in a real English class for 7 years so my writing abilities are more than a little rusty. Unfortunately, I am having difficulty finding time to study and do other things I want, like blog, so I’ve come up with a solution: multi-purpose writing. Below is a persuasive essay I wrote on The Princess and the Pilot in 30 minutes in order to practice my essay writing and make a blog post at the same time. It’s not great (I can already poke a dozen holes in my argument), but practice makes perfect. There may be more posts like this in the future.

Note: huge spoilers below, scroll down at your own risk.


In the film, The Princess and the Pilot, Charles is shown to be a perfect soldier: skilled, obedient, and loyal. However, his devotion to his country is misplaced, leading him to suppress any feelings of love and avoid any chances of romance. His choice to value his duty to his country over love for Fana was unwise and detrimental to his future happiness.

Due to Charles’s mixed heritage, and absence of his father, his devotion to his country is an enigma. As seen numerous times in flashbacks to Charles’s past and even in the present at the military base, his countrymen do not respect him; he is often beaten, called racial slurs, and tasked with demeaning chores. No level of acheivement will gain him recognition among all of his countrymen. This was evidenced by the fact that he was still mistreated despite being the top pilot and held at gunpoint after successfully escorting Fana across enemy lines.

One could argue that Charles’s devotion to completing his duty ensured that he would live a comfortable life afterwards. This belief is false and just as misplaced as Charles’s belief that he should help his country. In the final scenes, Charles discards his payment as a parting gift to Fana, indicating that he viewed the gold with little value. His decision to place duty above love left him with nothing: no fame, no recognition, no money, and no girl.

If Charles had chosen love and flown away with Fana, it would have been a different story. From the scenes on the island and Fana’s remark that they should just fly away together, it was clear that she had a romantic interest in Charles. From Charles’s blushing and shouting out Fana’s name as his “last words”, it is also clear that he had feelings for her too. Proponents for duty over love may point out that flying away with Fana would have made him an enemy to his country and cost him everything. While that may be true, at least he would have Fana, which is more than he had after choosing to place duty over love.

A final argument for Charles’s decision is that it was for Fana’s protection. I disagree with that statement because she was being targeted by the enemy for being the prince’s fiancee and future princess. If she had run away with Charles and cancelled her marriage arrangement, she would no longer have been a target for the enemy.

After living in a country that has given him nothing but hardship, it is baffling to me why he chose to place his duty to that country above the love he had for Fana. Charles should have chosen to follow his heart and run away with Fana; he may not have had any fame or fortune, but as shown in the film, choosing to complete his duty left Charles with even less.

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20 Comments to “Duty vs Love – A Look At “The Princess and the Pilot””

  1. I would have done the same thing, and I really respected Charles for that. He chose to do what was right, despite getting nothing in return.

    Although I think the ending was a bit more open ended than you let on, it did mention something about noone knowing where the two were in their later years… I’m filling in the gaps and guessing they got together after the war and made like rabbits.
    draggle recently posted..The Princess and the Pilot Review — B+

  2. You interested me with this review, I may have to watch this as well. Damn my backlog is getting bigger and bigger…:P
    feal87 recently posted..Inu X Boku SS – Miketsukami new face? Ririchiyo is in danger!

  3. Actually, i thought this was your own story, Me too im a bit rusty with my english since ive kinda had to concentrate on other languages.

    But from reading, its clear and relevent, easy to understand. Im actually liking it so meaning i would have to watch it.
    Fabrice recently posted..Pleasant Encounters

  4. I’m pretty sure it’s exactly because the country hasn’t given him much that he wants to fulfill his duty. If he didn’t, he’d give to everyone a reason to hate him, damn he’d have kidnapped the empress, it’d be his fault. On the other hand, completing his mission shows to everyone that he’s worth something and that they’re the ones at fault for hating him.

    • The thing is that even though he did complete his mission, it didn’t show that he was worth anything. The credit for escorting Fana across the ocean was given to that special forces ship while Charles’s name was erased from military records. If he had run away with Fana, I doubt the military would’ve publically labelled him a traitor because they would be admitting that they lost their escort fleet and put Fana in the hands of the “enemy”.

  5. You wrote this in 30 minutes? My English skills aren’t near as good so I can’t add much criticism, but your argument was clear informative. Interesting anime. Need to watch :)
    Cely_belly recently posted..Ano Natsu de Matteru 10

    • Thank you, it’s really hard to get all these ideas in order and type it all out in 30 minutes, which is why I’m practicing.

  6. At first thx for the reminder, I wanted to watch this movie for a while, but never came around to do it until yesterday :D

    Im no teacher, but your english is quite good, don’t worry too much about it.

    Oh, that was a sad end, but somehow befitting.

    I maybe would have preferred a happy end, but that wasn’t possible without a huge sudfest ^^ I also would say the princess was actually more happy about the short time outside of her golden cage, than being really in love with him, Charles showed her a kind of freedom she will never see again in her life.

    In this war ridden scenario there was no real future for both of them together, he would have sooner or later ended as a dead man, either at the hands of the enemies or the other side.

    I hope Charles hasn’t wasted all of his gold in that cheesy scene ;p

    I had the impression that this movie was somehow inspired by the movie “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn. The movie has no planes or a war going on, but it shows a similar message.
    Wieselhead recently posted..New Preorders part 11

    • I was hoping for a happy ending too, which is why I wasn’t too happy with Charles’s decision. You may be right about Fana not really being in love with him, but during the island scenes it at least felt like she at least liked him a little bit.

      I haven’t seen Roman Holiday, but I’ll check it out when I have time.

  7. Got attracted into the post because of the plane. I am a bit of a sucker for anything that looks like WWII stuff. Of course this isn’t one, but the design of Santa Cruz does look quite convincing as if it belongs to that time (adopting several designs from on various features).

    This seems like a movie that may suit my taste, but I will have to watch it to know it myself. As for your article questioning why Charles chooses duty over love, I guess it just appears to be the case for some people, where love either isn’t the thing they’re most familiar with (and that they don’t dare to go over the line), or that love isn’t everything for them. Sounds like that both Charles and Fana had a bit of interest in each other, but it wasn’t to start off the reaction and make the big decision at the end. At least Charles is still a human – he has some feelings afterall.

    Love isn’t always the one thing that everyone seeks, hence it may seem “wrong” to many that one would choose duty over love, even if the latter seems to be the easy way out. One may devote his life for the country he serves, be it for patriotism, or that with the strong desire of seeing a better future for the country, hence in turn his life and his countrymen as well. I think this can be reflected to what is happening in the real world too. While one can call it an added realism of making a right or wrong decision, I think that the character themselves might have chosen what they firmly believe in and stick with it – when that happens it’s hard to judge from an outsider what is exactly right and wrong; it’s no black and white.

    Well, writing off so much stuff without even watching the movie first, I might be talking something completely irrelevant to what happened in the content, but I hope it isn’t the case. Will add this to my evergrowing backlog.
    Q recently posted..Ace Combat x Macross Collaboration

    • At first I thought that the planes in the movie were actual WWII planes, but then I noticed that they were actually mash-ups of various planes from that period.

      Love certainly isn’t at the top of the list for a lot of people, but with movies like this, it’s kind of expected that love will prevail. For me, it was like watching a superhero movie, but the villain wins in the end.

      I hope you enjoy the movie though, it had some really nice aerial dogfights that I think you would like.

  8. Wow, such a beautiful movie this was, from the beginning till the end.

    Was hinted that the two might of reunited or might of been separate at the end. The last line at the bottom on before credits started rolling. The author basically wants you to fill in the pieces to that best fits the movie from the looks of things. If they met and *coughs*..or if they never saw one another is most likely for us to decide.

    As for Charles, he seems like the type to to simply please himself in moderation. If he lost a girl he still had wings to fly. Gold? That equals to money and it doesn’t really make you happy, it only encourages greed. If he took the girl he would of felt possible regret, someone who simply fled from his dreams of flying, and prove to others that he truly is a “sewer rat”. The skies might of re-chained his freedom with various assassins, search parties, and possible “bounty hunters” looking to regain a lost royal family member. Well, that all depends on how people behave in that universe. I’m pretty sure he didn’t want that if I think I know what he is thinking.

    Fly freely in the sky with unchained wings in the mostly untamed blue & white environment. That feeling is unmatched and is better than any drug one can have. You’ll end up basically dancing with joy like he did before he parted Fana at the end. :)
    Arctic_Kitsune recently posted..Awkwardly Awesome March

    • I’m a bit skeptical about whether anyone would have gone searching for him and Fana if they had run off together. Only a select few people even knew about the mission, and it would only be a matter of time for them to discover that the mission was leaked to the enemy. It’s very likely that if Charles and Fana had gone missing, that everyone would assume they had been shot down.


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