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Twin princesses are born into this world just as the queen’s life ends. Inseparable in childhood, their relationship will be ruptured when one girl’s destiny leads her to take up their mother’s legacy, leaving her sister filled with resentment at being denied the opportunity to serve as savior to her subjects, a role which she had believed a claim to was her birthright.

It sounds like the beginning of an exquisitely produced anime, and in fact, it is. But it’s also part of a startlingly compelling and continuing series of probiotic beverage ads.

Probiotic beverages must be sort of a hard product to market. Many people will naturally recoil when you suggest, “Hey, drink these microorganisms!” and trying to get into their specific health benefits can confuse (“They’ll promote the bioconversion of bioactive molecules!”) or abstractly terrify (“They’re good for your gut mucosal barrier!”) your audience.

Maybe that’s why Glico, makers of the BifiX1000 drinkable lactobacillus bifidus supplement, decided to bypass all that and instead craft an animated series called Princess Onaka, or “Princess Stomach.”

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As the first episode opens, we see a distraught king, tears welling in his eyes as he grasps the hand of his wife, who has just died while giving birth to their twin daughters.

▼ They’ve also got a talking magical creature guardian, as stipulated by the section of Japanese labor laws which govern anime production.

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Despite the tragedy, though, the blond Berry and redheaded Flora grow into happy, well-adjusted children, frolicking in the forest with their guardian Maya and admiring a picture of their deceased mother.

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Not only was the queen beautiful and regal, she was also Princess Onaka (somehow retaining the title even after marrying the king). The Princess Onaka title is bestowed upon the woman who heals the people of the kingdom who are suffering from a vaguely defined but apparently stomach-based illness, and who also beautifies its women by providing them with BifiX1000.

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Eventually, the twins come of age, and the king tells them that now one of them must take up the mantle of Princess Onaka. Only one person at any time can hold the title, and the king cautions the that whoever accepts the call will have to throw herself into her studies for the sake of the kingdom’s women. Undaunted, Flora readily volunteers, but the king reject her in favor of Berry, whom he dubs the wiser of his two daughters.

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Episode 1 comes to a close with the crestfallen Flora alone in her room, tears streaming down her cheeks. The story is just getting started though, and this week Glico released Princess Onaka’s second episode.

Flora seems to have fallen deeper into depression. As she hears the adoring cheers from the townspeople outside her room cheering for her sister, the new embodiment of their hopes, Flora silently tells her dead mother that she resents being born, since she feels her very existence is superfluous if only one woman can become Princess Onaka. Still, Flora can’t seem to let go of her desire to help the people, even as Maya gently reminds her that no matter how hard she studies, it’s already been decided that Berry will be the one to become Princess Onaka.

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With Berry being away so often to attend to her official duties, the sisters’ relationship seems to be becoming strained. Even a momentary heartfelt reunion is cut short by the king, who sternly cautions Berry that the responsibility of her role doesn’t allow her the luxury of being overcome by her emotions.

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Becoming Princess Onaka is proving to be as difficult as the king had warned, though, and the first time we see Berry attempt to ease a woman’s suffering, the task is still beyond her skills.

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But wait! As shown earlier, Flora has been continuing to study despite being passed over for the role of Princess Onaka. She secretly retrieves the BifiX1000 and sneaks back into the room of the woman her sister had attempted to heal.

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Ah, and that’s where the story ends, right? A big happy finish, with the woman recovered and the whole royal family happy together again?

Nope. Before Flora has a chance to show what she can do, Berry comes back into the room, and is shocked to see what her sister was planning to do. “Is this some kind of joke? The one who was chosen was me!” she shouts.

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So what happens next? We’ll have to wait until the middle of August, when the third episode of Onaka Hime will be released through the BifiX1000 Facebook page.

Related: BifiX1000 Facebook, Princess Onaka official website
Source: IT Media
Top image: Facebook/BifiX1000
Insert images: BifiX1000 (1, 2)