Petite Princess Yucie Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2005
What They Say
Yucie just can't stop thinking about Arc. Glenda meets a boy called Anfy. Are our Princesses in love... or are they finding distractions from their most recent trials? Whether searching for the Mermaid's Light, competing in the Heavenly Realm, or facing the Judgment of Light, our favorite Princesses might just learn they can work together...
Focusing more on bringing the characters together in order to have them learn teamwork, there is a lot of "good vibes" feel going on with these episodes.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The series has a fairly standard stereo mix to it that has some decent moments of directionality across the forward soundstage throughout it but it still doesn't really feel like all that of an immersive mix. It comes across well though and there aren't any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback, but it doesn't have any oomph to set it apart from any other series. We listened briefly to the English mix which is in 5.1 and other than being a bit louder and a bit more defined in vocal location, it sounded roughly the same.
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials here look really good but not exactly what you'd normally expect from Gainax these days. It doesn't have quite the same vibrancy as some of their other releases in the past couple of years, but the show is angling for something a bit more fairy-tale oriented and with its fantasy setting, something that doesn't stand out quite as strongly. The transfer in general does look really solid though and free of most problems like cross coloration and aliasing as well as any notable blocking. Sometimes Glenda's legs look like they have some slight cross coloration going on with a bit of green showing, but it's so minimal on our setup that it's really hard to tell.
Using the same artwork as the second Japanese DVD release but with a different softer and less busy background, we get a straightforward shot of both Yucie and Elmina in their regular outfits. Being a simple character shot, they look decent and with a bit of detail but not too much. The simple designs and bright coloring are eye-catching in general but definitely skew to a younger crowd. The back cover keeps things simple as well with a row of shots from the show and some character artwork for Yucie mixed around the summary of the shows premise. The discs features and episode titles are listed as well as the usual production block and the always useful technical grid at the bottom. The reverse cover in this clear keepcase uses the same artwork as the front cover but with a different flowery background and different coloring to go with it. No insert is included in this release.
The menu layout for this release goes for the simple approach with just a couple of shots of Yucie here while some static flower petals are scattered around and some moving ones go by below that. Each episode is accessible directly without any direct scene access, which is fine since there are only a few basic chapters anyway. Access times are nice and fast and the menus load with my player's language presets without issue.
The same as previous volumes, the extras for this release are a set of production sketches and the clean versions of the opening and ending sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Petite Princess Yucie continues to be something of a delight and a pleasant diversion from most other shows that are currently coming out. While not completely aimed at children in the way that a pure merchandising show is, the series has enough appeal to older fans with its simple stories and neat little twists as well as captivating with some more well animated action sequences.
With the third volume, things drop down to the four episode routine that we'll get throughout the remainder of the series and this actually works even more in its favor. With five episodes, there was always the feeling for me that by the fifth episode I had reached my limit in the cuteness factor and needed a break from things but had that one more to get through. Having the feeling of having to get through a show is never good no matter how good the show is. The opening episode for this volume is the perfect way to get back into the show in a non-committal way as it brings the gang to the ocean after Gunbard feels that Yucie's been just too tired lately to enjoy things.
Yucie and Cocoloo are all over the event and just having fun as young women, though it's hard to remember that they're both supposed to be near seventeen years old based on how they act. Glenda tries to cover her wanting to get involved in all the fun by talking about all the things she has to do but she caves and stays, though Elmina ends up heading off on her own for awhile before caving as well. The show goes for a number of the "rest episode" basics as well as ocean trip material, particularly in the vein of having Yucie being the only one who can see a particular young woman in a dress standing by the seashore wearing a hat and looking forlorn. This plays into the story more as it goes along but it's fairly standard material. What I did like is that when Yucie wanted to really get to know the sea, Cube comes up with a pair of mermaid bottoms and Yucie gets to wear those and be able to live as a mermaid under the water for a time, allowing for some really nice underwater shots.
Yucie also gets to do some more world-exploring in this volume as she and the others, Glenda, Cocoloo and Elmina, are sent to Heaven to search for the crystal flower. With this being Elmina's home turf, there should be some advantage to it just like Glenda had in the Demon World but Elmina's father isn't exactly fond of her at the moment and the two aren't on all that great a set of terms. But the location is given and the challenges must be met in order for the girls to acquire the crystal flower and move forward, though the way it's all done you can see if you listen carefully that it's mostly aimed at Elmina. The challenges are basic things expected in a show like this but what I really liked is the solution that the three had to come up with in order to move about in this kind of world, which is to wear the same kind of toga's and presumably fake wings that allow them to fly. On Glenda, it looks comical, but on Yucie and Cocoloo, it shows just how white these white girls are because the toga's and wings are the same color as their skin in a lot of scenes.
The remaining episodes on the disc provide similar kinds of fun. Glenda finally gets an episode that's really all to herself in a way as she finds herself falling in love with someone but he's got a curse on him that she needs to break before anything can really happen. This brings her father back into play, albeit far too briefly considering what a great comedic piece he is, but it also lets Glenda do some quite soul searching time and helps to give her more of a full character instead of the caricature she was slowly becoming. And though I'm not keen on it, the last episode brings the girls into contact with yet another princess, this time a fairy princess, and the cast grows for a bit here. Taken in its party-building mentality it makes sense and it allows them to hit up another world, but I really liked the cast when it was just the three lead girls and the continual additions just don't feel like they work as well.
Yucie hits the halfway mark with this volume and while there's no real clear direction on how things are going to go, the way it's progressed so far is what I'm expecting out of the second half of the show as well and am looking forward to it. While it's not complicated, the series isn't a mind-numbing piece of soft and cute that but rather one that takes that nature and wraps it up in some good single-story adventures that do move things along. While I don't like how the cast continues to grow and grow, the core characters are still given plenty of screen time and their relationships are slowly changing and growing as well. Yucie's the closest thing to a magical girl comedy out there right now that's proving to be fun to watch so it's definitely filling a craving for such material and it does it well, with just enough of that Gainax smirk that makes it stand out from most other shows of a similar nature.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Ending,Production Artwork
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Petite Princess Yucie