Princess Princess Vol. #3 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, September 13, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2007



What They Say
Tooru's step-sister Sayaka has returned with a heart full of jealousy and malice. She's taking on her brother and the Princess System with a new round of dirty tricks. When Shihoudani is caught in the cross fire, Tooru knows he has to put a stop to her once and for all. However, it looks like the only way he will ever achieve peace with his family is to leave Fujimori Academy forever! Shihoudani, Mikoto and the whole school get behind Tooru as he makes his fateful decision.

Contains episodes 9-12.

The Review!
Bringing resolution to most of the issues in an almost "after school special" manner, Princess Princess concludes with an upbeat feel that fits the series perfectly.

Audio:
Media Blasters has opted to provide only a single Japanese language track for this release, which is in stereo at 192 kbps. The show is basically a dialogue piece with little in terms of directionality or placement outside of some music cues. There isn't a lot of depth to the scenes either as the characters are all generally at the same placement. While it's not a mix that will excite in terms of what it presents, it is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Similar to other shows such as Gakuen Heaven, the show is designs with a lot of soft backgrounds, strong vibrant colors in the character designs and not a lot of movement at times. With it being dialogue driven and all about looking pretty, it succeeds in that area for the most part. The transfer in general looks good with solid, if soft, backgrounds and clean looking character artwork. Where the main issue lies with it is in the various pans and zooms that occur in that there is some rolling and line noise. Some of it is fairly distracting while other instances are pretty minimal but still noticeable.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork and framing as the Japanese release but brightening up the background to make it more appealing, the cover certainly promotes the pretty boy and attractive girl aspects. Mikoto closes out the series with the pairing of him in his school uniform and his princess uniform with that sort of look that's emblematic of him. The back cover continues with the light colors with a few shots from the show framed nicely alongside the summary. The discs production information and technical information fills out a good portion of it and is well laid out and easy to read. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu takes various elements from the cover and uses the light style with a dash of vocals from the series. The right half has the cover artwork from the Japanese release while the left side features the navigation menu. The font used for the title and navigation is a bit awkward though certainly stylish. With nothing on the disc besides the show and some trailers, navigation is simple and easy. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets though I'm sure it was a non-issue anyway due to there not even being a sign/song track on here.

Extras:
The only extras included here are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third and final volume of the series brings us the last four episodes and hits through all three main sticking points for the lead characters. While we've seen elements of their issues throughout the series, in addition to dealing with being a Princess, the final wants to wrap everything up in a neat little bow. Natasho would certainly approve of that.

While the previous volume dealt a good bit with Sakamoto and his familial relations, his role is expanded upon a bit this time around as he's now firmly a good friend with the three leads. This gets him a bit more involved in their day to day routines and some of the struggles in general. While nobody comes as close as Yujirou and Tohru do, there is still some good bonds being formed among the four young men that will carry through their school years and beyond. Seeing it all come together so nicely adds a good warm feeling to the show in general even as it shifts mercilessly between somber realities and outright comedy.

For Mikoto, his life gets a bit more amusing at the end here as the school festival has a session that's open to the public. Thankfully there isn't too much trouble in being dressed up as a princess in public since the festival gives them a cover to do so. Even still, Mikoto just can't stand to do it in the face of his girlfriend so he wheedles his way into a good break for it. Unfortunately for him, his older sister, Makoto, has decided to come with Megumi and even dress alike in order to mess with Mikoto all the more. The interplay between the trio is quite amusing and could likely sustain a short run series all on its own. You really want to know how the relationship between Megumi and Mikoto came about and how it affected Makoto. There are the usual antics to be found throughout here but the real fun is in watching how Tohru and Yujirou tease him so mercilessly.

Yujirou's issues come to the school as well when his family shows up with the baby in tow. The entire situation is awkward since they see him in his princess uniform right from the start, but like Mikoto, it can be relatively easily explained away. The issues that they all have together however can't be brushed aside and Yujirou is stung by the fact that the child is practically avoiding him. Some of what's come before is brought up again and Tohru's words, words that will surely come back to haunt him, make quite the impact. Tohru and Yujiro are quite similar in that they're running away from an issue as they can't see a way to resolve it. What's worse is that they can't bring it up for discussion with the people that matter so it all just festers until someone talks plainly and honestly.

Tohru's situation is what takes up a good chunk of the last two episodes as Sayaka is upping her efforts to claim him as her own. After the way Yujirou settled things the last time she appeared, she's intent on shutting him out entirely. Her methods definitely qualify as a stalker as she sets the atmosphere for him. Yujirou for his part doesn't tell Tohru about it as he doesn't want to add more pressure onto his friend but events start to overwhelm when Sayaka's "attacks" become all to obvious. It doesn't hurt that she's hanging around the campus as well which tips of just about everyone. While the final storyline does bring about some bad climax moments, both for Sayaka and Tohru, it isn't unexpected.

The character designs are gorgeous, enough so that I'd love to see a show where the princess versions are actually real women. This series proved to be quite the unexpected delight considering the concept and how badly such executions usually go. While it has plenty of obvious moments to it where they provide "fanservice," they avoid doing blatantly bad things like panty shots and compromising positions. When the princesses are all dolled up and strolling about doing their jobs, we get a lot of the "shoujo glitter" and other effects that is standard, but the guys as girls are never really overtly sexualized. Its restraint is admirable and it really helps to balance the show.

In Summary:
Where the show's greatest weakness is exposed is that it really does feel like a quirky after school special at times. The resolutions provided for all the stories with the four main leads including Akira are just plainly simple and far too easily resolved. There is some amount of work left to be done with each of them, but the wrap-up is so nicely done that it feels just a bit too pat and complete. Even with that however, the show manages to succeed quite well. The mixture of the comedy and the serious subplots works wonderfully. Just about everything with this series clicked right which makes it very easy to recommend checking out.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and 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: Media Blasters
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Princess Princess