Princess Nine Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
By:Abraham Chinchilla Jr.
Review Date: Friday, April 26, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 23, 2001
The second after I finished watching the "teaser" for this series on a free ADV summer 2001 DVD catalog disc, I knew I'd have to get this series. After a two month wait, I was able to get the disc and I was very amazed at the series. I've never seen nothing like it, and I'm glad to say that I'll be getting more discs for this series in the future.
After hearing some positive reviews about the English dubbing of this series, I watched this disc in English first. It's a typical Dolby Digital two-channel stereo track. The audio is still great. The music comes out beautifully and voices are clearly heard. I rewatched the disc in it's original language, Japanese. It is also a DD 2.0 track which also sounds great. And yes, comparing the two tracks, the English dub was spectacular. :)
The five episodes on this dual layered disc look great. No pixilation or artifacting could be seen. There is some shimmering, but that seems to be it. Colors are well-presented.
The packaging is great. The front cover presents the leading pitcher, Ryo, in a pink baseball uniform throwing a fastball. The spine features the same Ryo, and the back shows a few screen shots and a great summary about the show. The cover is presented nicely in a black Scanavo case. The front of the insert features the front cover, and the back lists the episode titles and a listing of the ADV previews featured on the disc. The disc itself has a silk image of Ryo.
While the menus mostly consist of static pages, they have great transitions, in my opinion. After the FBI Warning and (New) ADV logo pass up we get a small intro of the featured ball players with their names going across the screen. Once the show logo is shown, a sound of a baseball being hit by a bat is heard, and a baseball flies back to reveal the front cover art with menu selections (by the way, we hear people cheering, as if we were at a ball game). Background music plays in the background as you make a selection. The music can getting annoying (and really angered my family as they were in the room or passing by) but from watching the show, it's obviously the sort of music you'd hear when something funny is going on. You can easily select either English with no subtitles, English with sign/lyric subtitles, or Japanese with English subtitles. Though, there is also a "sign only" subtitle track which you can select during playback. By the way, on the main menu, ADV has use!
"Play BALL" instead of "Play All". :)
I was worried when I selected the first episode in the scene index menu. The episode began playing, as I thought I would of been brought to a seperate menu for the episode. Thankfully, there are still chapter skips (Opening, Act 1, Act 2, Closing, and Preview).
The extras are minimal, but are still good ones. First we get the great credit-less versions of the opening and closing. Then, we get what seem to be "character bios" but are called "Player Statistics". In the show, we get very funny eye-catchers of the "super-deformed" players with their statistics showing. Since it's hard to read them (without pausing), ADV has presented them in seperate menus. With the statistics on the right and a video playing on the left of the original Japanese eye-catchers (the statistics in Japanese). Very nice! ^_^ Only five of the ten eye-catchers are presented on this disc though.
The content is great. I've never seen anything like it! The story basically revolves around Ryo Hayakawa, a 15 year-old girl who has a love for Baseball. She has her deceased father's pitching talent, as well. In the first episode we see a game going on between two male teams, the Wild Cats and the Dolphins. As the Dolphins seem like they will be winning the game, we find the Wild Cats with an exhausted pitcher.
A man in a van waits as Ryo runs home from school. The man tells her that the Wild Cats need her to play immediately. Ryo gets permission from her mother, and gets her glove. As Ryo arrives, the pitcher is relieved, and the team changes pitchers. The Dolphins being to laugh as Ryo steps up to the pitcher's mound. The teammates of the Dolphins make fun as Ryo throws a bunch of bad balls at the batter. The catcher for the Wild Cats goes to see what's going on and Ryo tells him she's only practicing. Ryo then throws a fast ball which gets the batter out. The teammates of the Dolphins are surprised and they begin to boast that they only showed mercy since the pitcher was a girl. The catcher of the Wild Cats replies saying they were showing the Dolphins mercy by NOT using her as their starting pitcher. A woman in a car watches and says, "She does has her father's gift." The woman's car drives away.
Later, in the first episode, Ryo reveals to her friend, who she has known since her childhood, that she will not be going to high school so she can help her mother with her Oden Bar. As she works with her mother, a couple of baseball players walk in and challenge Ryo to a game, since they had heard of a player with a good pitching ability. They find out Ryo is a girl, but a man tells them that they should challenge her anyways. The men agree and go out to a baseball field. A male star ball player notices the small game going on and goes to check it out.
Ryo pitches a few balls at the batters, after one of them strikes out, the other man tries. He is shocked at Ryo's talent, and before another pitch was thrown, the star baseball player shows up and decides to take the man's place. After seeing Ryo pitchng, and breaking his bat, he immediately falls in love with her and claims to be her boyfriend.
We also find that the woman in the car is a chairwoman at a prestigious high school, the Kisaragi High School. After seeing Ryo's pitching, she decides to form a female baseball team which would play against the male teams as equals. She begins finding girls to give scholarships to. She also has found a man to be the team's coach, who appears to be a homeless drunk man. He decides to consider the offer if Ryo joins the team. This all leads obviously to Ryo getting an interview with Miss Keiko Himaru, the chairwoman. Ryo is unsure if she should go, since she wants to be of help to her mother. But, Ryo's mother, Shino, tells her that she should go anyways, and that she'd do fine alone.
Ryo goes for her interview and finds the star baseball player, Hiroki there. Hiroki begins to harass her by calling her "Ms. Ganmo" (or "Tufu"). We are introduced to the chairwoman's daughter, Izumi, a star tennis player. Since it had seemed that she and Hiroki have a relationship, she begins to wonder about Ryo.
Ryo has her interview and is accepted. When she returns to turn in her application forms, she is challenged by Izumi to play some tennis. After playing Izumi's game, Kido, the "homeless drunk", says it's only fair to play a sport Ryo is good at. Hiroki agrees and gets Izumi to play. Izumi surprisingly hits one of Ryo's pitches, but Kido tells her that they were using a tennis ball, and asked if she'd known what would of happened if they used a real baseball. Izumi gets upset and walks away.
In episode 4, we are introduced to two girls who are also accepted to the Kisaragi Girl's School. Hikaru, a hyper girl with an Osaka accent, and Yuki, a girl who doesn't really speak. Kido goes to find another girl, a runaway named Seira. Seira decides to join the team as well. In the final episode of the disc, we are introduced to one more girl. Koharu, a girl from Koshi, who wants to be a fisherman like her father. She too decides to join the team.
The disc ends, and the team has not found all the players they need. I really recommend this series to anyone. You don't need to know about baseball to watch this, so there! By the way, did I mention the retail price is a low $19.98? There's another reason! The series is really enjoyable.
Philco 21" TV, APEX AD-1500 DVD Player
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Princess Nine