Mania Grade: B-
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- 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
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Petite Princess Yucie
Petite Princess Yucie Vol. #1
By Chris Beveridge
December 23, 2004
Release Date: November 23, 2004
Petite Princess Yucie Vol. #1
What They Say
© ADV Films
Meet Yucie, a girl under a spell. Yucie wants to be a Platinum Princess, and the only way to do that is to attend the Princess Academy. Like, duh! But that's not as easy as it sounds. Under the guidance of Queen Ercell and with the unwitting help of a schoolmate named Glenda (who just so happens to be a princess from the Demon World,) Yucie finds herself embarking on an epic quest to obtain the fabled Tiara of Eternity! The road ahead is full of trouble and odd jobs, but this is one future -princess who's not giving up without a fight! Join the adventure in the first exciting volume of Petite Princess Yucie: Princess Academy!The Review!
One of the least talked about Gainax series that I can think of, Yucie goes for the a more children's oriented series that breaks away from just about everything else they've been producing lately.Audio:
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.Video:
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.Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the second Japanese DVD release but with a different softer and less busy background, we get the basic image of the terrible duo that make up the rivalry to be found here with Yucie and Glenda. 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. The only difference on the back side is that Yucie goes from her casual clothes to her school uniform. No insert is included in this release.Menu:
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.Extras:
The only extras on the opening volume, which are probably all we'll see for the series, is 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 is one of the least talked about shows from Gainax that I can think of, going so far as when looking for information about it, hardly anyone seems to even know it's licensed. With its appeal aimed towards the younger set as opposed to the typical teen/post-teen audience that gobbles up most of Gainax's shows, that doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Yucie is definitely something that harkens back to the simpler shows like Nadia but without trying to reproduce the same thing.
We're introduced to Yucie as she seemingly comes from the stars and lands in the middle of the forest. Her arrival was scene by a master swordsman named Gunbard who searched for the shining light he saw only to find Yucie at the end of it. Taking her home, he raised her as his own but never hid the truth that he wasn't her father. Yucie knew something was different about her for awhile though. Now at the age of seventeen, her body has seemingly stopped growing around the age of ten and she looks exactly like she has for nearly seven years now. Whether it's a curse or something else is unknown, but her desire to become an adult is her main goal.
Her other goal is to hopefully see the Prince someday again so that she can repay him for saving her when she was lost in the forest a number of years ago. While she hasn't taken on the mentality of wanting to marry him to repay him for his kindness in helping her out of a stick situation, you can easily imagine that she'd want to become normal in her appearance first before thanking him properly. So when Yucie learns that the Queen is meeting with girls from the city so that she can choose someone to be a Platinum Princess candidate, she becomes very interested.
The Platinum Princess is the one who holds the Tiara of Eternity, an item that will grant any wish at all. Through a bit of luck and her own magical nature, Yucie finds herself selected as one of the candidates for this and is enrolled in the Princess Academy. It's here that she has to learn a wide range of things in her quest to become the real Platinum Princess. She's surrounded by a number of different girls, most of whom are really fancy in their nature to begin with, such as arriving on elephants or red carpets and the like. Before she gets to deal with any of them though, she finds herself saddled with a Rival.
Glenda, the princess of the demon world is also a Platinum Princess candidate. She and Yucie are like oil and water right from the start, particularly since Glenda can't believe anyone else but she could be the Platinum Princess. Her goal of wanting to take over the world rides on acquiring this Tiara so she can wish it all under her control. Glenda also seems to suffer from the same kind of problem as Yucie in that she's stuck in a smaller body but that doesn't serve as a bridge between the two. Rather, they're much more intent on fighting and messing each other over, so much so that their teachers complain and there's threats of dismissing one of them.
What a lot of these episodes focus on once the school starts is the extracurricular activities. The school principal has set things up so that the girls all get plenty of experience that a proper princess should have in knowing how people really live and make their lives work. Since most of those here are somewhat spoiled or come from influence, it helps to get them in touch with the common folk. To build up these credits through their pendants, they have to take on jobs that are posted on their bulletin board. Some involve just one person, others involve three or more. So Yucie and her friend Cocoloo often go together and sometimes Glenda even gets involved, be it working in a sweets shop and learning how magic chocolates are made or doing some really hard labor at a flower nursery. Each of these episodes stands alone and you can imagine how they play out with the rivalry the girls have and the general chaos that can ensue from it.
One of the things that helps this series is some of the little nods and bits that Gainax has included in the secondary characters. Gunbard himself is an amusing older man now, not gray in the hair but simple in his ways, whose focus is solely on making Yucie happy and stuffing her full of wonderful food. He's aided by a young demon named Cube who is about Yucie's height. For whatever reason, he found himself chased out of and exiled from his home in the Demon Realm after he did something while Glenda's servant, so he works for Gunbard and Yucie now. Cube is a lot of fun since he's the workhorse of the pair but also the more magically inclined one. The magic system he has to work under is cute since it involved creating the magical symbol and then tossing a coin into the hands inside of it, which then return the items he needs. Sometimes they're on vacation; sometimes he doesn't have enough coin so he gets partials.
Glenda's servant, who berates Cube any chance he gets, is a strange looking character named Gaga who wears a black body suit with a simple white skull on the chest. His face is pure white and his hair is like layered dreadlocks of a sort but all in a tight row. He's the loyalist to Glenda but also the one that keeps her honest. When she makes an agreement to not use magic in this realm anymore, he's the one that keeps reminding her when she loses her cool and starts up her charms. Over the course of the episodes there are others that come in and out, usually from the job of the day, but there's a couple of Dragon's that make regular appearances, the Queen herself who has something of a history with Gunbard one can guess and Cocoloo herself who has a problem with her presence not being strong enough. It's definitely a cute cast that fills out from the two leads.In Summary:
In watching this show, the main thing that came to mind was how cute it was and how much my kids would probably enjoy it. Though it has a twelve rating, there isn't much here that's really bad or threatening for the younger set and there isn't a lot that would really go over their heads either. It's got some of the basic morals that you get in a lot of anime of this type where they don't beat you over the head with it but you get the gist of it. The rivalry between Yucie and Glenda is fun but suffers at times since Glenda just can't let things go. But at the same time, the way Yucie continues to be childish helps her to understand that even though she's seventeen she hasn't really properly aged mentally either since her body stopped growing and she needs to work at that. With plenty of episodes to go, the series has plenty of range to do more of these episodic bits or explore some of the mysteries, but it's hard to tell what it wants to do just yet. Right now, it's simply having fun with the cast and the setting.
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.