Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 19.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Princess Nine
Princess Nine Vol. #1
By Roman Martel
February 16, 2002
Release Date: October 23, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.5
(on a scale of 1-5)
Talk about lucky, I was able to get a preview copy of this puppy from my dad (those video store connections still work). Now, I'm not a big fan of baseball. I wasn't really going to expect too much from this show, and I ended up really liking it. In fact it's one of the better things I've seen recently.
ADV tends to get pretty good scores in the technical department. For the sound and picture this disc does a great job. I have to say that since it is a relatively new looking series I was expecting it to be pretty clean looking. The sound was very good on our set up as well. The menus were fun and kept the baseball theme going. They have great music and motion. Well done! The cover says it all - girls playing baseball. It's got a nice shot of Ryo on the cover and the back has various shots from the series. The cover has almost all the info you need on it including languages, region, rating, disc length, number of episodes, volume number and extras. But it's missing the number of channels the sound utilizes. This is something that ADV seems to leave off quite a bit. Shame on you guys. For extras you get clean opening and ending animation. You also get player stats that include the cute little eyecatches and some moments from the players introduced in this disc. With that said and done Princess Nine gets a pretty high technical grade, but how's the content fare, especially with someone who isn't crazy about sports in general.
I was expecting an anime version of "League of Their Own", and in a way it is. But it also has much more time to get into the girls lives and into why they become part of the team. With some great characters and a pretty stable story things seem to be set for a very enjoyable series.
The first five episodes set up the basic premise and start to get the girls together. A prestigious girls finishing school is the last place you'd expect to find a baseball team, especially in Japan. But when the head of the board of Directors gets an idea into her head, you don't try to change it. Just stand back and let her go. She finds the perfect pitcher in Ryo Hayakawa. Not only can the girl strike out professional players but she takes on the up and coming high school boys player and beats him. With Ryo as the corner stone and a burnt out coach to guide her (Tom Hanks anyone?), the team starts to take shape. Of course you know it has to be populated by a set of totally incompatible girls who range from spazzy to comatose. Of course each has a particular skill that they will bring to the team. But beyond the basic story is the personality and the story behind each girl and that is what makes the show fun to watch.
As far as animation goes, this show has a pretty good look to it. It's very straightforward in terms of directing and animation. But with this type of story you expect it. The animation is pretty smooth in itself and the character design is good. The baseball scenes are very well done and not only build tension in key scenes but make you want to watch more. There are no mecha or magic spells to really play with the sound, but none the less the sound works well with the animation. A believable world is created in this series and even though it's not earth-shattering it's very well done.
The story is pretty typical for a sports series. It's the underdogs coming out on top. Now they could totally throw me off and end up not making it to the final game of the series. And if they do make it they might not win. But I doubt that's going to happen. So we know the plot is going to be predictable. Hell, the whole story set up will be predictable. There isn't too much you can do with a sports story that hasn't been done before. But it's the characters and the way they interact that really works. This is where the plot really pulls you in. You want to know how each character will end up reacting to the various situations they are put in. In that way this plot elevates above the average level. Let's hope they can keep it going.
The dub is pretty solid. So far the main cast has done a bang up job. Ryo is awesome (is that Nene again?) and she really works well in this part. But all the girls have done a great job so far. A couple of incidental characters were a bit off, but nothing to make me cringe or want to switch languages. This is another good dub from ADV.
I've got to comment on the music here. First of all the songs for the opening and ending credits are both light and J-popy. But beyond that, there is the score. It's done by the Warsaw Philharmonic, and boy does it show. It's really well done and even fits some of the over the top moments really well. The last time I heard an anime use this particular orchestra, was in Vision of Escaflowne. I loved their work there too. In this series it's an interesting choice to use them, but I think it's really working well.
Was this entertaining? You bet. I actually had a great time watching these episodes and can't wait for some more. Please don't tell me I'm becoming a baseball junkie. Well, I don't think it's going that far but this disc was a big surprise. I'll definitely be picking up the next one. I think this series is worth checking out. Who knows you might be surprised by it too.
Roman J. Martel
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Phillips Flatscreen (27 Inch), Sony Playstation 2