Princess Nine Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Princess Nine

Princess Nine Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 20, 2001
Release Date: January 08, 2002


Princess Nine Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
In this volume, the Princess Nine all-girls baseball team is finally starting to come together, but they still find themselves four girls short of the necessary roster. As the crucial first game approaches, Keiko and Kido scour Japan for more players, but ultimately, the task is left to the girls themselves to recruit the final members. Charged with leading the Princess Nine to victory, pitching prodigy Ryo must find a way to conquer her own personal demons and forge the band of rag-tag misfits into a real team…but before she can do that, she’ll have to confront her bitter archrival, Izumi!

The Review!
The second installment of Princess Nine does a great job of keeping the feeling from the first alive as well as building upon it with letting us get to know some of the characters a lot better and building the relationships even more.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo soundtrack continues to sound pretty solid with a good use of the forward soundstage with some subtle directionality across it. Dialogue is mostly center channel based as expected with the music making good use of the stereo channels. Neither the English or Japanese track had any noticeable dropouts or distortions.

Video:
The transfer for this second volume is just about as spot-on as the first volume was. Outside of a few very minor instances of some cross coloration during some small tightly drawn pieces of animation, this sow looks essentially flawless. Colors look good, blacks look nice and solid and the flesh-tones look great. There's little shimmering during camera panning sequences and that's about it. A show that's very easy to get lost into.

Packaging:
Double Header has a great blue background that gives serious eye-attention to the pinkish-red image of Ryo hurtling a pitch. The blue also mixes in an image of Izumi into it and provides an overall very pleasing looking cover. The back cover is pretty bus with several images including menu shots and a brief summary of the show. Features are nice and clearly listed and production credits are laid out nicely. The insert provides another shot of the cover while the reverse side of it uses some new artwork and lists both the trailers on the disc and the chapter listings.

Menus:
When the disc starts up, it starts a little montage of animation of the characters and their names flying underneath. It only plays during the initial load thankfully, and the menu itself is pretty nice looking with a variant on the front cover. Moving between selections is easy and everything is laid out nicely.

Extras:
There's some interesting extras included in this disc. The first couple we see are the US made teaser and trailer for the series, which are the ones we've seen in the previews for quite awhile before the series release. We also get another set of player statistics which translate the eye-catches and enlarges them to readability while also providing a video window of the original playing. Probably the most interesting extra is the Ode to Oden, which is about 6 minutes long and demonstrates in live-action in a kitchen how oden is made. Seeing that my wife was taking notes, I sense oden in my future.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There's three main arcs going on in these four episodes, most of them carried over from the previous episodes and are built nicely upon them.

The first arc is the continual addition of new players to the team. We get three more added to the lineup here with a fourth potential. The first new girl is Yoko Tokashiki, a very well tanned blonde girl whose dreams are of stardom. She's come to the area to become an idol, but has failed at the auditions. Seeing the information about the baseball team, she realizes that she can use them to gain fame and then move on to more suitable things for herself. When she goes for the tryouts and doesn't manage to catch anything or show any ability since she doesn't want to get hurt, the entire team is surprised when the coach decides to keep her. There's just "something" about her.

Another potential tryout is Mao Daidoji. She's a rarity for characters that are more than just secondary or periphereal in that she's definitely a big girl, and she's also quite timid. She's on the Judo team and is at the school on a Judo scholarship no less. When the team goes to watch her practice, they see that she's practically thrown around like nobodies business and doesn't appear to be good at all. It's only later that we learn why she is the way she is, but everyone eventually becomes convinced that she's perfect to be the one to catch Ryo's fastballs. Nene even points out that in baseball manga, the catcher is always big and almost always has a Judo background. It sounds like a match made in heaven.

The other is Kanako Mita, the daughter of the principal of the school. She's been watching the team form and play away from prying eyes and longs to play again. She was one of the biggest stars of the game during her junior high school years, but her father insisted that upon high school she focus solely on her studies to be something more. And with her father being so close by, it's hard to shake off that kind of insistence. Ryo and the others eventually manage to coax her into playing a little and sneak a wig onto her. When her father comes to inspect the team, he doesn't recognize her and the team now has an ace shortstop. But you know this is going to come back later in the series to be the focus of another episode.

One of the main thrusts in the later episodes here focuses on the apparently rivalry between Ryo and Izumi. Ryo's not going out of her way to get into Izumi's way, but with Hiroki practically courting Ryo at many times in addition to being playful with her in his names for her, it's not hard to annoy Izumi. But the relationship between Izumi and Hiroki isn't what most people tell Ryo it is, it's not a pre-planned engagement and everything is a given. The two are almost like brother and sister, but Hiroki's not entirely sure which way he wants to go, and Izumi's not entirely sure she wants to give him up.

This leads to an interesting encounter that ends up leading to Izumi taking Ryo on directly. She issues a challenge to her that if she wins at hitting Ryo's pitches with a baseball bat, she'll leave the school and the team will be disbanded. This will let Izumi have Hiroki back to just herself and things will be right with the world again. The time that Izumi spends training over a couple of days to learn how to hit, and with some eventual coaching, is very engaging. It provides the moments of "youth going to the extremes to win" that is going to show up more and more in the series. Izumi's drive is furthered even more when she starts learning some of her mothers secrets and the relations with others.

This volume has only raised my expectations more for the series as it's progressing perfectly. The characters are growing nicely and are getting more screentime in addition to handling more coming on while the main rivalry is kicking into gear. This show is just a lot of fun to watch! Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,US Teaser/Trailer,"Ode to Oden" - An Oden Cooking Special,Player Statistics

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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