Princess Nine Vol. #5 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • 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. #5

By Chris Beveridge     July 20, 2002
Release Date: July 09, 2002

Princess Nine Vol. #5
© ADV Films

What They Say
The Princesses get down to business as they prepare for a
special training camp in the mountains, but there's more than just baseball
going on there. As athletic as the girls are, there's one muscle their
training hasn't taught them how to control - their hearts. Now it's those
young hearts that are about to lead them into the wilderness. There are
heartaches to go with the muscle aches as the team breaks training in the
fifth exciting volume of Princess Nine!

The Review!
The penultimate volume of this surprisingly good sports series has two distinct arcs and a whole lot of character drama. While there’s little full baseball going on, its importance and mystique as a game is abound.

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.

The transfer for this volume is about on par for the series so far, and looks a bit better than the previous one in terms of cross coloration, which is down a bit but still apparent in many scenes. There’s some aliasing during panning sequences, but nothing that really screams out as horrible. Colors look good with a number of very vibrant sequences and backgrounds that maintain a good solid feel.

A nicely introspective cover, we get Ryo in prominence and in color as she sits thinking about her past and family. In the skyline we get a nice subdued image of her father while Izumi is off to the corner, a looming competitor. Ryo doesn’t look quite right in the face I think, but overall it’s a good looking cover to set a mood. The back cover provides a number of screenshots and a nice larger character shot. There’s a decent summary of the episodes while the discs features are clearly listed as well as production information. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while the reverse side lists the previews and the episode numbers and titles.

The main menu replicates the front cover artwork with the usual array of selections. There's a tiny bit of animation during menu transitions and music playing along. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to use and set up pretty logically. On the downside, there’s a fair bit of load-up animation showcasing the players from the show, and depending on your player, doing a chapter skip will either work or send you into the trailers section.

There’s a couple of good extras here, but as we get towards the end of the series they’re naturally tapering off. We continue to get a textless opening and ending sequence, which does a good job of showcasing the good artwork from each of them. The new extra here is a gallery of the original Japanese VHS cover artwork. I’m still hoping for the laserdisc or DVD artwork though.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The main arc, resulting from mostly happening on the previous disc, comes to a fairly quick conclusion here. The main thrust continues to be Ryo’s fathers sordid past, or supposed sordid past since nobody can provide anything truly firm. At the school, the forces are in motion via the PTA and those on the school council who want to expel Ryo and disband the team. Ryo though is off recovering in her fathers hometown, having become ill from her saving of the children in the storm during the last episode. She’s doing better, but like everyone around her, surprised when a reporter snaps her picture and tells her that she’s going national.

And how do PTA members react to their plans to try and expel a national hero who just saved some kids from drowning? Well, they begin to pull out of it and leave others with more serious grudges to deal with it. What’s really surprising is the school president, who ends up having a heart to heart talk with his daughter. He says he’ll give her anything she wants for her birthday, so you know where she’s going to go with it. And if there’s one power little girls have, it’s the power to get their fathers to do what they want. I can easily imagine how he felt.

Prior to the second arc kicking off, we get a lot of character interaction going on, both on team and off. One of the more interesting bits is a play Seishiro finally makes for Ryo. He tries to approach her to get her to be a model for his Princess of Koshien sketch at the urging of Hikaru. Hikaru’s actually a little sneaky in this, since she’s definitely got feelings for him but can’t really do anything until he gets over his infatuation with Ryo. Ryo on the other hand is still enamored with Takasugi. And after Ryo’s adventures that nearly got her killed, he’s both mad and overjoyed to see her, but his anger is what shows through. So their relationship goes through all sorts of phases in the space of two or three episodes here.

But to keep the team thing going, the final two episodes here start a new arc that deals with the entire team heading off to a training camp. This allows lots of baseball training to take place on screen, with some characters being affected by their personal problems, such as the relationship between Ryo and Takasugi affecting Izumi, and vice versa. There’s lots of team support going on though, as the girls are almost all finally working together.

One of the more amusing moments though was when Coach Kido innocently asked Ryo what kind of men her mother was interested in, and she casually mentions something about a lack of drinking, not really thinking of what the coach was asking. So he goes off to the training camp with them intending to stay dry. It’s an amusing attempt at a relationship, but it’s also one that I can see actually happening, with Kido’s history with Hayakawa and the way everything went. It’s easy to see how he’d end up falling for her, especially with all the time he’s spent with her now over Ryo.

These episode were a lot of fun and went by far too fast, especially with only one volume left. I can’t imagine how it’s all going to end, nor do I want it to end. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening/Ending,Original Japanese Cover Art

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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