Princess Nine Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Princess Nine

Princess Nine Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     August 24, 2002
Release Date: October 08, 2002


Princess Nine Vol. #6
© ADV Films


What They Say
The quest for Koshien explodes in a furious series of games that leave the Princesses gasping for breath, yet in the end the team holds true. Now they must meet their greatest challenge, for not only are they up against the one school they had hoped to never face, but they must finally come to terms with their true feelings. For the team. For each other. And for the people they love. Ten girls become women, forged into diamonds on the field of dreams, in the spectacular final volume of Princess Nine!

The Review!
Princess Nine races to its conclusion here by pulling out all the usual stops when it comes to a sports series. Yes, that’s right, there’s an episode that’s almost all glimpses of multiple games. What, you thought you’d see every game in the season?

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 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.

Packaging:
The final cover is the big energy one with a strong image of Ryo holding the ball with all kinds of emotions running rampant in her. The background images flesh out things nicely with Izumi and her mother providing an interesting balance. The color layout also works really well for this cover, giving it a smooth yet busy look that doesn’t overwhelm. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The last batch of extras here continues with another inclusion of the clean opening and ending sequences. The only real new extra here is the last couple pieces of original Japanese cover artwork featuring the VHS versions (though the DVD and LD versions are identical).

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final volume of the series, we get the conclusion to the arc left over from the previous volume and then move on to the real big bit. The mad dash for Koshien.

The closure to the opening episode, dealing with Yuki and her past, comes to a head here. Yuki’s still out on the balcony and completely out of touch with reality, but we see inside her mental state and get a replay of what caused her to retreat into herself awhile ago at her previous school. This ended up leading into her fantasy state with Fifi, whom she discovered after the incident and used to bring herself out of her bad spiral of self doubt. While she’s going through this, Izumi’s ready to just kick her off the team even though it’s just been less than a day since Yuki went spacey.

Thankfully the other girls don’t see it the same way and want to give her some time, but there’s a general sub level of consensus that they can’t let Yuki drag them all down to the point where she’d be the one costing them the game. Though Izumi sets and irrational timeframe for fixing things, everyone else ends up agreeing by default and this leads to a rather well played out confrontation between everyone that brings everything out in the open.

This leaves the remainder of the disc to deal with two things. The first being the continuing see-saw relationship between Ryo and Takasugi and the second being their chances in the games. Being more of a character driven show than anything else, you just know that the relationship side is going to drastically affect the game side of things. And with the way Ryo and Takasugi go back and forth, in addition to some meddling (innocent and not) from Izumi, it’s not just a little up and down, it’s way up and way down.

To offset that relationship though we get some more progress on the Seishiro and Hikaru relationship, as he’s finally realized Ryo is unattainable and that she really does belong with Takasugi. Hikaru takes mad advantage of this and as the games go on, corrals him into a date and even gives him his first kiss. Gentle she isn’t, and the moment is absolutely adorable. It’s the moments like this with the secondary characters that have helped keep this show vibrant and more than just the central relationship. While some like Mao and Koharu haven’t really had major moments, they all do get their moments in the sun.

And in a way that only anime seems able to do at times, the baseball games are played out in such a way that they really do keep my attention. While no baseball fan by any stretch, I’m certainly aware of the basics and plenty of the technical (living so close to Boston, how can I not be?) and can enjoy the show on that level and with the way that they play around with things, stretching the bounds but still keeping it within reality. Much like sports themed movies, once the first big game is out the way, you get an episode with some character interactions playing against multiple games done as stills and brief action sequences, helping to move them further along the season and towards the end goal while keeping it all exciting.

I certainly won’t spoil the ending to this series, but I will say that it is the type of ending that reaffirms my faith in solid storytelling where mass merchandising of the property is not the end goal. It played out perfectly with the final couple of confrontations, done both in visuals and in the characters words. The last episode also had probably the best budget of the series and looked great but not out of line with the rest of the series.

Princess Nine has been a great series and one that has been made extremely accessible to the fan. With good episode counts, low price point and aggressive marketing, it plays right into the market that’s looking for something more than what they’ve been getting. With so few sports shows available, thinking that they’re not something most North American fans are interested in, Princess Nine manages to capture a huge share of that group of people who are thirsting for this kind of show.

My only hope now is that with ADV’s already good relationship with the producing studio (Phoenix, who did Sin), that this series has done well enough to look into investing into another season. Or for the die-hard fan, retiming the subtitle track slightly and putting out a Collectors Series with the Japanese 5.1 that couldn’t be synched with the stereo mixes here.

Regardless, Princess Nine is one of those series that I will definitely be taking the time to revisit in the near future for a marathon session.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean Open,Clean Close,Original Japanese Artwork

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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