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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Princess Nine DVD review

Coming in 2008, Realbuzz Studios (a division of religious publisher Thomas Nelson) is slated to print a sports rarity amongst AmeriManga titles. A female softball team title w/faith based content called “Hits & Misses”. No, it’s not the faith based content that is rare (they’re doing it this September to surfing with Goofyfoot Gurl after all), it’s the whole Bball (or in this case Sball) slant of the title that is rare.

I don’t know about you but I can’t name even a half a dozen female driven Bball slash Sball (Baseball slash Softball) titles with a full female lead cast out there besides Princess Nine and 2008’s Hits & Misses. It’s just not coming to me, not at all.

This title in particular is a pre-”hiccup” (pre ADV’s reorganization some years ago) ADVFilms title, put out in the start of the 21st Century (2001 to be precise). 9 girls, 9 dreams, and a whole lot of barriers between them and their final dream to compete against male dominated teams in one particular “house” of the game. One special home of regional baseball that is the target “hit” of this slowly rising girl’s team.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Ryo is the daughter of a legendary baseball player, who is set to drop out after Junior High (Middle School + 9th Grade) to help her mom run the family restaurant. Faith, however, seems to have other plans for her as her skills with baseball are about to be scouted by a woman with a dream.

She runs an elite girl’s school, and heard about Ryo playing for her hometown’s small time baseball team (male) and giving the older gents a hand with their game. After watching her come in at the end of a game (on request by the coach) to help stave off a particularly powerful opponent, this powerful woman’s dream becomes set in her mind as she plans to go full steam ahead with establishing a female baseball team in her school with this girl as the pitching centerpiece of her dream.

This, of course, isn’t going to go well as the mindset stubborn board of male/female members seem hellbent on stopping her, which becomes a problem later in the series as her team forms up and the real battle for acceptance truly begins. But first, before she can send the invite (or approach the board with her dream) she has to put her future pitcher through a few tests (without her knowledge) to make sure she’s the one (which ends up with a screwball thrown into the mix because despite having rigged the event with fake “enemies“ and a fake “umpire“ (who becomes the girl‘s coach) she doesn‘t anticipate the arrival of a certain male who is the batting counterpart to Ryo, one who can hit as well as she can pitch).

Once she is certain of Ryo‘s qualifications (which happens by Episode 2) she’s ready to go to the carpet with her own board members (of which she is the leader of) and put forth her ambitions for a girls‘ bball team (setting herself up to be rivals with her school’s own Principal and lacky Vice Principal).

But having a girl’s baseball team in this girl’s school she will, and out goes the special invitations to school at her school to her prime prospects in exchange for each girl to join the baseball team in turn. Ryo, after much soul searching, talking to her mother, and a Field of Dreams moment with her dad’s spirit, jumps in and decides to take the school up on it’s offer by going over to the interview to join the school (and thus the school’s baseball team). This doesn’t go well as she ends up accosted by same male from the challenge who… well… you’ll see.

Of course since this isn’t Looney Tunes and Ryo can’t be the whole team (thus be the “Bugs”) it’ll look like our female leader needs to get more members of the team. This, if anything, is the major flaw with Princess Nine (and might keep you away from it). It’s a nice story, filled with the purity of the sport we really haven’t seen in such a long time, but it is also painfully slow. Gathering the nine isn’t quick, and it won’t be done this DVD. In fact by the time the 9 are gathered, and all obstacles are overcome enough so the girls can hit the field? Guess what! The series is well on it’s way to being over by the time all that is accomplished (and this series has a full season’s worth of episodes to be counted!)

It’s this slow but steady pace that might not appeal to you, especially if you’d like to get to the baseball action and see the team swinging and throwing hard against their male rivals.

Also, there’s a romance involved here, and a love triangle that suddenly happens when Ryo is accosted a lot by her male counterpart (a male youth with superior hitting skills to rival her pitching skills which I talked about above)… where was I… oh, right, he accosts her in front of his “girlfriend”, the daughter of the female with the dream to create her own baseball team, a tennis star who somehow ends up becoming the 2nd Princess of the nine before the end of the DVD (but not before totally throwing a fit and challenging Ryo to a baseball duel during her interview day at the school).

As the DVD rounds towards the end we have a coach, 2 players… maybe more before the end of the DVD (but you’ll have to watch) and the start of a dream. Just a start. Next DVD let’s see how much closer the dream comes as the search continues for more Princesses to join the ranks.

Otherwise the series is near flawless.
All around (animation, Japanese voice acting, musical scoring, storyline and plot) are all great.
The characters are lovable and I like how it all is put together.
However the story is slow, and once we get to the point that the 9 are all together and ready to roll the series seems to be practically over. That can’t be good.

If you don’t mind the slow pace of the story, and want to see a purity to baseball the MLB can’t deliver (no matter how hard they try) then Princess Nine may be the shot in the baseball arm you’ve been looking for.
However if you’re hot on girl vs. guy baseball and don’t want to wait the long time for the circumstances to finally align in just such a way for it to happen, and then be short as the series is on it’s way to being over once it’s done? Well then… Princess Nine might not be for you after all.
Either way if it’s still available you should be able to nab some DVDs from Right Stuf for a really really cheap price from their bargain bin… if they’re, you know, not completely sold out by now.

Otherwise Princess Nine DVD Volume 1 gets 4 fastball specials out of 5.

-- David Rasmussen 14th Sep 07

source : animeboredom

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