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ADV Films presents
Princess Nine #3: Triple Play (1998)

"In comic books, this is where the helper hits an unexpected home run."
- Nene Mori (Taeko Kawada)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: March 19, 2002

Stars: Miki Nagasawa, Mami Kingetsu, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Sumi Shimamoto, Hilary Haag, Monica Rial, Vic Mignogna, Kelly Manison
Other Stars: Taketo Koyasu, Tetsuya Iwanaga, Yasutsugu Ishii, Akiko Yajima, Kyouko Hikami, Naomi Nagasawa, Ayako Kawasumi, Rumi Kasahara, Kokoro Shindou, Mayumi Iizuka, Taeko Kawada, Chris Patton, Christine M. Auten, Andy McAvin, Tiffany Grant, Shelly Calene-Black, Cynthia Martinez, Kira, Kelly Cousins, Jennifer K. Earhart
Director: Tomomi Mochizuki

Manufacturer: JVC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+ for some mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:40m:04s
Release Date: March 26, 2002
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A- B-

DVD Review

Considering North American audiences have few choices when it comes to sports-based anime, a series devoted to an all-girl baseball team makes perfect sense. While baseball may be a favorite American pastime, the sport is a religion in Japan, with even high school level championships getting national TV coverage. The ultimate goal for any team is to play at Koshien, a two-part event that takes place in the spring and summer. This exhibition is where talent scouts for the professional league locate their new players, so a showcase performance here is paramount for an athlete's future.

Princess Nine sets up a challenge to the male-only baseball league, trying to get their team of girls into the finals, something none of the directors of the High School Baseball Association want any part of. The project's instigator, Keiko Himuro (Yoshiko Sakakibara), chairman of the Kisaragi Women's Senior High School, has found a protégé in Ryo Hayakawa (Miki Nagasawa), daughter of a Koshien champion, whose 130mph pitches can best most male players. Her struggle is to find a way to get her team into the arena with the boys, but with every step she risks a humiliating defeat, as the men are siding for her failure.

With eight bodies filling the positions, manager Nene Mori (Taeko Kawada) steps into the fourth batter's position. The team is still sadly lacking in experience, and their catcher can't manage the pitches she's being served. The outfield is in ruins, with rightfielder Yoko Takashika (Mayumi Iizuka) afraid to catch the ball in case it spoils her looks, and the leftfielder (Ayako Kawasumi as Yuki Azuma) relying on her alien pendant doll for skill. Their shortstop, Kanako Mita (Rumi Kasahara) the school principle's daughter, has to show up incognito, since her father would forbid her to play. The girls have their first exhibition game against a boys team pending, one that will make or break their chances to continue playing.

Princess Nine continues to be an excellent watch. The drama is intense, the odds are stacked against them, and the infighting doesn't help their chances, either. The range of personalities keeps the high octane comic value intact, and the coach's strategies for getting the girls to perform ups the ante several notches—with hilarious results! The characters are all interesting, and the story development can evoke a great deal of pathos from the audience. We have an extremely strong series here, loaded with action, emotion, and the roller coaster highs and lows of facing challenges and overcoming obstacles. Princess Nine gets a huge thumbs up; the only down side to this disc is the massive cliffhanger at the end—I'm biting my nails for more!

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is consistent with previous releases, and looks very good overall. Colors are strong, and black levels solid, but there is still noticible ringing on outlines, and a fair degree of aliasing, especially during pans.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is again presented well. There is some directional dialogue, but most is center-focused. No problems on a technical level were noted. The two soundtracks are comparable in quality, and while the dub script does vary from the Japanese, the voice actors do a decent job even if not quite achieving the same intensity as their Japanese counterparts.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Excel Saga, Steel Angel Kurumi,Nadia of Blue Water, Soul Hunter, Robotech: New Generation. Wild Arms
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. History of baseball in Japan
  2. Voice actress profiles
  3. Clean credit animations
Extras Review: First is a history of baseball in Japan, a highly appropriate and interesting feature that not only gives an overview of its rise in popularity, but also a good indication why the premise of Princess Nine would cause such a stir.

Next, there are voice actress profiles for the English cast, with pictures, vital stats, trivia and some of their other roles. The English VAs include Hilary Haag (Ryo), Cynthia Martinez (Hikaru), Margeaux Baulch (Yuki), Kelly Cousins (Seira), Jennifer K. Earhart (Nene)

Similar profiles for some of the Japanese cast follow, including Mika Nagasaw (Ryo), Naomi Nagasawa (Hikaru), Ayuko Kawasumi (Yuki), Kyoko Hikami (Seira), and Taeko Kawada (Nene). No photos are available, unfortunately. I like these inclusions a great deal.

Clean opening and closing credits are also included, as are a collection of ADV trailers with a couple of new titles:Excel Saga, Steel Angel Kurumi, Nadia of Blue Water, Soul Hunter, Robotech: New Generation and Wild Arms.

A nice collection.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Princess Nine is not the kind of series this reviewer can watch casually, one episode at a time. Instead, it draws you into the story, compelling you to see what happens next. The character set is rich, and the emotional intensity is high. Our team of girls have to give it everything they've got to fulfill their dreams, and every step could be a disaster. This will appeal to both male and female audiences alike, and gets my highest recommendations. The extras set is useful and interesting, adding even more fun to the show. Batter up!

 


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