Princess Nine is a twenty-six episode anime series about an all female baseball team at Kisaragi Girl's High School focused on challenging – and beating – the boys' teams in the Koshien Tournament in order to shatter the sexual barriers in Japan. Lead by Ryo, their pitcher and a natural with the fastball, her team includes Seira, Hikaru, Yuki, Koharu, Izumi, Yoko, Mao, and Kanako. At first glance, the series might appear to be only about baseball, but Princess Nine is actually more complex. For many episodes, the series is actually concerned more with fleshing out the characters and their relationships with each other, than on baseball. Bases Loaded!, reviewed here, is the fifth of six volumes in the series, and contains episodes 18-21:
Episode 18: Gift
Episode 19: Hearts & Diamonds
Episode 20: Back in Training
Episode 21: I Hate You, Takasugi
After her recovery, Ryo arrives back at Kisaragi with an uncertain future, as the Parents Association is still determined to push for her expulsion and the team's disillusion. However, a birthday wish saves the team, and to 'celebrate' the coach sends them to an intensive training camp to prepare for the preliminaries. But when Izumi discovers Takasugi, the boy she loves, and Ryo have feelings for each other, their rivalry could tear the team apart.
Simply put, Princess Nine is one of the best anime series I've seen in quite some time. The characters are well-developed and easy to care about, the stories are interesting, and there are some great cliffhangers. Though Ryo and Izumi are the central characters and spend the most time in the spotlight, each of the supporting girls is fleshed out as well, with back-stories and their own difficulties. Although there is only one volume left to go, there are still quite a few unresolved issues left for the last five episodes and I eagerly await completing the series to see how it all turns out. The series is rated 12+.
Princess Nine is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is fine throughout, despite some minor cross coloration and aliasing. Colors look great and there is little in the way of print flaws.
Princess Nine is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English or Japanese. Optional subtitles are available in English. The stereo track is solid, with some subtle directionality. Dialogue is mostly center channel based and is crisp and clean throughout with no distortion.
Extras include clean opening and closing animations, the DVD cover art in Japan, and trailers for Nadia, Sailor Moon, Soul Hunter, Sakura Wars, Dragon Half, and Excel Saga.
Princess Nine is one of the best anime series released lately, due to some excellent character development, great writing, and some terrific cliffhangers. Anyone interested in anime who hasn't already should definitely give Princess Nine a try – it's the best thing to come out since Cowboy Bebop.