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. Grand Slam!, reviewed here, is the final volume in the series, and contains episodes 22-26:
Episode 22: You're Not Alone, Yuki
Episode 23: Beauties vs. the Beasts
Episode 24: The Kiss
Episode 25: Field of Broken Dreams
Episode 26: Shine, Princess Nine!
With the previous volume ending with Hiroki and Ryo's relationship on the rocks, Ryo finds herself starting to lose control in the game, as she hasn't accepted how she feels or told Hiroki the truth. After the team bands together to comfort Yuki in the wake of her loss, the preliminaries start, eventually pitting the Kisaragi Boys and Girls teams against each other. Now, the love triangle between Hiroki Takasugi, Ryo, and Izumi comes to a head, with each confronting their feelings with the respective person. But how will these revelations affect their game that decides who goes to Koshien?
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. With the series finally complete, everything that needed resolution received it and I can honestly say that the time spent with Princess Nine was well worth it.
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, some of the VHS cover art in Japan, and trailers for other ADV releases.
Princess Nine is one of the best anime series released lately, due to some excellent character development, great writing, and some terrific cliffhangers. With the whole series finally available, a low MSRP, and only six discs in the set, 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.