Princess Nine was one of those first 90’s animes that I ever watched – along with Battle Athletes Victory and of course Miyazaki movies and Pokemon (the latter two don’t count, because please, everyone watched those.) Since then I’ve watched the whole series several times; and I just watched it again after maybe 3 years. Sigh… natsukashii…
Doesn’t the picture remind you of Ace wo Nerae? I haven’t watched that yet, but I must!
Recently I’ve developed a new passion for 90’s anime. I love the terrible animation and the fact that there’s no CG. I love the pointy and over dramatic drawing style, too. And while Princess Nine does indeed have terrible animation and no CG, I have to say it really is one of the better animes I’ve seen. Maybe it can’t compare to something like Seirei no Moribito in animation and plot, but I’d say it stands up pretty well on spirit alone.
I’m being cheesy here… Yes, it’s true; I do have quite the soft spot for Princess Nine and I’ll admit that if I watched it now with no bias, I might not think so highly of it. But I AM BIASED. So my aim right now is to spread the love and the word about Princess Nine.
Side note: Whatttt?! Takasugi = Sa Sakujun = Yuri Mihalkov = Kiryu Touga = Keiki = Keith Anyan = Jouganki?! This guy is crazy! What’s with him being in everything I watch? No, what’s up with him being in EVERYTHING? His list of character roles on MAL takes like 50 scrolls to get through!
Anyway, Princess Nine is a story about the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for a pair of schools who wants to start a girls baseball team for Kisaragi Joushi Koukou. That’s right, baseball, not softball. Basically, it’s a sports anime about an underdog girls team that has to jump through lots of hoops to make it into the boys high school baseball league. There are moments when it looks like the series’ realism has been tossed out the window (ie people overhearing at just the right moment and misunderstanding) but overall, realism pulled through for a stellar ending that’s a little bittersweet.
The actual story centers around Hayakawa Ryo, the girl who’s been chosen to be the pitcher and primary member of this new, unwelcome girls baseball team. The series starts out with the team gathering members, and then actually establishing itself and winning the approval of its own school; goes on to training and then the tournament – which only takes up the last 6 or so episodes out of 26.
Within this frame, however; you have, yes, the stories of each of the nine team members. Then you have Takasugi Hiroki, Ryo’s prospective suitor. And of course, what’s a sports series without a rival? Ryo’s rival comes in the form of Izumi, possibly my favorite rival ever. Rivals in athletics and love, but at the same time team members who have to cooperate. I know it sounds like a lot of drama, but it doesn’t go TOO over the top and it has a nice balance. In fact, that’s one of my favorite things about this whole series: it maintains a balance between the baseball aspect and the personal life aspect.
Along with that balance, Princess Nine has something else you only find in sports series. And that… despite the cheese I’m going to say it… and that is SPIRIT! This is why I love sports animes and I need to watch more of them. They are just so goddamn inspiring! I’m going to make a generalization and say that most sports animes are not masterpieces. They don’t have to be. As long as they have that SPIRIT which makes YOU want to play sports, they have enough to get me to watch them.
Back to Princess Nine… aughh it strings you along with all these plot elements and makes you like the characters and get all wound up about the final game of the series… and then it pulls a goddamn dramatic bittersweet totally Japanese ending! But I love it. I love that the relationship between Ryo and Izumi actually ends up being pretty central to the series rather than Ryo and Takasugi’s relationship, which you would expect to take top priority.
Princess Nine is an awesome girls sports anime, especially for Japan… they ARE a little behind on the whole feminist thing, and this was even made more than ten years ago. Just the fact that it doesn’t turn into a fanservice fest is pretty amazing. So even though the whole girls and baseball thing may seem a bit old in the US, consider the fact that this is Japan we’re talking about. They love their boys baseball and Koshien, and their women haven’t completely broken the glass ceiling yet. The Kisaragi Girls Baseball team definitely holds their own, and that is quite cool. In addition to that, there’s plenty of non-baseball story to keep people who aren’t sports-anime-savvy happy. I myself can’t give much of an opinion on the baseball scenes since I haven’t watched any other baseball anime… or much baseball in general… but I liked their games. Despite the recycled scenes (forgivable since it’s the 90’s), they didn’t get old in the slightest.
I would recommend Princess Nine to anyone looking for one of those inspiring stories with maybe a little slice of life and human relationships, minus the cheese. Though my perspective may be a little skewed.