Petite Princess Yucie Vol. 1: Princess Academy
Released By: ADV
Release Date: 11/23/04
Special Notes: Review originally published here
When an anime is based off a hit video game series, you know that the results are either going to be incredible or disastrous. Well, here is yet another anime that is based on a hit video game series so the real question is, does it hit or miss?
Our story takes place in a medieval kingdom where magic and people of all races live together including the humans, fairies, demons, elves and other assorted races. Seventeen years ago though, this kingdom was embedded in a war. The gods, who once looked favorably upon this land, deemed that the people of the land were starting to depend on them too much and were growing arrogant and lazy. So, working with the dark gods, they sent an army of demons to wage war on them and teach them a lesson (I know that would certainly get my attention). In this war, a hero emerged who helped to vanquish all these creatures and near the end of the battle he saw a great light descend from the heavens. When he went to investigate, all he found was a young baby girl wrapped in a blanket.
Seventeen years later is where our story picks up. The man who found the girl is named Gunbar and he has adopted the baby girl as his own and named her Yucie raising her into a fair and sweet adult… the only problem is that due to some thing that no one has yet to determine, she is stuck in the body of a ten year old girl. No matter how many years pass, she never ages past this point.
But this is a very special time in the kingdom as every thousand years, a girl comes along that is deemed to be the Platinum Princess and that girl gets to wear the magical ‘Eternal Tiara’ which is said to grant one wish for the wearer. Upon hearing about this, Yucie is guided by it’s light into the castle where before she can touch it… the queen herself sees Yucie and deems her to be a worthy candidate to train to be a Platinum Princess. But the training will be hard as she must not only endure Princess Academy but also a new rival who is also vying to win the tiara for her own selfish reasons… Glenda, Princess of the demon world.
The Good And The Bad
Released by Gainax, this series is loosely based off the hit Japanese video game series Princess Maker (also released by Gainax). In Princess Maker, the plot is almost the same except you actually have to raise the girl from the time she is 10 years old until she is 18 and while the ultimate goal of the game is to raise her to be a princess, there are dozens of other endings that can happen as well.
What Gainax has done here, has modified the plot just a little bit and turned it into a fabulously fun and enjoyable anime that fans of the game and people who have never heard of it (which wouldn’t be surprising since the game was never released in the US so the only ones who have heard of the game or played it are the ones who specifically sought out the pirated, translated import copies online) can enjoy.
What I think is great about this anime thus far is that they haven’t strayed too far from the heart of the game. Everything that Yucie has done in the anime thus far, are things that can be done in the game (with certain liberties taken of course).
When I first realized that this anime was based off the game, I have to admit that I had some very mixed feelings about watching it since I knew that it was either going to be absolutely terrible or completely wonderful and I am very happy to admit that I am pleasantly surprised.
The story in this anime has been wonderful so far. The characters are genuinely likeable (Glenda is a laugh a minute!) and you find yourself really cheering for them all the way through the volume. This is one of those rare animes that you can seriously sit down and enjoy with your children and laugh right along with them as they watch Yucie and Glenda try their best to become the next Platinum Princess while also learning valuable lessons about hard work, compassion and kindness along the way. Normally when an anime has a strong moral curve like that, it tends to get preachy really fast and will turn me off completely but this one keeps it light and fun throughout the entire volume and never lets itself take itself too seriously.
The animation in this series is also great. The drawing are all crisp and clear with bright colors and I thought it was a great touch to have each episode use a completely different eye catch (the animation that leads you into and out of commercial breaks at the halfway point).
The music here is just as big of a winner as the anime itself is. With great theme songs such like “Genius of Smiles” and “Because I Cannot Say It”, you can bet that these tunes will be getting stuck in your head by the end of the this first volume and yet it’s not something that you mind. When I watched this anime, it was 4am and I needed something to watch before I went to bed. Well, I ended up staying up until 6am just to see the entire volume and went to sleep with the tune of this anime playing in my head and it was a great little song to fall asleep to.
Dub vs. Sub
Both the dub and sub track were excellently done this time around and while I found it a little surprising that there are no big name actors from the ADV lineup in the main roles (a couple of well known VA’s do supporting roles but nothing really credited) the ones who do make it into the main roles absolutely shine in their parts, most especially Rachael Rivera as Yucie and the equally entertaining but vastly more humorous Kelley Huston as Glenda.
While both the dub and sub track are equally enjoyable, parents should be warned that one swear word does get uttered in the sub track so you might want to stick with the dub track if you’re sensitive about your children hearing that. As far as I know, the same word doesn’t get used in the English track.
Unfortunately, the extras is where this series fails to make any kind of mark. The only extras that are included on this volume are the clean opening and closing animations and some production sketches. Normally ADV is really good about extras though so hopefully there will be more extras in the future.
It’s not often that an anime comes along that I can truly say is good for the whole family to enjoy together but with this anime, you have a title that will make both adults and children laugh along with the antics of the characters and really get involved. While adults will probably be able to figure out where this series is going for it’s big conclusion by the end of the first volume, I think that the children will be kept guessing long enough to be entertained by this and still want more.
Final Grade: 90% A-