Princess Nine Vol. 6: Grand Slam
Released By: ADV
Release Date: 10/8/02
Special Notes: Review originally published here
NOTE: This review is a continuation of my reviews of this series. If you have not seen any of the volumes or my previous reviews, you risk spoilers by continuing.
Well, here we are……. the sixth and final volume of this incredible anime series known simply as Princess Nine. It’s been a long road to get to this point. There have been 21 episodes of baseball, struggles, emotions and plot twists to keep us entertained but now only five episodes stand between here and the end.
As I mentioned, five episodes are given to us on this volume rounding out the total to the usual number of 26 episodes and the creators of this anime were absolutely determined to leave you breathing hard and gripping the edge of your seat by the time the final moments played out and I’ll tell you right now that they succeeded!
The first episode starts us off light as the training camp ends and we get the final glimpse into Azuma’s past. Showing no signs of improving after losing Fifi, Izumi is ready to just replace her as though she were a piece of field equipment. While everyone else tries their best to cheer her back up, it takes a bit more of Izumi’s harsh intervention to end it.
When the girl’s get back home it’s time the team’s captain, Ryo, to draw for the team’s slot in the tournament. It’s then we learn that in the first round they will be facing off against Hori Private High School.
The second episode is titled ‘Beauties vs. The Beasts’ which gives you an idea of what Hori High’s baseball team is like. That’s right, they are big, crude and loud and have a very bad reputation following them. What they lack in actual skill on the field, they make up for it ten fold by playing very dirty and very aggressively. They aren’t afraid to bean the girls on purpose or take them out while sliding into a base. These guys are either going to win or they’re going to make sure there’s not enough left of the girls to go onto the next round if they should happen to get beaten.
Well, As much as I hate to spoil it for you I can tell you that the girls win that game. You really didn’t think that we’d come all this way just to have them lose to a bunch of apes in the first round did you?? I thought not! The third episode is titled ‘The Kiss’ and takes us all the way up to the semi finals. The girl’s have been absolutely dominant in their games so far winning with nothing but shut outs. But now they are into the semi finals and are facing off against their brother school Kisaragi High led by star first baseman, Takasugi.
When the game is postponed due to rain, it gives everyone to do some talking and soul searching to realize how they truly feel about each other. After talking to Takasugi’s grandfather (remember him? He was the old man who got the girl’s the chance to compete a couple of volumes ago) Ryo realizes how unfair she was to Takasugi. Then after talking to Sheishiro, Takasugi realizes that Ryo was just hurt and didn’t mean to say the things she did to him. And then finally we have Izumi who realizes after talking to her mother that she must tell Takasugi how she really feels. All this leads up to the confrontation between Takasugi and Izumi that everyone has been waiting for since Episode 1 and just to drive all of you readers nuts, I’m not going to tell you what is actually said in that confrontation but it does end with Ryo witnessing Takasugi and Izumi kissing.
There are two episodes left on this volume and I have decided that I am only going to comment on the first one so that I can leave all of you with something to really look forward to with the final episode. ‘Field Of Broken Dreams’ is our next episode and it seems that the girls are in a world of hurt. Not only are they facing an incredible team but Koharu gets news that her father back home has collapsed right before she leaves for the game. The game starts and our three star players are playing horribly! Koharu can’t stop worrying about her father, Ryo can’t stop thinking about the kiss she witnessed and Izumi can’t stop thinking about it either.
The episodes takes us straight into the top of the ninth inning where after some horrible pitching by the ace pitcher Ryo, it is 5-0 with two outs. The girls are going to need a major streak to come back from this… do you really want to know if they manage to pull it off? Well, I’m not going to tell you. All I’m going to tell you is that in final episodes, anything can happen!
The Good and the Bad
I think that the really big complaint that one would hear most often from people who have watched this series is that the final episode does leave a lot of things open ended and a lot of questions unanswered and normally I absolutely can’t stand it when anime series does that. Sakura Diaries did it and now Princess Nine does it as well BUT, in this case it’s forgiveable in my eyes.
After the credits of the final episode, we are treated to a special animation sequence in which the annoucer for all the baseball games talks about what an incredible season the girl’s had and how he’s sure that they will be back next season filled with spirit and energy. At the time of this series closing, no one knew if this series was going to be picked up for a second season. Unfortunetly, since it has been a few years since the series was released both in Japan and in the United States, it is pretty safe to say now that there will not be a second season which is practically criminal in my book! Critics hailed this series as an amazing sleeper hit and fans rejoiced with each of the girl’s wins both on and off the field.
This was definitely a character driven series. While the main plot of the girl’s dream of playing at Koshien was always kept center stage, with each passing episode you’ll start to care less and less about that goal and more about what will happen to each girl and each of their dreams. That is not an easy accomplishment for any anime to do but this one manages to do it flawlessly!
Another thing that I loved about this series is how even when you know the girls are going to win, it’s so easy to just forget about that completely because you’re so caught up in the story. You become absolutely enthralled with what you are seeing that even though you know they are going to win, in the back of your mind you’re starting to hear that little voice that’s saying… ‘wow, those guys sure are tough! I’m not so sure that the girl’s are going to be able to pull off a victory here!’ When an anime can do that for you… you know that it’s something special.
Unfortunetly, the extras on disc are lame as well. Once again we are treated to clean animations, trailers and art box covers but it’s nothing worth writing more than a couple of sentences about.
The music in this series gets an extra kick with a new song played during some of the baseball sequences called ‘Stadium Dreams’. It’s an excellent edition and you better believe that even if I don’t speak japanese, I am going to be searching for the soundtrack to this anime as soon as I possibly can (and you can expect a review of it as soon as I do!).
This series has been described in more than a few ways… a sleeper hit, an incredible work of art that was completely unexpected, a beautiful story about wonderful characters, and my least favorite… an aquired taste. I am going to add my descriptions to that list and it can’t be said in a sound bite.
This is one of the best series that I’ve seen in my life. I’ve seen tons of anime in my life and very few of them actually get added to my favorites list. Very few of them have that kind of impact and replay value… this series has both! By the end of the last episode, I really felt close to these characters. I lived and died with each of their victories and defeats. I cheered for them when they were on the field, and cried with them when they got their hearts broken off the field for whatever reason.
The love that I have for this series has been matched only a couple of times in the past. If you love anime or are looking for a great series to get started with, this is the one of the ones that you can’t go wrong with!