a.k.a. Princess Nine Kisaragi Joshi Kou Yakyuu-Bu
Ryo has always been a great pitcher. Trained from a young age by her late father Hidehiko, she’s been playing baseball for as long as she can remember. Her life takes an exciting change when the chairwoman of an exclusive all-girls school recruits Ryo for the newly formed baseball team. Plagued by member shortages, attacks by various groups about the unladylike team, beset by her father’s past and her own young heart, Ryo has her plate full (pun intended). Her life is about to become very complicated, and the only way she can possibly see it through is to rely on her teammates as they attempt the impossible.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Rich, diverse group of characters
Lows: Animation quality seems to dip for some scenes
A baseball series is something you don’t come across every day. This show’s focus is split 25% baseball action and 75% character interactions, which means that, yes, there is a lot of story going on outside the sphere of baseball. While on the subject, since this is anime, don’t expect reality to be totally secure… meaning I don’t know too many pitchers who can throw a lightning ball, nor do I know of any successful team with exactly nine players, more than half of whom have never played baseball before. Other than those little breaks from reality, the show presents a fairly accurate and eventful presentation of the game.
The real meat are the girls overcoming obstacles and the ever prevalent theme of growing to adulthood. Topics range from suicide, gender roles, authoritarian parents and jealousy, among others. The core of the show is based on Ryo, Izumi, and Hiroki and their relationships with each other… although almost all of the girls on the team are given at least an episode or two to flesh themselves out. As always, with a large cast there’s not enough time to totally develop everyone, but they get enough time to at least be believable as people.
The plot follows the basic formula of every single baseball movie out there: team of misfits has to come together to somehow defy the odds and win. That being said, the extension to that is immense; along the way, a string of events in both the present and past tie together characters in meaningful ways and brings about both real conflict and character growth. I’d define the artistic quality of the show as solid; it gets the job done and, for the most part, looks perfectly fine. However, every now and then a scene just doesn’t look up to snuff.
All in all, Princess Nine is a great, little show. You don’t have to like baseball to like this, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Play ball!
Highs: Attaching characters; deeper than it looks
Lows: Some themes are dragged out; repetitiveness in music and animation
Since I am not a huge fan of baseball, I was not sure I could enjoy an entire series about the game. But like many sports-related anime before and after it, Princess Nine finds and exploits all the subtleties of the sport, making anyone a fan for about ten hours.
Baseball is not the only thing this anime analyses. Of course, there’s the girls-versus-boys premise, but Princess Nine is first and foremost a character-driven series with only an occasional focus on sports. Having at least nine characters to develop makes things a bit tough, but I generally liked the way it was handled: just enough to keep it interesting and not in excess, which often takes too much time away from the rest when restrained by 26 episodes. My only gripe is how some of these developments, even when very touching, seem to drag on for longer than they should.
The technical side of Princess Nine fluctuates from episode to episode with a few plagued by second-hand sequences. With its many highs points, this series has quite a bit of style, with smooth animation and eccentric special effects that fit surprisingly well. The musical themes are very suitable, but the fact that you have heard all of the songs this series offers in the first two episodes is a major letdown.
While not as engrossing as the big name in sports anime, Hajime no Ippo, Princess Nine does not possess the leisure of having 75 episodes to work with but does very well with what it does have.
Princess Nine can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.