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Dated 8 February 2004: Princess Nine

Hayakawa Ryo
Hayakawa Ryo

So, I've started watching Princess Nine. This is a baseball-themed 26-episode series from 1998 about nine girls challenging their male counterparts and proving themselves on the diamond, etc.

I actually bought the entire series after reading only one review and without watching even a single episode because Deepdiscountdvd.com had ADV's complete box set for $35.99 and it sounded interesting. Besides, after getting shafted by the confounded practice of splitting 26-episode shows over six to eight DVDs, a reasonably priced series is a welcome change. I hope these companies realize that many of their customers are reaching critical mass—one can only drop one hundred fifty freaking dollars for a single season so many times.

I also felt comfortable buying the entire series without watching it first because it features the voice acting of Shimamoto Sumi as Hayakawa Shino and Kawasumi Ayako as Azuma Yuki. Shimamoto Sumi is famous as the voice of Nausicaa, and the Ayako Doctrine dictates that any show featuring the voice acting of Kawasumi Ayako is at least worth checking out.

Hayakawa Ryo
Hayakawa Ryo

I've only watched the first episode thus far. It's pretty entertaining and the apparent lead character, hard-throwing southpaw 15-year-old Ryo, is quite likeable. I'm also glad that Princess Nine's accuracy in depicting the gameplay of baseball itself is above average in relation to most movies and television shows.

However, I am somewhat disturbed at how many DVDs I now own that contain the word "princess" in the title. And none of them are even porn.

Dated 31 August 2004: Princess Nine follow-up

With the baseball season winding down, I suppose I should follow up on my earlier Princess Nine report. It turns out that Ryo is actually a pretty shitty pitcher. She is strictly a thrower. We need a second season where she learns to change speeds and mix in a breaking ball every once in a while.

Ryo
Ryo

That said, I was pleased to find that all of these girls are pretty talented. This is not a show where girls just happen to be able to compete with boys on their level. Each of these girls (well, for the most part), were all-stars on some level in their own right before forming the all-girls baseball team.

Seira
Seira

Princess Nine is only half about baseball, anyway. Much of the story involves drama that affects the characters in some way. There's a love triangle, and questions about divided loyalty, and it's pretty entertaining overall.

Yuki
Yuki

The baseball elements are pretty accurate—better than I had expected, anyway. There are some implausible elements (for example, Ryo is the only pitcher on the team—there are only nine of them, you know—so every game is a complete game, and she doesn't get a lot of rest), and there are some miscues that indicate the translators are not baseball saavy, but I didn't find anything too objectionable. It's not as if this is a documentary. And like I said, almost all of these girls are tremdously talented athletes, so it's not a case where Grrl Power and gritty determination serve to overcome evil boys, or any such nonsense. They also planted the shitty player in right field.

Koharu
Koharu

I was somewhat amused that Kawasumi Ayako's character has the fewest lines, given her popularity as a voice actress. Casting her for the part of Yuki makes sense later on, as you learn more about her character; her emotional struggles may have been less convincing from a less talented voice actress.

Yuki
Yuki

I do find it somewhat odd that Princess Nine had Mwu's voice actor from Gundam SEED playing the same Aryan character he always does. He really sounds too old to be playing a 15-year-old kid.

Dated 21 February 2009: Girls Playing Baseball is the new Girls Piloting Mecha

Koharu
Koharu is a witch.

Actually, that's not true. Girls Playing Baseball isn't really the new Girls Piloting Mecha because girls playing baseball isn't really a new thing at all. At a minimum, there's Princess Nine. Maybe I should have titled this post, "Princess Nine Xenoglossia."

Ryoko
Ryoko is a beast.

Really, this is just an excuse to talk about Not Idolm@ster Baseball (real name, Taisho Yakyuu Musume), which, quite frankly, can't get here fast enough.

Shimizu
Shimizu is a peach.

Realistically, this will probably be the Sky Girls of 1920s Japanese girls baseball, being a J.C. Staff production and all—meaning that it will probably be about interpersonal relationships instead of actual baseball service-service, but that's okay too.

Taisho Yakyuu Musume
Taisho Yakyuu Musume is Not Idolm@ster Baseball.

I'm calling my shot: The Best Girl in Taisho Yakyuu Musume is going to be the one in the front, swinging the bat. I can tell because she looks the most serious.

Narue saves Kazu
Narue is a Mamiko Noto tea kettle.

One thing that troubles me about Taisho Yakyuu Musume is the apparent lack of wooden bats. In fact, that seems to be the prevailing deficiency in anime baseball. Even Narue uses an aluminum bat during Narue no Sekai despite carrying a wooden one in the ED. Kasumi from Hand Maid May alone uses a wooden bat among anime girls playing ball that I know of, although the sound effect used in the show is wildly incorrect, alas.

Kasumi
If only those kids knew how easy Coach Tani was going on them.

Metal bats are quite an anachronism for 1920s baseball, although I doubt Not Idolm@ster Baseball will make any attempt at depicting realistic baseball of that era—or any era, for that matter. Not that I expect this to impair my enjoyment of this upcoming series. Surely it will be more important to keep a relationship chart than a scorecard for this show.