GAINAX goes for the fairytale approach with this story of a young girl who has he chance to make her dreams come true ” if she can prove herself worthy of becoming the Platinum Princess. Expect rivalries and highjinks along the way…
What They Say
Meet Yucie, a girl under a spell. Yucie wants to be a Platinum Princess, and the only way to do that is to attend the Princess Academy. Like, duh! But that’s not as easy as it sounds. Under the guidance of Queen Ercell and with the unwitting help of a schoolmate named Glenda (who just so happens to be a princess from the Demon World,) Yucie finds herself embarking on an epic quest to obtain the Eternal Tiara! The road ahead is full of trouble and odd jobs, but this is one future-princess who’s not giving up without a fight!
Audio is provided in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 versions – I listened to the Japanese track for this review. This is one of the more simple stereo mixes around, with little use made of the soundstage other than for music and effects. The end results can hardly be called spectacular. There were no obvious encoding problems.
Video is presented in its original full-frame aspect. The presentation reflects the show’s fairy-tale setting, with plenty of bright colours on show, although there’s not really much detail on view in the animation. The transfer does a good job of displaying all those colours with very little in the way of visible defects – a few slight instances of colour-banding here & there, but that’s it & what there is, is barely noticeable.
The set comes is a sturdy chipboard box, containing 5 thinkpacked DVDs. The box itself has some nice pieces of artwork on show, with Yucie and Arc looking quite regal on one side while Yucie and Cube feature on the other, with the series logo on the spine. The covers of the thinpacks each feature one of the girls, with the episodes on each disc listed on the back – although an unfortunate error on disc 4’s cover leaves the episodes listed with the wrong titles for the remaining eps.
Typically for menus on ADV’s thinpack sets, the menus here are very simple – each disc features the same piece of artwork used on the disc cover, with direct access provided to each episode. They couldn’t possibly be any easier to use.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The Platinum Princess – a woman of elegance and grace, with the power to grant wishes. Young Yucie has a few wishes she’s quite like to see granted, not least that she’ll start to grow up like a normal girl – she may be 17, but she’s stuck in the body of a 13-year-old, and for whatever reason just doesn’t seem to be growing any further – and other girls her age are constantly giving her trouble as a result. What she lacks in size, though, she makes up for in attitude. It’s her ambition to meet with the Prince of the kingdom she lives in – she has a vague memory of him saving her when she was young – but she doesn’t think that someone with her childish appearance would ever get the chance to. When she hears that the Queen is holding audiences with the aim of choosing candidates to be the next Platinum Princess, though (with the position comes the gift of granting wishes), Yucie decides it’s time she tried to follow her dream.
Part of the testing to become Platinum Princess involves going to school – no ordinary school, either, but the Princess Academy, attended by the daughters of all the best noble families, which leaves Yucie (adopted daughter of a retired hero) feeling just a little out of place. Fortunately, there’s at least one familiar face amongst the students, in the form of Cocoloo, who helps her learn the ropes on her first day. School life gets complicated very quickly, though, with the arrival on the scene of princess of the Demon World, Glenda – another candidate for Platinum Princess, and who immediately declared herself to be Yucie’s greatest rival. It isn’t long before the sparks begin to fly. Cocoloo herself is another candidate, from the Spirit World ” she’s a shy and quiet girl who largely doesn’t believe she has what it takes to be the chosen one, but she’s trying her best anyway. As the series goes on, the candidates from the Heavenly World (Elmina, apparently God’s daughter and struggling under the weight of the expectations he has of her) and the Fairy World (mischevious and tomboyish Beth) also make their appearances and eventually form friendships with Yucie ” although not always at first meeting.
A large part of the series involves the girls learning the qualities needed to be the Platinum Princess. This is done through a seemingly never-ending series of part-time jobs, each teaching the girls a particular quality but also providing the opportunity for some comedy or moment of revelation. This side of the story does get old rather quickly ” much like a monster-of-the-week magical girl story, you can see how the story is going to play out within a few minutes of it starting, and it’s only the appeal of the characters themselves that keeps you watching.
The more interesting side of things is Yucie’s budding relationship with Arc, a young boy on the run and doing some digging around what the Platinum Princess really is, and who bears a strong resemblance to the Prince that Yucie remembers meeting when she was younger. At first meeting, he’s quite patronizing towards her, but as the series goes on their relationship develops to the point where Yucie’s willing to make significant sacrifices for him. I’m a sucker for a half-decent romantic storyline, and this certainly fills the bill.
It’s not until the final few episodes that there’s any real urgency around the selection of the Platinum Princess ” to be honest, a lot of the earlier episodes feel very much like filler, and the series could have been done more tightly and enjoyably in 13 episodes. As it is, the wait for events to really pick up speed is almost unbearable ” but well worth the wait once it happens. The series climax comes in two parts ” first with the girls saving the Fairy World from a rather nasty entity that’s invaded there, and then with the selection of the Platinum Princess and the revelation of the heavy price that will have to be paid by the girl who’s selected ” a price that is kept from the candidates until it’s too late for them to avoid paying it.
The characters are what makes Yucie worth watching ” up to a point they each play to a particular stereotype, but there’s enough about each personality to make them strong individuals, with their own quirks and points the other characters can use to poke fun at them. Glenda, in particular, is a real hoot to watch, with her over-the-top reactions to everything and strong rivalry with Yucie ” even when Yucie doesn’t see the point of it. Each of the girls has their own steward, and while they’re more into the comic relief side of things they’re again strong characters and play their own part in making the series enjoyable. The series’ weakness is in its pacing, as 26 episodes is simply too long for the story being told and the endless series of part-time jobs gets repetitive quite quickly. The good does outweigh the bad, but only just.
Petite Princess Yucie is a lot of fun in places, and when the final arc of the story gets going it’s very good indeed, but the amount of filler along the way spoils the appeal a bit. It’s saved by its characters and a strong comedy streak, while the relationship between Yucie and Arc provides an enjoyable romantic hook. This thinpack collection brings the price down to the range where the show’s failings can be fairly easily overlooked and makes it easy for me to recommend giving Yucie a look.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: July 18th, 2006
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28″ widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.