What They Say:
In Princess Minerva, when a tournament for Combatively-Inclined Warrior Women is announced the residents of the quaint little kingdom of Wisler quickly find themselves up to their hips in fearsome fighters of the fairer sex! This is NOT a good situation, especially since when these lethal lovelies aren’t fighting for a profit, they’re out fighting for pleasure, revenge, or just for the heck of it! Soon the hills are alive with the sound of cat-fights, with each and every combatant dreaming of the cash prize that could allow the winner to live like a princess. Every combatant, that is, except one: Princess Minerva already is a princess, and, frankly, she doesn’t like it one bit!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and English language dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded at a high 448kbps, which was a surprise at the time and still stands out as unusual. This actually does make a difference, though not to the uncompressed level, but it comes across far better than the bulk of stereo mixes which are done at 192kbps. While it may simply seem louder, it also has a bit more depth and warmth to it that keeps it from feeling as weak as many other ones do. The Japanese mix comes across a bit fuller in this release and was pretty solid all told for a forward soundstage mix.
Originally released in 1995, the transfer for this single OVA release is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Princess Minerva is encoded with a decent bitrate which captures the source material pretty well. The main issues with the release come back to the age of the show itself and its origins. While it has the decent bitrate, that can’t negate the noise and grain from the source nor can it eliminate the cross coloration that creeps into it fairly strongly after the first several minutes. While it can be distracting at times, it’s not a deal breaker but it feels weird. So few shows exhibit this anymore since companies rarely deal in older shows that seeing it is almost a surprise these days. Princess Minerva looks like a lot of shows from this time period and the transfer simply reflects that. It’s not fantastic but it’s not horrible either, expectations depending.
The cover design for Princess Minerva is really quite good as it has a simple near full-length shot of Minerva in her battle gear with her sword extended in front of her. The logo is done sideways, which is a bit odd, but t carries alongside the character artwork really well and I like the font used for it. It’s a very simple cover overall with just the ADV Films logo on it otherwise, and that lets the detailed character artwork shine. The back cover is a bit brighter in a different way with soft orange hues for the background. Laid on top of it is the summary that covers the basics of the premise as well as several shots from the show. With nothing on the disc besides the feature, and it only being one episode, there isn’t a lot to really get across to the reader. The technical grid is well done along the bottom with clear details as well as the basic production information. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
With nothing on the disc besides the show and some trailers, the menu design is kept minimal but appealing. It uses the same character artwork from the cover but with a different soft background made up of character artwork from other characters done in a soft form. The layout for the navigation is along the left, covering some of this background artwork up, but it has the same flavor and feel as the back cover design. Submenus do load quickly and access times are nice and fast. The disc, like just about every ADV Films release, read our players’ language presets correctly and without issue.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on an idea from Ko Masika, the man who went on to create the Legend of Himiko, Princess Minvera is a simple one-shot fantasy oriented comedy from the mid-nineties. Like a lot of shows done during towards the end of the OVA boom, there isn’t a lot of depth here and the animation doesn’t have quite the polish that a lot of earlier OVAs did at one time. Everything here is simple, fun and with a hefty dose of fanservice included. It’s easy to see similarities to other series in the characters designs, but in the end, it has to stand on its own.
The premise for Princess Minerva and its forty-ish minute runtime is really simple. Minerva is your standard anime heroine princess who wants to have the life of big adventure and fun. Unfortunately, she’s kept inside the castle and can’t do what she wants because of her position. She’s intent on getting out there in the world though and has devised a way of getting a group of bodyguards together that can essentially form a party around her. Utilizing some creative costumes (Cutey Kamen!), Minerva convinces her faithful attendant Blue Morris to take her place as a substitute for various events so she can sneak out of the castle and figure out the best thing to do.
What turns out to be the best idea is to utilize those who excel in a fighting tournament that’s going on at the castle. The tournament finds itself with a number of forced participants however as we’re introduced to a group of women dealing with a thief and getting caught up in each others issues along the way. It’s a fairly motley group with a former cleric, the infamous Lady Death and more. Minerva comes across them early on and she recognizes the potential for them, so when the tournament kicks off she does her best to challenge them, eager to face the Lady Death woman. Nothing really goes to plan though and it’s sort of all scattershot in how it plays out in a way. The intent is for more posing, awkward situations, brief fights and flashes of panties and skin here and there.
In the background of all of this however is something else that’s going on. The evil mage Whisler is intent on kidnapping Minerva so he can start some foul plan of his own. To that end, he’s given one of his servants, a darkly beautiful woman named Dynastar, a special armor in order to carry out his plan. She, in turn, brings in a pair of brightly colored young women to actually capture Minerva, except they don’t know what she looks like. So it’s little surprise that they capture Blue Morris and that causes a big brouhaha as Minerva then must save the woman who has done so much for her. It’s straightforward simple action camp material that can’t really do much more than that because of the short length of the show.
Princess Minerva is one of those shows that certainly looks competent with its animation and design, if a bit by the numbers. The fantasy world doesn’t have anything that stands out and it avoids magic outside of a few scenes where it takes center stage. Much of it is swordplay and conversation pieces, though both feature a good bit of fanservice due to the scantily clad warrior women running around. The characters are all fairly attractive, but I do have some definite affection for designs that come from this period and the traditional animation method. There’s a kind of warmth and fluidity to them that’s different from current animation techniques that is still very appealing to me. This isn’t a bad looking show by any stretch, but it’s a hard sell for younger fans who don’t have the nostalgia and love of this period.
Princess Minerva was one of those very welcome releases from ADV Films as it brought another VHS-only title to DVD at a time when you had so many people that were long, long, done with VHS. The show isn’t anything to really write home about, but it’s a good little piece of fantasy escapist fare with a healthy dose of swords and fanservice. It’s a little glimpse into what the OVA market was turning into at this stage of the decade and it’s not hard to see why companies started pushing more towards shorter run TV shows not long afterward. Princess Minerva is fun and light which is about all that can be said about it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 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: December 2nd, 2008
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.