What They Say:
Since Satogahama High School was an all-girls school until recently, they’ve never even had a boys baseball team. Arihara Tsubasa isn’t the kind of girl who waits for boy’s to lead the way, however, so she makes an unauthorized announcement that the Girls’ Baseball Team is seeking members! But that was the easy part!
Now she has to find the four other girls required to form a school club, and then four more girls to make a team. At least Arihara’s best friend, Tomoe, can fill one position, but then they’ll have to get creative. If that means co-opting cheerleaders, student council members, reporters from the school paper and even an archrival from Junior High, then so be it! They’re not running away from the ball; they’re fielding it and running for home!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in its stereo form encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that’s mostly dialogue based with some exaggerated moments of that with a mild bit of “action-ish” material. So it’s a fairly straightforward kind of design that the encoding captures well. The forward soundstage has its moments of directionality from time to time and there are some amusing bits where placement and depth are useful, but for the most part it’s the kind of mix that’s not all that noticeable but is certainly serviceable and gets the job done without issue. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback as everything played through cleanly and clearly.
Originally airing in 2019, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format, giving it plenty of room as it’s a monolingual release. Animated by TMS Entertainment, the show has a solid enough look as it captures the design and style of the source material itself which wasn’t going for anything really stylized or unique. The character animation gets more of the attention with some good design work and color quality that has some real pop along the way, but the transfer handles the various red hued scenes with the sunsets very well. The small moments of vibrancy are really nice and I definitely like how the character designs turned out as they’re fairly fluid when needed and have some good color quality and solidity to them.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs without hinges. The front cover uses the familiar key visual artwork that places some of our leads against the ballfield which looks good in the background even if it isn’t quite clear at first glance, which actually draws you in a bit more. The logo along the top is pretty nice with the sunflower aspect of it and I like the flow and design of the logo in general. The back cover brings the spring colors around with soft blues, greens, and yellows as we get more team character artwork along with a small selection of shots from the show. The premise is fleshed out well but the font is smaller than my eyes care for at times so it’s not exactly a favorite in presentation. The production credits are broken out as well as the extras while the technical grid along the bottom covers the release clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is simple but cute and effective as we get the static key visual material for each disc. The spring colors and the details for the character designs work well and the whole thing feels like it’s busy enough without being too much, letting you be drawn in easily by it. The navigation is kept along the right side of the screen where we get a nicely stylized blocking system in vertical form that breaks down the episodes by number and title with the colors of the series. The layout is simple and easy to use and with no language submenus and nothing but the show itself on the first disc it has a very clean and almost elegant design about it that’s problem free.
The only extras included with this release are the original Japanese promos. Sadly, there are not clean opening and closing sequences which must have been held back for some legal reason.
Based on the app game that was released in 2017 which in turn saw a couple of novels, a manga, and some light net animation, Cinderella Nine is a twelve-episode anime series that aired as part of the spring 2019 season. The series came right at baseball season time when it aired so it had a bit of a built-in audience on a couple of levels as there are always those sports fans that just watch anything for a particular sport. Make it all about cute girls and you can win some fans there as well. Animated by TIMS Entertainment, it was Jin Tanaka handling the scripts and had Susumo Kudo directing. Kudo’s not unfamiliar with sports anime, having worked on Hoops Days previously, a series I enjoyed a lot, but he’s been involved with a slew of shows and has a good eye for things. That made this work a bit better since it’s mostly a character show with the trappings of baseball in order to drive it all home.
The premise of the show is a template that we’ve seen before but it’s pretty well-executed. At the start of the school year, we see how a pair of freshmen are trying to revive the baseball team there that the two of them have formed. The club is obviously small with just the two of them so it lacks pretty much everything it needs to get underway. With some shameless self-promotion during the entrance ceremony and then heavy plugging to other new arrivals, the pair luck out in two other first-years find themselves drawn to the club, kind of accidentally at that. Tsubasa and Tomoe have been best friends for a while and that makes it easy for them to work together to recruit. That they happen upon the more introverted students in Yuki and Akane makes it easy to kind of just push the encounter in that direction, encouraging them to show up at the meeting the next day. Which in turn becomes something that helps them start really forming the team.
The idea works well as both Tsubasa and Tomoe have the right attitude in that they want to play but they want to have fun. So just playing catch with the introverts and newbies makes the whole thing accessible and fun. Akane only wanted to be the team manager though so it’s a bit longer for her to get fully on board, which is fun since she wears a cat-eared jacket all the time and has all the moe the show needs, but there’s a good bond formed between these girls early on. It’s through them that we see them getting things going with an advisor that helps them get a field to play in but they have to weed it first. They slowly gain additional members, such as Waka who played when she was younger and got inspired by seeing how this group operates. And as time goes on and their profile rises in general, they become a “real” club as they hit the numbers they meet with additional players and it’s delightful seeing them go from just playing catch to getting full club funding. It’s not like they get “real” baseball club money like schools designed around the sport, but they’re able to really get involved and it unfolds in a natural way without much in the way of true challenges.
The dynamic also plays out when the show works through some of the competitive play. Tsubasa’s got a rivalry with Ryo whose team was built, like many, around winning. That’s a poor way of phrasing it but the reality is that even though Tsubasa’s club is one that wants to win they also want to have fun, first and foremost. Ryo’s team is one where it’s intense and hardcore, which is what makes up most teams, to be honest. That’s what makes watching Tsubasa’s team enjoyable because it’s almost like a pick-up game but not quite. The rivalry is one that has Tsubasa’s club playing well but also pushing them to reach their potential more all while trying to balance the fun of it all. It’s the main challenge that comes to the forefront as it moves along and it often combines with various personality aspects, focusing on Tsubasa and Tomoe, and what they really want out of their team. There’s lots of baseball along the way and the friendship side definitely helps a lot of them build their skillsets well and to feel like they’re accomplishing things, which plays to the moe side smoothly.
With some fun at training camp that leads into the main tournament that takes up the last three episodes, Cinderella Nine does a solid job of building its storyline. Since it’s based on the game but has other material to touch upon with as well, the storyline here is template-driven but one that’s put together with some solid talent behind it. It delivers the kind of feel-good baseball material you want where there are tough moments within the games themselves to watch as the girls have to push themselves but it also knows that at its core it’s the bond between them that is the real draw. The baseball side isn’t just a trapping used here but a key part of it all and it’s a lot of fun to watch play out as the team deals with going from two plays to a big tournament with a real challenge. Sentai’s release is solid throughout where it delivers a great looking show in a straightforward package, making it an easy pickup for fans of both the sport and this style show. We may not get a lot of shows like this in particular but I’m definitely glad that this one can be owned.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 14th, 2020
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.