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Princess Army
Wedding Combat
Synopsis | Review

I came upon Princess Army when I was looking for romantic shoujo anime. It originated from a manga series of the same title by Kitagawa Miyuki.

The anime is composed of 2 OAVs. It's one of those shows that entice people to read the manga. The manga is 12 volumes long, which means that what's shown in the anime is just the tip of the iceberg. Also, from what I understand, the anime people tacked on a fiance, who never appeared in the manga. I'd go read the manga myself and review this under Shoujo Manga, but unfortunately. the manga is not licensed in the U.S. To make matters worse, two scanlating groups picked up this project and dropped it after the first volume, which essentially covers the OAVs.

As I watch Princess Army a second time (because I have horrible memory like that), I found myself desperately searching teh Intarweb for any more English information about its manga. It's that damned promising.

Synopsis
As a child, Aida Nonoka was almost attacked by a drunk man but was saved by two boys. Fast forward 11 years, and we find Nonoka an accomplished judo player. She's surrounded by guys most of the time, such as her three brothers and her judo teammates. Her family owns a dojo, where her team practices whenever the school's dojo is not available.

Nonoka is drawn to two guys. One is Hashiba Yuya, who is her schoolmate and also a good judo player. The other is Oda Shinobu, who is also Nonoka's schoolmate and whom she considers a good friend. Shinobu is quite skilled at the piano.

One day, their quaint little love triangle changes. Nonoka's childhood friend, Ichijo Hajime, visits from Poland with his father. The two of them shock Nonoka and her brothers by revealing that they would like to see Hajime and Nonoka married. Oh, but this is not just the Ichijos' idea. It turns out that Nonoka's father, on his deathbed, asked Hajime's father to ensure that Nonoka will become his daughter-in-law.

Hajime is very good looking (in that 80s sort of way) and a skilled judo player who can kick Yuya's ass. He makes it clear that he desires Nonoka, and he openly challenges Yuya and Shinobu to take her away from him. Nonoka is perversely pleased at the attention that Hajime lavishes on her, but she secretly hopes that Yuya and Shinobu would do something to break their engagement. She is quite upset that neither of them would do anything.

Things come to a head when Hajime's father proposes to take Nonoka to Poland to provide her with quality judo training (and to ensure that his son won't have any competition from Yuya and Shinobu). He and his son took Nonoka's slightest indication of interest as willingness, and they proceeded to make the engagement official and to take Nonoka back with them to Poland.

Yuya crashes the engagement ceremony and challenges Hajime to a match. Winner takes Nonoka. Hajime agrees. The match commences, and it is clear that it is only a matter of time before Hajime wins. Then Shinobu shows up at the dojo. During a break, he tells Yuya to aim for Hajime's vulnerable point. Yuya does so and wins the match.

Nonoka is ecstatic at how Yuya and Shinobu worked together to save her from Hajime's perverted clutches. The OAV ends with Nonoka and Yuya back at school. Hajime returned to Poland but promised Nonoka that he will come back for her. The two of them stop by the music room so that Yuya can thank Shinobu. But then they find Hajime, instead of Shinobu, at the piano. Evidently, Hajime planned on coming back for Nonoka sooner than they thought.

Review
I like this anime, and I am sorely disappointed that the manga is not available in English. It is another reminder that I really should learn Japanese because I'm missing out on all these great stories. I'm very intrigued with Shinobu. He's hot, and there seems to be more (sexual) tension between him and Nonoka than between Yuya and Nonoka. Yuya is just too emotional to take seriously.

The closest I can come to the manga is its wonderful translations by Ms. Karen Duffy. In the manga, Nonoka eventually takes the gold at the Olympics and ends up with one of her two guys. I'm sure you can look up the rest yourself ;).

In the manga, it is also revealed that both Yuya and Shinobu saved Nonoka from that drunk years ago. Shinobu protected Nonoka while Yuya delivered a morote (at least I think it's a morote) to the attacker. Back then, Shinobu was a judo genius not unlike Nonoka. But the incident injured him and prevented him from playing judo again. Yuya got into judo becase of Shinobu. He escaped from the incident with a scar on his head, which is probably why he wears a blue headband all the time.

The anime primarily shows Nonoka as a girl torn between three suitors. Maybe that's why I really like it. I have a weakness for male harem series, or love triangles that involve one girl and two guys. However, I really like the judo undertones. It gives her more depth. The characteristics of the three guys are pretty cliche, but I'm okay with that. There's the guy who can't keep his grimy paws to himself (Hajime), the guy who secretly loves the girl and gets all emotional and violent when another guy makes a move on her (Yuya), and the guy who secretly loves the girl but acts cold towards her (Shinobu).

The anime artwork is okay. It has that distinctive '80s-'90s anime style to it (oi, shoulderpads galore). The opening song is also nice. In sum, this anime is a nice, hour-long interlude. But if you're the type who MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, this may give you sleepless nights.

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