Yusuke, an orphan, literally has Rouge, the amnesiac oldest daughter of the Underworld's deposed royal family, fall out of the sky into his lap. She is soon followed by her two younger sisters and also their family's enemies. Rouge must decide if she wants her memory to return, while Yusuke must deal with the upheavals in his life the Princesses have caused.
First of all, this is my absolute favorite OVA out there so yes, this review might be a wee bit biased...but I honestly do think it's a true piece of art that could only come from Japan.
Second, and this is very important: this anime was never finished. A lot of OVAs and anime-from-manga adaptations often get bad reviews because they get discontinued, thus the plot never gets wrapped up.
I feel it is VERY unfair to judge an anime on this, because doing so misses the point entirely.
When anime is reviewed, no matter how many episodes there are, these are the most important questions to
*Am I entertained?
*Do I care about the characters?
*Do I understand what's going on/really want to know?
*Do I feel there was effort put into this?
*Would I be disappointed to not see more of this?
While watching Princess Rouge, I found myself saying a definite "YES" to all of these questions. Thus I'm reviewing this lovely piece for what it is instead of what it could have been.
Why so high when there is so little?
Because that's how badly you want to know the rest of it!
At first glance, Princess Rouge is criticized as an Oh My Goddess! rip-off, stereotypical "Magical Girlfriend" anime, thus regarded to be rather low-brow.
Honestly, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Yes, our ordinary everyday "nice guy" protagonist finds a girl of mysterious origin. Yes, she ends up living with him. Yes, there is romance sprinkled between them, along with comedic hijinks and misunderstandings.
But this series adds in its own flavor, with plenty of darker undertones, shoujo-esque designs, interactions, and backstories, a somewhat unique setting (Rouge's homeland) and most notable of all, extremely little fanservice so you feel like you're being treated to an actual story instead of the loser male fantasy that a lot of Magical Girlfriend anime are notoriously known for. In fact, it does this so well, you won't even feel like you're watching a Magical Girlfriend anime. This aspect really makes the OVA stand out and shine.
For starters, Rouge and Yuusuke's fated meeting is handled rather well. They don't get along RIGHT away; in fact it seems that she is going to become a burden on him. Yuusuke is an orphan. Typical. But for once, FOR ONCE, he is one of those incredibly rare anime orphans who lives on his own and is shown to really struggle with paying the rent. Why don't more anime orphan boys who get girls to live with them have this problem? Simple: "the creators don't think that's important"
Lol, the hell if it isn't!!
Secondly, a lot of the tired, less desirable cliches you think you might see in this genre are widely ignored: Yuusuke doesn't take Rouge in because he's a geek who longs for a sexy girlfriend; he takes her in because she needs help. The girl is soaked and unconscious, but the ecchi cliche of "uh-oh, gotta undress her!" (to just provide an opportunity for fan-service) is done away with-for Yuusuke asks his landlady to undress the girl instead, off-screen. Now Rouge still gets the whole "omg I'm naked-what-the-hell-pervert" lawl misunderstanding scene between Yuusuke and herself but this is handled well too: no female-on-male violence-just a rather amusing argument between the two....which results in Rouge crying because she realizes her memory is gone and she feels frightened and helpless. Also, only her bare shoulders and back are seen because her very long, thick hair covers her chest. Points for this.
There is another scene where she is having a nightmare (still fully undressed) and Yuusuke (almost fully undressed himself) runs into the room when she screams. Instead of getting angry and punching him for seeing her naked, the two embrace each other. This is a very realistic reaction when a girl is actually terrified and confused. The scene is very short but it's touching, guaranteed to generate an "aww" from whoever's watching.
Consider me impressed.
And yet another. Take the REALLY tired, oops,-we-just-tripped-and-fell-on-top of-each-other *blush* gimmick used to create chemistry between a hesitant couple, turn it around into girl-falls-instead and turn the falling down into an accidental hug before a most appropriate reaction and you've got three minutes of something really really REALLY downright adorable.
Consider me VERY impressed.
Anyway, I am not going to spoil anything else as far as plot goes except with the focus of it being on Rouge's true origin instead of cheap romance comedy cliches keeps it fresh, gripping, and mysteriously intriguing. You'll just be heartbroken that we don't get a conclusion.
The art is gorgeous.
It really is. The backgrounds are so detailed, the colors are beautiful and warm. The character designs are rather unique. All the girls are slender-figured, have lovely, long, thick hair and are color-coded for your convenience. Their princess dresses are just as lovely and full of contrasting colors to their hair and eyes and you can tell they were well thought-out.
This shoujo-esque art style in my opinion, makes the series even more charming and far less catering to a male audience who want to see scantily-clad girls with D or F cups.
Sadly, the second episode's art style changes completely. I love the first episode's much more. But this doesn't make it bad either. The characters just look different which is one of my biggest pet peeves with 90s anime. Pushing that aside, the quality doesn't go down. It just changes.
I fell in love with the sweet, mellow little theme song we are treated to by Rouge's actual seiyuu, Shiho-chan, the first time I heard it. Instrumental versions are played throughout the episodes in different styles, ranging from light to heavy and sorrowful to accompany the mood of the respected scenes. There are completely silent moments as well, which I think is a good way for anime to grab your attention. The music for action scenes (yes, there are a handful) is appropriately dramatic.
The seiyuu are excellent too. Everyone matches everyone well and the acting is good. Shiho is insufferably adorable as Rouge in particular.
I don't know if I'd call Yuusuke particularly interesting...because to be honest, he's quite typical. He certainly isn't a pervert....but he doesn't get embarrassed enough to push Rouge away if she hugs him. He is kind and lightly affectionate to her so it is pretty evident to both that they have feelings for each other. He does take responsibility for his actions and he does try to protect Rouge to the best of his ability instead of standing around whining "I just want a normal life". It is made clear that he misses his parents and thinks of them a lot. It is kind of heart-warming to hear him refer to Rouge as his family and the line "The thought of losing her scares me more than anything".
Rouge is a lot more interesting...because we know so very little about her, nor can you look at her and figure her personality out right away. It's possible, even hinted at that she has a completely different one with her memories intact. She is curious about the strange new world around her but she is also afraid and she is perceptive and suspicious when people are lying to her-she will even call them out for it. While she is cute in both looks and mannerisms, she is no dreamy sex goddess for fanboys to drool over and this gives her character quite the advantage to be realistic and worth getting to know.
Rouge's sisters are pretty cool. Kaige's backstory is excellent and really saves the second episode from most of its noteworthy flaws. At first you think she's just the tomboyish, temperamental red-head stereotype who is quick to throw punches but she actually has a very sensitive and girlish side to her, revealed to us in a tragic way. Not much can be said for Meige (we don't get to her backstory in time). You can just tell she's the most calm and level-headed of the princesses; the voice of reason.
The side characters aren't really worth talking about much. The villain is the worst one of the bunch. He's just a cold-hearted bastard with no trace of humanity and a really annoying laugh. But he doesn't get much screentime so that's okay. His henchmen are more intriguing characters.
Most people will definitely be sucked into this anime within the first ten minutes because it really shrouds itself in mystery and the dark fantasy elements should be quite appealing to some who are looking for something heavier than a rom-com. Even if you don't like boy-meets-strange-girl-from-another-world stories, you might find yourself pleasantly enchanted and wishing deeply that the creator, Aoi Takeuchi had been able to finish Princess Rouge.
On the bright side, there are DRAMA CDS. And I am proud to own the first one. :D Still trying to hunt down the second.
Princess Rouge is the better definition of mediocre. The story is a harem with the typical plot ordinary boy found amnesiac superpowered girl. This has become pretty common since the Oh! My Goddess' success, but, despite some good examples of this plot that can turned into some great titles (Chobits, Elfen Lied), this is not one of them.
First of all, the characters. Many people say that, to have a good show, you must have good characters. There's actually more things, but have good characters is important. This show fails at that. Your ordinary MC is too ordinary to be interesting the most remarkable thing
about is that he's an orphan, and all the rest of the characters are bland, since the innocent but so powerful she doesn't know magical girlfriend, to the two sisters, one who is a Naru Narusegawa's clone in character and personality, and the other who at lest is nicer than her sister, and don't forget the awful crybaby annoying human girl who has a crush on the main character, and when he discover he has a girlfriend, she runs and cry, because how he dares to have a girlfriend? She even send her friends to beat him. Hilarious high-comedy, ladies and gentleman.
The humor is pretty Love Hina-style, guy lives with a bunch of girls and awkward things happens, and the male lead is beaten up in a pretending to be funny slapstick way, but it's not even bad enough to criticize it. It's just boring. There's some scene we could call fanservice, but i don't think anyone who could have a bonner with scenes so lame, repetitive and unoriginal.
But this is not only an harem. Much harems and ecchi shows try to hide what they are with a premise to another genre. It's also a fantsy magical girl warrior show, the female lead and her sisters are the lost princesses from the underworld, whose family has been killed and they run away, and the big bad want them to...kill them? release some mysthical sword we never see or get an explantion why is sealed and the villain want it? The fights are as boring as the comedy, and the villains are really uninteresting. The main villain is your typical dark lord we never get what his motivation was, and his minions are really lazily written. We're supposed to care about a villain dude who died in the second episode, but how can i give a fuck about someone who has appeared only in one episode and his story was writting in a really clumsy and lazy way, with clueless flash-backs shown too late to make people empathize.
The art is your typical late 90s style you could have seen at shows like Slayers or Saber Marionette J. The music is that cheesy 80s music that sounds extremely dated, even more if you think this OVA got released at 1998.
Princess Rouge is a pretty obscure and forgotten title. Actually, in the scale of anime obscurity's TV Tropes page, is on level 6, the highest obscurity level possible, and not even the japanese Wikepedia has the title listed in the J.C. Staff's page. But with a good reason. It's that kind of forgetteable. It's not even awful worth it. Just a mediocre show that attempted to try to have a level of success because similar shows succeded.