Princess Rouge Anime Review
プリンセス ルージュ - Legend of the Last Labyrinth
Princess Rouge: Legend of the Last Labyrinth
US Release By
Love Comedy Fantasy-Action
2 30-minute episodes
Our story starts with average, everyday, orphaned high school student Yuusuke running a little late as he rides to school along a mountain path. You get two guesses what happens to him. No, he's not abducted by aliens, so, of course, a beautiful woman falls out of the sky and hits him--literally. As with most anime guys, he's kind and ends up with her back at his place. The girl, Rouge, doesn't have much in the way of memory, but she's got a whole bunch of people interested in her whereabouts, and (surprise, surprise) she's got sisters...
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Princess Rouge is exactly what it looks like: Yet another sweet, generic love comedy. It goes easy on the comedy and focuses on the sweet end, plus tries to add a little seasoning to the bland recipe by tossing in some action, mystery, and a dash of attitude. It isn't badly done--the visuals are passable, the acting is pretty good in both Japanese and English, and it the story looks like it might amount to something. But in the end, it has no particular good points either, and the story is left unfinished after two episodes.
As is, Princess Rouge is incomplete and unoriginal--if you really enjoy this sort of thing, it might make for an amusing diversion, but it's not worth the time otherwise.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Princess Rouge is yet another generic anime love comedy. It tries to add a little seasoning to the bland recipe by tossing in some action and a dash of attitude, but it's still a warmed-over rehash that never makes it past the first course.
We have here anime love comedy plot #1. I think it's also numbers 2 and 4, but the point is, it's about as standard as they come: Girl falls from sky, starts living with guy, the two awkwardly try to get something going, then her sisters show up. And of course there are usually some bad guys involved in one way or another--in this case, some scheming fellows in armor who send a gloating minion once in a while.
In this version of the tale, the mood is toward the Oh My Goddess! end of the scale, meaning generally less comedy and more old-fashioned sweet. It's also a little darker than average, including some sword-swinging bad guys for excitement. The story has a passable amount of mystery; Rouge may not have any memory, but she seems to be very important, and may not be as much of an innocent as you'd expect. But, since the series is cut short after two episodes, hints are all you'll ever get. So, add frustration to the unoriginality.
Otherwise, there's pretty near nothing out of the ordinary. The characters (all-important to love comedies, particularly severely unoriginal ones) certainly aren't anything to write home about. We have an awkward guy, a sweet girl, and a couple of violent sisters who don't think much of the guy.
About the only thing that distinguishes Princess Rouge at all is that the main couple are a little less innocent than the standard over-sweetened pair. Rouge is an uncommonly wary heroine in distress, and our hero makes several rather amusing wisecracks now and then (these are, in fact, the high point of the whole thing). Not enough to save the series, but it's refreshing to see a kind, innocent male lead with a bit of attitude for once.
The visuals are as generic as the rest of it. The action (there actually is a little) is adequate, the character animation and art are average excepting a couple of brief, expressive moments, and the character designs are generically attractive. In an unusual departure from static character design Rouge gets a haircut between the episodes, except she looks better unshorn. The only notably nice-looking thing is some pretty mountain and forest scenery, but the rest of the backdrops are bland and undetailed.
Lastly, we have the acting. In Japanese, Shiho Kikuchi's Rouge is very appealing--sweet but not too innocent. Her English counterpart, Juliet Cesario, is also good. The hero, Yuusuke, doesn't fair quite as well cross-linguistically; his wisecracks work in both languages, but while Wataru Takagi gives him an amusing, exasperated tone in Japanese, Scott Simpson's voice is too nasal in English. Most of the minor characters are passable in both languages, with the best and worst standouts (both in English) being a particularly impressive, studly rendition of the bad fellow in episode 2 and some terribly-acted minions hanging around the main bad guy. The music is light and unremarkable.
In all, Princess Rouge is exactly what it looks like: Yet another sweet love comedy. It goes easy on the comedy and focuses on the sweet end, plus throws in a bit of mystery and some action. It isn't badly done, but it has no particular good points either, so at best it would been an amusing diversion if the story had been completed. As is, it's incomplete and unoriginal--if you really enjoy this sort of thing, you might like it, but it's not worth the time otherwise.
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A lot like every other love comedy of this sort, but particularly similar to the pleasantly romantic Oh My Goddess!, which is much better. On the more action-oriented side, it has a little in common with Tenchi Muyo, which is also much better. It also reminded me of MAPS for some reason; they share a little of the same feel, though the stories are wildly different.
Notes and Trivia
Princess Rouge is an original concept by Aoi Takeuchi, a musician, composer, and occasional writer best known, anime-wise, as the creator of the Voogie's Angels franchise.
In addition to the Japanese LD and VHS releases of Princess Rouge, there were also two radio drama CDs released, as well as a soundtrack CD and a CD single of the end theme. Unlike the US, it has never seen a DVD release in Japan.
All of the Japanese videos and CDs, interestingly, have the title written in English exactly as it appears on the US VHS release: "Princess Rouge" (with a heart for the o) and the full English subtitle "Legend of the Last Labyrinth." There's sometimes a little caption showing how to pronounce "Princess Rouge," but that's it as far as Japanese text. AnimeWorks' DVD release just used the subtitle, "Legend of the Last Labyrinth," for some reason, although their VHS version had the full title.
There are a couple of other, completely unrelated, things also titled Princess Rouge; a hentai video that predated this series by a year or two, and a much more recent manga series.
US DVD Review
The DVD, one of AnimeWorks' earliest, is a basic production. The video transfer is somewhat soft but passable. Oddly, it doesn't use soft subtitles--instead, there are two different "angle" video tracks, one of which has the subtitles hard-coded. This is the only DVD I've seen that done on, but it does work (and means that the credits match the appropriate language without hassle). Both audio tracks are nicely separated stereo. By way of special features, the disc includes still images and a lame-sounding but rather amusing extra: Several scenes from the show, but with the dub actors "taking creative license," shall we say. Those are the funniest thing on the disc, and worth a look.
Oh, and one more thing. For some reason, the DVD uses only the series' subtitle "Legend of the Last Labyrinth," rather confusing since the actual series (and the VHS version) is called "Princess Rouge." Don't ask me.
A few awkward moments, some underwear, and moderate violence add up to a 13-up, perhaps less if you're lenient.
Violence: 2 - Not gory, but it is straight and a couple of people die.
Nudity: 1 - Underwear (male and female).
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Nothing at all explicit.
Language: 1 - Not much in the sub at least.