Sakura Diaries Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2000
What They Say
Since the red-hot redhead Meiko only hangs with college studs, Touma tells her he got into Keio. Now all he's gotta do is show up at classes he's not enrolled in and takes tests he'll never pass. But preppy Mashu's also got the hots for Meiko, and he's not buying Touma's alleged academia. Love struck Urara knows he's lying too, and she'll still do anything to have Touma. But if she confronts him, will Touma come clean? Or will his anger take on a dangerous sexual edge?
Find out. Because in this scorching chapter of Sakura Diaries, somebody's gonna get burned.
Building upon the wacky sexual humor of the first couple of episodes, this second set of three episodes takes it up a few more notches and then throws a complete monkey wrench into the works.
Sakura Diaries contains the usual suspects when it comes to audio tracks, the English and Japanese languages. The Japanese track sounded quite good and the English track sounded decent, though there felt like there was more of a hollowness to the voices than in some other ADV shows. The music continues to be a highlight in this series for me. The opening song is just very addictive!
The video is quite a mixed bag. Some pieces throughout look absolutely great. Solid colors and completely artifact free. Others look grainy and cause things like the walls to seem like they're alive or some of the faces exhibit the same problem. Overall though, much like the first disc, it's a soft transfer. I took a peek at the first disc again under the HDTV and noticed the same kind of problems there. Since its authored by the same company (Sakura Diaries hasn't shifted to the new authoring houses yet), it's not surprising it exhibits the same kinds of issues. If you were okay with the first release, expect more of the same. If you weren't happy with it, expect more of the same.
I do have to admit, I'm a real sucker for the cover art being used for these discs. As far as attractive anime characters go, Urara is high on my list and these covers simply validate that. I'm very pleased to see that they're continuing to use the art used from the Japanese laserdisc covers as well. Definitely an eye grabber on the shelf.
The menus are pretty basic but have some of the features people love in that episodes are easy to get to and selections are accessed very quickly. Even better, ADV's discs continue to read the presets on my Pioneer player for Japanese language and English subtitles, so I only visit that submenu for review purposes. The main menu uses a cropped version of the front cover, while there's minimal artwork used elsewhere in the submenus.
Extras continue to be bleak on this release, though the only one I'm really crying out for is a textless opening. Hopefully one of the two discs left will have it.
Talk about a trio of wild ride episodes. This show goes all over the place with the characters and begins to change the dynamic of it all. It's quite rare that at the end of an episode, I really start disliking a character. But Sakura Diaries has caused that to happen!
Please note that the content review is for the Japanese language version. The English language version seems at times to be a completely different show and a fair bit coarser in the language and approach. Perhaps it should have been marketed like Sin, with two distinct storylines?
Things start off with Meiko showing off her new boyfriend Touma at a college party. Touma's trying to cover as best as he can and consuming mass quantities at the same time. Naturally a lot of the men are jealous of him, most notably Mashu, who is also taking economics at Keio. Well, not really "also" as Touma's not really taking the course. Mashu pushes hard in talking about the courses and instructors, but Touma somehow manages to squeak by in passing off bad yet somewhat acceptable answers.
Mashu later meets up with Meiko and quizzes her a bit about Touma, and she oddly admits to Touma merely being a buddy of sorts and nothing more and then proceeds to set up a date, albeit in a group, with Mashu! And he tells her to bring Touma along! I couldn't believe it!
Later on, having felt not up to the task of being what Meiko may need in bed, Touma decides to start looking for a girl in his cram school to fool around with, so he'll be less of an embarrassment with Meiko when he finally gets to be with her intimately. And wouldn't you know it, just that day Urara signs up for her own college prep classes as she's graduating in another year.
Amazingly enough, Touma actually starts thinking about his now grown-up cousin as someone he can practice with prior to Meiko. Things continue to build up from there with the two playing a variety of games that lead up to the actual moment. A moment where things change quite dramatically for both of them.
The follow-up to it in the next episode is rather well done, as we start to see more of both characters pasts and what motivates Urara's love for Touma. I'm looking forward to seeing how things change in the coming episodes compared to the beginning, but I'm not sure whose corner I'm in rooting for anymore.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+/B-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sakura Diaries