Sakura Diaries Vol. #2 (of 2) (

By:Mike Dungan
Review Date: Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What They Say
Touma’s a cram-school student which is bad enough, but too add to his problems, he’s told the sexy Meiko he’s a student at the most prestigious university in Tokyo. Between classes at the cram-school and taking tests to get him into college and classes at the university to keep Meiko believing he’s already there, Touma’s life is a mess. To complicate matters even more, he lives with Urara who would gladly do anything he asks, except he hasn’t been interested in asking. But when Touma finds out Meiko has a secret of her own, he just might rethink his priorities. Will true love triumph? Will lust conquer all? Or will everyone just call it a day and go home? Find out in the dramatic conclusion of Sakura Diaries!

The Review!
Touma is finally starting to realize what he means to Urara. But what does she mean to him?

Having watched this show several times in Japanese, I chose to listen to the new English dub, a rare directorial effort by ADV veteran Janice Williams. The soundstage was well used, with a nice flow across the speakers; both left to right and front to back. A spot check of the Japanese dialogue showed that the original audio track is holding up very well. The opening theme “From Your Window” is still one of the prettiest theme songs I’ve ever heard in anime. The show is almost worth getting just for the opening animation and theme song.

With the source material dating back to 1997 and 1998, the video transfer looks excellent. I must admit to a bias for the beauty of full-cel animation, so the style already appeals to me. These OVAs had a good budget, and it shows in how smoothly the animation flows. Colors are soft but full. Everything is distinct, with no noticeable cross-coloration or pixelation.

The cover is another eye-catching one, featuring Urara’s body from the shoulders to mid-thigh, clad only in a tight tank top and denim cut-offs, partially unbuttoned and showing a bit of lavender panties. It’s very simple, but also very sexy. The logo is a simple affair, with a heart-shaped lock hanging off it. The back cover continues the red and white theme, with arrows pointing the reader around the page. Images of Touma, Urara and Mieko are everywhere. The volume number appears on the front cover and the spine. There is no insert. The DVD itself has a cute image of Urara in green against a red background. The credits in the opening animation are identical to the Japanese-language-only Collector’s Edition, but the ending credits are all new, since they need to include the English cast and production personnel. The text used is identical to the previous credits, an unusual but very readable font I don’t recall seeing from ADV, before or since.

The main menu features Urara, lips pursed, looking expectantly at the viewer. The title, episode numbers, language options, extras and preview for volume 2 are laid out in rectangles of varying sizes, using white and yellow text against a dappled red background. It’s very appealing and quite easy to navigate. There is no transition animation to the sub-menus. The menus are an excellent example of less-is-more in graphic design. When you have attractively designed menus that are easy to navigate, you don’t need all the extra bells and whistles.

The cultural notes that were included as an insert in the Collector’s Edition release are included on the disc itself this time. The usual clean opening and closing animations are included, as well as a different, unused ending theme, although the animation is the same. The biggest extra is a fun commentary track that covers the last two episodes, featuring Mariela Ortiz (Urara), Robert Martinez (Touma), Monica Rial (Mieko) and Chris Ayres (Akimoto).

(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Touma’s stupidity at the end of the last volume has hurt Urara, and he’s devastated at what he’s done. The fact that he’s so remorseful and actually thinking about her for once convinces her to forgive him, if he’ll take her on a date to an amusement park, that is. But things get dicey when Mieko wants to see him at the same time. Mashu continues to worm his way between Mieko and Touma, but Mieko is fully aware of what he’s trying to do. Touma’s double life finally gets the better of him, and his secret is revealed, but not before Mieko drops a bombshell on him. Urara is always there, though, and he starts to realize just how much she means to him. But there’s still Mieko, and Touma just can’t get her out of his mind. When Touma finally learns the truth about his living arrangements with Urara, he has a decision to make. While he stay with the little hot-bodied high school girl who loves him, or will he act responsibly and move out so he can concentrate on his studies and pass his college entrance exams?

Sakura Diaries came out during the best years of the OVA market in Japan, and the show still looks great. A good budget and attention to detail are evident in the animation. It’s a soap opera for men, with plenty of fanservice and some truly sexy women in it. Touma continues to be one of the densest men in anime, but at least he’s finally starting to grab a clue here and there. Sadly, there is no real conclusion to the series, with Touma’s decision about moving out or staying marking the end of a story arc, rather than the end of the story. Hopefully one day someone with either commission more anime, or the manga will finally be licensed and translated into English. Until then, this release, the only one with all the animation, complete and uncensored, and the option of an English dub, will have to do.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor commentary,Cultural liner notes,Unused closing theme,Clean opening animation, Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sakura Diaries