Sakura Wars (Mania.com)

By:Frederic Badin
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 26, 1999



The Review!
Hi. This is my first review. My name is Frederic Badin, and while I've never posted on the forum (I can't, don't ask), I can be seen idling in the chat room (irc channel), as Dragonbeast (Db). I have been watching anime for a few years now, mainly fansubs, but more recently DVDs, which I've started to collect. Thanks to captylor for the help, input, double-checking and proofreading.

This is going to be mainly a technical review, as I've only watched episode 1 as of yet. Seeing as
this show is called Sakura Taisen and Sakura wars, I will refer to it throughout this review as just
Sakura, not to be confused with Card Captor Sakura. I was a little bit apprehensive at first, this being my first video-game-anime purchase, and also the first disc from ADV. (This can be politically correctly read as: My first disc from ADV, or more sarcastically as ADV's first "real" anime Disc).

The packaging is pretty eye-catching, and pleasing. It looks better then the picture of it at an angle
as can be seen here. The disc itself looks pretty boring, with a flat purple design. The DVD Video
symbol that is usually to be seen on all DVDs seems to be slightly different on this package, with DVD
and the oval underneath, but with the word video nowhere to be found. Maybe they just messed up and it's white on white. The disc comes in the now-standard Amaray keep case, which is good. The insert is a simple double-sided piece of paper, and while the back side has ADV upcoming DVD ads, the front side is a full-size group picture of the characters, and looks very nice. It does not list the chapters, more on this later.

The menu is very nice, with the very good Sakura music and some animation in the background, full
screen, which changes according to which page of the menu you're on. Unfortunately the music does skip when you press an option or when you change menu page. I don't know whether that can be helped.

Which brings me to the video quality, which is very good overall, just a little bit of jitter and rainbow colors on difficult to encode parts. The colors are bright and crisp, good, but not the best.

The subtitles are well-chosen, very nice font, I would say better then Pioneer's old font, on the level of Pioneer's new font (seen in Tenchi Forever and Lain: Deus).

Moving along to the soundtrack, I listened mainly to the Japanese track, which is DD 2.0. I switched
over briefly to the English track to see how the foreign languages were handled, and while it's definitely not as good, I suppose it can pass. There is some usage of foreign languages (Chinese and French) in episode 1, and that is handled pretty nicely, with video subtitles in English at the bottom, and nihongo (Japanese) on the sides, either right or left. The foreigner which speaks English on the Japanese track speaks English with a Russian accent on the English track. The English track which is also DD 2.0 seems to be slightly (quite a bit?) louder.

The opening has an alternate angle, and while the icon does show up, and is distracting (that could
probably be turned off, depending on the DVD player), the alternate angle itself does not seem to do anything. I've switched between the two numerous times, looking for a difference, but there seems to be none. The encoding for that scene looks to be a little bit weaker. Is this a dud? An error? A
misprint?

I was also shocked to discover that the choice of language and subtitles is reset at every episode.
This will not be an issue to people listening to the dub, as it resets to the discs' default of English track and no subtitles, but it's still a flaw in my book. Testing further, even when I memorize the settings with the Condition feature, it seems to loose track of it.

And the problems continue: the last memo feature of my DVD player can't seem to want to work, the
player says (by displaying an icon) that it can't memorize the location to resume from there later. It also fails to display the running time or time remaining, or any kind of time at all. I suspect that these two issues are tied. Quite a problem, if you aren't going to see it in one setting, and if you don't like hunting around for where you were. Which brings me to my next issue, the navigation problems. The episodes seem to be cut in small chunks, with many chapter stops. Except that the player doesn't seem to display what chapter/title you're switching to, which it can do on all my other discs, and there don't seem to be as many steps forwards as backwards. What I mean is that you may have to press skip-forward 4 times to get to the next episode, but from the next episode, going back to the beginning of the previous episode only requires two skips backwards.

On a side note, this disc has frozen in my DVD player, which no disc before it has ever managed before. I wasn't going to mention this, as it only happened once, but I was talking about it with captylor, and since it happened on his setup also, in about the same location, I mention it here. We both have Pioneer 414 DVD Players, his is version 2.264/4 AV1:3.2'C', and mine is 2.274/4 AV1:3.32'C'.

This DVD was produced by A.D.Vision, and this does not bode well for their upcoming discs. The
authoring and compression was done by AIX Media, and they seemed to go a good job, and Captions, Inc. did the subtitles, which seemed fine, timing included.

So while I wanted this disc to be good, and I wanted to like Sakura, it left me a bitter taste in my mouth. It also prompted me to write my first DVD review ever. Each of the categories looked at separately could earn an A, but this is definitely not a straight-A disc.



Review Equipment
Toshiba 32CZ51 32" TV, Pioneer 414 DVD Player, using ColorSteam component for video.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sakura Wars / Sakura Taisen