Sakura Wars (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 26, 1999
I must admit I have a soft spot for Stream punk. From Sterling's and Gibson's Difference Engine, GDW's Space 1889 Role-playing game and Chaykin's Ironwolf comic series, I love retro technology, with its dropforged technology and a more polite character mindset (Think Emma with Mecha)
Sakura Wars almost fits the bill. The characterizations where generally strong, the technology cool (if under utilized) and the artwork of the series visually bright and cheerfully. The background of the alternative Tokyo of 1919 is believable and full of possibilities.
The problem with the show is twofold. Firstly the characterizations where well set up, then messily executed. Whole plot points where ignored, and the enemy motivations not clearly explained. Secondly, events from the second episode seemed rush, as if they where given a quota of 4 episodes to tell a story that could have taken longer (even a TV Series).
Again, it looks like the makers where focused on servicing the game's fans, not the public. It is obvious (even though I have no idea on how the game works, or even seen it), that Sakura Wars has a rich background (events of the first Demon war is only ever alluded too, and that Tokyo is an important goal for the Demons), yet the person off the street has no idea on why people from around the world are defending Tokyo. At least there was no blatant nudity or other gratuitous violence that Game tie ins normally use to sell videos.
Would I see a (possible) TV series of Sakura Wars. Maybe. There is a story struggling to get out of this DVD, and if the producers take some time in fleshing out the background, Sakura Wars could be another Evangelion (and possibly have a understandable ending!).
If you like steampunk, there is a lot here for you. All other fans, watch the first 2 episodes, and hope the proposed Sakura Wars TV picks up from here.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sakura Wars / Sakura Taisen