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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 44.95
  • Running time: 265
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sakura Diaries

Sakura Diaries Collectors Edition

By Chris Beveridge     December 04, 2001
Release Date: December 04, 2001


Sakura Diaries Collectors Edition
© ADV Films


What They Say
Urara likes Touma. Touma likes Meiko. Meiko might like Touma, but Meiko will only date a college boy. So what's an under achiever like Touma to do? Well, if you're Touma, you'll lie and say you got into the most prestigious university possible.
And if you're Urara, will you keep his secret? Or will you use that secret to ruin his chances with the other girl?

From famed manga creator Ujin comes a steamy new tale of love on the school campus.

This is a 2-disc collection containing all 12 episodes of the original, uncut Japanese language version with optional English subtitles that includes explicit scenes previously seen only on the Japanese laser disc release of Sakura Tsuushin.

The Review!
This is it, the series that detractors said would never be released by ADV. Well, the crow can be eaten because fans of this show will not be disappointed by this release.
Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Of course, that's also all that's provided, as the show's original dub cannot be used with this rather reworked version of the show. And due to its limited appeal nature, a new dub wasn't considered cost efficient to produce. But for fans of this show in its original language, you get what you expect here with a good stereo soundtrack with most dialogue being center channel based. There's little standout material here since so much of it is just basic dialogue.

Video:
A lot has changed since the release of the original edition with ADV and their DVD mastering, and it shows here. I'm not sure how much difference there really can be in the source materials since these contain new scenes and changed animation, but the change in their authoring houses alone has provided a substantial improvement in quality. The general softness is gone with a much sharper looking picture and some more vibrant colors in many scenes. There's still some softness in places as dictated by the shows intent, but the transfer here is otherwise excellent. Chapter stops are in proper places and the original title cards are here with soft-subs for translations. Next episode previews don't exist here, but contain the original laserdisc next-disc previews at the end of every other episode, as there were six LD's released for the series.

Packaging:
Presented in a great alpha double keepcase, this collectors edition sports a fantastically gorgeous picture of Urara in a red outfit with it flowing around her. The back cover has a number of animation shots and a good summary of the show. Features are nice and clearly listed as well as the production info. The insert provides liner notes for the episodes where some interesting cultural references are made, though the one for episode five ends up getting cut off. But there's a lot of interesting things here that help make some of the more obscure lines make sense. And there's more new Urara artwork on each side too!

Menus:
The menus are fairly similar to the original edition, with simple red static screens with character animation and the opening them in instrumental playing along with it. Moving around the menus is nice and easy and there isn't even a language selection, since it defaults to Japanese with subtitles.

Extras:
While there aren't a ton of extras, we do get some good ones here. The first one is the previously mentioned liner notes which are always a plus with a show that delves into the Japanese culture. We also get the clean opening and ending from the series as well as the bonus one. The bonus ending uses the same ending animation but with a different male-sung piece of music. It's interesting, but I definitely prefer the one that they went with. ADV also included the trailer they made for the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sakura Diaries is an interesting case study in licensing. Let me quote Jim Lazar of Anime Prime who did a lot of research on this:

"There appears to be two versions of Sakura Diaries that were released/shown in Japan: One that was released on Japanese home video and one that was shown on late night Japanese TV. According to CDJAPAN, the Japanese LDs were apparently released between 5/21/1997 and ending on 10/22/1997. And according to [another site] Sakura Tsuushin (Diaries) began its television broadcast on November 9th, 1998."

What happened is that the two versions were owned by different licensors. ADV ended up acquiring the broadcast version which was tamer and had a different scenes in places as well as none of the nudity. The other version was owned by someone else, which meant that after it was discovered (which was unfortunately after the DVD was released), negotations had to start to get that after trying to decide whether it'd be worthwhile.

With this release, ADV has gone back with (I believe) a different translator and produced a substantially different subtitle script as well. From the opening of the first episode where Touma gives a voice over before we see him in the hotel, the subtitle scripts read like this:

General Release Subtitles:

  • "I hadn't been in Tokyo since I was a kid."

  • "But this time i was on my own."

  • "I'd be able to experience things I never did in my small hometown."

  • "It was cold the night I arrived."


  • Collectors Edition Subtitles:

  • "It had been a long time since I'd been in the big city of Tokyo"

  • "I grew up in Izu."

  • "And that night, there was a harsh, chilly wind blowing, the likes of which I would never have experienced back home."


  • And on the general release, the dub was already wildly different from the subtitles. I'm unsure if the actual dialogue in the two are different in Japanese, but there are definitely changes throughout the episodes as there are new scenes, so a new translation was required regardless.

    Sakura Diaries is one of my favorite shows. The story focuses around the core of three characters. Urara, the high school girl whose in love with her childhood hero/cousin Touma. Touma is in Tokyo to try and get into college to avoid taking over his parents countryside inn and ends up falling in love with Mieko, the gorgeous model-like woman who gets accepted to the highly sought after Keio University.

    Touma unfortunately fails all of his college applications and ends up back home even after making some good inroads with Mieko. But he decides that he's going to make it after all and decides to enroll in a year-long Cram School that will help him get into college. He returns to Tokyo to live with his uncle and his daughter, both of whom he hasn't seen in years.

    Upon meeting the daughter though, he realizes he's met her before. The night before his exams in fact, she had arrived at his hotel suite pretending to be a callgirl to help him loosen up some. But he didn't recognize her and tossed her out before things could potentially get serious. But now he finds himself living with her, and she's pretty uninhibited, wearing just an apron, showing off her body in various ways, all to try and get him to relax a bit.

    And while living with her, he ends up never seeing the uncle. She keeps claiming he's out on business and then goes off on business trips, all of which Touma seemingly accepts. His mind is more focused on getting into college (sorta) and with getting hooked up with Mieko. He does find her again, and since she believes he's going to Keio, he ends up inadvertently keeping up with this lie.

    It's essentially a romantic triangle show with some twists and turns about who likes who. And with any show that has its origins with the infamous Ujin, there are some disturbing moments to the series. During the general release, several people stopped buying after the second disc due to it. But for those who continue through, the show works with what happens and changes it from the light and airy to something more serious. Unfortunately, the show doesn't bring any major conclusion as at the time, the manga was still running.

    While there are differences between the two versions, most of what I've said about these episodes from the individual discs still stands. I find this series to be charming, well written, nicely animated and with characters I really like. Urara in particular is a real favorite and she makes out the best with the most costume changes for promotional materials. This show isn't for everyone, but for those who clamored, begged and pleaded for this uncut edition to be released, it's here and it's done up exceptionally well. I'm very pleased.

    Very recommended.

    Features
    Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Clean Opening,Clean Ending,Bonus Unused,Closing Theme,ADV Sakura Diaries Trailers

    Review Equipment
    Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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