Sakura Diaries Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: N/A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sakura Diaries

Sakura Diaries Vol. #1

By Roman Martel     February 18, 2002
Release Date: July 25, 2000



The Review!
Overall Rating: 4 (on a scale of 1-5)
-Disc Ratings-

Sound: 5
Picture: 4
Menu: 4
Presentation: 4
Goodies: 3
Overall: 4
-Artistic Ratings-

Animation: 4
Sound: 4
Plot: 4
English Acting: 4
Music: 4
Overall: 4
Intro

What was it that willed me to buy this DVD? Was it the pink cover? Was it the 17+ rating? Was it the work sex written all over the cover? Was it the fact that I wanted another DVD with the word Sakura written on it? Or perhaps it was because the moon was in alignment with the constellation of Libra... Whatever the reason, I have it, I've seen it and now... I'll review it.

Technical Review

How does ADV handle this disc? Well, it looks and sounds good to me! The sound was top notch. Nice and clear with out a dropout to be heard (or is that not heard). The picture was pretty good. A little bit of pixelation here and there, but I only noticed it when I was looking for it. The menu is pretty standard on this. You got the opening theme playing over the picture on the cover. It reacts nice and smooth. One thing I did like was the inclusion of the episodes on the Language selection. So basically all you did was pick your language and subs and then pick the episode. ADV saved us a step. Good thinking guys. The presentation will definitely catch the target audience. You've got a cute anime girl taking her clothes off and next to it the word sex. The back gives you the rating (nice and big) and the extras. The only thing missing was the region coding and whether it's in stereo, mono or 5.1. You get twelve trailers and a web connect for goodies. Hoping to see more in that department later... It's a good disc technically, and I really did like that option on the Language menu. Hope that's a trend that continues on the other discs in this series and in other ADV releases.

Content Review

Well I got this show and Amazing Nurse Nanako in the same week. That's a lot of fan service to sit through. Now don't get me wrong, fan service isn't bad, but if the characters aren't interesting and the story is bland, well then it doesn't matter how much fan service you got... you still are left with a poor show.

Luckily Sakura Diaries does not fall into that trap.

So far I'm enjoying this show a lot. I'm enjoying the characters and the goofy plot and the fan service. This show made me laugh out loud and even had me wince as I watched dumb ole Touma make an idiot out of himself... again.

The plot is pretty standard with the love triangle. Touma is sick of being a country kid and moves to Tokyo to go to school and make something of himself (doesn't want to inherit the family business, I know how that is). Of course he's got to pass the entrance exams to get into a school, so the night before the tests he decides to take it easy, get some sleep and ... Well, then there is a knock on the door. A young girl bounds in and promptly starts removing clothing. Touma is shocked (how is this simple country boy supposed to act?). She throws herself at him, but Touma, in a flurry of confusion throws her out. During all this... she sneezes on him.

The next day Touma has a bad cold and fails all his tests. Cursing the name of the mysterious girl, he goes to the prestigious Keio University. He is expecting to fail here too, knowing full well that the test will be way out of his league. Then me meets her... the girl of his dreams, Mieko. She's gonna attend Keio. Touma can't fail now!!!

But he does.

Of course Mieko will only go out with a guy who goes to Keio. So Touma fibs and says he passed. He has no hope now, but taking cram school to try and get in next year. Touma decides to stick it out in Tokyo, pretend that he is attending Keio while living with his uncle... who has a daughter... who happens to be the girl who burst into his room and got him sick. Her name is Urara and she's in love with Touma. But when she finds out that Touma is in love with Mieko and lying to her about passing the entrance exam...

Now that you've got the basic set up of the first and second episodes you can see how this story is gonna go. Sure it's a bit clichéd but it's still great to watch Touma fall all over himself when he's in front of Mieko. It's fun to watch Urara throw herself at him but still be very much in love with this clown. And I still can't figure what Mieko is really up to. Is she playing with Touma? Or is she falling for him too?

The third episode has Touma trying to tell Mieko the truth. Urara tries to figure out if she should help Touma get the girl of his dreams or knock some sense into the moron. And then there's the big date. Will Touma and Mieko have a wonderful time... or is Urara going to tamper with the whole thing? Left with this cliffhanger, we won't know till the next disc.

The animation was very good. It was OAV quality almost all the way through. The character design is very good as well. The women are very attractive and look good in the various states of undress they go through. Touma has the typical likeable goofy guy look to him. Since this anime is based mostly in reality (the SD fantasy moments only count a little) there wasn't any outstanding production design or special effects. In fact looking at my collection... this is the closest thing I've got to normal story. But in this case the fluid animation and the character design are what's important. And we've got a good job going so far.

The sound work fits right along with the show. You've got the sounds of the city, and the sounds of the college, and of course the sound of the wind as it blows through the cherry trees. Again, there wasn't any super cool sound design or anything like that, but it fit the animation just fine.

Now as I said above the plot is nothing new. Hell, it's one of the oldest plots in all storytelling. But it can still work especially with the characters being who they are. The personalities and the situations these personalities get into is what makes this show fun. Believe it or not, I've pulled a Touma too many times to count. And I've also known girls like Meiko and Urara (well, to a point...). This show looks to be a good mixture of comedy, drama and fan service. And yes there is plenty of fan service. The 17+ rating is not just for show. And while sex is a topic of the show, it isn't what the whole show hinges on (at least in these episodes), and that's what makes it good. What am I saying? Well the plot is above average but it's not stupendous. At this point it makes me want to see more, mostly because I like all the characters (and the fan service isn't bad either ;-)

The English voice actors seemed to be having fun doing their parts. They all did a solid job and made me like the characters. I thought that the actress doing Urara's voice was a little too squeeky, but switching over to her Japanese counterpart revealed that she has the same voice quality (the Japanese actress is a bit smoother sounding). The cast made me laugh out loud several times, so they were pulling off he comedy well enough. But I think they were getting into the characters also.

The music was pretty good. The score was typical stuff really, but I liked the opening and ending credit themes. They fit the show and the animation during the credits works with the songs as well.

Sakura Diaries is a good buy. It's got a fun group of characters. It's got plenty of laughs. It looks to have potential drama in it (there were already a few moments). And of course, it's got plenty of fan service. If all this sounds good, then don't hesitate. I'm definitely getting the next disc and hoping it stays just as good.



Review Equipment
Hitachi GD-2000 DVD ROM Cinemaster QI DVD Player (application) Dell Model UltraScan D1025HTX Color Monitor ACS295 Atltec Lansing Speakers (right, left, Subwoofer)

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